He was in his room playing video games when his dad called him down. At first he didn't respond, too wrapped in the imaginary world on his screen, where he could save the Earth, if only he could beat this boss…
"Paul! Get down here! We have to leave right now!" His dad yelled again. His dad rarely yelled; he must be nervous.
Paul sighed and put down the controller. "Only one more year." He told himself, as he did every day. Only one more year until he would be free from the fascist regime his dad called parenting.
He trudged down the stairs and out the door, followed to the car by his dad, who was fiddling with his keys. How strange. Paul hadn't expected his dad would be so nervous to see her again.
Once they were on the road to the airport Paul started to feel a little excited. After all, she was finally here. His long lost twin sister was coming to live with him at last. This was a momentous day in his boring uneventful life.
Since their parents' divorce thirteen years ago the twins had hardly seen each other. The last time Paul had seen his sister was three years ago when he had gone to stay with her and their mom for a summer.
He looked over at his dad who hadn't said a word since they got in the car, and, not for the first time, he wondered why his sister would be leaving her home to live with this man. Why would she want to switch one parent for the other when it was obvious she had the best one with her already.
His mother was the most beautiful, kind and cool mom he knew. It seemed unfathomable to Paul that she could have fallen for his dad? The thought of that bright cheery woman with the cold distant man sitting beside him made Paul shudder. Forget being unable to imagine your parents having sex, Paul couldn't imagine them together at all.
His dad drummed his fingers on the steering wheel while they waited in a long line for parking. "Come on…" He muttered under his breath. Paul rolled his eyes and turned to look out the window. He was getting impatient too.
"Why don't I go ahead?" He offered. "In case she gets there and there's no one waiting."
"Sure." His dad said, too preoccupied with his own thoughts to be his usual controlling self.
Paul jumped out of the car and headed for the terminal as quickly as possible, so that if his dad did change his mind than Paul would be far enough away to get away. He went straight for the arrivals screen to check when she would be in. Her flight was early, but it was still thirty minutes until it would land. Trust his dad to be so anal about being on time that they'd get there with half an hour to spare. With any luck he'd be stuck trying to find a parking spot for the next twenty nine minutes, so they'd have to spend as little time together as possible.
Noticing an empty seat at the Timmy's nearby, Paul sped over to take it. He had only been sitting a moment before he was approached.
Paul looked up from his shoes, right into a big fat pregnant belly.
"If you're not going to buy anything maybe you should leave the seats for paying customers." Pregnant Lady suggested.
"Uh… Sure." He mumbled, getting out of the chair for her, all the while thinking, 'If you weren't pregnant...'
"Thank you." She smiled as she took his seat, but he pretended not to hear and walked away without saying anything.
He had been sitting on the side of the baggage carousel for about twenty minutes when his dad showed up and told him to stand up. "That's dangerous." He said, but didn't elaborate any further. He never explained himself. He didn't have to; he was the parent. "Did you check on her flight?"
"Yes." Paul answered. He was so used to his dad's abruptness he almost didn't notice it anymore. "She gets in at 5:27."
His dad checked his watch, as if the twenty clocks in the airport would be wrong. "Only 2 minutes left. We should get going."
Paul in silence to gate D. There weren't many others there yet, since they wouldn't actually be getting off the plane for a while yet. Behind his dad's back Paul rolled his eyes. What a waste of time, not to mention money. If his dad didn't have to be so early they wouldn't have to spend so much time together, and they wouldn't have to pay so much for parking either.
Within fifteen minutes the area filled up with others coming to greet the arrivals. In another five minutes people started walking out of the gates and into the waiting arms of their friends and family. Paul watched them greeting each other, hugging and laughing happily while he stood silently beside his dad, waiting. It felt like they had already been waiting forever, and now they had to wait for forever again. He just wished it would be over already.
But the people kept coming and there was no sign of his sister. Every time a girl walked out the doors he would tense, wondering if it was her. And every time that girl would smile, hold out her arms and head for another family.
They waited a while longer, and the area started to empty. Paul looked at his dad, knowing he must be going crazy by now. If there was one thing his dad hated it was tardiness. But what was he thinking? If there was one thing his dad hated, there were a hundred.
Paul was starting to feel a little crazy himself by the time the last group of people had left and he and his dad were still standing there, waiting for someone who looked to be never coming.
"You're sure you checked the right flight?" His dad asked. "This is the right gate?"
"Yes I'm sure this is it." Paul answered patiently. What he really felt like doing was screaming, but he figured that wouldn't be such a great idea, especially in an airport. "Maybe she changed her mind."