He waits in the airport bar, sipping on neat whiskey and watching the seconds tick by on his watch. The small carry-on at his feet holds nothing more than a single change of clothes. Through the window, he can see the mountains in the distance, enticing him to stay.
He clings to his memories of the night before the way one clings to covers on a cold morning, fearful of letting them slip even for a second. A day of wandering, countless jokes and affirmations of love. Was it just the alcohol that brought all these feelings up? Or were they genuine?
Inside he’s awash with feeling but to the world, he betrays nothing.
The chaos inside him ranges from happiness to fear. Was he too much? Had he been overbearing? Was it all real? What could he have done better? The anxiety grips him as he replays countless alternatives and different phrases. What had he done to deserve such pure love? How could he ever hope to repay such generosity? He dampens his turmoil with another sip of bourbon.
Time passes and the patrons at his sides come and go. None of them look at him. To the world, he is just another traveler. Inside his jacket is the ticket that will take him back to his city, to his apartment, to his life.
But in the opposite pocket, the one closest to his heart, are memories frozen in time. He smiles to himself, feeling warmer just knowing they are there. He spent the morning carefully studying them, stepping back into the precise moment they were taken. He doesn’t focus on himself but rather on the others. Their care-free smiles and silly faces, brimming with happiness and playful love are all he can think about.
The artificial voice announces the moment of departure and he leaves his drink alone at the bar. The walk to the door is quiet as he secretly prays for some miracle to delay him. He takes his uncomfortable and stiff seat while coming to terms with the fact that his hiatus in color is coming to a close. Within a few short hours, the mountains will slip away beyond the horizon and the squat gray architecture will return to dominate his world.
He slips a hand into his jacket pocket and touches the relics of happiness. Two small rolls of photos, four pictures each. He closes his eyes and smiles.