Short Story Sunday: Baggage Claim (a new post pandemic story)

A few years ago at the start of the pandemic it was weird when there were only 14 other passengers on a Southwest flight going from Northern to Southern California. I took a flight out of Long Beach today and the airport was packed. You’d think it was a holiday weekend rather than a Sunday afternoon in late April.

Thank goodness I had an A boarding pass and was able to get a window seat. It give me the opportunity not to have to talk to anyone else. Sometimes a nice traveling companion is, well, nice, but not today.

As I waited in my window seat for everyone to board I could hear a man in front of me telling his traveling companion how his sister was believing Covid vaccines contained microchips that tracked our thoughts and the thoughts of those around them. I helped a blue eyed middle aged woman put her bag in the upper baggage compartment and got back into my seat. Eventually a couple sat next to me. He was average height, brown hair, brown eyes, freckled skin. She had blonde hair, brown eyes, and brown skin.

As they settled in I looked out the window. Oh crap. Why of all seats did they have to sit next to me. What if they got weird? Thank God it wasn’t a night flight.

She absently scratched the palm of her hands and between her fingers. As I turned to look away I noticed how large his teeth were, and the hair on his ears.

I was wearing a white sleeveless shirt with a brown sort of shirt jacked over it. I pulled my jacket tight and hunkered down next to the window.

The man, who was sitting in the middle seat turned to me and asked, “are you cold?”

“No, just a little tired,” I said, smiling a polite smile.

Then she leaned over. “We know.”

I gave both of them a blank look.

“We know you’re, you know, cold,” she said.

“We’re not rabid,” he said with a chuckle. “We’re not going to judge you. In fact we accept and embrace your identity because we know it isn’t just a lifestyle. Having a physical difference from others can be a challenge, especially if you have to keep it a secret.”

“We know how you feel,” she said.

I was somewhat taken aback but appreciated their words.

“It isn’t always easy being different. You know. Thank you for your kindness.”

The plane took off and I didn’t say anymore to the couple next to me. My worries were for nothing. I promised myself to no longer tense up when Werewolves sit next to me. I know in my heart that they have no intention of being mean to me or any other Vampire, but old shit from my childhood lingers on. I thanked my stars that my kids didn’t grow up with that kind of crap. I’ve always instilled in them that we are all in this together, with our secrets, with our lives, with our community.

As we got off the plane the man said to me, “we are all here for each other, together.”

“Thank you,” I said, and made my way down to the baggage claim area.

As I drove home I felt sort of stupid and uneasy with myself. “You gotta stop second guessing yourself,” I said out loud.

Then I turned up the radio and drove home, ready for the sun to go down, and for the night to bring me a feeling of safety and calm.

~ end

Note: I just wrote this as I’m waiting in the Long Beach airport for a delayed flight from Long Beach to Sacramento. Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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