Fic­tion

The for­tune teller told her where she’d meet the love of her life – and she was about to find out if it was true

YOU (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - BY ROSE­MARY HAYES IL­LUS­TRA­TION: MICHEAL DE LUCCHI

KATE was just about to turn the cor­ner into the open-plan of­fice area where her desk was when she heard a shrill voice say, “Has any­one seen Kate? It’s re­ally im­por­tant I speak to her.”

Kate cringed. She knew the rea­son Lena wanted to speak to her so des­per­ately. She was try­ing to set her up on an­other blind date. And no mat­ter how many times Kate said no, she knew Lena would con­tinue to bad­ger her un­til she fi­nally gave in.

Given the com­plete dis­as­ters ev­ery other blind date had re­sulted in Kate def­i­nitely didn’t want a re­peat per­for­mance, but that wasn’t the only rea­son she tried to avoid Lena’s un­wel­come match­mak­ing at­tempts – ever since she’d turned 15 she knew she was des­tined to meet the man she’d marry in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia.

Kate had stopped in her tracks but heard Lena’s voice get­ting closer.

“Quick, in here,” said an amused voice be­hind her. And she felt a hand en­close hers and gen­tly tug her through the near­est door­way – into the pho­to­copy room. It took a mo­ment to reg­is­ter that it was Nathan who’d come to her res­cue. “Hide be­hind the door,” he said. Nathan had just po­si­tioned him­self next to the pho­to­copier when Lena stood in the door­way. “Have you seen Kate? I can’t find her any­where.”

“No,” said Nathan, his eyes con­tain­ing only the barest twin­kle of amuse­ment. “I think I heard she had to go home early – a bit sick or some­thing.”

Kate was afraid she’d re­veal her hid­ing place be­hind the door through a burst of laugh­ter. She didn’t know the res­i­dent Mr Al­ways-Nice-Guy could be so de­vi­ous!

“Oh,” said Lena, dis­ap­pointed. “I guess I’ll have to find some­one else for tonight then.” She walked off look­ing an­noyed.

Only when Nathan dou­ble-checked the coast did he wave Kate out from be­hind the door.

“Thanks so much,” said Kate, “You ab­so­lutely saved me.”

Nathan gave her an en­dear­ingly shy smile. “Well, any­thing for my most favourite per­son in the build­ing.”

Kate won­dered if he was he about to ask her on a date again – which she’d po­litely de­cline again – but he didn’t. In­stead he asked, “So when’s the big trip to Syd­ney?”

“Two weeks! I’m so ex­cited. I’m al­ready all packed.”

“Do you need a lift to the air­port? I’d be happy to drive you there.” “I couldn’t ask you to do that.” “You didn’t ask. I’m of­fer­ing. In fact, I’m not just of­fer­ing. I in­sist.”

“You re­ally are the nicest guy I know, Nathan.”

A wry smile crossed his lips. “Mmm, isn’t nice an­other word for bor­ing?”

“Ab­so­lutely not!” She al­most added that she hoped the man she’d meet in Syd­ney would be just like him. Funny, friendly, smart, help­ful and, of course, nice, but she’d never told a soul what the for­tune teller had told her years ago and she wasn’t about to start now.

She could just imag­ine the ridicule. Here she was, an in­tel­li­gent 25-year-old woman, about to travel half­way around the world, all be­cause of a for­tune teller’s pre­dic­tion when she was a teenager. She’d be the butt of jokes for weeks, if not months. And if Lena ever found out, she’d never hear the end of it.

“Well, I bet­ter get back to work,” said Nathan. “Keep your head down for the rest of the af­ter­noon. If you need to hide again there’s al­ways my of­fice.”

“Thanks,” said Kate, “You’re a good friend.”

Nathan opened his mouth as if to say some­thing, then closed it again. In­stead he just smiled, then walked off.

AFTER an hour-and-a-half de­lay the plane was fi­nally in the air. Kate looked out the small win­dow and soon could see only wisps of cloud be­low. She may have been on her way to Syd­ney but sur­pris­ingly it was Nathan in her thoughts.

He was such a gen­tle­man – driv­ing her to the air­port, car­ry­ing her lug­gage, buy­ing her cof­fee when they knew the flight was de­layed. He didn’t have the sort of looks that would au­to­mat­i­cally make heads turn but over the rim of her cof­fee cup while they waited for her board­ing call she couldn’t help no­tice what a beau­ti­ful shade of deep green his eyes were, and how he got the cutest lit­tle dim­ple in his left cheek when­ever he smiled.

