“Do you believe in fate?” The young man asks his date sitting across the table.
“Don’t you think that’s pretty heavy conversation material for a first date?” glancing over the top of her menu The young woman gently chids, quickly returning attention to the decision between General Tzo’s Chicken and moo goo gi pan.
“Can I get you something to drink?” an elderly female server asks the couple pleasantly.
“Water is fine, thank you.” The young man says.
The waitress smiles and excuses her self.
The young man rests his arms crossed on top of his closed menu, leaning forward. Smiling. “So?”
“So what?” the young woman retorts focused on comparing the pictures of General Tzo’s and the moo goo.
“Oh. yea. Not really.” Suddenly the woman looks up closing her menu, “Pick a number between one and five.”
“Please?” The young woman’s cheeky smile softens the young man.
“Aww…are you sure?”
“What’s wrong with five? It’s a lucky number in Chinese culture.”
The elderly waitress returns with two ice waters. “Ready?”
“Yup. I’ll have the General Tzo’s Chicken with pork fried rice and…” addressing his date, “would you want to split an order of crab ragoon?”
The young woman nods enthusiastically, “And can I get the moo goo gi pan with spring rolls?”
The elderly waitress smiles, takes their menus and leaves.
“So you believe that life is one continual game of craps?” the young man pursues. “Huh? Oh, dice rolls. Yea life is a big crappy game of chance. Then you die. Why are you so fixated on this subject?” the young woman asks curtly.
“It’s important to me. You can tell a lot about a person by how they answer the question.” The young man defends.
“Like what? If they’re superstitious? Are “faters” more prone to be astrologists?” the young woman jabs.
“There’s nothing wrong with believing in something greater than one self. In fact, it’s quite healthy. Humbling even.” The young man parries.
“And there’s something wrong with believing in the random absurdity of the cosmos?”
“It’s kind of pessimistic, for starters.”
“At least it’s not delusional!”
The elderly waitress returns with the food before the young man can reply. The waitress smiles, and excuses her self for something rather urgent somewhere far from this table.
“Fate is not delusional. It’s quite rational. It’s just cause and effect. I ordered water first, you being on a date are more likely to mirror a partner, so you ordered water too. If you ordered water with lemons, I would have very likely ordered lemons too.”
“I had you choose a number, remember? I was having issue choosing so I had you choose a number. Odd, General Tzo’s Chicken; even, moo goo gi pan.”
“But I chose five and you got moo goo gi pan.”
“Exactly! When you ordered General Tzo’s, I didn’t want to get the same exact thing so I chose to change my mind and get the gi pan instead.”
“Fate again. I always get General Tzo’s chicken. Therefore you were going to get the gi pan before you knew it.”
“No. See here’s the difference between you “faters” and us rational people. I thought about my decision. You obviously don’t think about your decisions because you know that the decision has already been made for you. That’s probably why you always get the same thing.”
“You’re wrong though. I thought about choosing four. However the word for “four” in Chinese rhymes with “death” and is unlucky. I was always going to choose five since we’re at a Chinese restaurant.”
“The concept of luck doesn’t even make sense in a fate paradigm. Speaking of luck, I know you’re not getting lucky tonight.” The young woman flags down the elderly waitress and asks for a to-go box and the check split. “Though I guess in your sad case its a good thing you don’t believe in luck because ‘it wasn’t meant to be'”.
The waitress returns with two boxes, two checks, and two fortune cookies.
After boxing up her food, the young woman leaves cash on top of her check “Good luck, dude. Or whatever.” and leaves.
The young man packs away his food, careful to keep each portion in its respective section in the to-go box. He picks up a fortune cookie and examines it. He finally cracks it open, eating one half while reading his fortune:
Your life is in danger. Say nothing to anyone. You must leave the city and never return. Repeat: say nothing…
“What the…well it’s a good thing ‘the concept of fortune doesn’t fit in a fate paradigm'” the young man says aloud to himself and anyone who happened to be listening. The young man leaves cash on his check and leaves.
* * *
The young man drives home from the Chinese restaurant in the county. At a stop light, a block from his home, he notices for the first time a sign reading:
Now entering the city of Big River
The young man accelerates at the light changing green again.
A convertible zooms 40mph over the speed limit through the light that just turned red crumpling into the young man’s driver side killing him instantly.