by - July 08, 2011

The large family in the corner had at least six kids, maybe seven. Most of the passengers glared at the squawks of the youngest, but Lana Sanchez wasn’t one of them.

In fact, she barely noticed the discord of the Smith family at all, despite their inability to keep quiet. More important to her was the nerve-wracking sensation coursing through her blood, making her unable to sit still. While she was stranded in this airport, disease raged through the body of her father. It could be her last chance to say goodbye, and the snowstorms that iced the planes throughout the northern United States were relentless. Why had she waited until the last second to make things right?

“’Scuse me.”

Lana stopped tugging at the end of her dark braid and looked down towards the sound of the small voice from below her.

“You’re stepping on my crayon.” A pair of dark eyes peeked from between her legs where there was, in fact, a white crayon wedged between her sneaker and suitcase. Lana moved her foot from off the round wax object and watched the little girl wiggle out from beneath the seat.

“Thanks.” She sat on the ground, holding the crayon to her chest. When she made no move to leave, Lana glanced toward the corner—guessing that this was where the girl’s family was sitting.

“Is that your little brother over there crying?” she asked. The small girl began peeling the wrapping off the crayon in little strips.

“Yup,” she didn’t look up. “Momma says that’s a ‘trumble. But that’s not the real word.” Pushing a strand of hair off her face unceremoniously, she continued matter-of-fact. “The real word is tantrum. There’s a ‘tan’ at the beginning. Tantrum.”

"Tantrum, trum, trumble. Tantrum, trum, trumble.

“Oh?” Lana’s thoughts were momentarily distracted as she studied this small spirit. “You’re really smart to know what the real word is.”

“Really?” Her face grew somber. “Momma and me usually do flashcards, but since Daddy left she’s been too busy.”

“That’s too bad.” Lana sunk to the ground next to her new friend and stuck out her hand. “My name’s Lana. What’s yours?”

“Lilly. It’s a flower, did you know that?” She jabbered on for a few seconds, taking Lana’s hand in her small, sticky fingers for only a moment before going back to her crayon.“ Before Daddy left with his shiny shoes he said that I needed to stay blooming.” Her dark eyes lit up. “He was always funny like that. I miss his joking.”

Lana smiled slightly, surprised at the insight pouring from one so young. “I miss my dad a lot too.”

Lilly cocked her head. “Is that why you’re goin’ on the plane—to see your dad?” Lana could only nod as Lilly continued. “I won’t see my daddy for another year, so you’re lucky. Say I love you to him when you get there, ‘kay? Daddies like that a lot.”

“Lilly?” A frantic call reached them from the corner. “Lilly where are you?”

“Oops, that’s momma. She’s not gonna be happy.” Lilly stood, her small form barely tall enough to see over the uncomfortable chairs of the airport. “Thanks for giving me my crayon back.”

Lana only managed a slight “You’re welcome” before Lillian Smith slipped back to the corner, where she gave up her wrapper less white crayon to soothe her screaming little brother. How she calmed her equally frantic mother, Lana never found out, as the family began boarding their plane not long afterward.

She had no problem sitting still after that, and the stares of passerby didn’t bother her. The floor was actually much more comfortable than the seats, she thought, and after sitting on it with Lilly, she didn’t want to leave.

Her flight left eventually, just like she knew that it would. All through the night, she planned on what she might say to her father when the time came. Would he understand that despite all their angry words and disagreements, he still meant the world to her?

And when she reached his room the next day without anything planned and her mind utterly blank, she thought of a little girl sitting in an airport—waiting for a father that might never come home.
She took her small friend’s advice.

“I love you daddy.”

He squeezed her hand.

"I love you too sweetheart."

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