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She strode over to the counter, took her place in line behind an overweight bearded male. The line filed forward slowly.
“Welcome to The Coffee Corner, how may I help you?” An employee asked her after the man in front of her ordered his doughnut, coffee cake, and cappuccino.
“Do you take US dollars?”
“We give back Canadian change.”
“I’ll have a vanilla bean coffee.”
“Do you have 5 cents?”
“Thanks,” she said, after receiving her coffee. She took an experimental sip. Ugh. She hated coffee. She always had.
She took a napkin from the counter and dabbed her mouth with it.
“Hey. Long line. Sorry that you had to wait for so long.”
A smile. “A frappuccino? It’s freezing in this airport.”
“Really?” she questioned, as if she wasn’t freezing to death.
He chuckled. “Can I have a sip?”
“Yeah.” A glass smile. A glossy stare. She blinked hard a few times before handing the cup to him.
He sipped. “That’s good.”
After she got the cup back, she waited until her husband’s back was turned. Then she wiped the top of the straw furiously with her napkin, getting rid of the strands of saliva.
“Well,” he held out his hand to her. “Let’s get going. Our gate should be pretty far off.”
“Of course.” She took his hand. She gave him another glass smile.
The funny thing about glass – it may look pretty, but all it does is reflect.
Their flight was delayed.
Which was a good thing, because if it wasn’t, they probably would have missed it. The couple was lost for about an hour, strolling about the airport, reading the maps but not quite understanding them. They arrived thirty minutes after their boarding time, unflustered, the girl still wearing her glass smile, their hands by their sides.
“So,” the man said, his voice way too loud for the confines of the walls. “How does it feel being married?” His cheeks hurt with the effort of a forced smile.
She gave a little giggle. “Oh, I wouldn’t know. I’ve only been it for a few hours.”
An awkward silence. The man shifted his tall frame uncomfortably in the chair.
“Oh, Matt!” the girl exclaimed with false cheeriness. “In all the excitement at the wedding, I forgot to thank you for booking this wonderful trip. You shouldn’t have, you really shouldn’t!”
“Hey, it’s our honeymoon. Besides, anything for my girl!” He kissed her gently on the cheek, and she flushed red with pleasure.
The coffee had done what she had hoped. It calmed her nerves, at least a little. While caffeine hyped others up, it made her sleepy.
They sat for a while, until the flight attendant announced the boarding of first class passengers. “That’s us,” Matt winked.
“Oh, Matt!” she gasped. “Oh, no, Matt, you shouldn’t have! First class!”
He chuckled and stood up to board. Each of his big hands pulled a suitcase towards the boarding gate. She followed.
But the sleepiness had vanished.
Her hands were trembling.
“Honey,” he said to her as they got settled in their seats on the plane. “What’s the matter? You have goose bumps.”
“But – ”
“I’m fine!” She forced another smile.
They fell silent.
“Did you know,” she began, “that around 1,000 people die in aircrafts each year?”
“Yes, dear. You told me.”
“Well, I just thought it was something worth repeating. I mean, 1,000 people. That’s a lot, Matt. I don’t even think I know 1,000 people.”
“Yes, dear. We’ve been over this also.”
She seemed to not hear him. “I mean… To think that each person had a life. Had a story.”
“And also, did you know that, if we crash, we only have a 24% chance of surviving? 24%! Matt… That’s not a lot. That’s not even a fourth of a chance!”
“To be fair darling, there’s not exactly a lot of difference between 24 and 25 percent.”
“I mean, when you think of all the numbers we have against us… I’m not so sure about this trip, Matt.”
“Darling, you’ve worrying about nothing. This is a very reliable airline.”
“Oh. I’m very sorry. I had no idea that me researching for hours about airline safety was ‘nothing’. I had no idea that informing you about current news was ‘nothing’. I had no idea that the lives of 1,000 people are ‘nothing’. But never mind me. I’m terribly sorry. I must be boring you with all the talk I’m spewing about our chances of survival. I apologize.”
He groaned. “Dear, you misunderstood me. All I meant was that you’re overreacting... and, well, it’s getting a little old. I mean, you’ve told me these statistics hundreds of times.”
“I’m so sorry. I know that I just despise it when people repeat things over and over. Or when people annoy me. It certainly isn’t very nice, to be told that you’ve boring and dull, but never mind. I’m your wife, the last thing I would want to do is annoy you. But please, you talk about what you want, and I’ll just shut my mouth. Please don’t feel obliged to listen to my nonsense. In fact – ”
“No, no! Honey, that’s not what I meant at all.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said, looking out the window, “that I’m not understanding what you’re saying. I, myself, know that I hate it when I tell someone something, and they just don’t understand what I mean. ‘My God!’ I think to myself. ‘This person must be stupid!’ I’m terribly sorry that I am presenting myself in a stupid manner to you. I will try ever so harder to understand you better in the future.”
“My God!” he exclaimed. “Sweetie, please. Let’s not start our honeymoon this way.”
“You’re right. Oh my goodness, I don’t know what came over me. I’m so sorry. Give me a hug, dear.”
“Of course.” And they embraced.
His smile was made of glass. So was hers. What I want to know is – what were they reflecting?