Lucille was a fan of schedules and sticking to a routine, she would prefer a day with feeling content than not.
The day was as plain as ever, Rob’s second hand bookstore held true to its nature as any other day. The sky was overcast outside the store, but Lucille didn’t mind, in fact she was expecting it after watching the seven o’clock news earlier. The wind, being slight and barely noticeable, carried the smell of worn paper and old ink through it’s isles. Lucille was wedged between aisles three and four, which was where all of the newest non-fiction donations were deposited. With her breakfast sandwich nestled in her hand and her scarf around her shoulders, she scrolled through her phone, anxiously waiting for Tim.
She looked at her watch, and it was nine o’clock, just in time for Tim’s restock. Yes, she did know his name, because she was a regular who came every Sunday and Wednesday, just as she liked it.
Lucille, or known as Lucy by friends—from the select few she had—all admired her punctuality and daily schedules. The one thing so unlike Lucy was the fact that she was meeting someone new. In fact, she was meeting them—with her friends of course, she is too nervous around new people, and they know as such—this afternoon for a brisk lunch at the park. It was a 17-minute walk from here, but it may turn into a 23-minute experience if she walked along Canal Street—
Her calculations were interrupted as a box slammed with a mighty THUD beside her feet. Lucille bristled at the noise, and she was careful not to drop her sandwich—breakfast was her favorite meal of the day; she would hate nothing more than to ruin it because of a cardboard box.
“Sorry for that, these boxes look lighter than they actually are.”
Lucy looked at the man, he wasn’t Tim but he didn't look unfamiliar. If anything, he looked a lot like Tim, he wasn’t as broad as he was, but he had the same eyes and nose. “Are you Tim’s—”
“Brother? Yes, I am.”
“Pardon me,” she replied, “but you didn’t let me finish.”
“I didn’t have to, I can read you like an open book, and you were looking at me as if you saw me before.” He bent down and went to work pulling out books from the donation box. “We have never met before, and Tim usually works here.”
Lucy munched on her sandwich, because who can have a response to that.
“Don’t worry, though. He will be back, I am only covering his shift for today.” With a grunt, he picked up the box and began to walk over to the next aisle. “This was a riveting conversation—”
She swallowed her mouthful and finished for him, “Lucille.”
He flashed a smile back at her, remarking, “Lucille. Until next time—”
She stopped him. “And your name? I can’t give you mine, without you offering your own.” She didn’t know why she asked, but she did. He had to be polite after all, and asking for her name without giving his was everything but.
He set the box down, looking at her with a smirk. “Michael, my name is Michael.”
“That is a wonderful name as well,” she put her phone back in her pocket, turning as she said, “now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll leave you to it.” She focused her attention on the new books lined on the shelves, just as she liked. Even if she had just met someone, it does not excuse her to throw her plans out the window. She had things to do, and she couldn’t get distracted.
Snap out of it, she told herself, just pick a book and get going.
She was off schedule, but nothing could go wrong as long as she stuck to her routine. Her routine was the one thing she could rely on, and she liked it as such, it made her content. The rest of her day would go as planned, she would see to it.
Lucille’s day was not going as planned, leaving her anything but content.
There was the construction off of Crane Road, forcing her to take the alternate route along Baker’s Lane, only to realize she locked herself out of her apartment. Which was quite unlike her, and she knew as such. She attempted to knock on Mrs. Danbury’s door, but the old woman was known to sleep-in until the afternoon, which was really unhealthy—but that's besides the point! Lucy had to remind herself how she couldn’t rely on her neighbor in this predicament, and how she would have to call a locksmith. A locksmith! She has never called for one, but here she was, off schedule, and calling a locksmith.
She finished her sandwich, which was really a shame—Lucy enjoyed savoring her breakfast—but she would have to get a move-on, otherwise her lunch plans would be kaput. Pulling out her phone, she quickly dialed a locksmith, thanks to Google, and waited.
Waited a bit more.
And, yes, waited anxiously beside apartment 3-B, while scrolling through her phone.
Finally, when she thought she would have to cancel her plans, a locksmith appeared. Except this wasn’t just any locksmith, it was Michael, the very one she met only an hour earlier. Surely, Lucy thought, this must be due to foul play. She wasn’t one to believe in coincidences or bad luck, giving her enough reason to question if her sanity was still intact—because her schedule was already jumbled, so it would only make sense for him to be a stalker, or a criminal, robbing her of all people! But what did she have that held value, her book from Rob’s?
