I stood in a beam of sunlight near the baggage carousel, suitcase at my feet, backpack balanced on top, and my friend Fay’s red carry-on slung over my shoulder. She had disappeared into the crowd, trying to find out when the rest of the luggage from our flight would arrive.
Where in the world was Fay? I scanned the immense, echoing room, dismissing all the veiled women, all the dark-haired girls flaunting their skintight jeans and rhinestone-studded tee-shirts. Porters in baggy tan cotton suits and billed caps piled carts perilously high with bag after oversized bag. The crowd thinned as other weary travelers collected their belongings and waded toward the exit. No one was traveling as light as we were, yet Fay’s suitcase still hadn't shown up.
My eyes lingered on other obvious tourists, before finally spotting Fay haranguing a uniformed man whose back she had pinned to the wall. Fay was speaking fast, gesturing with her hands. The man raised both his arms at the elbows – palms out, fingers spread – mock surrender. She said something else. He shook his head and pointed down the hall. Fay’s hands dropped to her hips. Her chin jutted out as she watched him walk away.
At that moment, a whirlwind with frizzy braids broadsided me. Her momentum carried her past me, sliding along on the slippery tile floor, and I toppled next to her. She landed with an arm tangled in my suitcase strap, purple jumper askew, plump legs in striped tights waving.