Airports (short story)

“Tell me something inspiring.”

I looked over at my friend as he furrowed his brow at the unfinished floor plan before him.

“C’mon. Tell me something real deep that gets you thinking.”

“How deep do you think is the Pacific Ocean?”

He threw a potato chip at me.

I dodged it.

“Argh. You’re so difficult.”

You’re difficult. You can barely finish that floor plan.”

“That’s because I’m not inspired to do it.”

I scoffed.

“No, you’re just lazy. Stop with the lame excuses.”

He glared at me.

“Excuse me, but when I’m inspired, my projects kick ass.”

“Do you want me to recite your previous plate scores?”

He was silent.

“Didn’t think so. I take it back though. You’re not lazy; your plans just lack substance.”

“I feel offended,” he deadpanned.

“Your concepts are poorly developed.”

“What’s that got to do with my plans?”

“Dude, the concept has everything to do with entire project. Without it, the project just becomes some botched-up, poorly conceived structure without much meaning. The concept is what you use to justify why your project turned out the way it did, and if you don’t have that, how do you expect to defend your plate during the next grading panel?”

He was silent.

“What’s your concept?”

“I don’t think I have one.”

“Ridiculous. What were you thinking about when you started the project?”

“I was thinking that my project will kick ass and get a high grade.”

“Pathetic.”

“Shut up.”

“…You’re not thinking hard enough. What were you thinking, really thinking?”

He was silent for a moment.

“Farewell.”

Farewell?”

“Yeah. Farewell.”

I motioned for him to continue.

“I mean, this is an international airport I’m designing. And I was thinking, what do airports mean to me? And then…”

I managed to get on to what he wanted to say.

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Oh.”

“What were you thinking it’d look like?”

“What ‘what’ would look like?”

“Your main building.”

“Pure glass. If not pure glass, mostly glass. I wanted it to look fragile.”

“I don’t think it should be mostly glass. It’s too fragile-looking for airports.”

“Yeah. I was thinking that. It’d probably shatter into a million pieces before the plane even takes off.”

I thought his idea was great, actually. But I had a feeling it wasn’t his design he was describing anymore. Especially his concept.

Farewell.

“The planes do come back you know.”

“Hmm?”

“I said the planes do come back. Back to the airport I mean.”

He smiled that smile – that smile that looked like it was torn to pieces and glued back together, but still looked broken and falling off the edges.

“And that’s why I suck at this. For me, those planes never come back.”

Silence.

“Wanna know what I think?” I asked.

“Yeah?”

“I think that the same planes do come back. Maybe not as quickly as they left, but maybe eventually. They might have flown off somewhere, or got sidetracked, or maybe even took a break. But those planes do come back to their airport. They just can’t not go back. Maybe they’ll come back the next day, or next week, or next month, or next year, or whatever, but the bottom line is they will come back. There’s always that chance that the same plane returns.”

“But what if they don’t? What if the plane got tired of flying, of traveling, that the thought of another voyage was impossible? What if that certain plane isn’t available anymore? What if all the reasons why we continue to wait for that same plane coming back don’t make sense anymore? What then?”

“It doesn’t matter if you have reason. It doesn’t matter if we know the same plane comes back or not. We continue to hope it comes back anyway, regardless of how ridiculous it is to keep holding on to the thought of it returning.”

We were silent.

“You’re still hoping,” I whispered.

And he smiled again, that put-together smile breaking apart.

“There’s my inspiration. Pretty deep.”

And he turned his head back to his work, trying very hard not to let the storm inside him break loose.

He failed.

I turned my head away giving him privacy, just as the rain rolled down his cheeks.

 

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