There was nearly a three hour layover in Toronto. Charles relaxed in his seat in the terminal and checked his itinerary. He would not arrive in St. Johns until after midnight. He purchased a book about Newfoundland at a bookstore. He sat in a restaurant and ordered a sandwich and beer and started to read the book.
A waiter in his mid twenties brought the sandwich and beer. “Your first trip to Newfoundland?”
Charles smiled politely. “Yeah, you ever been there?”
“I’m from St. Johns,” the waiter said. “The book you have there is far more exciting than Newfoundland itself. If you like cold damp weather it‘s the place to be.”
“What about fog?” Charles said.
“Fog is the weather,” the waiter said, “at least in St Johns and the east coast.”
“Have you ever been to Burin?” Charles said.
“Heard of it, but can’t say that I’ve been there,” the waiter said. “It’s just one of those little fishing villages that no one ever goes to. Is that where you are going?”
“Yes,” Charles said.
“You have family there?” the waiter said.
“Perhaps,” Charles said.
“Oh, I see,” the waiter said, “searching your roots.”
“I guess you could say that,” Charles said.
“Well, good luck with that,” the waiter said. “I’ll let you enjoy you’re meal. If you need anything else just get my attention.”
The book supplied little information that he was looking for, but it was good as a distraction. After the meal Charles found his gate for departure and continued reading.
There was a page having the map of all North America. Newfoundland seemed near the top of the world, sort shoved in the corner away from the rest of the continent. It was as if it weren’t meant to be, just left over material from the mainland. There was no place else for it so it was scraped together and shoved to the side. That was likely what the waiter thought also.
Charles slumped in his seat and rested the book on his chest. He tried to visualize Burin. He pictured fishing boats anchored near a small village that was alive with happy hearty people doing the work of the sea. He tried to imagine what he might find there. Perhaps nothing, perhaps the numbers on the medallion are meaningless or have a meaning far removed from his plight. For all Charles new he could have been born in a baby factory and the medallion was the only way to keep him separate.
The sun was near its setting and darkness began to slowly creep in from the east. Charles’ flight was called to board. Charles settled into his seat. He sat alone. The flight was only half full at best. The plane climbed to cruising altitude. He turned to the index in the book and found “Burin.” He turned to the page. There was a bright colorful picture of a small village teaming with small fishing boats. He smiled. It’s what he imagined. He drifted off to sleep with the book on his chest and that vision in his dreams.
It was the turbulence that awakened him. He looked out at the infinite dark with lonely specks and cluster of sparkles below.
“Refreshment, sir?” the stewardess said.
“Ginger ale, please,” Charles said.
She poured a cup and placed it on his tray.
“How long to St. Johns?” Charles said.
“We should be at the gate in about an hour and fifteen minutes,” she said. “We’re right on schedule.”
Charles smiled. “Thanks.”
But he was unsettled. Every step of his journey to find out who he was only led to other questions and deeper mysteries. He was not sure he could withstand another. Yet if he were to turn around the next morning and head back to Atlanta that would leave him always wondering.
A falling star flashed across the sky. It was almost as if he could discern the particular of burning elements and crackling embers. “What if there is someone there for me, waiting.” He turned on the overhead light and read about the southern coast of Newfoundland. He allowed his finger tips to pass over the photograph of Burin. He was certain he could feel it.