Lauren was pushed back into her seat as the plane took off. Somewhere behind her, a baby cried, and a mother shushed. Lauren looked out the window as the ground shrunk.
Home was nice, a happy vacation she had wanted. But the flight back was always difficult. She put on her headphones, watching a movie in flight but not really paying attention, instead readying herself for the return.
A few hours later, with popping ears and the baby crying again, the plane landed. As soon as the seatbelt sign turned off, people stood, ready to leave the plane. Lauren remained seated, knowing it would be some time yet before people had moved enough for her to leave.
Slowly, they shuffled forward, and Lauren looked out the window. She watched the baggage handlers moving things. They seemed to take pride in their work. She smiled. That’s nice, she thought. Them not throwing things, breaking things, laughing about other people’s belongings. She was, if she was honest with herself, surprised by this. She had expected it to be worse here, the disdain for bags and people. She knew the latter was still the case. She assumed the former was either these folks being an exception, or they had received a stern reprimand recently.
“Excuse me, Miss?” the gentle-yet-hard voice of an airline attendant said.
“Hm?” Lauren turned. The cabin was empty.
“Miss, do you need any help departing the cabin?”
“Oh, no, sorry. Just putting off the inevitable, I suppose.”
“Returning from home?”
Lauren gave a rueful chuckle. “Is it that obvious?”
“Mostly only when we land here,” the attendant said.
Lauren stood and gathered her things. “Sorry, I’ll get out of your way.”
“No problem, Miss, take your time.”
Lauren walked to the exit, considered trying to hide out on the plane for the return trip. But she didn’t know if it was going home, or on to somewhere else. She sighed, stepped off, and made her way up the ramp. As she exited the gate, she saw glares from people waiting to board their own trips, to where ever they were heading. She tried to remember her own embittered glare to respond with, found it wasn’t quite there yet. She shrugged, and followed the signs to the baggage claim, knowing she’d have it again by the time she reached her apartment.