by Angela Kubinec

Airports. That is why I take Klonopin on the shuttle. An airport is an exponential Best Buy, where everything is blue, grey, and black. The lines at the airport, however, are filled with people who must anticipate that their final exchange with the cashier may not be successful. In Best Buy, they never tell you at the end of the buyers’ warren that you are not scheduled for departure.

Not scheduled? How does this occur? It happens in a large number of ways, but the way it happens to me most frequently is that all the airline logos have the word “Air” in them and they all look alike, having swoosh-inspired symbolism. Sort of like those shelves of phone systems which seem to all be the same. Yes, I am a writer. Yes, I know how to read. In a cloud, however, is where my document resides, as do the torpedoes with wings circling above the building. There is nothing to read but my driver’s license, and it only says where I am supposed to end up but not how to get there. My first counter approach is often a humiliating revelation such as the words “US” and “American” do not mean the same thing, and I am in the wrong terminal.

Terminal. Such an appropriate word, and an idea that has been voiced more than enough to be considered cliché. When I get to one, any one, I know I am going to suffer a number of small deaths in the form of being repeatedly told I am doing something wrong.

Wrong. Like walking through another network of turn-right-turn-left ropes with a sign that says “Enter Here,” only to find a woman on a stool with too much power. She often says I need to go “over there,” where a man on a stool is doing the exact same-looking thing. Then I do more wrong things, like not opening my laptop bag correctly. Like not standing far enough behind the line and not coming forward quickly enough. Like being told I have metal on me somewhere. That does not happen so much now since we all have to step into a vertical MRI and wonder who is performing a split-second mammogram while we, arms up, surrender to the Thought Police before entering the Internment Camp.

Yes, I am a writer. Yes, I know how to read. In a cloud, however, is where my document resides, as do the torpedoes with wings circling above the building.

Internment Camp. That place you go to be detained until someone gives you permission to leave and all the displaced persons wander back and forth—refugees, clutching and dragging their possessions. The basic difference is that in an airport it is at a much higher rate of speed.

In reality, I am worse than a hick. I am a neurotic hick, one who writes poetry instead of printing itineraries, one who cannot reliably access information on a Smart Phone. I am one who cannot find the Gala apples in the produce department because too many apples look like them and the signs above the bins are written in the same colors of chalk. They are all apples, giving me the same problem I have with airline symbols and telephone systems. At least with apples, they are all within reasonable walking distance of one another and I do not have to feign knowledge of technology. So, when forced to buy apples, I examine them—not for freshness, but to read the stickers.

Stickers. That is what the whole airport system needs, a huge crew of retired kindergarten teachers with clip boards and pockets full of Kleenex, who make sure the bus driver knows where to drop us off. Showing us how to line up, these teachers with their ideally repurposed job skills could hand us our papers, take us to the bathroom, and make sure we never get lost. Every time we do something right, they could pat us on the head and hug us as we cry because someone behind us is being mean. When we do something wrong, we would be given another chance without feeling stupid. There would be snack time, with an oatmeal cookie and some red Kool-Aid. Just before we depart, we would be given a reassuring smile and a little gold star to show our families when we get home.

Home, where being the eccentric on the porch is something others wish to emulate. Home, where Best Buy should not be a place for former teachers to shrug at us when we try to select new telephone systems, their part time work intended to supplement their insufficient retirement incomes. Home, where everyone accepts my confusion, and finds my airport stories funny, because I know how to twist a tale like the perfect hick I am.

Angela Kubinec is a native of South Carolina who holds a Physics degree from the College of Charleston, and taught Mathematics for eighteen years. Her work has appeared in Carve Magazine and elsewhere. She considers flash to be a challenging genre, and is glad to see it gaining respect in the writing community.