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In the busy streets of an unknown city, a figure walked briskly down the street, face to the wind, against the flow of people rushing home, in an attempt to beat the oncoming storm on the horizon. Despite the cold, he had flung his jacket over his shoulder and walked with an easy gait, a smile on his face. While everyone else tucked their scarves up to their ears and pulled their coats tight, he loosened his tie slightly, brushed back his messy brown hair, and let his arms fall carelessly at his lanky sides. He loved the cold. He loved the warm too, but cold days were days where practically anything could happen.
Automobiles tucked in and out of streets, women in long skirts and pumps raced for the shelter of nearby buildings, and men in suit coats and black umbrellas struggled to keep their hats from blowing away as they walked briskly to safety from the oncoming storm. The man kept walking through the street in this same unfazed manner until he reached a pier at the edge of the city, where metal met water. He took the same casual steps to the edge of the pier and breathed deeply. Around him flew a few scattered seagulls, valiant pillagers against the chilling breeze. The water foamed under the thrash of the wind, but he still stood stalwartly.
He closed his eyes and opened his ears. If he listened close, he could almost hear the sound of the fish whispering to each other and the seagulls screeching nonsense. He could taste the kiss of the young lovers who had met here in secret last night; he could hear the weeping of the woman who’d heard the news of her lost husband at this pier; he could feel the excitement of people gathered round to light fireworks on New Year’s Eve. If he stretched out his skinny arms, he could almost embrace the couple finally reunited here, salute the soldiers who had arrived home from war at this pier, or take the hand of the child tripping through the pebbles as he hunted for sea shells. History. Here was history, and at this pier, in the gathering storm, there was history to be made.
“Daydreaming?” A surprise voice cut in behind him.
The man’s eyes flashed open and he spun around to locate the voice of the intruder of his space. But as soon as he saw the tiny young woman, his heartbeat quickened and he smiled jocundly. “What a chance it is to find you here,” he said with a wink, extending his hand to kiss her own.
She laughed and brushed back the mop of curls from her petite shoulders. “Please,” she smiled, “This was meant to be.”
She tilted her head like he had done and closed her eyes for a moment.
“Beautiful, isn’t it, Fate? The sound of all those accidental meetings,” he spoke.
She opened her large golden eyes and smiled. “Oh it is beautiful, my dearest Coincidence, but only because of the how precise each moment is. Without good direction, none of this would have happened. But the music from that band playing here last summer is excellent. I do love the music of the 1940s.”
He snorted and rolled his eyes, but his smile remained. Around them, the wind howled and the clouds grew steadily darker as the evening moved on, but the two companions didn’t notice. Simple things like weather could not affect them. Choosing to brush over her comment, he said, “I really like your get up. This time period has treated you well.”
“Why thank you,” she replied, glancing coyly down at her stylish skirt and blazer. She clicked her black heels before stretching up her hands and pulled a strip of cloud from the sky to make a chair and then sat on it, elbows on knees and chin propped in her hands.
Coincidence leaned against one of the wooden poles on the pier and gazed at her. “I’ve missed you, you know,” he said. “I was wondering when you’d come back.”
She smiled and looked back at him. “I knew when I would come back. But I couldn’t come back before then.”
“Were you running errands? Busy making people famous?” He chuckled. “Are you the reason for the British intercepting Germany’s defenses these past months?”
She smiled and shook her head. “Everything that happens was laid out in the fabric of time millennia ago. I simply exist to ensure it's happening. I didn’t come to you because it wasn’t time to.”
Coincidence crossed the space between them and took her hands in his, kissing them gently and shaking his head as he looked in her eyes tenderly. “I don’t want to argue with you, love. But do you still believe that everything is mapped out from the beginning? After watching the twists of time and looking at the escapades of everyone, how can there be such a thing as destiny? Doesn’t that mean that this conversation was planned from the beginning? Doesn’t that make us all stringed puppets at a director’s whim?”
She frowned but nodded gradually. “I’m sorry. But I do believe that. You see the moments of time, balled together like a tangled mess. But I follow a string, the thread of time, and I see it all as it should be. It’s like a galaxy of stars: within that galaxy, you only see the kaleidoscope of nebulas and planets and supernovas. But when you take a few light year steps back, you see it - the whole picture. Everything as it should be and everything where it should be. That’s the difference between you and I,” Fate replied sincerely.
Coincidence dropped her hands and turned away, hands in his hair, attempting to sooth his frustration. He gazed out at the turbulent sea, where lightening clashed and waves rose high to meet them. The night sky was filled with thunder.
He took a deep breath and turned back to her in an attempt to reason with Fate.
“Please,” he begged, “Can’t we just put this argument to rest? We’ve fought for so many years and there’s nothing that I want to do more than just be with you.” He looked at her pleadingly. “Do you really think we’re not meant to be together? Is there no way that something impossible can just happen? I mean, according to my very existence, you have no being, but according to your own reality, I shouldn’t be alive. But here we are, juxtaposed in the world, and we influence humanity all the time. Can’t we accept this and just… be?”
She stood up from her cloud chair and let it whisk up to join its brothers in the raging battle that ensued in the sky between the clouds. Her hair floated gently in the torrent of wind like it was only a light spring breeze. She took a step towards him and took his hand. Her brows sent wrinkles across her forehead. “I want to, I want to so badly. But I can’t. Something that is possible for you is impossible for me.”
He smirked, but his expression was forlorn. “Then why are you even here? Do you just enjoy leading lonely souls like me on?”
“No, no of course not,” she replied earnestly, taking his face in her hand and looking into his eyes. “I can’t come at any other time than storms like this, when the rest of the world is shielded from this paradox. It’s just like when Life and Death meet, their love comes at a high cost for humanity.”
Coincidence smiled. “What could be the cost of our meeting? Other than finally being together.”
She smiled and looked out, tsunami raging in the ocean, before saying, “Do you remember when we first met? Something happened, and we created fire for all of humanity. And then the second time, when we ran into each other in Babylon, Hammurabi created the first written set of rules.”
“But are those destructive things?” asked Coincidence. “We brought good things to humankind. How could that be wrong?”
“But look at the bad things,” she persisted gently. “We brought about the death of Socrates and we caused the great city of Kiev to fall to rubble under the Mongols, and the last time we met four years ago we caused the bombing of Pearl Harbor.”
His brow furrowed and he shook his head, as if shaking off a terrible thought. “Those didn’t have to do with us. That’s just chance.”
She smiled sadly and put her slender arms around his waist and rested her head against his chest. “Oh how I wish they were,” she murmured.
He wrapped his arms around her shoulders tightly and kissed her forehead. “Can you stay with me?” He asked, “For the night? When the storm stops you can go, if you really must.”
She looked up and kissed him gently. A smile creased her eyes. “I’d love to stay. More than anything.”
He let out a broad grin and threw his jacket into the sea and watched it disappear in the mighty waves. Reaching out a hand, he asked, “Care for a stroll, my lady?”
She smiled playfully and took his hand. “It would be an honor.”
Coincidence looked deeply into the eyes of Fate. “Trust me darling, the honor is all mine.”
In the empty streets of an unknown city, two figures walked hand in hand in a hurricane. The cold didn’t bother them, after all.