Laura rummaged through her suitcase, peering in every crevice that she could find, zipping and unzipping every pocket over and over again. A dark cloud seemed to form in her mind ‘I lost it’, ‘Someone took it’, she tried to forget these thoughts, but no plane ticket had materialized in front of her. “Where? Where did it go? Oh no... This can’t be happening.” She moaned to herself, slamming her foot against the iron bed, resulting in a throbbing foot for five minutes. She laid herself on the bed, rewinding her memory, trying to picture herself putting the plane tickets in her suitcase. “OK, I walked over to my case, opened it up and...put..the...tickets.....on the.....foot stool!” She screamed at the top of her lungs.
After placing her socks on inside out, putting her shirt on backwards, slipping her shoes on the wrong feet and tying her jacket on upside down, Laura huffily made her way out of her hotel room, towards the nearest elevator. She pressed the down button, the arrow above the door lit up and she stared quietly at the floor. After several minutes had passed, and a large crowd had gathered around her, waiting for the elevator to open, Laura decided to press the button again. She noticed that several of the people had suitcases with them and room checks and keys in their hands. They were checking out too, and Laura wanted to be the first in line to check out. Guessing that the elevator was broken, she walked briskly to the fire exit and was opening the door when a shrill ‘DING’ sounded from the elevator doors and the large crowd squeezed into the compartment tightly. Laura rushed to join them but saw that no more people could fit into that elevator and quickly turned, descending the five flights of stairs at a slow canter. When she came to the end of the stairs, a line outside the hotel doors had already formed and Laura joined the end of it with a feeling of defeat.
Finally reaching the beginning of the line, Laura smiled numbly at the man behind the desk, teeth still chattering from the bitter cold wind that swept through the breezeway.
“Checking out? May I have your room receipt and room key please?” The man asked brightly. Laura simply nodded and handed over the items with great relief. When everything had been sorted out, she wandered around the street for a while, searching for a bright yellow cab. When she finally spotted one, she waved her hand and yelled “Taxi!”, at the top of her lungs, but the cab did not stop. This went on for ten minutes until an elderly man, wearing a putrid green sweater-vest and a baseball cap pulled up to the curb in an even more ancient looking cab.
“Need a lift sweetie?” The man said, voice shaking with every breath he took. Laura, deciding that she may not get another person to stop for her, stepped into the cab and told him to head for the airport. “And step on it if you could please.” She added, smiling sweetly at the old man.
“Eh? What’d you say girlie? I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore, my hearing's gone bad in the past few years.” The man slurred, taking his glasses off and cleaning them.
“Just go to Airport Boulevard please, and hurry.” She mumbled, rolling her eyes at the back of the man’s head. She watched as each exit passed and became drowsy until she saw the sign Airport Blvd. pass as if it was in slow motion for the second, and was gone in an instant.
“Driver! You missed the exit! Turn around now!” She wailed, banging on the glass between her and the man.
“No no no, Harport Boulevard is three exits from here, I have not passed it young lady.” He grinned in the mirror and Laura groaned in agony.
“I said Air-port Boul-e-vard.” She emphasized sarcastically, her temper rising as the man nodded his head and said, “Oh, well then we have missed the exit, haven’t we,” and laughed.
Laura exited the cab, placed a twenty dollar bill on the front seat and lugged her baggage to the ticket purchase line. Surprisingly, she found that the line was very short and it didn’t take long to get to the front of the line.
“How may I help you ma’am.” The lady drawled in a southern accent.
“I would like a one way ticket to Chicago, the six o’clock flight. Is that sold out yet?” Laura asked hopefully, crossing her fingers inside her jacket.
“You’re in luck, this is the last ticket for that flight and even better it’s a free upgrade to first class. This must be your lucky day.” Laura laughed inwardly, only she knew the real reason why she was smiling. She handed over her credit card and heard the lady swipe it quite a few times.
“Miss, I’m sorry to say this but it says your card is declined. You’ve gone over your limit.” She smiled sorrowfully at Laura and handed the card back to her.
“Please, I don’t have any cash or anything valuable. I had a ticket at home and I forgot to bring it with me, I’ve had a week worth of pointless meetings, and now I can’t get home on time for Christmas for the fifth year in a row. Please, isn’t there anything you can do?” Laura begged, looking at the lady with sorrowful eyes.
“No, now please step away for other customers ma’am.”
Laura gloomily glared at the lady and walked slowly away from the desk, searching hopefully for another way to get home.