Jungle of Creation : Chapter 2
Jungle of Creation
Slowly, I open my eyes after the quick, half hour from our home only to slam them shut again. Lights, too many lights. Tentatively, peeking out from behind my eyelids I see the towering palm trees and white concrete of the Fort Lauderdale Airport. From inside the car, I watch people lugging suitcases and carry-ons on the side of the road, their faces giving away either excitement or exhaustion. Leaning forward in my seat, I notice a couple, hands entwined, with an energetic little boy trailing behind. The mother, I assume, calls over her shoulder with an amused look on her face as her son stops to smell the dandelions sprouting beside the sidewalk. Unexpectedly, my heart starts to hurt at the look in her eyes. I never did get over Mama.
Looking away, I take in the bustle of the airport as we pull into a parking spot. So many people going so many places. Silently, all three of us begin the trek to the main building, taking in every detail possible. The building towers at least three stories over us, white walls seeming even whiter against the clear blue skies. The main entrance is adorned with archways, each one openly welcoming us to it. Inside, the floors are draped in checkered carpet, while the walls and rafters of the high ceiling gleam light gray.
“Oh shoot…” Dad hurries us to Terminal 4 and through security as he realizes our flight leaves in twenty minutes. I still go along in silence, absorbing everything, as Lyla and Dad discuss why a plane is able to fly. Overall, the place is very monotone. By the time we have reached the gate, G11, the only change I have seen is a stream of shops and fast food restaurants lining the gray walls. We have a few minutes to spare, so we find seats in the crowded room and wait to be called to board the plane. Across the room a wall to wall window allows a view of the runway, planes lined up, eager to hold new passengers. As I gaze at the big, metal machines, my palms begin to sweat. I have never been up in a plane, and I’m now realizing that maybe I don’t want to.
“...Amira? Are you listening?” I whip around to see Dad looking at me.
“I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“I said do you want the window seat or the aisle seat?” I watch, slightly annoyed that he interrupted my brooding, as his lips quirk up, knowing my answer already.
Deciding to return the smile, I reply, “Window, please. You know I’m one for views.” The words escape my mouth before I remember the anxiety I was just feeling, and I consider changing my mind. I think better of it, though, and stick with my answer. If I’m going in a plane either way, might as well make the most of it. Overhead I hear the crackle of the intercom and then an authoritative female voice comes on, announcing the departure of gate 11. Grabbing Lyla and I, Dad makes his way across the room, weaving in and out of traffic. We finally reach our gate and give our tickets to the lady at the desk before boarding the plane.
We make our way to the back, viewing the plush blue seats and the complementary gray carpet inside. We reach our row and I enter first, sliding to the window seat while Lyla enters after me and Dad last. I’m starting to get really excited now. Or is it still nerves? Whatever it is, I swallow it down and focus on taking in the asphalt some fifteen feet below. Was the window seat a good idea? It isn’t the heights so much that scare me as it is falling from the sky in this tin can. Either way, I stare out the bolted window, waiting for take off.
After maybe ten minutes, a typical slender, blonde flight attendant enters the plane and briefs us on safety do’s and don’ts. Once she leaves, the intercom announces that it is time to put on our seatbelts, and we begin to drive down the runway. I look out, watching the palm trees along the side fly by in a wave of hypnotic greens. I can feel my heart pounding inside my chest and I keep my eyes firmly planted on the trees as my insides start to lose their weight. I feel as light as a feather as we rise, rise. The wave of green turns into an ocean full of every shade possible. Browns, yellows, blues, whites meld together to form the industrialized landscape of the airport. Gradually, the landscape grows wider until I can see all of Fort Lauderdale through one circular window. I wonder if that couple and little boy are one of those specks.
Feeling the suspicious gaze of another, I avert my eyes from the view and turn to see Lyla and Dad staring at me, the stupidest grins on their faces.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?” I raise my eyebrows for emphasis, but it only results in both of them cracking up.
“You… Look like… A baby!” Lyla announces between giggles, unable to control herself. Behind her Dad nods in agreement and, noticing the glare now upon my face, shrugs his shoulders as if there was no better explanation.
“You just look so happy,” he states simply. Realizing that was all I was going to get, I roll my eyes and turn back to the window. As I do, I notice that my hands are pressed up against the glass, and there are marks where I must have been breathing on it. Chuckling in my throat, I picture myself eagerly looking out the window, and admit that it was probably funny. Okay, maybe the window seat was a good idea after all.
