The airport was very crowded. Everyone came to welcome Lana back. Her parents and sister, Mark’s mother and youngest sister and of course Tonya and Baher. The two of them were probably the eagerest of them all; no matter how hard they tried to hide it. Baher was wearing his Superman, blue T-shirt and his regular denims. He also wore his sunglasses, probably to hide the yearning in his eyes. Tonya, on the other hand, was dressed much more festively. She wore her favorite red sweater, the one she had bought with Mark on their date at the mall. Long, butterfly-shaped earrings were hanging down her ears; they matched her long, large butterfly-shaped necklace. Also those accessories were chosen by him on the same date. He told her that day about his childhood obsession with butterflies;
“They’re just so pretty, don’t you think?” he remarked.
She too had her eyeglasses on, but she pushed them against her hair, over her head. It had been troubling her that Mark had stayed with Lana the whole time, even when her parents left her. It had been troubling her that he didn’t call her, not even for one single time; that he didn’t return her desperately numerous calls. Nevertheless, Tonya was an optimist. Somewhere in her heart she knew the best was yet to come.
And it did come. There was Mark, right in front of her eyes, after two long, tiring months of absence. But it was just an instant, a teeny tiny instant in which Tonya was able to notice Mark without noticing his arms wrapped around Lana’s shoulders. A warm smile was temporarily changed into something resembling a frown. Then Tonya remembered: she was an optimist.
They’re probably just friends, best friends even. But nothing more, definitely nothing more. She thought to herself.
They finally reached them. Lana ardently threw herself in her father’s arms while holding her mother to her. They showered her with kisses which her sister penetrated to get her own share of affection.
“Careful with her chest, darling,” said her mother addressing Sara, “the wound is not entirely closed.”
Lana didn’t really seem to care, she just kept embracing her sister, then letting go of her, then embracing her all over again. She then turned around to show her sister how much her hair had grown, both of them laughing and giggling. She was interrupted by Mark’s mother who, after crying in her son’s arms for almost five minutes, now came to welcome back Lana in a manner resembling a mother-in-law’s.
“Isn’t she a doll?” she asked her son as she ran her fingers through Lana’s fluffy hair. Lana really loved the compliment.
“She’s beautiful.” Said Mark, lovingly looking at Lana.
All that time and neither of them had greeted neither Tonya nor Baher. They probably didn’t even notice them, for when Lana’s eyes were accidentally thrown in Tonya’s direction, she suddenly exclaimed:
“Oh my God! Tonya, you’re here.” And rushed towards her with innocent longing. Tonya tried – with extreme difficulty – to erase the feelings of animosity painted on her face. She worked her hardest to make her embrace not as cold as she had expected it to be. She toiled to extend a welcoming smile upon her face, one that made her feel like her facial skin was being peeled off.
“Hi,” she spoke with hypocrisy she never knew she could so comprehensively muster, “are you feeling any better?”
“Oh, I’m just great. Stop worrying, everybody.” She added addressing the whole company. Tonya almost cursed her out loud. But fortunately, due to the noise, her voice wasn’t audible.
By that time, Mark had already shaken hands with Baher, whose state was no different than Tonya’s. Except, his eyeglasses subtracted almost half of his facial expressions. He then did something very rash; he reached out his hands to Lana’s. Perhaps it was an attempt to make her feel guilty, or even remind her that he had been her boyfriend till the moment she got on that plane to New York. Maybe it was an apology for not calling her throughout the last two months.
“I didn’t want to bother you during your recovery. I thought about coming, but I figured it would make me look like a fool.” He almost said.
But the way she shook his hand so casually, so guiltlessly, shattered him. The last atom of hope was now gone. It was official; she was with Mark and happy about it. As his cold, shaking hand moved back to his side, he felt another hand – just as cold and shaky – grabbing it. It was Tonya’s. He looked at her, and she met him with the most defeated face he had ever seen, all until he saw the reflection of his own face in the mirror that day.