"Excuse me? Excuse me?"
The little South Indian girl was straining to reach above the DQ counter at the deserted airport terminal. She caught my attention from the corner of the restaurant between mouthfuls of burger and fries. No one came to her aid because no one was there. Maybe the grownups were having a meeting in the walk-in freezer in the back.
Her oily pigtails continued to tremble as her huge black eyes darted about nervously. "Excuse me? Excuse me?"
I dabbed my mouth with the corner of a tissue and rose from my unfinished meal. "Do you need something?" I asked her as I crossed the empty restaurant, making my way towards her. She fixed her black eyes on me. She couldn't have been more than four feet tall.
I looked around and noticed a stack of tissues behind the counter. "There are some here," I said. "Go take some."
She looked around, smiled a small hesitant smile, and shook her head. What if the grownups came back from the giant freezer?
We stood there for a second, the little girl and I, at the terminal time had forgotten. Then I walked up behind the counter and grabbed a bunch of tissues and handed them to her. "Here you go."
She clung to the flimsy paper, and her shiny dark brown face lit up. "Thank you, aunty!" she chimed. She turned to run off but paused when I help up my hand.
"Woah, woah, don't call me aunty," I declared with a smile that masked my horror at her obvious error.
She cocked her head to the side. "Then what?" she demanded.
My mouth opened to tell her that I wasn't an aunty but a damn cool young person with a great lust for life. Why, only yesterday was I voted Miss Sunshine at my high school farewell party. But one look at her confused face had me cringing in embarassment regarding my sudden surge of raw vanity.
"I...I...okay, okay, go on now," I muttered as I shooed her away. She shrugged and hopped off. Time may forget terminals but it doesn't leave us behind.