I am one of the last off the plane, sitting near the back; I watch the scramble of people ahead of me, everyone hurriedly claiming their bags and their places in line. A space is left for me and I step into the aisle.
I imagine Morgan waiting for me on the other side of the double glass doors at arrivals in the airport, watching the faces as they appear around the corner, waiting to see the familiarity of my own. I am excited to see him.
For the last two hours aboard the plane I thought of Bear and missed her terribly. She would always be there whenever I came through those double doors, tail wagging so hard her entire body swayed as soon as she picked me out of the crowd, her brown eyes glued to mine as though to say ‘I will never let you out of my sight again.’
It was one of the best things about returning home, having Bear meet me at the airport. She was always there, to meet people arriving, to see people off. I loved how passersby would smile widely at her, call her beautiful, ask to pet her.
It is a quiet night at the airport. Only a handful of people are milling about in the departure lounge as I walk through. I expect Morgan to be standing in view when I round the corner, the other passengers having already cleared away the waiting crowd, but when I pass through those doors, the space at the end of the short hallway is empty. Perhaps he got caught up with something I think, and walk through.
I head for the escalators, a little disappointed, thinking maybe I will see him downstairs when I hear Morgan’s voice, “Hey,” he says. I turn around and there he is sitting at a bank of chairs against the far wall, the farthest away you can sit from any hubbub at arrivals, and beside him is Murdoch, his black shape like a dark shadow against the white wall.
I let out a laugh of surprise, shaking my head. “What are you doing?” I ask, incredulously, glancing around the empty area, wondering what it was like just moments ago with people streaming by, excitedly greeting other people streaming by.
Murdoch is vibrating, his ears pinned to the side of his head. I can tell he wants to tear around and leap up and down and welcome me home. He is ready to jump out of his own skin. When I reach down to hug him I see he is tied off to the bank of chairs; his eyes are red from over excitement, his tongue is too. I ask, “How did you do this?” And I’m not sure exactly what I mean. How did you make it here without getting killed, or maiming someone, or being tossed out by security? How are you sitting here with this dog?
“He only dragged me down once in the parking lot,” Morgan says, with such a chipper lilt that I think he must be kidding. “Really?” I ask.
Oh yes, he confirms. And then, he tells me, they quick-marched through the main floor of the airport with Murdoch just about walking on his hind legs, eagerly choking himself. They met many people who gave them a very wide berth. “Nice dog,” some apparently called across the distance between them, and not at all in a sarcastic way. I can’t believe they made it this far.
“Why?” I can’t help myself from asking. Why would Morgan risk insult and injury, why would he put himself in a situation where he had to trust a dog he has just never trusted, why would he put himself through the stress of it all?
“Because I knew it would make you happy,” he says.
“Aw,” I say. “It did!”
“Are you ready?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say. And we untie Murdoch from the chairs and make a run for it.