Sarah looked up from wiping down the counter top when they walked in. The two seemed to have walked in from over a week ago, a normal totally infatuated couple who seemed to oblivious to world around them. Not there was anything wrong with that, well not anything wrong a week ago.
The man looked oddly familiar as he ordered two coffees and two double chocolate chunks, Sarah told them she'd bring them to their table. The man pawed around his wallet for cash and shrugged giving her a credit card. She smiled politely and pointed to the sign she taped to the register "At this time we can only accept cash, we apologize for any inconvenience." There was a pause and Sarah said "It's alright I'll bring them to you anyway, no worries." The woman said "thank you" and the man said nothing, unable to take his eyes off her as they walked to a booth in the small shop.
They talked in low voices and the man absentmindedly rubbed a spot on his head for a moment, Sarah's eyes hardened. She did recognize him, the reporter. She felt her self being pulled back to The Event. She had been handing over a drink to a customer when *fhit* there was no customer, only a pile of clothes and a cup of soda spreading rapidly across the floor. Her manager had been on a bathroom break, Sarah's first instinct was to run and fetch her but she stood rooted. Panic digging it's icy fingers into her ribs and the sounds of shouts and screams rippling up and down the terminal. Then the planes started falling.
She walked out into the hall, the cookie place was next to the duty free shop. Her friend who worked there had come out to investigate too. She met Shanti's frightened eyes with her own. Shanti turned when a sound like a cry of agony from animal in a trap echoed out from the store. A woman was holding a tiny bright red coat over a pile of clothes on the floor. Shanti gulped and walked to her, Sarah looked down the long concourse at the stream of rescue workers and volunteers carrying in the hurt and the dying from the tarmac.
She walked back into the shop. Her manager wasn't coming back from that break. Panic congealed into cold hard fear. She couldn't just stand there, she had to help. She saw the cooler full of bottled water and juices, she rolled a cart out of the storeroom and loaded it up. She wheeled it down the hallway, passing unBearably Cute, where the customers acted like a mix of the woman at the duty free shop and frantically digging and searching through the barrels of stuffed animal skins and stuffing and pounding on the employee only door at the back. She stopped at the Pan Con Club member lounge, it had been turned into a makeshift infirmary.
People groaning on stretchers, a frantic EMT trying to attend to a severely bleeding patient and people sitting in a state of shock or frantically trying to call loved ones on their cell phones. The reporter had been sitting near the entrance, reading an email with great interest, holding a wet cloth to a cut on the back of his head. She rolled the cart slightly in, a few looked at her "I've brought some water and juice, if anyone needs it." The EMT tightly fastened a bandage on his patient, "Thanks, I could actually use some water to clean wounds, I'm just about out of antiseptic." She handed him several bottles.
Those that weren't still trying to reach someone, anyone on the phone had turned their attention to the wounded. A woman draped her coat around another who sat on the floor stock still and shivering, another held a man's hand as he sobbed uncontrollably. A few took bottles from the cart and walked to nearby gates handing them to rescue workers and wounded people who had the strength to take them. The reporter drummed his fingers on his laptop and murmured some notes into a personal tape recorder. A well dressed man walked up to him,
"I'm a doctor. Let me dress your wound." The reporter looked rather blank, and nervously fiddled with his press badge.
"Just let me do this pal, I'm going crazy here with nothing to do, and I have my bag."
The reporter shrugged and the doctor went to work. The EMT had caught this exchange and started incredulously at the man wondering why he hadn't volunteered before. Then Sarah noticed his arms where streaked with blood and while he chatted airily with the reporter he would grimace in pain. The doctor stepped to the side and she saw one pants leg was soaked through. A woman approached with a clipboard. By her name tag she was an administrator for one of the private charter services O'Hare offered.
The Doctor looked at her curiously.
"You need to come with me sir, your wife has been airlifted to Cook Regional, we need you right away."
A kind of heart-scalding rage and grief seemed to fill the doctor's face, his efforts to mold it into a casual air made it all the more terrible
"What do you mean?, she's fine, I'm with a patient."
The reporter had fallen back into reading whatever he was with rapt attention. The EMT walked to the woman, she took him aside and told him quietly, "He was on a flight with his wife and daughter, they where clipped by another plane trying to land, the pilot somehow got it on the ground, but he didn't make it, neither did the girl, and the wife's critical. Her fingers tightened around her clipboard "The girl looked to be just about sixteen, he tried to save her."
She looked at Dives again, he allowed himself to look at her, that same drowned, desperate look of denial, she took a deep breath "Sir your wife and daughter need you." He stopped attending to the reporter he stared at her, she continued "Emily and Anna are waiting, they need you there."
Sarah felt turned to stone and she didn't try to stop the tears that were pooling on her lips as her nose began to run. The doctor picked up his bag and tried to walk after her, the EMT signaled another to help him, he put his arm around the doctor's shoulders and the doctor limped after the woman. The reporter still hadn't moved. She made it back to shop and locked herself in the tiny storeroom, crying until her throat felt like tissue paper.
She shuddered remembering that day, and watching the reporter playfully wipe a crumb off of the woman's mouth. The woman appearing to have a struggle to find that gesture charming instead of supremely off putting. She walked over with their snacks, feeling a strong urge to dump the coffee on his head.
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