THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
Still groggy, I’d been awake for a few minutes. Connie snored peaceably beside me. The blow dryer’s muffled rumble seeped out from the en suite bathroom. I chuckled over twelve-year-old Bryan’s newfound concern for his looks. To my surprise, the door opened and Connie’s younger sister stepped out. She wore a navy blue flight attendant’s uniform. Her neatly-coiffed hair was pinned back and her face was made up.
“Corinne?” I whispered.
“Hi, Marco. Hope I didn’t wake you. Needed your blow dryer.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Flew in from Calgary last night. Heading back to the airport shortly.”
“You guys naked under there?” Her grin was mischievous.
“You slept here?”
“Yeah. Wanted to see my sis.”
Connie had been already asleep when I turned in. “Should I wake her?”
“No, let her sleep.”
“How did you get in?”
“What do you mean?”
“Who let you in?”
“Connie. Okay if I make some toast on my way out?”
“Sure.” I struggled to reconcile last night’s events. “I’ll come down to make coffee.”
“Thanks, but don’t bother. I’ll buy one at the station.” She stepped into the hallway, picked up a small suitcase, and clunked down the stairs.
I pulled on my boxer shorts and bathrobe. By the time I ambled into the kitchen, Corinne was gone. The margarine lay open on the counter with a knife resting on its overturned lid. I put it back in the fridge, dropped the knife into the dishwasher, and brushed some crumbs into the sink. I locked the front door and returned upstairs for a shower.
Corinne had left her mark in the bathroom. A towel was damp and rumpled. A blond hair lay in the sink. A floating lipstick-stained tissue haunted the toilet. The blow dryer was left out. After a quick tidy, I stepped into the shower and lathered up.
I saw Connie’s silhouette. “Hey, you didn’t tell me Corinne was coming.”
“You’ve lost me”
“She was here last night.”
“Ha… she’s in Australia.”
I turned off the water and reached for a towel. “What?”
“She’s in Sydney, maybe Melbourne. I forget which.”
“Should I start the coffee?” Connie left the bathroom without waiting for an answer.
Puzzled, I dressed and checked the spare bedroom. If Corinne slept there, she’d left no indication.
Downstairs, Connie trembled in tears at the kitchen table. Her phone lay in front of her.
“What’s the matter, Con?”
“Corinne. She’s dead.” She buried her face in her arms. “An accident.”
I stepped closer. “Where?”
“Australia. She looked the wrong way at a crosswalk.”
Had my conversation with Corinne been real? “I’m sorry, love.” I squeezed her shoulder.
Connie raised her head and wiped her eyes on her sleeve. “You said she was here?”
“Maybe I dreamt it.” I told her what happened earlier. “Maybe it was her ghost?”
Corinne jumped out from the closet. “Gotcha, mate.”
Connie burst into laughter. Outside the back door, Buster wagged his tail.
Edmund Fines lives in Toronto with his wife, daughter, and versatile pug. He recently had another Marco short story (one that worked) published with Acta Victoriana.