The Wheels Of Fate

The People's Friend - - This Week - by Pa­tri­cia Saun­ders

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. ■

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