Lost and Found (Part 1)
"Keep up with me now, Esther," Rebecca warned, "The airport is a very busy place."
Eight year old Esther Schiffman was going to Israel with her aunt, Rebecca Schiffman, to visit some relatives. Esther's parents had both died when she was a baby and she had been sent to live with her aunt in Prince Edward Island, Canada, which the natives fondly refer to as, "PEI". Naturally, she had always wanted to see where she had been born, and finally she would. Esther trotted eagerly along, trying to not to lose track of her aunt and looking around her at the same time.
"Security is now open for flight to Toronto, Ontario." The intercom blared loudly.
"That's our flight, Auntie," Esther tugged on her aunt's sleeve excitedly. "We don't want to miss our flight so we should hurry!"
Rebecca smiled down at her niece. "Yes, we certainly do need to hurry; let's go!"
Security and boarding the first plane were both new experiences for the little girl, but they passed uneventfully, except for a minor problem with a small bottle of soap. That was quickly cleared up by it being placed in a little plastic bag and replaced in the suitcase.
While the plane took off Esther was a bit lightheaded but as soon as it leveled out she said she was fine.
"I like airplanes," Esther confided to her aunt a little later as they exited the plane. "But I don't exactly like the take offs."
Rebecca glanced worriedly at her watch. "Our next flight leaves in one hour and we still need to go through security again. We need to hurry, okay Esther?"
Esther nodded and quickly put on her backpack, adjusted the straps and then grabbed the handle of her little suitcase, smiling at her aunt. Rebecca smiled back, took her other hand and they started walking briskly toward security.
After security and a trip to the bathroom, the crowd seemed to grow thicker and thicker around them. Esther's hand was somehow separated from that of her aunt, and she found herself alone in the middle of the crowd. She began to panic, looking around her frantically. The crowd was on all sides but above it she could see a sign and make out the words, "Information booth" on it. Underneath the sign, she could see a desk where a grim faced woman, who looked like she had been pressed and polished, sat. Esther remembered that her aunt had told her if she were ever lost, to find one of these desks and ask there for help. As soon as there was a little break in the crowd, she crossed over and looked up hesitatingly at the woman, who was busy on her computer.
After a minute or so the woman finally perceived Esther standing at the desk waiting, and asked in a rather sharp voice, "What do you need?"
"Please ma'am, I've lost my aunt."
The woman sighed as she queried, "Have you your ticket?"
"Yes ma'am," Esther handed up her ticket, and waited fearfully as the woman examined it.
Finally the woman said, "You must go to terminal number five, and you must go quickly."
Esther stared at her in dismay, there was no way she could navigate through the airport alone!
"What's the matter child, and where are your parents?" asked a pleasant but also familiar voice.
Esther turned around in surprise. There stood a kind looking woman with an expression of sympathy on her face. In one hand she held a purse, and in the other she pulled a small suitcase.
Esther recognized her instantly. "Miss Mildred!"
"Esther! What are you doing here?"
"I was going to Israel with auntie, but I've lost her!" Esther's eyes filled with tears at the memory. "The lady says that I need to go to terminal five, and I don't know how to get there," she added fearfully and tearfully.
"Oh no! Don't worry Esther; we'll find your auntie, and meanwhile I'll take care of you. I need to go to that terminal too," Mildred reassured her.
Mildred was a very good friend of Rebecca's, and had gotten to know Esther well also. She lived with her sister and her sister's husband not too far from where Esther and her aunt lived. They usually met up with her about once a month to do something fun like go shopping or have a picnic. Mildred had been living in Quebec with her parents, but she wanted to live somewhere smaller, so she moved in with her sister in PEI.
Mildred took the ticket from the woman at the desk and instructed Esther to get her suitcase, which she had set down right next to where she was standing. Esther did so obediently, and then took the hand Mildred held out to her. The two of the hurried as fast as they could toward the terminal, Esther hopeful once more that they would find her aunt. When they reached the terminal, they found that the plane was already boarding, so they quickly got into line. Esther noticed that the sign suspended over the boarding door said "GDANSK, POLAND." She tugged on Mildred's skirt frantically, "Miss Mildred, I'm not going to Poland, I'm going to Israel!"
"Going to Israel are you? Well, I guess not. Your ticket says plain and clear that you're going to Poland. Besides, the plane that was going to Israel, Jerusalem actually, left about five minutes ago, and my, there was some commotion before it finally left I can tell you! Something about the intercom system I think."
It was their turn in line and the lady scanning tickets hearing Esther's exclamation of dismay, had promptly told her the news about the flight headed to Israel. She quickly scanned their tickets and then said, "Have a good flight to Poland!"
"But my auntie wasn't going to Poland," Esther protested once more as they walked down the gangway. "She was going to Israel, and I was going with her!"
Mildred sighed, "I'm sorry Esther, but you're going to have to stick with me for now, until we find your aunt, okay?"
Esther nodded meekly, "Yes, Miss Mildred, I just hope we find her soon."
"Me too, Esther; me too" Mildred replied thoughtfully.
...To be continued