As she exited the small plane and stepped into the still Reno airport, she glanced at her watch. It read 11:37 pm. Her footsteps were softened by the worn carpet as she passed the empty flashing slot machines. She couldn't help but feel the small airport mirrored her own life in a way. She continued through the airport, and when she reached the luggage hall she stood waiting for her single brown bag to rotate slowly around the luggage belt. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted a man in a black jacket standing on the other end of the hall. He stood watching a black bag slowly circle the belt while waiting for his own apparently missing bag. The image stuck profoundly in her head even as she left through the sliding glass doors into the cool empty street. She paused and took a breath of the crisp night, nodding to a lone taxi driver idling by the sidewalk. The sound of her rolling back was all she could hear as she walked unhurried over to her parked car. She fumbled for her keys in her bag, and found them buried under all the things that had been accumulating there. Once she set her bag in the trunk, she sat down in the drivers seat, slamming the door and feeling the heavy silence envelop her. She hadn't had a cigarette in months, but she suddenly needed one; if not for the nicotine than for the old associations that were brought up with that first drag of smoke. She rummaged through the cluttered glove box till she found the old pack of marlbolo menthols she knew she had. The cigarette to her lips, the click of the lighter, the way she could hear the cigarette burn as she pulled it in. A sound that always vaguely reminded her of the crackle of burning houses. The stale smoke tasted as she remembered, tasted like those days long gone. She sat and stared ahead. She threw her cigarette out of her window and started the car, pulling into the empty street ahead. She was thinking of the man in the black jacket when the car smashed through her side window and into her skull.
October 18, 2011