No, that would be ridiculous, he was probably a figment of my imagination, Lucy reasoned. She knew she was losing her grip with today’s schedule, perhaps it was all due to a fever. Lucy added to this notion, one horrible enough to imagine a tall man with hazel eyes coming to my rescue—wait—what was she thinking?
She shook her head, as if it would be enough to clear her mind of such nonsense. He was not really there, and she was sick, and that was the end of it. He was a guy from this morning, not prince charming coming to her rescue. Snap out of it, Lucy urged herself, get a grip!
Michael was impulsive with his decisions, he would prefer a day filled with happy unpredictable outcomes than not.
He had skipped lunch, and goodness he was hungry. He couldn’t remember the last time he skipped both lunch and breakfast. Breakfast was his favorite meal of the day, and he had to skip it today, due to his brother’s unlucky habit of getting sick often. He hadn’t filled in for his brother in months, but he also had a shift today—making him regret having a brother.
He wasn’t one to complain about work, as it always gave him great joy to see new faces, just as he liked it. All of Michael’s friends knew this, and they would all comment on his need for change; how nothing about him was predictable.
One day he could be in Mexico for all they knew and they admired him for this. He was never one to sit and remain content with his day-to-day life, he was the type to do something. No day was like the last, and he was happy for it. Even if sometimes he had to skip a meal or two in the process, like today.
His stomach grumbled as he walked up the stairs, and he had to place a hand on it to muffle the sound, it wasn’t much help—yet at least he did something about it. Otherwise he would only look like a sad husk of a man, walking up some stairs in hopes of finishing his work for a bite to eat—which was partially true, but still.
Michael stopped short of the door, allowing him to take in Lucille’s disheveled appearance. She was flustered, anyone could tell, with her hair out of it’s bun and her scarf uneven around her shoulders, it didn’t seem like her. She seemed like the type to know how her day would go, as everything went to plan, keeping her life intact with a strict routine. He didn’t know why he thought this, he just did.
It was perhaps the scrunch of her nose, her failed attempt at trying not to show how aggravated she was. Maybe it was her phone hanging by her side, showing a bright screen of notepads and calendars, all for him to see. Michael had to force himself to say something, because he soon realized she had startling blue eyes. Not the type to get lost in, Michael thought, but the type to be aware of. He caught himself again, feeling rather sheepish, and said the first thing that came to his mind—commenting on anything else besides how she looked, “How was the sandwich?”
She squinted her eyes at him. “My what?”
“Your sandwich,” he adjusted his grip on his tools, and added, “you were holding one this morning.” He did like his food, so this may distract him, even if she was gaping at him at the mention of a sandwich.
“Oh, yes, I suppose I did.” She placed the phone back into her pocket, and crossed her arms, making Michael believe she wasn’t one for small talk.
He resumed the conversation, “Would you mind if I asked you where you got one? I am thinking of picking one up on the way back to Rivet’s, I may even snag one for the guy.” He poked around his tools, and focused back to the door.
“Well actually, I made it myself.”
He stopped. “Really, are you serious?”
“Quite.” She straightened at the question.
“I would hate to ask this of a friend—”
“That is a bold assumption,” she started to laugh, and stated, “we had only met an hour ago! I hardly know anything past your name.”
“One, I was just going to say your breakfast smelled great, and I was going to ask if you could make a few; two, I would gladly pay you, if you were up to it; three, you know I work part-time at Rob’s and now Rivet’s.” The door opened with a satisfying CLICK, and he got up to look at his work with a wide smile. “I would say that would be enough to consider me a friend, I did just unlock your door for you, you’re welcome by the way.”
She held up a finger, but left it there. The sight made Michael hold a laugh, she looked as if she was rebooting to form a proper response. He stumped her, perhaps he was the first to do so, and he liked it.
“Are you up to it?”
She focused back on the conversation, and asked, “I beg your pardon?”
“The sandwiches, are you up to making one—or two—for me to take back.” He fished in his pocket and pulled out a crisp twenty. “I did say I would gladly pay you, and I meant it.”
“Oh, erm,” she looked down the hall and back. “I suppose so—”
“Thank you, this means a lot to me, I don’t often skip breakfast, but I am pulling double shifts today—”
She stopped him with a look. “If, and only if, you don’t touch anything inside.” She walked over to the door, making him side-step around her. Lucille opened the door and looked back at him. “Me included.”
