Departure Gate 34B
by Kary English
I've never liked this airport. The endless corridors of white on white remind me of a hospital, but this is the only place I can talk to Stewart after the heart attack. He's not always here, but I come every day to look for him.
Today he's sitting in his favorite spot in the departure gate, a corner seat connected to a low table. I tried sitting on the table once, but we can't talk unless I sit on his right, where I was for the trip to Hawaii.
I sit down beside him. Travelers flow like a river behind us, boarding passes clutched in their hands, cell phones pressed to their ears. Their suitcase wheels hum and click on the tiles like tiny freight trains charting a course between Starbucks and Cinnabon.
"Did you remember to stop the paper?" I ask. His sigh is like wind soughing through the doorways of an abandoned farmhouse. He looks at the floor for a moment before he answers.
"The kids are doing well," he says. "Aaron finished his residency. Anna made the Dean's List again. She'll be starting an internship in June."
I want to hold his hand, but that doesn't work anymore so I lean in close instead. "I got us a suite with a hot tub. Think you're up to that, old man?" He folds his hands together in his lap, twisting his wedding ring with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand.
"It's been two years, Marian." His voice is soft, but the flirtatious whisper I long to hear sounds like patience instead.
"Two years? We've been married for thirty, Stu. What's two years compared to that?"
"It's time, Marian. Time to move on."