“Learn Chinese,” Caroline Nickleback read. “Plum:” She frowned and scratched her head. There followed an incomprehensible and unpronounceable series of letters. She studied the pronunciation guide and tried to wrap her lips around the word, spitting out a tiny crumb of fortune cookie as she did so.
Julian laughed and took a sip of his tea, running a thumb up the smooth side of the tiny white mug that was really more suited to shots than oolong.
“Lucky numbers,” she continued, “forty, forty-four, forty-one, forty-six, thirty, two.” She looked at her husband, shiny and new. “Should we buy a lottery ticket?”
He grinned. “You believe in that?”
“Nah. But my mother is a firm believe in astrology.” Caroline leaned forward. “Says we’re never going to last.”
“How so?” Julian tilted his head.
“Aries and Leo.” She laughed. “Not compatible.”
“Is that why she didn’t come to the wedding?”
“She said she didn’t want to waste time on a losing proposition.” Caroline felt her eyes fill with tears. “Anyway…” She flipped over the thin strip of white paper in her hand and read her fortune silently, moving her lips as she did so. She frowned.
“What does it say?”
“When it is not necessary to make a decision,” she read, aloud this time, “it is necessary not to make a decision.”
“Dumb,” Julian pronounced.
Caroline balled up the fortune and set it on her plate. “What does yours say?”
Julian broke his cookie in two and withdrew the slip. “You will lose $8.99 today. Six ninety-nine if you chose the buffet.”
“Gimmie that.” Caroline reached across the table and grabbed Julian’s fortune, cookie and wrapper. These she jammed into her purse along with her own uneaten cookie as well as several packets of soy and duck sauce and three packets of tea. “Excuse me.” Caroline waved at a passing waitress.
“Could we get our cookies?”
The waitress frowned. “But…”
“And about six more shots of tea.”
“I don’t understand…”
Caroline glanced at her watch. “And make it snappy. We have to get back to the office. My boss is a tyrant.”
The waitress nodded and hurried away.
Julian grinned. “I am not a tyrant.”
“Sometimes you can be.”
The waitress returned with a small circular tray lined in cork. She set down six mugs of tea and two fortune cookies. “Will there be anything else?”
“No. That’ll be all. Thank you.”
Julian raised an eyebrow at Caroline. “You pick first.”
Caroline considered the two cookies before her before reaching for one and tearing open the plastic with her teeth. She took a mug of tea and drank it in one gulp before clearing her throat dramatically and reading. “You are wise beyond measure.” She flushed, pleased. “That’s more like it.”
Julian reached for the remaining cookie. “You are important enough to ask and you are blessed enough to receive back.” He smiled. “Maybe there is some truth to this stuff.” He took his new wife’s hand. “I’m glad I asked you to marry me, Caroline. Even if your mother thinks we’re doomed.”
“And I was wise to accept, Julian.”
They smiled at each other across the table, holding hands and celebrating their good fortune to have met and married.
For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Michael at http://michaelwebb.us gave me this prompt: “There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast.” -Herman Melville I gave Cheryl at http://burningfireshutinmybones.wordpress.com/ this prompt: Life is like chocolate.