Aimless, I walked through the aisle between gates, searching for a quiet spot to sit. I peeked behind the pretzel stand at A13 and something about the dim, quiet area spoke of sanctuary.
My plan had been quite different, consisting of meetings in the morning and sightseeing in the afternoon. Instead, I fought with the headache and upset stomach that, for me, come when trying to push through a depressing episode. I put in an appearance, looked awful and couldn't bear the attention and soon returned to my room. Increasingly anxious, I asked and received a late check-out and slept fitfully until my wake-up call.
Fretting over what to do with the 8 hours until my flight, I mapped a formerly-tempting location and set off in my rental car. After 40 minutes in traffic, I touched Garmin and revised my location to a gas station near the airport. I failed to find the first two suggested, but filled my tank at the third and, with no small amount of relief, dropped my car and caught the shuttle to my terminal.
I checked in, nodding when the clerk blinked with surprise at my early arrival and apologized for not having a more convenient flight. I waved a hand and smiled weakly, making my way through security and waiting my turn at the metal detector. I approached the tiny shop with trepidation, in desperate need of novels for hours of distraction. I frowned over the selection of paperbacks, plucking several from the shelves and replacing them after reading descriptions, feeling myself begin to panic over what I'd do for the next 6+ hours.
I had been turning a book in my hand when I saw another, this one taller in stature and by an author I enjoy. I opened it to read the inside flap and sighed with relief. I debated on whether to buy just the second in the quartet of novels or grab the second and third. Rapid calculations landed both in my bag after a smile and signature for the clerk. I picked up a slice of pizza and large soda and settled in at A13, all alone with my story and snack.
I relaxed into a simple plot and lovely sentence structure and looked up with dismay to find the area had filled with people waiting to board the plane outside. I tried again to relax but the conversations interrupted. Picking up my bag, book safely tucked inside, I went in search of another spot. Searching behind corners, I located one where noise came from people on television rather than live and I settled there with the thought of giving people a chance to leave and reclaiming my former place soon.
Finishing the book and my watch, I decided to head to the restroom and check my flight status, unsurprised when it was delayed. I felt my phone vibrated, answered, and talked to Adam. My voice trembled then I cried and I hung up with orders for him not to worry. Unsettled, I returned to A13 and sat quietly, delving into my next book and letting the words ease my worry.
I eventually joined the crowd at my gate and continued to read. I boarded the plane and continued to read. I closed the cover just as we were descending and sighed. The trip, pure misery, was over. And books, as ever, had saved me.