This is a Love Note.

Machu Picchu

How far would you go to stick it to your ex? This businesswoman is going as far as Machu Picchu, and she’s not going alone.

Tropes – Meet Cute, Strangers to Lovers

The terminal is abuzz with people flitting to and from their gates. 

Mothers corral their children and canoodle them into drinking the standard pre-trip high-nutrient shake. Business people make important-sounding calls as they march past. Couples hold hands as they fantasize about how to spend the first day of their first vacation together.

“Now boarding, T2759 to Machu Picchu, Peru. Please have your ID ready to scan.”

That’s my cue to get up and go. Go fulfill a lifelong dream sola. Solita. Alone.

The line at the gate is already 50 people deep. The man in front of me drops his ID badge. Our heads almost bump as we both bend to pick it up at the same time. I get to it first. ‘Dan Draper’.

I get a good look at him as I hand over the ID. He’s wearing a classic bright blue Hawaiian shirt with large white flowers printed all over, beige cargo pants with too many pockets, brown hiking boots with red laces, and a beige bucket hat. Despite the old-fashioned outfit, he can’t be a day over 35 years old.

He smiles in thanks, eying my charcoal gray pencil skirt, peach silk blouse, and black patent leather pumps. He spends an extra second on my vintage pumps then says, “First time to Machu Picchu, huh?”

“Yes. I’m going for a couple hours. I have to be back for a meeting later.”

He nods, walking backwards as the line shifts forward. “Oh, boyfriend taking you out tonight? That why you’re all dressed up?”

I give him a tight-lipped smile and try not to be rude. “No. The boyfriend decided to bang his spin instructor so I sold his birthday present and bought this ticket to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, I have to be back for a board meeting at 4.”

More nodding. He’s quiet until we pass through the scanners and walk down the ramp side by side. “So why did you book the trip for today if you have a meeting? Machu Picchu’s more of a whole day experience. Hard to see it all in 2 hours.”

This smile comes easier to me. “Today is Peter’s birthday. I’m going to take a picture of myself flipping him off with Machu Picchu in the background and send it to him so he knows we’re through.”

I take the first seat I can find along the back wall and strap in. Dan takes the seat next to me but keeps observing me as he buckles in, impressed, or maybe a little confused.

“He was supposed to take me to Peru for my birthday last month,” I clarify, “but he had an emergency with the cyclist.”

Understanding blooms in his eyes. Before he can reply, the countdown starts, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” Chimes follow the general discomfort of having your molecules rearranged at lightspeed.“We have arrived at Machu Picchu, Peru. Local time is 12:15pm. Please depart the transporter in an orderly manner. Thank you for choosing Quick Escapes. Have a lovely day.”

Dan turns to me with a mischievous grin as we wait for our turn to deboard, “Can I be in the picture?” 

I smile. Why the hell not?

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