“Behind every little sister, there is a big sister standing behind her holding a bat saying, you want to say that again?”
Mar takes the elevator up and disappears out of sight. I follow her and grab a seat where I have a direct line of sight to her terminal. Lone Lee is shuffling around in my shoulder bag, making circle after circle in an effort to get comfortable.
I watch Mar grab a seat and pull out her phone. I fight the urge to call out to her. I know it would only make things hard for both of us. I don’t want her to have second thoughts because I’m being selfish and crying like this. It will only make her stay.
“I’m going to grab a coffee; what can I get you?” Will asks, running his hand over my shoulder, trying to comfort me.
I can’t drink coffee without Mar. What? What am I thinking? Of course, I can drink coffee without Mar. I better get a handle on myself. If I can’t do anything Mar and I have done together, then there wouldn’t be anything left to do.
“I’ll take a White Chocolate Mocha- small,” I say, trying to turn my frown into a smile.
“One small White Chocolate Mocha is coming up,” Will says.
His words fall on deaf ears as I text Mar. I can’t stop myself.
Hey stupid. I’m in the parking lot. We are trying to find a hotel. How are you?
I watch as Mar slides her finger over her phone.
I’m ok. Tell me I’m doing the right thing.
I take in a deep breath and text back.
Are you happy? Do you love him?
Mar smiles tells me everything I need to know. Her eyes light up as she texts back.
Yes! On both.
I can’t be anything but happy for her, despite the hole in my stomach. I text back through tears.
Then you are absolutely doing the right thing.
Will hands me my coffee and sits next to me. He whispers like Mar can hear him. “What are you doing?”
“I’m texting Mar. I couldn’t help myself.” I lean against him and continue texting Mar. “Want to play Scrabble to pass the time?”
Mar smiles and shakes her head up and down as though I can see her through the phone.
Yes, you start.
I watch her play her words back and forth. She grimaces and wrinkles her nose every time I get a better word than she does. It makes me laugh.
Hey, I have to go, the plane is boarding. I’ll text when I get there. I have no idea if I can text on the plane. See you. I love you.
I swallow the lump in my throat hard, forcing myself not to have a complete meltdown outside of her terminal. Instead, I do the big sisterly thing and text back.
OK, I love you. Be safe.
That's the thing about being a big sister; you protect the little sister at all costs, even if it’s from yourself. I stand up with a wobble to get a better look as Mar gets in line. Will wraps an arm around my shoulder as we make it back to the elevator. All the wind has been sucked out of me. Lone Lee can feel my hurt; he begins to whimper. I reach in the bag to comfort him.
As we walk through the glass doors of the airport, Will keeps his arm tight around my shoulder. Almost like he’s trying to hold me together. I know I need it. Leaving Mar like this has me gutted. That’s why we have our protocol. The whole Tuck and Roll protocol is the only way to do this. I sit on Coopers hood, pull up my flight tracker app, and type in Mar’s flight number.
I remember an old song about watching airplanes take off and try to remember it. When I remember it, I snap my fingers together, got it. I type in Gary Allen, Watching Airplanes in the Amazon app, and send it to Mar.
She quickly texts back.
Are you trying to kill me?
Yes, I’m shitty at it; it didn’t work the first time, so I’m trying again.
I lay back on the hood of Cooper and look up to the sky. The app says Mar’s plane is taking off. I put my hand up to my eyes and squint. I let out an uncontrollable sob as her plane flies overhead. She’s gone on her next great adventure. I knew this would have to happen at some point. I just didn’t think it would be so soon. This is good for her. My baby sister is falling in love and growing up, and I’m here to see it.
I rest my face in my hands and remind myself; this is a good thing. I twirl Cooper’s keys in my hand, then unlock the door and slide into the driver's seat. Mar’s seat. I laugh because I have to pull the seat back to fit. I place Lone Lee in his spot in the backseat and put Cooper in reverse. I have no idea which direction I’m going. I haven’t even bothered to look anything up. All I’m trying to do is get out of here.
Will slides his hand over mine on the gear shift. He’s kept quiet this whole time, giving me my space to process.
It isn’t until now that he asks. “Do you know which way we’re going?” Will pulls out his phone and opens the Google Maps app.
“Texas,” I whisper.
“Texas in general or a certain place?” Will asks, sounding confused with a bit of wit to his voice.
“Just type in Texas. As long as we are in Texas, we can go from there.” I glance behind me as I pull onto the freeway.
I smile at Will. “You’re gonna love my parents.”