I am standing at the airport, in one of those Disney-esque rope lines that snake back and forth across the floor. Business people are checking their iPhones, kids are fidgeting but are, curiously, fairly quiet. No whining, no rude noises. Everybody is polite and courteous, excited about, or perhaps resigned to, their upcoming travels.
Slowly but surely we progress through the check-in line. I look around to keep my mind occupied, and spy a beautiful pair of Prada leather boots on the designer jeans-clad young woman three positions ahead of me. I had seen these exact boots at Saks and know that this is a person who spares no expense to project an image of edgy sophistication. A buttery soft, brown leather, the buckled pair cost almost a thousand bucks, so she must have either a very good job or a really nice trust fund.
The young woman reaches the airline ticket agent, and begins to speak. Her voice is youthful and pleasant, and while not at all loud and brassy, it does project. Although I don’t recognize her (after all, I can just see her from the back), there is something familiar about her that niggles at my brain. I focus on her long chestnut tresses, trying to figure out how I know her. Was she ever a student of mine? Is she perhaps one of my kids’ friends? Is she the teller at my bank? I search my memory bank, but come up empty.
Then suddenly it hits me.
It’s Rachel, from cardholder services. As awareness breaks, I feel a burning rage build up inside me, from the deepest level of my gut, up through my chest, and then out my mouth.
“You!” I shout. “You are Rachel! The Rachel who calls me incessantly at work, at dinner, even — damn you — during “The Big Bang Theory!”
And I jump upon her sorry ass, pummeling her until …
I bolt upright in bed, my heart pounding like a thoroughbred at Saratoga. My mouth is parched, so I grab the glass of water on my nightstand and take greedy, desperate gulps. Then I dust off my old Lamaze breathing technique, hoping to slow the 130 beats per minute so that I might actually fall back asleep. So that I don’t have a heart attack.
But, as I breathe in and out, calming myself, I know that I have seen the devil, and that she does indeed wear Prada.