Gloria inhales a jagged breath.
She has anticipated this moment for over a year. Countless times,
through snowstorms and heat waves, she has imagined the reunion with
Justin and the expression on Justin’s upturned face.
She clutches her pocketbook to
her side and fiddles with a tissue, crumpling it into a sodden white
mass. Gloria tries to steady her breathing, to think only of greeting
him affectionately, though something bitter and ugly branches out from
within her. Her only son lives overseas in Thailand, building a church
when she needs him here. Her arthritis has returned and her daughter
acts as though it pains her to visit.
Justin’s last e-mail insisted
they meet at a hotel. Their 2:00 A.M. landing into Seattle-Tacoma would
not be conducive for a joyful reunion. Justin and Emily had exchanged
vows five years ago. Gloria rubs her hands, tissue smashed in between,
when she pictures the children they could have had already, but this
church planting business . . . it captivates them.
Her lips and eyebrows lift in
eagerness to see Justin, his arms spread wide, like he used to do as a
boy preparing to fly through the playground. She scans the lobby,
absent of any man. The only two people Gloria spots are a woman with
her back to her, sitting in a leather chair, and a concierge, yawning
so hippopotamus-like, Gloria notices her silver fillings. Gloria
whistles out a loud breath, suddenly feeling dampness pool under her
arms. Fearing she forgot deodorant, she debates returning to her room,
but then down the corridor her vision morphs before her.