Flash Fiction: A-I-R-P-O-R-T

Lulu Lailiyah

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“Where are we going, father?” I asked while holding my chubby sister’s fingers on the back seat. I touched her ponytail. It was worth thirty-minutes of father’s effort to tie this bundle just to having it flattened up sixty-minutes later on my lap, the sleepyhead. Father, wearing his favorite navy shirt, was driving. I was staring at him. There was something different; I thought.

“Baby, it is your third time asking the same question today.” He stared at me through the rearview mirror. The sun was shining so bright; it hit my eyes directly through the front mirror. I looked at father once more then it poked me again. What were the differences that I sensed?

“I forget the name. What is it?” the fourth, I supposed. I really forgot the name of the place. I looked at father’s back head, trying to concentrate. It was the way he talks, was not it? Was it the car? Or the shoes? I wondered while observing the neat dashboard, the clean mirror, the smooth carpet, and father.

“It is the airport, baby. A-I-R-P-O-R-T. I had taken you two to the airport last year, remember? The year you entered the first grade.” He spelled it for me. But still, I could not concentrate. I was still processing the other thought. He was a bit different today.

“Ah, that busy place.” I slightly remember last year short trip to that place. The car was full of roses that I was sick of its smell. My sister loved rose so had not been bothered a bit about it. Playing non-stop along the three-hour trip with Mr. Penguin and box of roses. “Was she really my sleepyhead sister?” That day, I guessed.

“It will not take too long, Sunny. Look, Rossy is sleeping. You should sleep too so the trip will feel short. The moment you open your eyes; I promise; your mother will bring you Mrs. Penguin which you write on your wishlist.” Cajoling me with the exchange of doll. Was I a toddler? “I am eight, father.” Still, I kept the argument to myself. Mrs. Penguin was really on my wishlist which I had been stuck to his agenda book for three months already. Laughing inside, I tried to suppress my winning smile. I closed my eyes and leaned my back. I would make a gratitude card with roses pattern on the paper. Mother loved rose the most. Even she named herself and sister after the rose; Rosalina and Rossy. Wait, was it her mother that named her? I would ask father later for the answer. Ah! Now I remember, we were on our way to pick up mother. My chest felt so light; mother would be home for a full week before going to work again.

Minutes passed, I could hear the suppressed noise of the busy Jakarta streets outside. Thanks to our car, we needed not heard those busy noise nor felt the blazing sun. Wait, heard it? It was neither the noise from the horn or the brake outside. It was father’s humming. He hated singing. What happened? With the closed eyes, I smelled the perfume instead of the roses that he usually brought; “has he just sprayed it or was it done before?” Still, with closed eyes, I could portray his usual looks clearly. Then I opened my eyes; took a glance at him. I could tell. Today he looked more handsome than usual. His chin looked so soft. Ah, he shaved. Also, I could tell his smile looked wider because the mustache had gone. His hair also looked so neat, I guessed he applied his Gatsby all over them. I should tell mother later so unlike me who was very bothered about those differences, she would not. Now I should really sleep.

Image by Arjan Tupan

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