Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
I believe in fate.
And today, I can feel it.
Today is the day where fate brings me true love.
My yellow raincoat twists around me as I dance down the hall. The other tenants in my apartment building, leaving for work, laugh. I’m going to meet my true love today, I tell them.
Of course you are, they reply. As I twirl away, I can feel their eyes on me, their heads shaking. How naive, I feel them thinking as I leave. I shrug it off.
I walk down the busy sidewalk, wondering at every face I see. I twist my head, watching people pass. Are they the one? Will it be a boy? A girl? Is true love always romantic? Or am I meeting my platonic soulmate today?
I reach my bus stop, sit down on the bench. I take out a book, but I can’t focus on the words on the page in front of me. Closing it again, I watch the people walk by, each in their own little world.
A woman in a pencil skirt wearing bright red lipstick.
A businessman wearing a green tie talking on his phone, free hand moving as he speaks.
A college student, hair falling in her face as she looks down at her yellow textbook.
A couple with a daughter in a pink coat radiating joy.
I smile as they swing the little girl between them. Could that be me one day?
Lost in thought, I barely notice the girl sit down beside me. The family turns the corner, and I turn my attention to this newcomer. She gazes at her phone, earbuds playing music just loudly enough that I can almost hear the beat. Her light brown hair slips from behind her ear, creating a curtain blocking her face.
My heartbeat speeds up. Could I fall in love with her?
“Hi,” I venture, the word catching in my throat.
Startled, she looks up at me. “Hi.” She goes back to her phone.
“I’m going to meet my true love today,” I announce, hoping she’ll say the same thing.
“Good for you,” she says, bewildered. She moves away from me, ending the conversation.
It’s not her then, but that’s okay. There’s a million other people in this city, and the bus won’t be here for another ten minutes. I turn back to the sidewalk. People rush by, the faces blurring past.
No one seems quite right.
My bus arrives.
No sign of my true love.
It’ll be okay.
I still have the rest of the day to find them.
Or maybe they’ll find me.
I step onto the bus, smiling at the driver. “I’m going to meet my true love today”, I tell him.
“I believe you,” the old man in the front seat says, a twinkle in his eyes. I smile extra brightly at him. He must believe in fate too.
The bus doors start to close behind me, and I walk towards the back of the bus.
“Wait!” A voice calls out. “You, with the yellow coat!”
I jump a bit, but the doors of the bus are closed, and the bus begins to leave. Pressing my face against the window, I search for the person who called for me.
A girl in an azure peacoat, vibrant against the grey of the city and the cloudy sky, is standing on the sidewalk, hands hanging at her side, her eyes searching the windows. I bang my fist against the glass, desperately trying to hold her attention.
Her eyes alight on me. Slowly at first, she starts after the bus, but then breaks into a run. I’ll find you! Her lips say. The bus turns the corner.
I’ll find you.
She’s not at the bus stop where I get off, and I can’t wait more than a few minutes, or I’ll be late to work.
She hasn’t come yet.
I leave, trying to not feel discouraged.
All morning, my eyes drift from the screen of my laptop to the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl in blue in the grey streets far below me.
At lunch, I wander the blocks around my building, trying to find her. What was her name? How could fate bring us so close together, but then abandon us? Surely, the universe isn’t so cruel as to give me something to believe in one moment, only to take it away the next? Or do I have to show the universe that I really do care about true love, and now I have to find her all on my own power now?
My lunch break ends, and I go back to work without a glimpse of the rich blue of her jacket. I can’t focus for the rest of the day.
Finally, the clock strikes five, and I’m free to go. Please, I pray, just let me find her. I’ll do anything.
Walking home now, not wanting to lose her again because of the bus, I jump at any hint of azure. A dress. Toys in a shop window. A shopping bag. A hat. Billboards. Candy in a vending machine.
Ahead of me, I see a crowd of people gathering, traffic slowing. I cast one more glance around, trying to spot her, but then I join the crowd of murmuring onlookers.
Someone’s been hit.
Was the light red or green?
Is she okay?
It’s the bus driver’s fault.
Someone call 911.
My stomach knots. Something is wrong. I push my way to the front of the crowd.
A body, wrapped in an azure peacoat, vibrant against the grey of the road, lies crumpled on the ground.