FORTUNE by Erin Lawless
Sarah had always had a hearty appetite, and it had always been a point of amusement for Jack. As it was, she had valiantly matched her old friend course for course, serving for serving, right up until dessert, where the thought of deep-fried fruit was finally enough to make her queasy. Seeing her expression Jack hesitated, before closing the menu and asking instead for the bill.
"It's gonna be massive," he whined, slouching in his chair. "Why do you have to eat so much?" he pointed at chopstick at her accusingly. Sarah batted it away with one of her own.
"Me?" she asked, incredulously. "You had practically that entire duck to yourself!"
They were interrupted by the timely arrival of the bill, placed in a conspicuously inconspicuous manner on a plate piled high with gold-wrapped fortune cookies. Jack whipped the bill out from under them, skimmed it quickly before slipping the waitress his bank card.
"What's the damage?" Sarah asked, reaching for her purse as the waitress went to fetch the card machine.
Jack waved the moist towelette he'd just unwrapped dismissively. "You'll get the next one." Sarah made a mental note to make sure that she did; she and Jack had a long-standing dinner date, the first Friday of every month, without fail.
As Jack duly checked the amount and entered his PIN, Sarah opened one of the cookies.
There is no limit to love's forbearance - to its trust, its hope, and its power to endure.
Sarah read it through three times, then sighed and lowered her hands to the table, the small slip of paper folding between them. The waitress wished them a good evening and left with her cash tip. Jack made a grab for a cookie of his own.
Trust your intuition. The universe is guiding your life.
He waved his fortune at her with a smug expression.
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. These things don't actually mean anything."
"What does yours say then?"
"It says, "Help! I'm trapped in a fortune cookie factory"," Sarah joked, reaching for another cookie.
Only love lets us see ordinary things in an extraordinary way.
Sarah sighed and a curious Jack pulled the little piece of paper from her fingers. His eyes flicked up to look at his companion. The bridge of her nose was flushed pink and her long fingers were occupied with nervously shredding the golden foil the cookies had come wrapped in. Jack pressed his lips together to suppress a smile. She'd been so edgy these last few months. He'd hoped he'd guessed the reason why. He let the paper flutter down to the tablecloth and reached leisurely for the penultimate cookie.
One who admires you greatly is hidden before your eyes he recited aloud, this time unable to conceal his amusement. Sarah's blush darkened but she maintained an aloof expression, staring into the middle distance.
"These things are just for kids…" she murmured, her agitated fingers plucking and shredding. Jack regarded her in silence for a moment before reaching for the final fortune, extracting it from the cookie and reading it solemnly. Sarah waited for him to announce it in that typical jokey way, but instead he looked up at her, in silence, before folding the small piece of paper in two, sliding it into his wallet and slipping that in turn into his jeans pocket.
He grinned cheerfully at her as he rose from the table.
"C'mon," he said simply, standing at the side of the table and extending a hand to her. "Let's go walk all this food off." Hesitantly Sarah slipped her hand into his and allowed him to pull her up from her chair. Bidding their farewell and thanks to the waiting staff, they exited the restaurant and set off into the darkened city streets. It was finally the right time. He kept her hand in his.
Jack always kept that little paper fortune tucked in his wallet after that night: Decide what you want and go for it.
You can find out more about Erin by visiting her website, facebook or by following her on twitter @rinylou. Her new novel, Somewhere Only We Know , is available for preorder now.