Mena Photakis

He’d been enchanted by the woman since they’d both arrived. She’d spilled out of the passenger seat of a Chevy pickup, waving as the driver sped away with a cheerful toot-toot. He was carefully disembarking from his taxi, strapping his briefcase awkwardly to his rollaway and fishing in his wallet for cab fare. She was barefoot, wearing a small hiker’s backpack and a long, sleeveless dress. Her hair flowed down over her shoulders, her breasts, the pack, her arms; the wheat-blond strands were easily more than two feet long.

She was three places ahead of him in the security line. A little girl in front of her struck up a conversation. He watched as she crouched down, lean and willowy, to admire the child’s sparkly sunglasses and ballerina doll. She laughed with the child’s mother. He shifted his luggage out of the way of a passing people-mover and his briefcase toppled.

Over her shoulder, the child grinned at him. He waved a file in reply.

The woman sailed through security, tossing the pack nonchalantly onto the conveyor, padding through the metal detectors with a sweet smile. While he hastily retied his wingtips and fished his watch from the little white bin, she pulled a pair of folded ballet slippers from a side pocket of the pack and slipped them on, balancing on one foot, then the other.

He fidgeted in his seat at the gate, anxiously watching the departures board. From time to time he looked over at where she sat, cross-legged on the floor by the window, using the backpack as a back cushion. Weak bars of sun, filtered by the terminal’s dirty glass, played in her hair. She’d gotten coffee and some kind of flaky pastry, the crumbs from which she brushed from the pool of fabric in her lap.

He’d only just gotten up to check with the Gate Attendant about his aisle seat when the little girl from the security line crashed into the back of his knees. Her face was streaked with tears; she was towing the ballerina doll by it’s long pink hair.

“I can’t find my Mommy!” They were the scariest words he’d ever heard. He turned to plead with the attendants for help. When they questioned the child, she only shook her head and clung to his pant leg.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We’ll find your Mommy.” He patted her hair and cast wildly around the gate area for some sign of the little girl’s family. Instead, he turned to find the woman, backpack on one shoulder, hair coiled up on top of her head, holding her hand out to him.

“Mena Photakis. I met this little girl earlier. I’ll help you find her Mom.”


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodThis week we’d like you to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece set entirely in an airport. Take us on an adventure in 450 words or less.

22 thoughts on “Mena Photakis

  1. Nice to meet you Mena πŸ™‚

    I like the contrasts set up through here…the free-spirited traveler vs. the business traveler vs. the family. The mundane routines of the airport are the background but also showcase the characters and their quirks (pastry, doll, etc.)

  2. Hi Mena

    You made excellent word choices throughout. I like how you crafted her introduction and then led me into the story. This is another example of your superb skills.

  3. GREAT contrast between your characters.

    I got totally hung up on the barefoot thing. Walking through an airport on bare feet… ick!

    Fantastic details, fantastic set up, and also this: “He waved a file in reply.”

    A winner as always. πŸ™‚

    1. Funny thing? While I know full well how gross it is? I’m not really all that skeeved by going barefoot, and if flip flops weren’t an option, I think I’d be right there with Mena.

      Though ironically, I’d probably get in trouble with the TSA for being barefoot anywhere but at the security checkpoint.

  4. I totally agree with Angela’s comment that the contrasts were so nice, and something you see a lot of in traveling hubs.

    So, I don’t know how helpful the rest of this comment is because I seem to be reading something in that isn’t there, but I read something sinister in her, something in me didn’t want him to take her hand, that in touching her he too would be lost, more lost in her than he already is.

    1. I’m kind of intrigued by your comment, actually.

      I was initially afraid that HE would come across as sinister, watching this woman so intently. I changed some of the wording to soften his regard a little.

  5. I can see how that would be your initial worry, your wording changes worked wonders then, because he came of as benign, sort of overwhelmed and fumbling while she came off as almost other worldly comfortable. Also, keeping in mind I am righting a fantasy novel right now, so I may be seeing bad guys lurking where they really aren’t.

  6. Do you ever read something so lovely and delightful that when you turn away from the screen or page and look back at your life, your work, your doldrums, you are overwhelmed with your ordinariness?
    This is what this piece did for me.
    I got lost in her carefree-ness, in her light and his interest.
    Good thing I adore you with all my available self (and not filled with jealousy and resentment!!!)
    Too much?

  7. I have to agree with jennifer. There is something odd about Mena and not just that she is free spirited. She sounded a little too forcefull when she approached him, as if he was warned “you better let me help you”

  8. I don’t find Mena forceful or sinister. The free spirits in the world are just simply that – aware, free and beautiful. And she just wants to help find that little girls mom.

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