Tag Archives: fate

A Simple Piece of Paper

He woke up that morning and knew, just inexplicably knew he was supposed to get into his car and drive.  So he threw a dirty pair of jeans on over his boxers, an old orange t-shirt, and got into his cherry red Camaro.

He turned the key, revved the engine, and then pulled out, no clue where he was going.  How would he decide?  Would the car know?  Would fate just guide him?  He pulled the car out and a sudden honk made him jump, a passing car with a driver waving a fist at him as it passed.  He would have to be a bit more careful.

He pulled off of his street, and knew there was nothing in this small Pennsylvania town that would draw him out with such mystery and magic, so he headed right for the interstate, somehow fully aware that he had a long way to go, even though he had no real destination.  It was only a few minutes before he was driving on the highway, accompanied by only one other car, a blue Ford truck, about a mile ahead of him.  He drove until even the Ford was gone, and he was alone on the highway, not an oddity for this area at this time of day.  The sun had only been up for moments, and after all, it was a Sunday, most people were still asleep.  He looked up at the sun, wondering when the last time it was that he woke up this early any day of the week let alone a Sunday.

He saw an exit coming up, an unmarked one he’d never noticed before, and decided to turn off the interstate, this particular road made of dirt and pebbles, probably a truck exit or something, he figured.  The sun almost disappeared, the trees were so thick here, and as he continued down the road, if it could even be called that, he was jostled all over the front seat due to its giant potholes and general unevenness.  Something darted out in front of the car, a white blur, and so he slammed on the brakes.

Peeking over the dashboard, he turned off the radio, trying to see what it was that he’d quite possibly killed.  Seeing nothing, he got out and walked around to the front.  Lodged under the front tired was a large piece of paper, a map, most likely, so he got back in, backed the Camaro up a bit, then had to jump out and retrieve the paper as the wind took it again.

He chased it into the woods a bit, finally catching up with it as it was momentarily caught by a tree branch, snatching it up quickly before the wind could take it again.  He gently opened it, since it seemed old, and realized it was covered in writing.

As he read it, he became overwhelmed, spellbound, excited.  He could feel the world spinning, actually sense the movement under him, and he could see and hear every leaf in the woods move, every single little motion, he could hear the thoughts of a nearby bird searching out food for her babies, she seemed so scattered in her thoughts.  He suddenly knew, without a doubt, that down the road was a cabin where a family was just getting up to the smell of bacon and eggs, and farther than that a deer was eating a sapling, and a bit down from that a river ran where a bear was trying to catch a fish, and he was even fully aware that today, that bear would not catch that fish, and the fish would go on to have many children, but that the bear would not.

He couldn’t even fully understand what it was that he was reading, but he could see himself, fifty years down the road, a grandson on his lap, his wife, whom he recognized as a neighbor of his, cooking in the kitchen as his family, and some of hers, prepared for some sort of celebration.  He saw beyond that, wars, famines, tragedies, all in the future, he saw planes fall, men walking on Mars, tidal waves, love, he saw everything that would ever happen, understood it all, and suddenly realized what was happening.  He continued to read, and the longer he read, the more of the world he saw, and he wanted to stop but could not, he wanted to know it all before this moment went away, before whatever was happening stopped, he had to know.  He saw cities grow and change, buildings stretch higher, airplanes bigger, cars smaller, flying machines, floating buildings, crime, weapons beyond anything he ever knew could exist, and then, all of a sudden, he saw nothing.

He startled back to the woods at a nearby sound, and noticed a deer crashing through the woods, the same deer he’d seen eating only a moment, or maybe it was a day, a week, a month ago, he couldn’t tell.  He looked around, remembered where he was, when he was, and headed back to the car.  As he climbed back in, he suddenly remembered the paper in his hand, held it up in the air, and just let it go.  The wind took it off in an instant, and he watched as it floated up into the air, back down, and then into the woods and out of his sight.

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Dreams From Italy

I dreamt of Italy last night.

I was there on a family vacation, but somehow spending a day alone.  I ended up lost in a small town, alone, wandering and trying to figure out how I’d gone so far off the beaten trail.

And that was when I met her, this beautiful woman in a magical world, and she walked right up to me as if she’d known me forever.

“You’re the one I am supposed to marry,” she said, in very good English, considering.

“I am?”

“Yes, you are.  I have dreamt of you every night since I was a young girl.  Everything I did led me to this moment, to you.  I have been waiting here a long time for you.”

I looked at her in disbelief, looked around to see if I was being mugged by gypsies, but when I returned my gaze to her she took my face between her hands and forced me to look into her wide, beautiful brown eyes, and I saw an innocence in them that told me she was telling the truth.

I had finally found her.

She took my hand and led me to a huge festival, a carnival-like atmosphere where the town seemed to be celebrating something.  She brought me through crowds, so many of the elders smiling at us, as she locked her arm into mine, as if they also knew I would someday arrive and marry her.  Young girls followed behind us, giggling and pointing us out to others, who also started to follow, as she brought me to a large table with about thirty people seated.  She said something in Italian I couldn’t understand, and everyone stopped talking and looked up at me.  They looked serious at first, and then slowly smiles took over their faces, and the men started jumping out of their seats and running to me, clapping me on the back.  Older women hugged me and kissed my cheeks, and eventually I found myself separated from my new love, surrounded by her family.

