Here's another story inspired by the Simple Something suggestion from Just Call Me Lynn. Her suggestion was actually two separate suggestions, but I found a way to work them together. Here's what I had to go by:
Title: Fates Intertwined
Name: Evelynn (Evy)
Location: Yorkshire, England
Title: Sometimes It Never Ceases
Location: Portland, Oregon
Emotion: Impatient Despair
Object: Fortune Cookie
It's not my usual stuff, and it's not quite romantic despite the title of this post, but it's not anywhere close to what I've written recently. I hope you enjoy it!
Fates Intertwined: It Never Ends
It was only after she stepped out into the rain that Evelynn realized she forgot her umbrella inside the restaurant. It didn't matter; no amount of rain would get her to go back inside. Spencer was inside, and she didn't want to be anywhere he was. Besides, the rain helped hide the fact that she was crying. Thunderclouds boomed over Yorkshire, its rolling peals and crashes echoing within Evelynn's mind. She pulled her jacket up around her neck and began to walk home.
Other than her broken heart, the primary emotion she felt was bewilderment. She hadn't seen this coming at all, and her mind was in a completely different frame of thought when she got the text message from Spencer on her cell phone earlier in the day. Given that the past couple weeks had been rocky between them, and knowing his work day doesn't often yield time for much else, it put a bright spot of hope in her heart.
“want 2 meet for lunch?” it read simply.
“chinese okay? oriental city... around 2ish?”
She replied happily in the affirmative, and couldn't stop watching the clock until her lunch hour arrived. Before dashing out the door of the advertising agency where she worked, she gave herself a quick, perfunctory once-over in the bathroom mirror. She smiled at herself, smoothing her blouse down over her flat stomach.
He always did like this blouse, she thought. This impromptu lunch date would set things right between them, she could feel it. They could make it through this rough patch and be stronger than ever. Besides, they had been together for two years, and this wasn't the first speed bump they'd encountered. She bounced out the door, grabbing an umbrella to shield herself from the rain, and went to meet Spencer.
Evelynn couldn't hide her smile during the train ride across town, even with the gloomy weather. Her smile remained on her face until she first saw him, waiting for her in the entryway of the restaurant. She could tell something was wrong immediately.
He greeted her with a quick kiss on the corner of her mouth, and it seemed to her like he was avoiding her gaze. Her smile faltered for the first time, but brushed aside any negative thoughts. This was, after all, when they were going to patch things up. Perhaps he was just nervous. The host ushered them to a corner table, and left them with their menus.
Conversation between them was a bit forced at first, with both of them picking up on unsteady vibes. There was palpable tension between them that lessened once their food arrived. Evelynn started into hers with gusto, glad for a distraction. Things started going downhill when she asked why Spencer was only picking at his.
At that, he pushed back his plate. “I can't do this any more, Evy.”
The tone in his voice made her drop her fork, and suddenly she was afraid to look up at him. She knew what she would see. She had seen it before. Evelynn summoned the strength, and lifted her head.
Spencer looked exasperated. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but only managed to gesture a bit with his hands. When he did speak, it came out in a rush.
“There's someone else. I'm so sorry.”
At first there was nothing but shock. Then, as much as she willed them not to fall, the tears came. She choked her way through a few questions, but no amount of reassuring on his behalf that it wasn't her, it was him, would make her believe it.
Other people in the restaurant were starting to take notice of her display of emotion, and it was obvious to all who looked on what was happening. Evy suddenly felt as if the very walls of the room were closing in around her.
“I've got to get out of here,” she said, and got up abruptly from the table. She grabbed her purse and jacket and walked hurriedly towards the door.
“Evy!” Spencer called out. “Hold on, let's finish talking.”
“I think you've said quite enough already,” she said through her tears. She threw her purse over her shoulder and shrugged into her jacket. The host tried to say something to her as she threw the door open and walked out, but she ignored him, just as she ignored Spencer's pleas for her to wait.
