“Do you still want to travel today?” the woman behind the check-in desk of Virgin Airlines asks me for the second time, her voice barely audible, due to it being directed from the top of a deep, emotional well, of which I am standing at the bottom.
I blink once. Twice.
“She needs to stop talking.” I manage to form the words quietly to my husband of two weeks, whose passport happens to expire just shy of two months from today, the day which will forever be known as the day we were meant to fly to Bali for our honeymoon.
“Do you still want to travel today?” the woman asks me again, this time the words bounce thinly around the walls of Tullamarine’s international departures arena, coming in to land smack bang on the dividing counter between young love and Janet, otherwise known as the airline employee apparently devoid of any shred of human understanding.
“Shhhhhh,” I reply. I can feel the familiar glaze start to settle over my eyes - a kind of removed, despondent rage inherited from my father, with the power to conveniently, if only temporarily, abolish any responsibility for whatever comes next.
“Excuse me?” asks a bewildered Janet, for how could an emotionally and physically depleted newlywed, who has pinned the vast majority of her sanity on this tropical getaway, possibly take issue with the idea of honeymooning alone?
Janet: “I’m simply asking if”
“Shhhhhhhh,” I say again, louder this time and accompanied by a hand gesture, four fingers descending to meet a thumb, symbolising a mouth that was open becoming a mouth that is now closed.
At this point, a single beam of reason miraculously appears through the fog. I respond by slowly picking up my suitcase and walking in a daze to a nearby row of plastic chairs, my back indifferent to Janet’s spray of outrage, mostly in the form of threats to withhold any refund we might be entitled to. Sam is left to pick up the pieces, and to no doubt contemplate the weight of the legally binding decision he’s recently made.
Vows of customer etiquette somewhat restored, thanks to the grace of the most handsome diplomat ever to walk the earth, a stream of lattes are promptly filled with tears, as we perch uncomfortably on the cold hard stools of an airport island café. “This isn’t even a swim up bar,” I note solemnly to myself, staring down at the pile of luggage on the ground beneath us, filled with nothing but bathers and short shorts, mocking us.
“This is either going to be a really good story, or a really bad story,” announces Sam, between misty-eyed sips of coffee. I nod in agreement.