After Bryna leaves, promising to visit again, I sit in the slowly darkening room as the sun sets. I try to remember what day and date it is and come up blank. Funny, how clueless one sometime becomes. I have always been great with dates. I always remembered them. One of the things Eva loved about me. I would never forget our anniversary or her birthday, our first date, the first time we had held hands. The fateful day on 14th October 2003, when I had asked her to marry me. Fresh out of high school, most people would have argued that we were too young to be married. We were young, but also two people, hopelessly in love and the best thing to do were to get married. So I had proposed to her, over dinner in her favorite Chinese restaurant and she had said yes after jumping for 3 minutes and crying for another 5. She was quite possibly the only woman who made me feel giddy in love and insanely lucky to have her. Can I really think back to anything in my life without thinking about Eva, for one whole second?
When the doorbell rings at 7PM I seriously contemplate not going. It is not like I am expecting company anyways. I know mom and dad are out of town and I know there is nobody else who would probably want to come down to see me mope. Then Bryna rings in to remind me that my food is being delivered and is already paid for and would probably be wasted if I didn’t collect it so I can’t ignore it anymore and I saunter to the doorstep to take the pack. It is a delivery boy from our usual, The Chinese Palace and he tells me to have a nice night while I try to manage a socially acceptable smile.
I bring it to the table and set the bag down. I can’t believe that the tradition I had shared with Eva ever since high school, in empty parks and later, on our patio, for over a decade has been broken. I unpack the food and see that Bryna had ordered me too much food for one person anyway, with Kung Pao chicken and beef dumplings along with the complimentary spring rolls. As I crumple up the bag, I feel something hard in it so I fish inside and there it is. One fortune cookie. Eva’s fortune cookie. Eyes burning with pain, I place it on the table with the rest of the things and sit down to a meal missing Eva like heartache with every single bite I take.
I am not able to eat much, even though the food is as good as ever. It misses the greatest ingredient I am used to having. Eva’s company. I know Chinese nights would never be the same again. And how could they be, without Eva, her smile and joy at the fortune cookies and collecting those for as long as I remember?
I collect the dishes and place them into the sink. When I turn around there is the cookie, almost mocking me from where I had placed it earlier. I grab it and am almost about to dispose it in the trash can when I hesitate. I think of Eva again. I think of her laughter which had tinkled like a carnival bell, I think of her exhilaration over a simple fortune cookie. And I feel myself breaking it open. This is for Eva.
'Change can hurt, insanely sometimes, but it will lead to better things'
I pause looking at the message with wide eyes. I read it again. It usually always said something silly like ‘You will order more Chinese food’ or ‘you will be hungry in an hour’. But this? What is this?
Change? My life has certainly changed for the worse a few weeks ago.
Hurt? They had no idea.
Coincidence? But could it be? Of all the thousands and thousands of fortunes printed and delivered each day, why this one for me?
My heart beats faster. It makes no sense. The message is meaningful unlike most of these. Was Eva trying to send me a message? Was everything they said true, about her watching over me? Could it really be possible?
I have no answers except one, that Eva is gone. She would never be back and it was wishful thinking that she was sending me messages. Dead people don’t talk. And neither would she. I close my eyes and sigh trying to calm my racing heart. Rather than trashing the fortune however, I keep it in my drawer, once again lost in thought.