I lay back against the blue cushions, resting my head. I sit back up and lean over to check the watch on Dad’s skinny wrist. It is two o’clock. Ten hours. That is how long Brazil is going to take. It isn’t a very appealing prospect, but at least the seats are comfortable, so I proceed to peacefully watch the blue and white of the sky flow by. I don’t look back toward the aisle until a while later when another flight attendant, this time slender with short brown hair, walks by offering peanuts and water. I take them, realizing that it is now almost four o’clock and my stomach is not taking kindly to having only oatmeal. Dad and Lyla, on the other hand, are too busy being asleep to notice, so I eat my snack in silence, watching the ocean that has now taken the land’s place. Never did I think I would be in the middle of the ocean, let alone thousands of feet over it. Once the packet of peanuts has been devoured, and the bottle of water drained, I begin to feel the weight of today’s surprising excitements taking their toll. After a few minutes of battling my eyelids and the heavy exhaustion, I give in, realizing that we won’t land in Brazil until midnight and I will need to get some rest.
Once again, I lean into the soft cushions, letting them and the noise of the wind around the plane swallow me whole. My eyelids fall down to heavily curtain my mind, and I am sent into swirling darkness, fading into a fitful rest.
There’s a green light at the end of the tunnel. It’s miles away, so far away. I walk toward it, maybe I can get a better look. It’s farther still. I can’t reach it. Wait, here it comes. It’s coming towards me, I can see it. No, them. There’s two of them. Two glowing green eyes. They’re right in front of me. They’re so close I could just reach out and…
“Amira, wake up! We’re here! Ouch!” My eyes fly open to see wide hazel eyes inches away instead of the glowing green ones. Those eyes. They were so… real. I shake myself from my thoughts to see Lyla’s hazel eyes again, this time paired with a deep, quivering frown. I see a scratch on her tan cheek, and realize that I must have actually reached out in my sleep and scratched her when she tried to wake me.
“Oh! I’m sorry, Lyla. I didn’t mean to.”
Her eyes narrow a little before she agrees to accept my apology. “Oh, it’s okay,” she assures me with a wide, toothy grin. A grin that is still inches from my face.
“Lyla… Can you..?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah!” She hastily jumps from my side and runs out into the carpeted aisle where Dad is standing patiently. Obviously it took awhile for me to wake, because we are the only passengers left on board. I rub the daze from my eyes and hop out of my seat, following the two of them off the plane.
The steps lead into another gate much like the first. The walls and ceiling are still painted a light gray and the floor is still covered in checkered carpet. The ever present crowds, however, are replaced by a heavy layer of silence and the windows show no view except the blackness of the sky outside. Eager to escape the dull environment, we all hurry to the baggage claim and then on to the entrance at a brisk pace. Reaching the row of automatic doors, we step outside into the world of Brazil. Aside from the extra humidity and heat in the air, Brazil in the dark isn’t that different from Florida. I’m sure there are beautiful landscapes and sights around me, but those will just have to wait until morning. We walk along sidewalks until we come across a cab to take us to the hotel we’re staying in close by the airport. We pull up by the front entrance, illuminated by street lamps. As we enter, I am surprised by how white and modern the lobby is, accented with dashes of red. The process of getting our room key from the half asleep receptionist proves more challenging than we planned, but we are finally collapsing on the two queen beds within a half hour. After taking turns washing up, I am dressed in some simple pajama shorts and a t-shirt, and am ready to lay down. Lyla and I take one of the beds, while Dad takes the other.
“Goodnight, girls,” he says before shutting off the lights. Lyla’s and his breaths slow and fade within five minutes. I am surrounded by snoring on all sides, my own eyes stubbornly staying open. Look, I know I slept on the way here, but it’s still midnight, I think, more than slightly irritated. I force my eyes shut for what seems like an eternity. I can hear wind blowing outside, the snoring, some guys chatting in the room next door. It isn’t for what feels like hours that the sounds drown out and become background noise. I look around and direct my focus toward the green eyes, still playing in my mind. I stare into them, get lost in them. They feel like home. They start moving. They get farther away again, luring me into a steady trance, until they’re barely a dot in the distance. Black all around them until the black is all I see. There are no dreams.
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© 2018 Kayleigh Anne