And elderly woman, wrinkles that seemed older than me covering her face, hobbled up.  She was so thin a hug would break her, and she beckoned me closer; I had to bend down to hear her, and even then someone had to translate for me.  She spoke slowly and deliberately, as if this would be her last speech.  A younger boy translated for me.

“It is custom for a new man to find his woman.  She has run off.  You must find her if you wish to marry her.”

“Why?” I asked.

The boy translated for me, and the old woman frowned and responded.

“It is our town’s custom and it has been this way for hundreds of years.  That is why,” he told me.

And so I left and wandered around the carnival for a while, suddenly compelled to leave it and wander a dark road.  I’m not sure what drove me in the direction I chose, whether it was confusion or the love I found for this new woman leading me to her.  I stayed on the road for a bit and when I saw a bus stopped in front of a large, ancient church, I turned towards the building to look around.  It was full of people who traveled a long way just to see this place, and as I walked towards it I stepped through many small, glass jars that littered the ground.  I looked down to find the grass, the path, and all of the land covered with little jars and lids.

I bent down and picked one up, examining the substance that once filled it.  I could tell it was some sort of jelly or preserve, and I stuck my finger in and took out a tiny bit of it, tasting it.  It was delicious.  I placed this jar back on the ground and started towards the building, seeing a line of people waiting to get in.

As I approached the line, an Italian who seemed in charge beckoned me towards the front as if he knew me, and waved me in past everyone.  Nobody gave me dirty looks, they smiled and clapped me on the back as I went ahead of them.  Inside, it was an old church, hundreds of years old, and every open shelf or window was also covered in the little jars emptied of their goodies.

As I continued on I saw a shelf, low to the ground, jars piled on it, but this time they were unopened.  I took one, and a little boy nearby walked up to me and started handing me more.  “Free,” he said, although I’m not really sure he understood what he was saying.  I took a few more and put them in my pockets, and then continued on.

The darkness of the hallway slowly disappeared as I continued towards a lit up opening, which led to a courtyard.  My eyes took a moment to adjust to the sudden brightness as I noticed a woman facing away from me in the middle of the courtyard surrounded by children.  They all began to giggle as I approached, and when I touched her shoulder she turned and I saw those large innocent eyes once again, and she smiled.

“You found me.  You’ve passed the first custom.”  She looked at me with such love that I felt my heart swoon, and I realized that I, too, was in love with her.  I took her hand and kissed it, and the children circled around her and pulled her away from me.

“There is still another custom,” she said, smiling and reaching for me as they pulled her away.

The children all giggled as the girls pushed her towards one archway and the boys began pushing me towards another.  I found myself surrounded by many men of all ages in a separate courtyard.  They smiled at me and continuously congratulated me on finding her, and then they boy from earlier approached.

“Next, you must say to her the traditional words, but you must memory them.”

“Do you mean memorize?”

“You know, you must say them without help.”

“But I’m not from here, I don’t know the words.”

The boy translated to the men and all grew concerned, brows furrowed as they discussed what must be done.  After much talk, the boy came back to my side.

“If you do not know the words, you cannot marry her.  We are taught as young children.  We know them.  We get a little card and we learn it and then we return the card to our parents.  Then on our wedding day, after we recite them, we get the card back, and it signifies our love.”

I sat down, disheartened that I would come so close to the love of my life and fail now.  A man even older than the old woman who first explained the custom to me came up and looked me in the eye.  Even seated I was taller than him, gravity and age had stooped him so much.  He put a hand on my shoulder and spoke.  He was speaking in Italian, but I knew he was telling me about his love, and how long they’d been together, and how perfect his wife was.  I could sense his story as he told it, and at the end he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wrinkled scrap of paper with the image of a saint on it, and he handed it to me.

I flipped it over and there were words on it, and I knew they were the words I would have to say.  The men folk of the town all began to whisper to each other, but remained quiet as I read it over and over again, hoping I could remember it.  Then, the whispering stopped, and I looked up to find the old woman again, leading my love into the courtyard, only now she was wearing a beautiful full dress, her hair was down, and she seemed to glow like an angel.

She walked up to me and smiled, and I said the words.  She leaned in and kissed me, and whispered, “You did it perfect.  I love you.”

At this point, my alarm went off and woke me up.  As I rose from bed, my memory of her faded a bit.

As I ate breakfast, I could remember some of the words I’d said.  As I dressed for work, I could remember less of them, but I still remembered the jars of preserve, and the taste.  As I drove to work, all I could remember were her beautiful eyes and the feeling I had when I realized I loved her.  By the time I got to work, the memory had faded, but I still loved her a tiny bit.  And now, I cannot even remember the look in her large, innocent brown eyes.

Original Photo by Charleen Artese  http://www.flickr.com/this_is_she