“Fortune Cookie” by Bella Learn

Written by plumtree

Topics: Archive (2012-2019), Uncategorized

When Virginia was little, her mother told her that it rained because the angels were crying. Virginia never believed her mother. It seemed far too morbid a sentiment. Although, she thought, today the angels must be simply miserable. The rain was hitting the roof hard enough that Virginia could hear it even over the gentle music playing in the restaurant and the laughing voices of her sister, Bethany, Bethany’s husband, Henry, and his brother, whose name she didn’t know or care to. Though, she thought it could be Vance.

    She wondered for not the first time that night, why she had let Bethany cajole her into coming here. It wasn’t that the restaurant itself was unpleasant. On the contrary, in fact, the restaurant itself was quite nice. She’d never been there before, but it was a nice place nestled on the far side of Chinatown and they were seated at one of the best tables in the house near the window. The decor itself possessed a comforting appeal. The minimalist theme was serene and quiet. Although she’d never really been anywhere in New York, she was only staying for the time being to visit her sister and even then it was only for a week. And really, it didn’t matter all too much to her that she wasn’t involved in the conversation. Eating at a nice restaurant at all was plenty fun for her.

    The view outside the window looked more like a painting than real life. The rain against the window made the bright lights on the street look like a smudged watercolor painting. Virginia thought the world would look much nicer that way if everything looked that way, but before she could entertain the thought any further the waitress arrived with a tray of fortune cookies. Virginia murmured a quiet thank you and turned briefly to look at the waitress. She shared the same enjoyable quality as the rest of the restaurant and when she smiled at her Virginia couldn’t help, but smile back. As lovely as she was something seemed off about her. It looked like she was made wholly out of solid colors, like a drawing done without any shading. Virginia shook it off sure that her eyes were simply playing tricks on her.

      She was about to turn back, when Bethany offered her one of the cookies. Virginia didn’t particularly care for fortune cookies, she thought they tasted like cardboard, but she accepted it graciously anyway. She cracked the cookie and took the small slip of paper out.

    Your life is in danger. Say nothing to anyone. Leave the city now and never return

     She stomped, somewhat harder than she intended to.

     “Virginia? Virginia, are you alright?” Bethany asked slowly.

      Virginia took a moment to respond. Eventually she looked up into her sister’s concerned face.

    “Oh? I’m-” She swallowed hard, “I’m fine. I just- um- I just think I must’ve eaten something- never mind. I’m fine.”

    Bethany frowned, “Are you sure?

    “Yeah,” Virginia shook her head, “yeah of course don’t worry about me.”

    Bethany turned away hesitantly, but quickly resumed speaking with Henry on her left. Virginia’s fist clenched around the slip of paper. She took a shaky breath, surely the fortune was just some meaningless nonsense. Some kind of elaborate prank made by whoever it was that wrote these things. And yet, something in the pit of her stomach filled her with some sort of instinctual, preemptive fear. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw someone enter the restaurant, and it made her stomach turn.

     A distorted voice came from her left, but when she turned there was no one there. Whatever its words were she didn’t understand, but she knew she had to go. In the corner, there was a decorated wooden swing door leading to the kitchen. In the center of the door was a window, and she was certain she saw a face in it.

    She stood with a start, “I have to go-”, and with that she turned and left without another word. Behind her, Bethany said something but she was already out the door. Virginia rushed down the street and hurriedly waved down a cab.

    “Where you headed?” The driver asked.

   Virginia choked up for a second, like there was an invisible hand wrapped around her throat, “Uh- Newark?”

    “New Jersey? I can take you there, but it’s kind of far-”, he trailed off.

    “Yes that’s fine! Fast, please.”

    The driver drove away, thankfully not asking anymore questions. She jostled her leg nervously, twisting her hands in the fabric of her skirt. Every car she saw in the rearview mirror struck fear into her heart and the painting past the window didn’t look so nice anymore. The colors bled together too much, it was disorderly, chaotic. The words from the fortune cookie stayed set in her head. Someone was after her, but who? And why? And how did she know that she could trust what the paper had said anyway? But she felt something compelling her to, some kind of dark wind blowing her away. It sounded stupid in her head, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. The driver pulled up to a red light.

     “Actually,” She said, her voice settling into a monotone. Nearly robotic in her manner, “could you just take me back to my hotel?”

    She swiftly delivered the address of the hotel to the driver. He looked confused, but again said nothing. Unfortunately, traffic had already started to worsen and it took over a half hour to reach her hotel. She spent the generality of the drive staring blankly out the window, blinking slowly. Outwardly, her face was entirely blank, a statue carved out of cold marble, but inwardly her mind was reeling. She felt the fear still festering in the pit of her stomach and she was struggling to avoid it.

    After what felt like an eternity the driver reached the sidewalk outside of the hotel. Virginia exited the car slowly, and then entered the hotel in the same cautious manner. She must have looked disheveled or otherwise lost and frightened because the lady behind the counter asked her if something was wrong.

    She turned to the woman slowly and smiled as best she could, “No, no nothing’s wrong, I’m fine. It’s nothing at all.”

   As Virginia walked away she thought that something had been odd about the receptionist, much in the way there had been something wrong with the waitress earlier. Her smile was too wide, her eyes were too big, but no matter. A fortune slip from a restaurant in Chinatown bore no true meaning. There was no way it could. How would whoever wrote that even know that it would reach her? Perhaps, it had been meant for someone else. Although that was just as foolish a thought. Moving hastily, she walked over to the elevator and carefully pushed the button. But given the absurdity of a personalized message in a fortune cookie, was it really so absurd to think that it could be aimed at her. She shook off the thought again and walked to her hotel room.

   She felt a headache starting to come on and dug through her purse looking for a pain reliever. Instead, she found the fortune slip that she must have shoved in her bag earlier. It was completely blank. She laughed dryly, how foolish she was. Yet again, letting her imagination get the best of her. Bethany was right, she worried far too much. To run off just because a fortune cookie told her to. Fortunate, at least, that she hadn’t let a blank slip of paper drive her out of town. Behind her, the door opened and when she turned there was no one there. Only the distant sound of music, wandering aimlessly through the halls like a lost child.

 

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