Trevor and Mary, 19 and 17, felt they were far too old to babysit their siblings. Yet, here they were at MSY, waiting to fly to their grandparents’ home in Florida for spring break. Of course the two older siblings also felt they had better things to do with their spring breaks than visit their grandparents, but they couldn’t defy their parents.
Trevor felt especially cheated. It was the first spring break of his college career, and he was missing out. At best, he’d be able to drag his younger sister to parties, but then he’d have to look after her the whole time. She was only 17, after all.
Trevor thought about the last time he saw his sort of girlfriend, Shannon. They had been in her apartment. She played a song that that made him nervous, because it was…something his 19 years couldn’t describe. Then, she used her ballet given flexibility to place her foot on the high counter, baring her bits to him. This, he understood, even when the music in the background made him feel deeper than he’d ever been.
Mary picked at the peeling polish on her thumb, looking at her brother in the corner of her eye. Their younger siblings, Janie (9) and Sydney (7) were watching The Wizard of Oz on their tablet, with headphone splitters so as to both listen with their own earbuds. Mary felt wistful looking at the sepia tones. So, she did as she always did when sentimentality made her crave comfort- she turned to her brother for unrelated practical answers.
“Trev, when does our flight leave again? Why are we still at baggage claim?”
Trevor sighed and threw an arm around his sister, whom he knew so well. “Mar, because we have TIME. Like, four plus hours. And as long as were here, I can step out anytime for a smoke and be no more than ten steps away.”
Mary crossed her arms. “Smoking is bad for you.”
“Ok, OK,” Trevor conceded,”it’s also because baggage claim is the best place for people watching, since we’re too old to be entertained by Dorothy.” He learned into his sister’s ear. “Want me to teach you something I learned in college? It’s a very valuable skill. It’s called, how to observe without being observed.”
Mary hesitated. She loved learning about college life, and she hated being bored, but she also hated being rude, and people watching in such an intimate and stressful setting seemed rude. She finger combed her wavy golden brown hair before her need for reassurance and distraction won over.
“OK, teach me, Trev.”
Trevor beamed at his favorite person before pulling his iPod out. After retrieving it, he rifled in his pocket further to find a headphone splitter identical to that of his younger sister’s. Once he had it, he impatiently snapped his fingers at Mary until she produced her own headphones. He plugged in both sets and queued up a song.
“OK Mar, this song will set an emotional tone. After you hear it, use it as a magnet of sorts, to attract your eyes to similar emotional energy. So shut up and listen.” Trevor finished hastily, embarrassed at the subject matter.
Mary nodded, put in her earbuds and closed her eyes.
The music began its four-minute parasitic journey into their souls. Meanwhile, the two younger children waited on bated breath for their favorite scene, where Judy Garland as Dorothy sings the iconic song.
The song Trevor played described longing, and the heaviness that came with it, but also the lightness that came from knowing that someone reciprocated that longing. You weren’t alone. You were loved beyond reason, cherished beyond words, and desired beyond the physical.
Trevor didn’t completely understand this of course, which was why he was so uncomfortable when Shannon played it. Mary didn’t have the experience to explain her understanding, but she understood nonetheless.
“OK, let’s look for someone who matches that song.” Trevor said, clearing his throat and taking charge. Trevor scanned the baggage claim, eyes settling in a lone female figure a few carousels down. “Look at her.” He pointed her out to his sister with a nod. “Why is she alone? Who is she waiting for? Is it a happy occasion?”
Mary cleared the emotion from her own throat and assessed the woman. She couldn’t tell if she was older or younger than Trevor, at first. The woman had long, dark dreadlocks, half dyed a bright orangey red, and dark skin. They were mostly looking at her profile, but she turned left and right to scan the area, playing with her phone and frequently checking the screen in a fidgety way.
“She seems anxious.” Somehow, that was all Mary could say.
“Mar, Mar. Dig deeper! Why nervous? Who do you think she’s meeting? You know, we’ll probably be here to witness it. So we can sweeten the pot with a bet.”
“Wha’d’ya figure?” Mary asked in a perfect imitation of their grandfather.
“She kinda looks like she’s being stood up.” Trevor said.
Mary rolled her eyes. While she used to her brothers cynicism, it never failed to shock her, which she was beginning to suspect was the point. “I think she’s waiting for family. Maybe someone young? Someone she needs to worry about.”
Trevor considered this for a moment. “Ten bucks?” He asked, holding out his hand.
Mary shook it with confidence. It was the first thing her brother had taught her how to do, when they were introduced 17 years ago.
They watched the woman carefully for the next few minutes, alternating between their phone screens and her anxious pacing. A man catcalled her, and the darkness that settled on her features made her almost unrecognizable to them.
Then, suddenly, it all melted away, and she looked as though she saw the gates of heaven itself. The two siblings saw her mouth move; but years later, neither could recall what she said.
She was looking past them, so they had to abandon their inconspicuous stance to continue observing. They saw another woman, smaller and shorter, but equally pretty. She had long blonde hair and light, shiny eyes. Mary realized that the shininess was created by tears, and when she looked back to the first woman, she saw that her eyes now held the same luster.
“Mar! Trev! She’s singing it!” Sydney nudged her eldest sister in excitement as she started to mouth the words to the song.
Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high. There’s a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby.
“Shut up, Syd.” Trevor said sharply, looking back and forth between the two women.
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Sydney frowned for a moment, but went back to her tablet screen. Janie, however, wanted to know what was so exciting to her two eldest siblings, and wordlessly followed their line of sight.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops, oh way above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me.
The three siblings watched the women envelope each other in the tightest hug they’d ever before witnessed. The dark-skinned woman rested a hand in the blonde woman’s hair and shut her eyes tightly, lost to the world.
Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow, why and, oh why can’t I?
Janie tried to tune out the music, but she couldn’t. Mary tried to wipe her eyes, but found her hands had turned into useless lumps at the ends of her wrists. Trevor tried to swallow, but found it as impossible as describing the song that led them to the women.
If happy little bluebirds fly, beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?
The children knew what was going to happen as they pulled apart, as the taller woman gently cupped the smaller woman’s chin in her hands. Trevor felt as though he had written the script himself, he saw the kiss coming that clearly.
After a time, the women broke apart, giggling, and went with their arms wrapped around each other’s waists to retrieve luggage.
Mary inhaled, ready to speak, when Trevor stopped her by pulling out his wallet. Mary examined the bill, then exclaimed, “But this is a twenty!”
Trevor sniffed and shrugged. “Worth every penny.”
Sydney, oblivious to it all, cried because Dorothy just wanted a home of dreams. She was unaware that her older siblings had witnessed two people gain that very thing.