She stood outside the restaurant, the cold rain soaking through her jacket almost immediately. She then recalled leaving her umbrella inside, but going back in for it was not an option. Thunder cracked above her. She was thankful for the rain as it disguised her tears, and pulled her jacket up around her neck. It was a long walk back to her flat. There was no way she could go back to work after something like this.
Evelynn was almost to the end of the block when she heard Spencer call out behind her. She almost didn't stop, but there was an urgency to his voice. Her heart leaped up into her throat, hoping for the briefest of moments that he had changed his mind.
He sprinted down the walk, splashing puddles under his feet. He had something in his hand that Evy couldn't quite see. When he finally caught up to her, water dripping from the tip of his nose and spattered on the lenses of his glasses, he held out his hand. In it lay a fortune cookie, wrapped in cellophane.
“I know you're crazy about these things,” he said.
“I'm crazy about you, Spencer,” Evelynn replied, her voice hoarse.
“I know.” He placed the fortune cookie in her outstretched hand. “I'm sorry. Really I am.”
At that, Spencer turned and walked away. Evelynn shoved the fortune cookie into her purse and once again headed for home. Bewildered, broken-hearted, and alone.
* * *
While there was a lot he wished he could forget, Leo could recall most of the afternoon his fiancee died in vivid detail. There was the accident, of course. The sound of the rescue teams sawing off the doors to their SUV as thunder crashed and lightning tore up the sky. The shouts of the paramedics as they pulled his wife-to-be from the wreckage, calling for a back board and neck restraints. The pebbles of broken glass floating like blue-green diamonds in a pool of spreading blood.
They were on their way back from dinner at China Wok-In, one of Portland, Oregon's best places to eat. It was Sheila's idea to go out to dinner, but the topic of conversation was something he didn't see coming. Her words blindsided him, rocking him back into his seat as if he had been slapped, the air rushing out of his lungs.
“Leo, did you hear me? I said... I said I'm having an affair.”
Sheila dropped the bombshell of all bombshells just as their combination plates were arriving at their corner table. Neither of them touched their food, choosing instead to point fingers at each other over their rapidly cooling meals and shout accusations. They left the restaurant after the host approached their table and asked them to either quiet down or leave. He slapped a fifty dollar bill on the table, took Sheila by the wrist, and pulled her up to leave.
Yanking her arm back, she stalked indignantly towards the exit. He followed quickly behind her, casting an eye upwards at the approaching storm clouds. She got to their SUV before him, and got into the passenger seat, slamming the door.
On the nights after the accident where Leo would turn to drinking, it was because he remembered some of the horrible things they said to each other as he drove them home. He remembered how angry and hurt he was, and how he didn't realize he was speeding. He remembered how he ignored Sheila's request for him to slow down, that he was scaring him, that if he would just give her a minute to finish talking.
“Why should I?” he yelled, flipping on the wipers as fat raindrops began to fall. “Why should I listen to you after what you've done to me?” His heart was pounding heavy in his chest like he had just sprinted down a city block. There were tears, but he held them back.
“Because it's over, Leo! That's what I've been trying to tell you this whole time!” she cried back, and for the first time since she first admitted her wrongdoing, Leo could see the pain in her eyes. He took his eyes from the road and searched her face to see if she was telling the truth, not knowing he was pressing harder still on the accelerator.
A jagged strip of lightning flashed down just then, and that brought Leo's attention back to the road. He saw the car stopped on the shoulder, and that he was headed straight for it. He swerved to the left to avoid it, mashing his foot down on the brakes. The wheels locked, and the SUV flipped.
Leo would later hear that the people in the car he swerved to avoid hitting saw his SUV roll seven times before landing in the culvert on the other side of the road. He doesn't remember it happening that many times, but rather coming back to consciousness and looking at Sheila's face.
The impact hadn't killed her, but in his dazed condition Leo knew she was fading. All that blood had to come from somewhere. Their eyes locked briefly, her injured brain attempting to get them to focus. Her lips moved, trying to form words, but there was no air behind them. He found himself also without the ability to speak, and by the time he could, whatever was left of her was gone.
