“Can I help you?”
Michael could not believe it. There was nothing wrong with his eyes: he was sure he was awake.
What did she do with her hair? The streaks of blonde messed up her long black smooth locks, the long gone, cut haphazardly to display the punk rock do. She looked like Blondie after a bad night.
“Mister. Mister.” She was somewhat in a hurry, her baggage composed of a potpourri of plastic bags bearing the name of brands he could not recognize.
“Huh?” he was not sure if he wanted to ask her if she was an impostor.
“You paged me. What can I do for you?” she asked, her accent foreign. “Are you my ride?”
“You’ll ride me?” Michael lost his wits somewhat because her pronunciation was difficult to understand.
“You, the taxi driver?” she handed him some of the bags. “Let’s get going.”
Michael was full of apologies, first to the lady at the booth and then to the rocker of a girl.
“I’m very sorry,” he finally found his bearings. “I am looking for another Rowena.”
“Aw,” she clicked her tongue. “No worries, love. You’re cute but I need a driver.”
He blushed, her remark totally unexpected.
“There you are!”
Tina’s voice disturbed the peace; people around gawked, searching where the gaily voice came from.
“Is this some kind of a prank?” he asked suspiciously, noting the other girl’s smile bordered on a laugh.
“We have an unfortunate delay,” Tina explained, not answering his question. “Is there something wrong?”
“Enough with your games, Tina. I smell something fishy going on. Cough it out.”
“Will I lead you astray? Remember I changed a lot because of you. I am a good girl now.”
Michael’s exasperation was replaced by a satisfied grin. Her explanation was enough to remove his wild thoughts out of his head. Perhaps. his hope of actually seeing Rowena in the flesh at that moment was part fancy part fantasy. She might still be out there preparing her return home.
“Can we get on to where we are going?” he took her hand, leading her away from the booth.
“There was a misunderstanding,” she said, her tone apologetic. “The tickets were not booked.”
“Hmm! Do you mean to say that we wasted our time?”
“Well, not really,” she replied. “You met Rowena’s namesake. That’s worth the trip, isn’t it?”
“Remind me to tell your parents that you tricked me for a joyride.”
“You did have fun,” Tina watched his face lit like the sun, the brightness glowing with happiness.
“Where are the girls? I am sure they are as sad as you are,” he said, observing Tina’s smile.
They negotiated the short hallway leading to the parking area outside. From there, he could see the girls having a ball, totally the opposite of what they should have felt because of a missed flight.
“Girls, I am curious. Why are you celebrating?”
The side door of the van opened wide. A female voice invited him in.
“Michael, let’s go home.”
He was dazed, seeing a mirage that perfectly matched his girlfriend’s features. Even the voice sounded so real.
“Tina! Tina! Tell me I am awake!”
“You’re so melodramatic,” she laughed while the other girls giggled with delight. “You asked for Rowena. There she is!”
Michael figuratively flew from where he stood toward her. Everyone vanished from his view: only she stole his sight.
“You’re here!” he jumped for joy, shouting so loud that it produced a jubilant echo.
“As I promised,” Rowena embraced him tightly, her longing vanquished. “I miss you so much!”
Everyone respected the silence inside the van. Two long lost lovers needed it.
“Ehem!” Tina interrupted after a few minutes. “Excuse me, can I stop crying now?”
“Thank you, Tina.” Rowena embraced her next. “You are special.”
“You are all special!” Michael said, surrounded by extraordinary females.
The driver, who was a silent witness to the teary but joyful reunification, found a song on the radio. He increased the volume for all to hear. He, too, felt love was in the air.
“Do you remember our song?” Rowena breathed to his ear.
THE END (for now)