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It was late at night when I was laying on top of my bed, unable to sleep, when I came across a thought that absorbed me. How does fate operate? What was its way of making it happen? Yet again, I was left wondering as to how life can deceive you at first, then reveal it's reasons. Well, I suppose that I was never a believer at that sort of thing myself because I never really saw the absolute reason for it to be in existence. But, I guess that my reasoning would be put to the test when my friend, Michael, arrived at my door in the early morning, his face all sullen and wrinkled. I let him in, of course, having to be a good friend to him. He explained about his situation, and I listened attentively as I drank my coffee. His girlfriend broke up with him due to her discovering his infidelity to another girl, and packed his bags and kicked him out. He then asked if he could stay with me for a couple of days, maybe a few weeks. In willingness, I accepted.

"Hey Tomas!" Michael bellowed from the living room, "Can you do me a solid?" I just came back from work my work in the publishing firm, my legs already tired and my eyes ready to close. "Yah?" I yelled back, I was by the door just about to remove my shoes, the tiny hallway of my apartment full of different items from which belonged to Michael. I saw Michael, entering the hallway, his shirt wrinkled and battered from the amount of times it was worn. He didn't look clean. "Woah," I said.

"Yah," he sighed, he rubbed his face and stretched, "I know; I look nasty."

I nodded in reply. "So..." I said, I put my hands in my pockets acting awkward, "what you need?"

"I just need a pack of cigarettes, Marlboro, the best kind." Michael exasperated.

"Why me?" I asked suddenly, my legs tired.

"Because," he said, "I... just can't do anything, not what happened between..."

"Hmm..." I sighed, tapping my foot impatiently, "still not over her?"

"Here," Michael reluctantly gave me a twenty dollar bill from his pocket, and retreated back to the living room, "just don't talk about her..."

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It was the early afternoon when the sun began to set, and people started to retreat to their homes to their families. The ground was still covered with snow, and the little children all began to go home with their parents while I walked to the corner store three blocks from where I lived. I knew the cashier of the corner store, or the variety store, as Michael calls it. Usually, not a lot of people come buying there, especially at this time of day when many are just trying to go home. His name was Ahmed, and he was not bad with the customers, though he can get impatient with some, he usually hides his frustration with a smile. Usually, you would find him sitting down, his arms crossed, eyes like a hawk and his stance threatening. But inside, his heart is like a child. I would usually go to the corner store to buy some snacks late at night, when I have to work until around 12 or 1 am in the morning, so I would usually see Ahmed work around that time. During that time, he would try to make small talk, and it would turn into a whole conversation until I would look at my watch and would end it quickly.

The sun gave off a splendid red shading, covering the buildings around me. The outlines of trees and poles around me casting a long shadow made the area look as if it was taken out of a painting from a Dutch Baroque painter or from a surrealist painting.

I reached the corner store, the neon sign glowing, "Come in, we're open." and opened the door. The door chimed behind me, and saw Ahmed with his usual structure.

"Oh," Ahmed exclaimed, "it's you!"

"Hey," I said, I nodded my head to him.

"How's work for you?" his accent distinguishable.

"So-so," I said. I went to the counter and ordered a box of Marlboro cigarettes. He looked at me weirdly, his eyebrows down to his eyes.

"You smoke?" he asked.

"Oh no," I said, shaking my head, "it's for my friend, Michael."

He leaned back, and scanned by order. "He's going through a breakup so, I gotta, at least, be a good friend and support him emotionally..."

"By having to buy him cigarettes to kill him early?" he questioned.

"Er..." I sighed, not knowing what to say.

"Well..." he grunted, "it is what it is..."

Just then, the door chimed. A women entered, her trench coat fluttering by the wind, her hair across her face. She looked up at Ahmed and smiled, and made her way through one of the aisle.

Ahmed smiled at her, "Hello Nini!" He greeted her quite loudly.

The women smiled at Ahmed once more, "Hello Ahmed, how are you?"

"Ok," he said, "how is Daniel?"

"Quite ok," Nini said, examining some foreign export item in her hand, her dark eyes examining the label, "he's finishing college soon."

"Wow," he smiled, "that's good."

"I suppose it is," Nini said, and she made her way to the counter, "now, can I have one box of Marlboro cigarettes please, it's for my friend. She's going through a breakup and she was urging me to go get her a pack..." she rummaged through her purse, "Poor girl, can you imagine! Finding out that your long time soulmate was, in fact, cheating on you with some younger girl with whom you know..." she shook her head, "Honestly, I would do the same thing if I was put in her shoes..."

"Huh," Ahmed said, "just like this fellow right here." and point his head towards me.

I would say that it was one of those interactions where you were forcefully put in the spotlight, not wanting to be there, but was for some incoherent reason. And I did not like it. The foreign music played in the background, and I felt my neck go red.

"I suppose it's true," I admitted to them.

Nini laughed. "That's funny," she replied, and took out some cash from her wallet, "what happened?"

"I beg your pardon?" I asked.

"What happened with your friend?" she said, her head tilted.

"Um..." I stammered, having to think of Michael being angry at me for having to talk about his private life. "Well... it's not my position to say matters like this. Although..."

Nini smiled, and handed Ahmed the money. "It's ok, I understand what you're coming from. It's the same case with Samantha who-"

"Samantha?" I blurted out randomly, then shutting my mouth quickly.

Nini looked at me questionably, and nodded, her smile unwavering, "Thats my friend who is going through a breakup."

I only stared at her in utter amazement. I suppose that on that spot my mind could only say this: "Samantha is the girl that dumped my friend Michael!"

Now Nini was really looking at me, her eyes wide with bewilderment and curiosity, and her smile turned into a giant 'O'.

"Really now?" she said. Ahmed looked at Nini, and then at me, and laughed, "The world sure gives people weird things doesn't it?"

At that moment, I thought about two things. One, this is too coincidental, and two, holy cow!

Nini smiled her gleaming smile, and chuckled, her eyes twinkling.

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"I suppose the world does give weird things to us," Nini said. We left the convenient store, or as Michael and Samantha calls it, "The Variety store."

The sky stayed the same, the shadows still stretched out to the horizon as we walked about the sidewalk of Queen street.

We walked a long deal, until the sky started to darken. The streetlight turned on, and the city became bright with coloured lights. Nini talked about Samantha and how she thought that it was all a waste of breath, while I listened with the pack of Marlboro cigarettes remained in my pockets, unopened and untouched. In the end, I laid myself on my bed thinking about the whole encounter, and how fortunate it was. Was this fate? It derived from a normal, plain day into something which I cannot control. I looked out the window, to the buildings around me, and smiled. Knowing that somewhere, fate worked it's wonders.

March 03, 2020 23:19

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1 comment

Roland Aucoin
23:49 Mar 11, 2020

So ... are Nini and Tomas going to meet later? Lol. A nice short. A great play on the question of 'fate'. I enjoyed it.

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