A beautiful-young woman was sitting alone in the small Chinese restaurant, tears streaming down her cheeks, a crushed fortune cookie on the table. That image has been with me for years.
I had resisted the temptation to stay in my apartment that night. Recently, there had been too many of those nights. My plan was to end my misery and see what the other side might have in store for me. However, the hell here on earth, might be much better than Hell itself. I spent several hours that afternoon trying to analyze things, but there were no facts at my disposal. The only thing I knew was that the wall was much stronger than my bleeding hand.
That night was the one year anniversary of our divorce. I had contemplated how I was going to exit stage right. None of the methods really appealed to me. I knew I was chicken. I suddenly craved Chinese food. It wasn’t that I really loved Chinese food, but my wife hated it. Consequently, we never ate there in the ten years we were married.
The owner recognized me. Meili commented that she thought I had moved away, or worse. She smiled when I ordered the House Special Chicken and two other entrees. If I was going out, I was leaving with a full stomach.
I smiled when I asked Meili to pick out the tea flavor. It was one of the many things my wife had complained about…I never let her make any decisions. She was wrong; she made the decision to run off with her boss. I more than let her make that decision; I think I forced her into it. I had had enough of her late hours at work, and ignoring our bed when she finally came home.
“You like all your meals?” Meili asked, as she started to pile the plates on her arm.
“They were very good.”
“I happy. Here two fortune cookies as reward for you coming again.” Meili turned looking toward the woman at a table across the room. “I sorry her fortune cookie no good.”
I spotted a beautiful-young woman sitting alone, tears streaming down her cheeks, and what seemed like a crushed Fortune cookie on the table. I realized several minutes had passed, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the woman.
I sensed my heavy breathing. The reality of my wife’s departure hit home. The knowledge of what I was going to do when I got home forced another deep breath. I thought about the loss of our only child two years into our marriage. I wondered what if anything I could have done differently. Did I not say the right words to her when they ushered me down the hall to the chapel? Was I selfish learning that I lost the son I never would get to know? Did I not hug her fully when I learned she could not have another baby?
I felt the moisture on my cheeks. Was it because of the tears rolling down the woman’s cheeks? I finally looked away from her to see if anyone was staring at me. Several eyes diverted back to their own tables. I reached for the fortune cookies, and slipped my card in the folder.
Once again, I looked over at the woman. She had unbelievable strength to sit at the table, despite her silent, but obvious, grief.
I cracked open the first cookie and read the inscription.
‘Something you lost will soon turn up.’
Then I opened the other.
‘You will take a chance on something in the near future.’
I found myself headed over to her table. I wasn’t doing this, my body was doing it. I would never do this; it wasn’t my style at all.
She looked up when I reached her table, but never responded when I asked if I could sit down. She took a deep breath and tried her best to contain her emotion.
“So Daniel, you asked how I met your mother. She was the beautiful-young woman sitting alone in the small Chinese restaurant. We saved each other that night.”
“What was she crying about?”
“Someone she cared about failed to show up for dinner, and what made it worse is that her fortune cookie was empty.”
“What did you do?”
“I told her my name was Craig, and I was delivering a message. I gave her one of mine.”
“The one that made sense for her to have.”