Something New by David Macfie
I was just sitting and thinking, thinking about how bored I was, thinking that life was a drag, thinking that I’d go quietly mad if something different didn’t happen in my life. I’d been sitting and thinking for a couple of hours already and my mood had spiraled downwards from my first feeling of boredom to my current feeling of deadly, mind numbing, brain freezing, sliding into madness boredom.
In a way it was refreshing. This feeling, at least, was slightly different from my usual boredom. Different enough to lighten my mood just a smidgen. Different enough to get me up off my butt and moving purposefully to the front door. I wasn’t renewed or anything, but I was somewhat determined to find something new, something different, or die trying. At the worst I’d die and that would definitely be something different. That thought tickled my brain as morbidly amusing and I felt better already. I reached the street feeling faintly positive that this might be the day that I did, or experienced, something new.
When I hit the street I turned right up the hill. It just seemed a more positive action than turning left down the hill. Upwards is more positive than downwards, right? I strolled slowly and aimlessly, pondering again on my state of boredom and my feeling of impending madness. I saw nothing, heard nothing because I was so focused on my feelings of misery and boredom. Then I realized that I was hungry. My watch confirmed that it was twelve thirty – lunch time. I looked around. Up still further I could see a small shopping center on the right, my side of the road. I took that as a sign and speeded up.
I reached the center, slightly out of breath and with a glistening of sweat on my brow. I quickly scanned for somewhere to eat. There it was, a burger place on the far side of the car park. I angled over, now convinced that this was the place I needed to be on this day, at this time. I don’t know where that feeling came from, but I felt that I was being directed somehow to this place and this time. It was the strangest feeling of compulsion that overwhelmed my normal lassitude. I reached the counter, ordered a bacon and cheese burger and a bottle of sparkling water with a glass, no ice and three slices of lemon then paid the bill. They told me they’d bring the food and said I should sit anywhere I liked.
I turned and chose a table where I could watch the whole array of tables and out into the car park through the plate glass windows. I settled in, wall at my back, and began people watching. The place was about half full. I started from my right, near the entrance door, and cycled from right to left, looking carefully at the people at each table and wondering about them and their lives. I had finished most of the right and center and was now looking more to the left, when a soft, musical voice came over my right shoulder.
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
I turned quickly, not really thinking the question was directed at me. Close to my shoulder, looking right at me was a girl. She was close enough to touch.
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” she repeated, staring into my eyes. My heart lurched. She was tall, maybe one seventy eight, blond with that natural glow that said ‘not dyed’ and her hair tumbled down to her shoulders and a bit beyond. It framed her face and drew attention to regular features, a slim nose, full lips and amazing, piercing sky-on-a-summer-day blue eyes. The eyes held mine and I was speechless for a moment. Her figure was slim but shapely and she wore a body hugging white shirt and torn light blue jeans. All in all she was a picture out of a fashion magazine. Finally I found my voice.
“I don’t think so,” I stammered, suddenly shy. That was all I could get out. She still stared deep into my eyes, while I wondered if she had intentionally used the oldest pick-up line in the book.
I saw you through the window and I recognized you straight off,” she explained. “I just had to come and speak to you. May I sit?”
I was still stunned and a bit slow. ‘She must be thinking I’m an idiot,’ I thought. But I managed to reply.
“Yes, of course, please do,” I croaked, my voice failing me again. “I don’t think I’ve met you before, but I’m glad that you came to speak to me.” My attempt at gallantry was immediately rewarded by a big, beautiful smile. My heart did flip-flops. She was the most stunning girl I’ve ever met.
Oh, good,” she replied instantly, and sat next to me with her chair facing mine so that our knees almost touched. I was feeling breathless, but she was as natural as if we had been friends forever.
“I need to know where I’ve seen you because I’m absolutely sure that I have,” she almost whispered, leaning forward to bring her face closer to mine. Her eyes still held mine as tight as a pinned butterfly on a display board. I was transfixed.
We were interrupted by the arrival of our food and that gave me a chance to get myself organized. I noticed that her order was identical to mine and she did too. She laughed.
“See! We already have something in common,” she said, grinning at me.
Over the meal we exchanged information about ourselves. She said her name was Annabelle but everyone called her Anna. I said my name was Stuart, nicknamed Smuts, for no reason I knew. She laughed again, a tinkling, music in my ears. We found that we were the same age, twenty two, to within five days of each other. We were both at university, in our final years, she doing honors in Biology and me in Maths and Science. We both had part-time jobs, tutoring in our subjects. We both liked adventure activities like sky-diving and bungee jumping and motor bikes. We both took our bikes to the race track and regularly tried to beat our own lap times. We both jogged to keep fit and, as the list grew longer and longer, it seemed that we shared all our passions. When we finally found out that both of us planned to learn how to Scuba dive and wanted to travel to the major dive locations in the world, it seemed totally natural to decide that we would do it together. At the end of our meal, I felt that I had known her forever and she agreed. But finally she came back to her original question.
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” she asked quietly, for the third time, with a puzzled frown on her beautiful face. Then suddenly her face cleared like the sun coming out on a cloudy day.
“I remember, I remember,” she said, with an expression of pure joy. “I’ve seen you in a dream, several dreams actually. You were becoming an enigma. I’ve thought about the face in my dreams so many times, wondering who and where he is, it’s a mystery to me why I didn’t place you immediately. Tell me why you came here today?”
She watched my face, my eyes, waiting expectantly for my answer. It was as if what I said was the most important thing in the world to her at that moment. I thought for a moment.
“I truly don’t know,” I replied slowly. “I was bored, so very bored. And I felt that if something new and different didn’t happen to me, I’d go mad. The feeling was so strong I got up and came out. I turned up the hill instead of down because it seemed the right thing to do. Then I felt really hungry and ended up here. All the time I felt compelled somehow.”
“That’s what happened to me. I was working then I had an irresistible urge to get up and go. I didn’t make a conscious decision, I just followed my feelings and I ended up here looking through the window. When I saw you there was no way I couldn’t come in and speak to you. Just no way.”
“So what does this mean?” I asked, feeling stupid. “We both got here, without a conscious choice. We followed feelings or instinct or whatever. What does it mean?’
She smiled, the smile getting wider and wider.
“Don’t you see,” she said, fervently. “It’s fate or destiny or whatever causes chance to intersect with reality to make things happen that were meant to happen. We were destined to meet, here and now. And now we have. What we do from now is up to us.”
I was temporarily unable to think or speak. I looked at this stranger and saw a friend that could be so much more. In an instant my mind cleared and, at last, I understood. This was the something new, something different that would make my boredom a thing of the past forever.