A Bird Let Free

There’s a second, right as the plane touches down, when she has this sudden sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. She closes her eyes and breathes an almost-prayer into the soft wool of her muffler, not asking for anything, just giving thanks for her life and repenting of her sins, trying to forgive everyone she can think of.

The plane lands safely. The plane always lands safely.

Taxiing, deplaning, and the slow shuffle through the airport to the baggage claim goes like it always does. She’s in a pleasant limbo between touchdown and her suitcases, a not-place that glows with the soft approach of divinity. She’s clean, absolved, and peaceful.

Harry’s waiting for her in the White Zone, filthy knit cap pulled low over his eyes, green and yellow soccer jersey spotted and stained, his face rough with a week’s worth of beard. She doesn’t even make it out of the automatic doors before he’s there, lifting her off her feet and swinging her around. “God, I’ve missed you, Phoebs,” he says into her hair. Her fingers press into his back, ten bright points of benediction.