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A Flip Of Fate
“Heads we get married, tails we break up.”
Kyle presented the coin between his thumb and index finger like a magician, the sun lent a sparkle as his eyes challenged her to agree to his venture.
“Is this your idea of a proposal?”
They sat between the boulders on the crest of the mountain, where they could see past the ridges and canyons to the patches of grass and farmlands in the distance. Tiny cars parked in little driveways of small houses. The world below seemed to wait on them.
Kyle sprung to his feet, leaping to the edge of the rock and raising his arms for balance. Ariel’s chest thumped with panic.
“With you leaving for school, we need to make a decision. Why not let fate decide?”
“And by fate you mean flipping a coin?”
He hopped down, his eyes narrowing. With the summer whirling to an end, her feelings for him had grown beyond anything she understood, smoldering beneath her skin and teetering at the edge of her control. She took a sudden breath as he came near, hoping he wouldn’t…
“Heads we get married, tails we’re through.”
He flung the coin into the air, end over end it became lost in the haze. They heard it hit, the tinny sound of silver landing on the rock, bouncing and flipping again. They rushed over. Tails.
Kyle stared at the coin, and only when she saw the calamity on his face did she realize that he had been serious. A planed droned overhead, the contrails swelling into the heat until only the the sound of the wind remained. She left for school the following week.
Pete Fanning is an aspiring writer and first time dad. Check out his other short stories on his profile page or visit his blog at www.fatherknowslittle.com
Driving down and taking inventory of her life, Ariel had fought and struggled as her mind changed with the landscape. The air grew wet and salty. She crossed the drawbridge as the sun shimmered on the Atlantic Ocean, telling herself it would be the last time. Her breaths shortened with anticipation.
Sipping wine, she glanced around the restaurant. The waiter lingered, asking if there was anything she needed when she saw him enter. His strides were fluid and powerful, confident. His face beamed as their eyes met, and her pulse awakened with a tingling charge of weakness.
Arriving at the table, he kissed her on the cheek. “Sorry I’m late…you look amazing.” She smiled and squinted her eyes. Love and guilt commenced their lifelong duel.
The windows radiated with the warmth of the day’s unforgiving heat. Outside, the muted waves crashed, one rolling in after the next as heads bobbed in the glittering ripples. He followed her gaze.
“Want to go for a swim?”
She reached for his hand, tears threatening her composure.
“Do you remember the coin toss?” She asked, watching his eyes flicker, he nodded with a smile.
“Heads would have saved us a lot of hassle.” She said softly.
His smile broke into laughter. “But where was the fun in that? We had parents to worry, spouses to crush, children to…” He stopped himself.
The waiter returned and Kyle ordered a Corona. Ariel gazed into her wine glass, the golden spirits calm and eloquent at her finger tips. Her mind was in the past, tormented by pleasure and consequences. As though she had ever had a choice.
“So how is…Julie doing?”
The waiter set the beer on a napkin, a slice of lime wedged into the bottleneck. Kyle took a long pull and then wiped his mouth. “Well, she wants to try to work things out. Marriage counseling and all. What about…”
“Brian?” He still wants to kill you, if that’s what you mean.”
“That’s too bad, I always liked him.”
He flashed a smile, the one that made her flutter inside. Nothing had ever felt the same. Not even close. She wiped her eyes, wishing she had called instead.
“I’m getting a divorce.” He blurted out. The blue eyes twinkling, they became boyish and alive when he was excited. Her eyes watered.
“I’ve already spoken to an attorney.” He reached across the table, his arms dark and tawny against the linen. He squeezed her fingers. “It’s a done deal Ariel.”
She took a breath, her hands beginning to quiver in his grasp. A glimpse of potential emerged. The two of them living in a small bungalow on the beach, she could find work as a teacher, spending the evenings in the sand as pink sun rays bounced on the water. She bit her lip, forcing the fantasy to melt away.
“My girls need me Kyle.”
She watched his eyes study her face, disbelief parting his lips. He wanted her all of the time. Heads or tails, nothing else. She couldn’t do it, as much as she wanted to.
She pulled her hands back as the server reappeared and began with the catch of the day. Grilled Yellow fin tuna with Asparagus salad. He was detailing the hand cut croutons when he realized that his words were wasted, the two faces were locked into a chasm all their own. He excused himself.
“So this is it?”
Ariel nodded like a scolded schoolgirl. She whispered. “I can’t abandon my family.”
He peered out the window, his eyes following a pair of seagulls swooping overhead. Finally, he held up his beer, his face full of hurt and defiance.
“Well here’s to us. To the mountains and beaches. And of course,to our good friend fate.”
She held up her glass and toasted to doom and sin. To a stubborn fate that seemed to pull her to him without regard to right and wrong, or for that matter consequence.