Opening ceremonies

February 12, 2010

Mt. Hood - Photo by Pam Wells ©2009

Evan examined his chin in the foggy bathroom mirror: still smooth from shaving last Tuesday. He shrugged and got dressed, then galloped down the stairs.

Audrey was deep into her newspaper and coffee ritual at the kitchen table. Evan grabbed an apple.

“I thought you’d be sleeping in,” she said. “No school today, right?”

“Right, I’ve got stuff to do.” He ate and talked. “Can I go to the airport?”

“The airport? Why?”

“We’re meeting some people.”

“We who? How are you getting there?”

“Um… MAX.”

“Max? Well, okay, if Max is going… wait, who’s driving?”

“Oh, uh, we’re taking the bus. Which is coming right now so I gotta go, ‘bye.” Evan screamed out of the house in a sweat. He ran half a block to the bus stop.

Evan rode alone. He transferred buses and relaxed enough to look out the windows at the drizzly day. As he got closer to his end stop, his stomach lurched, his heart rattled in his chest, and he would’ve pulled the cord to stop when the driver announced the next station: “MAX Green Line, Clackamas Town Center.” Evan took a deep breath. He got off.

“Hey.” It was her voice. Evan turned around. There she was, Danni, the girl he couldn’t stop thinking about, the girl who could talk about clouds forever. She was rolling toward him in her wheelchair.

It was a forty-minute train ride to Portland International Airport on Tri-Met MAX light rail, counting the transfer from the Green Line to the Red Line. Evan and Danni went inside the airport terminal and headed down the main concourse.

“Last time I flew, security took my toothpaste,” he said.

“Cool.”

They parked themselves near the arrivals waiting area. Danni took two signs out of her backpack, one for herself and one for Evan. Together the signs read:

“WELCOME TO THE 2010 VANCOUVER GAMES”

For the next hour they smiled and gave out unofficial Olympics maps and stickers to arriving passengers, particularly the foreign-looking ones. Danni spoke at least fourteen languages, it seemed to Evan. He’d struggled through German I and II. She was phantastisch.

Evan got home about four o’clock. In the middle of telling his mother about the poor saps who had landed at the nearest international airport to Vancouver, Washington, instead of Vancouver, B.C., Audrey mentioned that Max had called two hours ago.

“He what? I texted him—”

Evan was under house arrest for the remainder of the four-day weekend. When he was done cleaning the gutters, Audrey suggested he bring this Danny over some day. She wanted to meet him.

©2010 Pam Wells

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