|Fall 2012 Fiction & Poetry Anthology | Contents | Authors | echapbook.com|
Jasmine Roberts hated working at the Lost & Found counter at the Sugarville airport. She rarely helped anyone find anything, and as an aspiring actress she felt that her time would be better spent auditioning for ingénue roles in downtown Atlanta. At 32, Jasmine thought that her drama degree from Spelman, incredibly good looks, and light skinned black complexion should have led her to leading lady roles in Hollywood by now, but her greatest triumph so far was playing a bit part in a racist musical at the Alliance Theatre. Still, she needed to pay the rent, so she bought a skinny latte and a yogurt parfait from the airport coffee shop and settled in for another boring day in the boring suburbs.
She was just about to take another bite of yogurt when a dazed middle-aged white man in a rumpled raincoat wandered toward her.
“Can I help you?” she said, setting the parfait down next to her computer keyboard.
“Um…no, no thanks,” he said, looking surprised that someone had spoken to him. He was ashen-faced, unshaved, and bedraggled, like he hadn't slept for days.
“Have you lost something?”
The man looked down at the faded “Lost & Found” sign that Jasmine had taped to the front of the counter.
“I lost my wife,” he whispered, more to himself than to her.
“Your wife? I can have her paged.”
“No, you don't understand. She's dead.”
“Yes,” he said, looking off into the distance. “She died in that…that plane crash.”
“Oh, my God.” Jasmine had been at the airport three days earlier when a small commuter jet crashed in a beet field on approach, killing everyone on board. The NTSB had the area cordoned off, and everyone at the airport was still talking about it. “I'm so sorry.”
“She was everything to me. I don't know how I'm going to raise Mikey and Katie on my own. They're at her sister's house right now. The funeral's tomorrow at Sugarville Baptist, but I just keep coming back here…hoping…”
Jasmine had never seen anyone in such a state of grief before, and she felt powerless to help him. “Have you spoken to your minister?”
“My minister? What good would that do? He'd just try to fill me up with useless platitudes. He wouldn't be able to make any more sense of this than I can…because…because it just doesn't make any sense.”
Jasmine considered calling the airport psychologist, but she knew that he didn't come in until nine. She decided that if anyone was going to help this poor man, it would have to be her. She stood up, leaned on the counter, and spoke from the heart.
“You know, my Great Granny Anne was the most righteous Christian lady I've ever known. She led a very difficult life. She lost her son in Vietnam, and her husband committed suicide. But she remained an optimist her entire life. She used to say that 'everything happens for a reason.' We may not understand God's will at certain times during our lives, but God always knows the reason, and eventually we'll understand, if not in this lifetime then in the next, as long as we have faith.” Jasmine sighed as tears started to well up in her eyes. “I miss her terribly. We were very close, and when she died I felt completely lost. I think about her every day, so I understand what you’re going through.”
Taking a deep breath, Jasmine reached behind the counter and pulled out a framed cross stitch picture. The cloth was embroidered with a biblical verse in black letters and two hands folded in prayer. The frame was cheap metal made to look like wood. She walked around the counter and handed the cross stitch to the man. “She gave this to me on her deathbed.”
The man took it from her, held it out in front of him, and read it aloud. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.”
“Great Granny Anne never gave up on her faith, and neither should you.” She gently placed her hand on the man’s arm.
He started to choke up, then sobbed openly. Jasmine hugged him as he wept. “It'll be okay,” she said, patting his back.
After a few minutes he stopped crying and seemed to remember something important, like he was waking up from a dream. “I have to get back to my children,” he said, attempting to return the cross stitch to Jasmine.
“You keep that as a reminder.”
“But it's from your Great Granny Anne.”
“I insist. She would want you to have it.”
“Thanks,” he said, placing the cross stitch inside his raincoat. “Thanks for everything.” He wiped the tears from his eyes and quickly headed for the exit.
Jasmine sat back down behind the counter with a smile on her face and a feeling of satisfaction. Although she was pleased to have helped the man, she was simply thrilled with her awesome performance. She had almost believed the story herself, and was certain that her drama coach at Spellman would have praised her for being “in the moment.” She logged into her desktop computer, entered the cross stitch as “found,” and returned to her yogurt parfait.
Maybe it was time to quit her job at the airport and start acting full time.
|© 2012, Jeff Haas|| Go to top