Coral Reef Island

Prologue to Baggage Claim:
an Adoption Love Story

Burbank Airport, November 1994


Vicky: Heart pounding madness, I covered uneven and missing parts of my cleft lip with pencil, then applied color ½ shade darker. Will she like me? Smiling to check symmetry, I drew my index finger slowly out of my mouth, Mom’s trick to keep lipstick off front teeth. 

An old habit, hiding my scars. After thousands of dollars for therapy and surgery it pissed me off when a weird look on the subway made me feel ugly - and I’d hide my upper lip behind my hand. 

Ah well, that’s life with a birth defect. 

Driving to the airport to meet the woman who threw me away, the trees blurred a green frame around my reflection - a funhouse mirror. What if she doesn’t come?


Barbara: Excitement danced in my chest, my stomach. I’ll meet Vicky at last. A new feeling stirred within, a Mama Bear who would do anything for her child. Remembering how my mother was jealous of me, I dressed more conservatively than usual, silently vowing never to compete with my daughter. 

  My heart soared as the commuter plane rose above the planet. I’m going to hold my child in my arms for the first time - after 30 years. 

At Burbank Airport I was a heat-seeking missile, impatient to find Vicky. Lost, headed in the wrong direction, I forgot to breathe. We’re meeting at Baggage Claim. Where is it?  

Funneling through hallways, following exit signs, I burst onto the sunlit sidewalk. Where is she? She’s going to think I didn’t come. She’ll leave. Spinning, searching, I scanned the waiting people with hawk-like intensity, my eyes rising to a sign at the far end of the building.

Baggage Claim. There it was, above the north entrance. Taking a deep breath, I raced toward my destiny.


To be published in 2022. Contact us to read the rest of the story.