Why hadn’t she no­ticed that be­fore? Then she re­alised. She re­ally hadn’t taken no­tice of any man who crossed her path

as al­ways in the back of her mind was the for­tune teller’s pre­dic­tion.

Ten years prior Kate had ac­com­pa­nied her mother to the lo­cal for­tune teller. Her mom had spent more than half an hour in the small room in the woman’s house and when they’d emerged later the smell of in­cense had fol­lowed them down the stairs. So had the for­tune teller. She’d touched Kate’s arm. Even after all these years Kate could re­call ex­actly what she’d said.

“I can see you stand­ing in front of the Syd­ney Opera House in the arms of the man you’ll fall deeply in love with and marry.”

Kate wasn’t to­tally gullible, of course. Even at such a young age she took the pre­dic­tion with a heavy dose of scep­ti­cism. It wasn’t un­til the pre­dic­tions the for­tune teller had given her mother started com­ing true – mar­ry­ing again to a man in uni­form, mov­ing to the Cape, and hav­ing twin girls – that Kate be­gan to plan her trip to Syd­ney. That’s why she’d been sav­ing ev­ery cent pos­si­ble since she started work­ing and why she didn’t will­ingly go on dates. She al­ready had a long­stand­ing date with Syd­ney.

WHEN the plane landed there was an­other short train trip and then a walk to her ho­tel. When she stood on the bal­cony of her room she couldn’t be­lieve the amaz­ing views of the Opera House, the many huge white curved roofs looked like sails.

Know­ing she wouldn’t be able to sleep while the sun was out she un­packed, show­ered, changed and headed to the Opera House.

A short walk later saw her soak­ing up the busy at­mos­phere: the por­trait painters, ice creams vans, cafés, buskers and more. Rock­ing next to nearby wharves old wooden green fer­ries took on board pas­sen­gers, ready to take them across the deep blue of the har­bour. She walked past the fer­ries and soon found her­self on the steps of the Opera House.

While she was stand­ing there tak­ing pho­tos she heard a voice be­hind her. “Ex­cuse me, you dropped this.” Was this it? thought Kate. Was this the mo­ment she met the love of her life?

Kate turned and saw a man hold­ing out her cam­era lens clean­ing cloth. The man was at least 70 years old and had a smile full of miss­ing teeth. Def­i­nitely not destiny ma­te­rial. “Thanks,” said Kate. “I didn’t re­alise I’d dropped it.” “I’m Tom. Are you on hol­i­day?” “Yes, I’ve just ar­rived,” said Kate. “You’ll have to catch a ferry to Manly. You’ll love the beach there.” “Thanks for the tip.” Just then her phone beeped. It was a text from Nathan. Kate smiled while she read: “R U there yet?”

Kate replied: “Yes. On steps of Opera House rite now. Won­der­ful. 2mor­row will climb 2 top of Har­bour Bridge.”

A minute later an­other mes­sage from Nathan: “Don’t fall off.” Kate laughed. For the next two weeks Kate vis­ited all the at­trac­tions of Syd­ney, in­clud­ing Manly Beach. Tom was right – it was amaz­ing, but it was the ferry ride across in the lovely old green boat she en­joyed the most. She texted Nathan about all her ad­ven­tures and looked for­ward to his replies.

It was on the last day be­fore she flew out, while she was sit­ting at a café over­look­ing the har­bour, that a gor­geous man ap­proached her.

“May I join you?” he said in a voice that ca­ressed like a lover’s em­brace.

Kate looked up. Was this her destiny? But, as hand­some as he was, all she could think about in­stead were deep green eyes and a dim­pled smile. “I’m sorry. I’m just leav­ing.” When the plane landed back at home Nathan was wait­ing for her. When they ar­rived at her place she in­vited him in for cof­fee. They talked for hours while Kate showed him her pho­tos.

Nathan checked his watch and sighed. “I re­ally should go now,” he said. “I guess I’ll see you at work on Mon­day.”

“Sure. But be­fore you go I just want to say thanks.” She pulled him close to hug him, her arms en­cir­cled his neck. Their eyes met. Slowly their heads drew closer un­til they kissed. Only when they pulled apart did Kate no­tice where they were stand­ing. Right in front of a large poster she’d put on her wall years ago – the one of Syd­ney Opera House.

It would make a great hon­ey­moon des­ti­na­tion, Kate thought hap­pily, as she pulled Nathan into an­other em­brace.

‘May I join you?’ he said in a voice that ca­ressed like a lover’s em­brace.

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