The Wheels Of Fate
AT one side of town lived Jed Barclay. At the other side of town Anne Day resided. They were both on the young side of mature, both lived alone and both were very content with their lives.
Well, they were until that fateful day. The day Fate was supposed to intervene.
Jed had been widowed 10 years earlier. Adjusting to his new life had been difficult, but now he was settled in his routine and lived a contented life.
He rose at 7.30 a.m. each weekday, ate his cereal, yoghurt and fruit, caught the 8.15 a.m. bus to work, followed by the 5.15 p.m. bus home. He made a meal, ate it, watched TV, went to bed.
Friday evenings he went to the local pub to meet up with his old friends, and on Saturdays he got the car out and went into town.
Getting ready to do just that one Saturday morning, Jed was planning a visit to the dry cleaners, then the library and on to do the rest of his shopping.
But, as he put on his jacket, a realisation suddenly hit him. The strange feeling that he’d had for the past few days – he knew what it was now. Restlessness. Loneliness. He wasn’t feeling his usual contented self.
But he had no time for such nonsense: he had a list to tick off. So, Jed being Jed, he zipped up his jacket and headed to the car.
On the other side of town, Anne was experiencing the same strange feeling.
Mr Right had never come along, although she’d had lots of boyfriends when she was younger, and she lived alone very happily in her small cottage.
Everything was arranged just the way she liked it, and she did what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it.
At the same time that Jed was putting on his jacket, Anne was sitting at her kitchen table writing out her to-do list and planning her weekend.
She, too, was going into town, and top of her list was a trip to the library.
It was as she finished her list that realisation struck Anne. She was bored and restless, no longer content. She was lonely.
She left her coffee and abandoned her list, grabbing her handbag, jacket and car keys.
She got into her car, and backed out of her driveway, but at the last moment she turned right instead of left.
You would think, on this momentous morning, when Anne and Jed realised simultaneously they weren’t as content as they’d thought, that Fate really should have found a way to bring them together. It didn’t.
Jed went to the library and did his other bits and bobs, then went home;
Anne drove around for a while, then returned home having done nothing she had intended, still disgruntled and deflated.
Despite treating herself to a meal at the pub that evening, she felt no better.
Some weeks later, the local newspaper was delivered to each of their respective homes. Inside this newspaper was an advertisement headed “Social Evening”, inviting all-comers to a weekly gathering.
The upcoming event seemed to focus on learning to decorate a cake, and would be followed by tea and biscuits.
Anne and Jed decided to go along, in an attempt to shake off this alien uncomfortable feeling they had been experiencing.
They arrived only five minutes apart, but they weren’t the only new members. The advertisement had attracted quite a few others, meaning they missed one another in the small crowd.
It turned out to be a good evening: there was much laughter at the wonky icing and rather garish colours, with some pleasant and interesting conversation to go with the tea and biscuits.
Both had a surprisingly enjoyable evening, as had been promised. They had seen each other, even smiled with a polite “Good evening”, but got no nearer than that.
It makes you wonder what Fate was doing, missing such opportunities.
The social evenings came and went. They were both happier now that they had started to shake themselves out of their cosy routines, but neither could completely escape a nagging discontent.
Weeks passed by, and another Saturday arrived.
At the same time, both Jed at his side of town, and Anne at hers, prepared to head to the supermarket for their weekly shop.
Jed was soon on his way, but just as Anne was leaving her telephone rang. It was her sister who, in the throes of moving house, needed a sympathetic ear, and to let off steam.
When Anne finally replaced the receiver, over half an hour had
Jed and Anne were both looking for something new in their lives. But would they find each other?
gone by. Thus Jed was already returning his empty trolley by the time Anne turned into the supermarket car park and parked directly opposite his car. Anne was on the verge of crossing into the supermarket just as he was about to leave.
Where, oh, where was Fate?
Out of nowhere, a small black sporty number screeched round the corner and roared down the rows of parked cars.
Anne jumped back in alarm, stumbling against her car bonnet. She only just managed to stay upright.
“The little –” Jed muttered angrily.
He crossed over to Anne, who was looking shocked.
“Are you OK?” he asked gently. “Are you hurt?”
Anne managed to give Jed a tremulous smile.
“I’m fine, thank you. “Nothing hurt, I don’t think, other than my dignity.”
Despite her words, she looked shaken and pale.
“Here,” Jed said. “I’ll walk over to the cafeteria with you. A cup of hot tea and a short rest will do you the world of good.”
As they walked towards the supermarket cafeteria, Jed holding Anne’s elbow for support, Fate smiled gently. ■