Casey ran across the marble floor, her sun hat held in place with her spare hand. Her other dragged an emerald green carry case behind her, the rumble and clack of its wheels accompanying the slap slap of her sandals as she raced to the departure gate.
The attendant was preparing to close the barrier. ‘No, I’m here, wait!’
She fell against the desk; cheeks pink with exertion, her dark copper curls sticking to sweat dampened skin. ‘I’m here,’ she repeated, dragging her luggage forwards.
The attendant gave her a blank look. ‘Passport?’
Casey produced it from her clutch, watching as it was scrutinised.
The document was handed back, ‘bag ticket?’
She reached down to her case and paused. Ten seconds ago, the green and white bag ticket was wrapped around the handle. Now it was bare. ‘Shit’ she cursed under her breath.
‘Bag ticket?’ the attendant repeated.
‘Yeah, I know,’ she held up a hand while she searched all over her bag, ‘it’s here somewhere I know it is. Just a second.’
‘Miss, you’re already late.’
‘Yes, I know, Jesus! I don’t know, it must have come off, I don’t know where it is.’
The attendant looked at her blankly.
‘Sorry, I was rushing and it must be back there somewhere. Can I get on without it, it’s already been checked.’
‘No miss, a bag ticket is required for boarding.’
Casey bristled, her pink cheeks growing darker with frustration. ‘I know but I just had it, can’t you just-‘
‘No miss,’ the attendant replied flatly, ‘a bag ticket is required for boarding.’
She groaned, ‘Ok, so I don’t have one, what can I do?’
The attendant stared at her for a moment, ‘Bag tickets are obtained at check in. If you have not got a bag ticket you will need to check in again at the check in desk.’
‘But I’ll miss my flight! It leaves in what, fifteen minutes? How can I get back there in time?’
‘I can’t say miss, a bag ticket is required for boarding.’
‘I know!’ Casey snapped, throwing her hands up. She leaned on the desk, aware that everyone in the terminal was watching the scene. ‘You keep fucking saying that!’
‘Miss, please do not curse at me. I am just doing my job. A bag ticket is required for boarding. Shall I call security?’
She exhaled slowly, drumming her slender fingers on the desk. Steeling herself, she forced the sweetest of smiles across her lips.
‘No, I’m sorry. It’s just, look, I’m desperate here. Is there anything that you can do?’
The attendant paused to consider her question.
‘Additional passes can be purchased if necessary for a small fee of $69.99 per item. Would you like to purchase an additional pass?’
Piece of shit. Casey fought to keep the smile on her face.
‘I don’t really have that kind of cash on me, is there anything else you can do? Please, I really need to catch this flight.’
‘We accept card.’
Piece of Shit!
She gritted her teeth as she withdrew her card and paid the fee. ‘Ok, great, can I go?’
‘Please place your case on the pad here.’ The attendant gestured to the left.
Grunting, Casey hauled it onto the flat surface. ‘OK?’
The attendant ignored her, looking at the screen that sat on the desk between them.
‘Apologies miss, this bag is overweight and cannot be permitted on board with a standard baggage ticket.’
‘For fuck’s sake!’ Casey exploded, turning on the attendant. She was taller by two inches and made every use of it, ‘How can it be over-fucking-weight if they gave me the correct baggage ticket when I checked in? I haven’t even bought anything. This is bullshit, I want to see your supervisor. Get them down here now!’
‘Miss, please do not curse at me. I am just doing my job. A valid baggage ticket is required for boarding. Your case is 1lb overweight. Shall I call security?’
‘Call your fucking supervisor.’
‘Of course miss, a supervisor will be available in thirty minutes. Would you like to take a seat and wait?’
‘Thirty minutes? This is bullshit! My plane is leaving in,’ Casey turned to check her departure time on the huge screen at the end of the hall, ‘Eleven minutes! I’m getting on this plane, I’m not missing out on my time at the beach because of this red tape bullshit. You’re gonna let me on this plane right fucking now.’
The attendant was unmoved.
‘Oversized baggage passes can be purchased if necessary for a small fee of $129.99 per item. Would you like to purchase an oversized baggage pass?’
The whole terminal watched Casey’s meltdown.
When she had finished the attendant repeated the question, paused then added, ‘Alternatively you can remove 1lb of weight from your oversized baggage in order to make it compliant. Would you like to remove 1lb of weight from your oversized baggage in order to make it compliant? You have eight minutes. If required, there is a waste receptacle around the corner.’
Casey had never felt so helpless, why was this happening to her? What had she done to deserve this?
The attendant watched as she dragged her case off of the platform and hurried around the corner. The rows of chairs were empty, the flight already boarded. Only a grey table, a trash can and a rubber plant remained.
Her fingers flew to the zip, dragging it open. A rainbow of colours assaulted her, her meticulously planned outfits laid out in a hundred shades. For each evening she had a pair of heels, each one costing a small fortune. She had arranged these around the outside of the case. On the left her makeup and toiletries bag took up a quarter of the space and no doubt half the weight. To the right was her underwear, three summer dresses as light as air and a sealed grey box.
Casey looked at the clock, seven minutes until the gate would close for good. Shit, shit, shit!
She tugged half-heartedly on the makeup bag, kidding herself that there was something in there she could lose. Everything was an essential, everything was designer. She couldn’t leave anything in there behind. She lifted a shoe, feeling the weight in her hand. Was it more than 1lb? She tried to imagine the weight of a bag of sugar. Even if it was, there was no way these heels were going to end up in the trash.
A trickle of sweat ran between her shoulder blades. She couldn’t miss this flight. There had to be something she could leave behind, there just had to be.
Her eyes fell upon the grey container. Could she spare it? She tapped her fingers nervously. Could she really get rid of it? The container was in her hand before she knew it. Was it heavy enough? She tried to pretend it wasn’t but it clearly met the requirements.
Casey placed the container on the table and poured through her belongings once more. There must be 1lb worth of items she could lose, there had to be. Surely there was something she had that wasn’t designer, wasn’t expensive and vital for her summer look?
There was one thing. Something she had owned since junior high, something that hadn’t cost her anything and that could easily be replaced.
She bit her lip as she turned the container over in her hands. This day was always going to come sooner or later.
‘Six minutes remaining miss,’ the attendant called, unhelpful as ever.
‘Fuck it!’ she whispered to herself, unclasping the lid.