Out the airport window, runways covered in snow, ice, a lone suitcase on the tarmac like Kane’s buried Rosebud. They wore the shirts friends had bought for them, just married written in Jamaican colors and dreadlocks. They leaned against the wall and each other.
“Fuzzy, fuzzed, fudd, fumble,” she said.
He answered with “lull, lullaby, lounge, lizard.”
She didn’t like the lounge and lizard, felt they were too much like one thing, rather than two. She wasn’t sure exactly what the rules were, though. They’d been spilling out this list of four words for an hour now, trying to figure it out.
He tried again. “Skinny, skinned, skin, Schenectady.” She thought that felt like something, like zeugma, but not quite.
“Gong, bong, tong, Ed Sullivan,” she said later. “Free association with a punch line,” he offered. “Maybe.”
“Oranges,” she said.
“Soft boiled egg.”
“No. Chicken fried steak.”
A cart in the distance, blankets and coffee. Not a good sign. The red cancelleds lit up the display of departures.
“Will you always love me?” she asked, under the blanket, cupping the coffee. “God, I hope so.”
“Here's the thing,” he explained. He went on to tell her a theory, how he couldn’t be happy with someone else if it meant he’d destroyed the thing that existed between them. That thing, his knowing what he’d done, would never allow him to feel the kind of happiness he felt now. He knew this for a fact. So the only way out would be for her to fall out of love; even if he did, and he wouldn’t, he would stick it out.
“Romantic,” she said.
“It didn’t come out right.”
“For better or worse,” she said.
“Sickness or health.”
She sipped the coffee. She thought the other couples stuck to the walls and to each other looked reasonably happy. Even the old ones.
“Think we’ll ever get out of this terminal?” he asked her.
Outside, the sleet against the glass, like stones from a lover to a bedroom window. Come out! Come out!
“Do you hear that?” she asked. “It’s daring us to do something.”
“Like stay home. Honeymoon over before it started.”
“What do you think?”
“As long as there’s sex,” he said.
“Lots of it, right? And cocoa.” A baggage handler got out of his tiny truck, bent against the snow, retrieved the buried suitcase, brushed it off, cradled it as he climbed back inside. “Sex, cocoa, bathrobes, and something else,” she said. “We need that fourth thing. The one that makes it work.”
A pause. “Look at those internal gears go,” she said. “You're going to hurt yourself.”
“I want to get it right.”
She stood up, pulled him up and out. “There it is.”
Randall Brown is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live, his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, and he appears in Best Small Fictions 2015 and The Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction. He blogs regularly at FlashFiction.Net and has been published and anthologized widely, both online and in print. He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. He received his MFA in Fiction from Vermont College and is on the faculty of Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.