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Speculative Friendship Teens & Young Adult

The streets of New York were always loud, bustling with people trying to get to work or home or somewhere in between, and if he was being honest, Arthur Wilcox was obsessed with it. He loved the City that Never Sleeps with all of his heart. He would look out at the skyline from his Manhattan apartment forever if he could. The countless number of pictures on his phone proves that if nothing else did.

"Hey, move it!" Shouted an old businessman, interrupting Arthur from staring up at the Empire State Building.

"Sorry!" Called back the younger man with a slight cringe. As the businessman passed, he heard him mumbling under his breath about tourists.

Arthur Wilcox was not a tourist.

That's what he told himself, anyway. And maybe he wasn't if you didn't think of his magnets and postcards and pictures. He lived in Manhattan. Technically, he was not a tourist. He just loved where he lived. Was that so terrible?

So he continued walking, not necessarily in a rush, and not giving anyone a second glance. Everyone knew what to expect on the streets of New York City. A few rats, a few homeless people, and a few uncaring, extremely flamboyant individuals. Arthur was used to it by now and rarely looked back to-

Wait. That...now that was nothing he had seen before.

He almost stopped when he saw the woman with the red hair. She was walking a dog. A big dog. A pitbull or something. That wasn't the weird part, though, no. What was weird was the...odd purple hue surrounding her. A sort of transparent outline of her form.

That was not typical New Yorkian.

They made brief eye contact as they passed each other, and Arthur unashamedly looked back to see if his eyes weren't tricking him. And they weren’t. The purple was still there. Why?

The woman looked back, too. For a brief second, the city was quiet. Empty, except for the two of them. There were no more people. No more rats. No more lights except for the purple one shining on them both. 

The second passed. Against his better instincts, Arthur ran the three steps to reach her, ignoring the cursing pedestrians around him.

And that’s how he ended up in Silvia Darling’s favorite coffee shop.

The Universe, thought Silvia Darling as she sat across from Arthur Wilcox in her favorite coffee shop, if it exists, is absolutely stupid. 

She didn’t believe in the Universe. Silvia believed in facts. Not the idea that there was some greater being dictating every move they all made, especially not hers.

But then, why was there that purple around this random guy who most definitely does believe in the universe? 

“Hi.” Said the random guy for the second time that day. “I’m Arthur. Arthur Wilcox.”

“Silvia Darling.”

“I like your dog.”

“Thanks.”

Silence. Why did she agree to this, again?

“Do you see it too?” Blurted Arthur, eyes wide. “I mean, it can’t just be me. You’ve got that…that purple stuff…do I have the purple stuff? I don’t see it on me, but I see it on you. Is that weird? That’s weird. But-”

“Why do you have the purple crap?” Interrupted Silvia, refusing to think his blabbering adorable. 

“So you do see it?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I dunno! I thought maybe you would-”

“I don’t.”

Arthur went silent, and Silvia took the chance to order a black coffee.

The shop itself was open 24/7. Soft jazz music played over a $30 JBL speaker that was always being charged. Every few hours the A-train would zoom by and coffee mugs would shake lightly from the force of the sound. It didn’t much bother anyone anymore. These people had, for the most part, lived in New York long enough to be used to the loud noises. 

"Black coffee, huh?" Chuckled Arthur, rubbing the back of his neck.

"I'm not too fancy." Shrugged Silvia, sipping her coffee and staring stubbornly at that stupid purple outline. It made no sense. She had no connection to this Arthur fella. And yet, she did. They both saw a very similar purple hue around each other. And that made no sense.

"So, what do you think this purple stuff is?" She was beginning to realize Arthur didn't do well with awkward silences.

"I know about as much as you do."

"I saw the purple crap once." They both turned to look at an old man with a WWII cap on his balding head. "Sorry, but I couldn't help m' eavesdroppin'. You said yer both seein' it?"

Arthur nodded eagerly, scooting his chair closer. Silvia's dog huffed as if to say this is going to take a while, and laid down by her chair.

"Do you know why we see it?" Arthur asked, eyes wide with anticipating curiosity.

"Couldn't tell ya." The man shook his head. "But I do know that the day after I saw it, I was shot in the leg by the person it was surrounding." He pulled up his left pant leg, showing off his prosthetic. "And lemme just say, he wasn't aiming for m' leg."

Arthur and Silvia exchanged uncertain glances, the former sudden;y not really wanting to be around her anymore if it was possible she was a murderer.

"Personally," continued the veteran, "I would run far away. Both of you. Before one of ya falls off the wagon."

The man got up and left, leaving a tip on his table, and the two acquaintances staring in silence at each other as the world kept spinning and the music kept playing.

Neither of them ever told anyone else about the exchange, and if they saw each other ever again afterward, they would always walk faster in opposite directions. What the old man failed to mention was that the man who had shot him was on the other side in the war, and they had been married for thirteen years, now.

Isn't it funny how quickly feelings can change? How one person's input can affect you so much? How we can go our whole lives never knowing if we'll ever meet our soulmate, or even if we perhaps already have. That stranger you passed on the street today, or your kindergarten crush could've been the one for you.

We will likely never know.

Don't let one person's experience ruin it for you. Don't let go of what you have. Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy. Hear the full story before making assumptions.

Live a little. Maybe it's time to believe in the universe.

May 20, 2023 00:59

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2 comments

Jacob Warren
20:04 Jun 08, 2023

Great story, Rylee! Very creative!

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Chris Miller
08:56 May 27, 2023

Hi Rylee. Good luck with your first submission! I hope one of them bumps into the old man again (hopefully when he's with his husband Franz?) and learns the whole story.

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