He somehow made it through the accident with only a few broken ribs and some lacerations. The doctors who confirmed Sheila's death at the hospital said that she likely died with the first impact of the SUV flipping, since it landed first on her side of the car, and that whatever movement he had seen her made was likely just the last few firing synapses. That was little consolation for him, and he blamed himself. All he needed to do was just listen to her.
His therapist told him that guilt was just one of the stages of grief, and that he'd eventually come to a place where he could release himself of it. Leo wasn't so sure for a long while, but something had to be said for what he found in his pocket after getting released from the hospital.
A taxi brought him home the night of the accident. After changing painfully into pajamas, Leo rummaged through the pockets of his torn and bloody jeans to make sure they were empty before throwing them out. There was nothing out of the norm, save for the small cellophane wrapper that contained what at one point had been a fortune cookie.
He must have absently grabbed it from a basket near the host station as he passed by, chasing after Sheila. Turning it over and over in his hands, he wondered why he picked it up. The woman he had chosen to marry had just admitted her infidelity over crab rangoon and beef teriyaki, and yet he had the presence of mind to grab a fortune cookie. He was all set to throw it away when he remembered how Sheila was crazy about the fortunes inside.
The brittle cellophane wrapper opened easily, spilling out yellow crumbs onto the floor. Leo let the wrapper and the remaining cookie fragments drop to the counter, and smoothed out the wrinkled and crumpled slip of paper with the fortune on it. It hit home, bringing on a new wave of sadness and regret, but he forced himself to read it aloud as Sheila always prompted him to do.
“Losing everything is a chance to find it all a second time.”
* * *
Evelynn dropped her jacket on the floor once she got inside her flat, and started to peel off the layers of wet clothing. She placed her purse on the small bookshelf that stood nearby the door as she made her way to the bathroom for a hot shower. She heard something fall out and hit the floor, and almost didn't stop to see what it was. If it wasn't for the sound of it's cellophane wrapper, she probably wouldn't have.
She bent to pick up the fortune cookie from the floor, and for a moment thought that she should just toss it into the trash. Let the last thing Spencer gave her go right where it should. She almost did, but she found she couldn't without at least seeing what her fortune was. Fresh tears spilled down her cheeks as she read it aloud, for it rang true, given the recent turn of events.
“Losing everything is a chance to find it all a second time.”
* * *
Leo returned to work two weeks after Sheila's funeral, not being able to bear the silence of their empty home any longer. He didn't want to be at work, either, where everyone was asking how he was doing and walking on eggshells around him. He just needed a distraction, something to help get his mind back on track, something which he had been struggling with over the past two months since coming back to the firm. When his boss suggested he go visit his firm's partner in England, he all but jumped at the chance.
His plane was just touching down at Leeds Bradford International when the events of recent weeks flashed through his mind. He did his best to push them to the background, and did what he found helpful whenever the memory of it all got to be almost too much to handle. Leo reached into his wallet and pulled out a laminated card that preserved the fortune from the fortune cookie he grabbed from China Wok-In. It wasn't much, but it was something.
Leo consulted the notes his boss had made for him that told him to look for a representative from the Yorkshire advertising agency who would be taking responsibility for him during his stay. He shifted his carry-on further up his shoulder, and scanned the crowd of people waiting where the passengers of his flight were unloading. The airport was loud and chaotic, but somehow he heard his name being called out.
“Leo! Over here!”
He turned and saw a woman standing in the reception area, holding a sign with his name on it. The woman was strikingly beautiful, her smile hesitant but welcoming. Leo thought he could see remnants of recent pain in her eyes as he walked up to her.
“You must be Evelynn,” he said, extending his hand. She accepted it and shook it lightly. With the touch of her hand against his, she, too, noticed pain in his eyes.
“All my friends call me Evy, so you must, too,” she said, smiling more broadly now. “Shall we go, then?” She released her grip on Leo's hand, and beckoned towards a sleek black car waiting by the curb outside the reception area.
“Lead the way,” he replied.
I hope to have more of these suggestions out soon!