Sam had checked in several hours ago, handing her baggage to the small European man, with shifty eyes, making her feel slightly nervous. Rather than sit and mope in the departure lounge, Sam had decided to look around the handful of shops that were scattered around; to try and pass the next 134 minutes before her flight was due, not that she was counting.

It hadnít taken long for her to end up in a small shop, simply, and descriptively marked, by a large dark red, hand-painted sign above its door marked Books. The interior of the shop was small, modern, chipboard style shelves were stuffed full of various volumes, mainly new, but the haphazard way that they were lying, made them appear older, and somehow gave the shop more character. All of the books were lined on the shelves with their spines pointing outwards, so an interested reader had to pull them out, hoping not to cause an avalanche in the process.

After walking down the row, running a finger along the line of books, Samís hand stopped and gently tugged out a loose novel, short, only 200 pages or so. It was a love story, a type of book that she would read on occasion, thinking wistfully of the characters, but would never admit to this in public. This particular story, claimed to tell the tale of a pair of young lovers, Sophia and Carlos, being written to appeal to the stereotype that Latinos are all madly passionate. All the blurb on the back would reveal was that, "Sophia is leaving to start a new life in America. Can Carlos convince her of her mistake before it is too late? And what will happen to their relationship before the final act is played out?"

It sounded way too sickly for Sam, and normally she would have put it back, but she had to laugh at the irony. The plotline was easy to predict. There would be lots of pointless fluff until the last scene, where Sophia would be about to leave, and Carlos would come running up onto the station platform, or to the gate at the airport, bypassing any kind of security and declare undying love. If it had been a film, Carlos would probably have to chase the plane to the runway first. But all would end well, and they would ride off into the distance and their happy ever after.

But real life is never like that. Sam was solicitor in a large law firm, where she had been training since she left university, two years ago. A conference on an important case had taken her out of town for a while, and there, she had met Jake. They had had their fling, and it had been fun. Sam was a little naÔve in these matters, and part of her hoped that they could continue what they had started, but it was unlikely to happen.

Had her life been a book like this, however, when she left because her flight had been called, only 68 minutes to go now, Jake would be just entering the departure lounge, running to tell her that leaving would be a terrible mistake. It was a shame really.

A few minutes later, as if she had just noticed a customer was there, the old lady sitting behind the counter, nose buried in a lengthy classic, Crime and Punishment on closer inspection, looked up for a moment, and called over to ask if she would like any assistance. Sam didnít really know why, but she pulled out the money required, and handed the book to assistant, paying, leaving and standing outside the shop with the thing in her hand.

It was a small trek back to the departure lounge, and by that point her flight had been called over the call system and Sam headed over to board. While she was waiting in the queue, she kept sneaking glances at the door, not ready to admit to herself what she was really hoping for.

As she got to the front of the queue a small wave of clarity came over her, and the realist in the young woman emerged. Just before boarding the plane she passed a dark blue plastic dustbin. Turning the book over in her hands, the way you would an old sentimental object, she left the romance to the Sophiaís and Carlosí of the world and dropped the paperback into the trash. Romance was good for stories, but just not happening in her life.

No more than two minutes later, a young man came running in, headed straight for the flight attendant, only to be informed that the passenger he was looking for had already boarded.

THE END