Michael held a hand to his chest, holding back a gasp. “Lucille, that is a bold assumption you would make of a friend—”
“An acquaintance if anything, don’t flatter yourself.”
“That is much better, I would take an acquaintance over a stranger any day.” He flashed a smirk at her, as he walked inside her apartment. “Thank you again, my stomach is about to consume me. I don’t think Tim would appreciate it if I wasn’t around to cover his shift tomorrow.”
Lucille sighed back, holding no response once again—Michael smiled at this—as she closed the door behind them. He was glad he was impulsive enough to skip breakfast, because if he hadn’t, he would never have been happy as he was then.
Michael began to regret his habit of being impulsive, leaving him anything but happy.
It had been thirteen minutes—yes he counted—since they last held a conversation. Within the time he has: twiddled his thumbs for entertainment, checked his phone for any notifications, and looked at her wall—it wasn’t boring per se, it was just so Lucille. Every spot was squared away in a neat and orderly fashion, and all the picture frames were matching in size and color. He didn’t know why he knew this, he just did.
Staying still for so long was unlike Michael, and he knew this. His mind urged him to touch something and ask about it, but he didn’t want to go back on his word. He never held so much restraint towards himself, but here he was, regretting, and looking around her apartment. He held still, and waited.
Waited a bit more.
And, yes, waited beside her wall filled with picture frames, while twiddling his thumbs.
Finally, when he thought he had to break this awful silence, he saw something. Except it wasn’t just something, it was him, just two weeks ago at the park. Surely, Michael thought, this must be a hilarious prank. He did believe in coincidences and fate, but this—this was extraordinary. The city they lived in was anything but small, giving him enough reason to believe someone had planned this. He didn’t know how—or more specifically why—but this was too odd, even for him. Did she plan this? Michael considered this further.
He looked back at her, hunched over the stove, sticking her tongue out as she attempted to flip a fried egg, and he quickly rejected the idea with a wave of his hand.
No, this is all too crazy, it surely must be a coincidence, nothing more than that, Michael reasoned. He was just overthinking this, perhaps it was all due to his boredom. Michael added to this idea, bored enough to imagine those blue eyes and—oh no—he knew where this was going, and he had to stop himself.
His shift would end soon, and he would be meeting someone on a blind date soon, he couldn’t fall for her. Even if it kills him, he would have to thank her for these sandwiches and leave politely. She was Lucille—an acquaintance—not someone he should daydream over. Let it go, Michael willed himself, stop daydreaming, and do something else!
Michael and Lucy were going to be happy and content, and they will continue to prefer as such.
Whether they both knew it now or not, both of them are destined to meet again, and at the very same park later that afternoon. Lucy will be at a loss for words, and to Michael’s relief, this was all because she was slowly falling for him. Michael would continue to be patient when it comes to her needs, even if his impulsive nature may prove this to be difficult.
Michael and Lucy will extend their lunch date, and take a stroll along the park, talking about Tim and how his absence wasn’t missed one bit. They continue to debate about how I had a role in their lives, and how odd the coincidences were in such a large city. Only moments later, though, it will begin to rain; halting their suspicions of greater powers playing a role in their lives (even though they weren't wrong).
Michael, the newfound gentleman, resolves this as he offers his jacket. Lucy will scold him for not being under as well, forcing them both to run under his jacket towards the nearest trees. They are fated to sit there for hours, both reluctant to leave, and talk through the rest of the day.
The rain will clear, reason enough for both of them to part their separate ways. They end the date in a hug—Lucy was, and forever will be, cautious of meeting new people—and she will comment on how wonderful the day was. Michael furthers this thought, and proposes the day should continue with a second date later in the evening. Lucy subsequently laughs at the the preposterous idea, and agrees.
They will both be happy and content, as they will prefer as such for the rest of the evening.
(And just as I plan for them to be, for the rest of their days together.)
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I love the split POV's in this story, and I love the opposite natures of Michael and Lucille and how they still blend so well. My favorite part of this, though, has to be the parallels in wording between Lucille's and Michael's sections of the story ("waited, waited, waited some more" was the most noticeable, but I picked up on a few other ones as well). Nice work! A while back, when you first commented on one of my stories, I was dying to read some of yours and I was not disappointed :) can't wait to read more! --Tommie Michele