“Fate is the collision of patience and coincidence.”
Satisfied with this assessment of the present, he leaned back and squinted at the words, sprawled across the screen like a banner headline during wartime. Fatalists squint a lot because there are so many signs to read, and we’re always looking for directions. At least we men are.
Open windows of the rickety U-Haul scooped in fresh, arid, mountain air.
“Utah gets a bad rap” he thought, winking smoke away from his eyes. The truck bounced like a rollercoaster, accompanied by the tinny sound of talk shows and latino music fading in and out over the AM radio.
The cigarette ash was longer than it should have been, yet it clung to its butt for dear life. The passenger seat contained an atlas and a half-empty pack of Lucky Strikes.
Packed tight with a life lived thus far, the truck coasted to a halt, punctuated by gentle crushing of roadside gravel. It was time to stop and take stock of progress.
Slowly, the cab door creaked open in an place that couldn’t produce even a faint echo. Surveying the landscape in both directions, he ambled to the yellow stripe dividing lanes and stood staring at the horizon with hands on hips like a superhero, the sweaty concert t-shirt on his back a mock cape. The tarmac was warm and surprisingly inviting.
He was made for long journeys featuring uncertain outcomes. That’s what superheroes do: They grind out victory from a handful of uncertainty.
“There’s destiny up there.”
He allowed his hands to fall into the pockets of his plaid bermudas. There was no traffic. The sun beat down on his strong, young body, a bit weary from the miles, but he was always good when the heat was on. Returning to the cab, he extracted a cigarette from its rumpled pack with his teeth and flicked the lighter.
There was a lighter in a box of miscellaneous belongings packed near the back of the truck. Straddling the trailer hitch (a car was being towed), he lifted the portcullis to his mobile life.
A larger box had dropped as if being pushed, and a book tumbled to the ground. It was a dark blue hardback with silver accents and the pages were grey like those shirts that garage mechanics wore in the fifties. Squatting down and resting his arms on his knees, he picked up the book which had opened to the homecoming section, but before closing it, took a long gaze at a picture catching his eye without release.
She was radiant in black and white. A focal memory in a gown and a mischievous smile, filed away under What If a decade prior. Her eyes were certain and confident, right brow lifted slightly, accessorizing the smile. Her arm rested gracefully within the arm of the boy accompanying her on the court, a lucky boy whose name was I Once Wished That Were Me.
“I should’ve asked her to prom. I should’ve been more confident. You weren’t that goofy of a kid. Sure, quiet and shy, but maybe she would have said yes.”
He paused and looked up from the memory, blinking rapidly.
“No one should wield the power after an entire decade to stop a man cold like that in scorching desert heat. It’s just not fair,” he mused to himself.
It was so quiet on that ribbon of highway, he wondered if he’d unknowingly spoken the words.
Desolate silence provided the score as he sat, perched on the yoke of the trailer with the book in his palm. Rummaging through another box with his free hand, the lighter was found and he Struck Lucky. Only a few more moments of this utter silence, after which the pages of the past were pressed back together with a sigh of resolve. Life was pretty complicated right then and was only going to become more complicated. He knew this, so these soft moments counted extra.
The book remained closed, but in the front seat for the remainder of the trek to the Rocky Mountain plains.
She wouldn’t cross his mind again for almost seven years, but every time she crossed it, she left faint footprints.
Coincidental fates are determined by time and patience. What one wants and what one needs will blend when the time is right, and we don’t dictate time. Time is steady, independent, and consistent, like Capricorns. Soft moments are to be savored, for I believe if we truly appreciate the moment and file that moment away, it will remain preserved for when we need that lump in our throat, that butterfly in our stomach, or a soft moment to ponder…