Superstition By D.I. Jolly

Dan looked down at the ash floating in his last glass of whiskey and thought to himself.

“Life is gorgeous.”

Martha, on the other hand, had just packed up her desk at work and was about to head out to get some groceries and go home and all she could think was.

“Same shit, different day.”

So when standing side by side in a supermarket, the only reason they even gave each other a second thought, was because they both stopped to consider the ladder they’d have to walk under to get out of the store. Dan glanced at the woman, cocked a smile and even winked as he said.

“Ladies first.”

Martha’s eyes had already begun to roll before she smelled the booze on his breath. She considered pointing out what time it was, but decided it wasn’t worth it, so simply said.

“A real gentleman would least offer to move the thing.”

He continued to smile at her while she glared at him, and a third person simply walked under the ladder and out of the store, which drew shouts from both of them.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

Started Martha.

“Can’t you see the ladder you damned fool.”

Finished Dan. With their headphones in, the third person continued on oblivious, leaving them to both shake their heads in disbelief and disgust.

“Some people.”

“I know right, not looking where he’s going no idea what’s coming…. Here let me get that.”

Dan finally stepped forward and move the ladder out of the way and with an infinitely more genuine smile said with a wink.

“Ladies first.”

This time rather than glaring, Martha smiled.

“Why thank you.”

She stepped through the door then slowed before realising that she was waiting for the day drunk stranger to catch up. Which he hurried to do, leaving them walking together with no thread of a conversation to cling too. Desperate to not let the silence go on too long, Dan threw out a line to start something.

“You taking the bus home by any chance?”

“I would, but the only one that goes to my place from here is the 13 sooooo…”

It took Dan a moment too long to realise that there wasn’t a bus 13 and that she was joking. He blushed as he let out a slightly embarrassed laugh, saying.

“Hey, you got me, ha haaaaa.”

Something about his openness charmed her. She realised that if it was the other way around, she would have locked up and made a quick excuse to leave the conversation. She also once again got a whiff of the drink on his breath and wondered how much that had to do with his, ‘charm’. But he seemed harmless, and there was a kindness to his smile that she couldn’t help but notice. She smiled in acknowledgement, and said.

“I can walk home from here, I’m just a few blocks away. You taking the bus?”

Dan bobbed his head to the side.

“Aaactually, I walk home too. I just thought it might be creepy to ask if we were walking the same way, and the bus was the first thing that came to mind. I live over there.”

Dan pointed at a green door a little further down and across the street. Martha raised an eyebrow.

“You’re not going to invite me up for a drink, are you?”

Dan shrugged and let his smile get a bit bigger.

“Would that be such a bad thing?”

“Well, I generally don’t go home with strangers.”

“We could go to your place. I’ve got a bottle of whisky in my bag.”

“And on your breath.”

Her words came out a bit harsher than she meant them too and her mind flashed on a memory of her friends trying to, and apparently failing at, giving her flirting advice.

“I’ve got good cause to celebrate. You see, today, is Thursday.”

He said it with such ease and confidence that it was Martha’s turn to realise a little too late that that wasn’t actually a special occasion. She turned a look of confusion on him which gave him the opportunity he was hoping for. He grinned from ear to ear and said.

“Well you’ve got to admit, it’s not Thursday every day.”

He then began to giggle uncontrollably at his own joke, and realising that he was the only one laughing made him blush again and laugh a little harder. But eventually, he managed to pull himself together, clear his throat and say.

“My name’s Dan by the way.”

He extended a hand and she shook it.

“It’s nice to meet you Dan.”

He waited a moment, then made a conscious effort not to react to the fact that she hadn’t introduced herself, and took it as the natural closing point to their little encounter.

“And you. Anyway, I hope you have a luck filled day, and maybe we’ll bump into each other again.”

He smiled, waited another beat then nodded to himself and went off towards his front door, leaving Martha to wonder why she hadn’t said her name. She knew it was her standard response when people were randomly hitting on her in bars, but her and Dan had actually shared a moment. She stood for a second thinking about it, then slotted back into her routine and made her way home.

Over the next week, she found herself thinking of him from time to time, wondering if she would see him again, if she’d even recognise him if she did and if he’d remember her. Dan, on the other hand, spent the rest of his weeks’ vacation telling himself that he wasn’t going to the supermarket every day at the same time hoping to see her, that was just when he went there. He genuinely wasn’t planning his life around her, but she had left an impression, a seed in his mind and he was charmed by how they had met, by her boldness of character and her little retorts. Once the week was over memory faded, but he did think of her when he saw the number 13 and she thought of him whenever she saw people casually walk under ladders. From time to time she’d think about going and ringing the buzzers at his door to find him, and he would sit at home and wished that one day his buzzer would ring and it would be her. Whoever she was.

Weeks turned into months and although faded, the memory didn’t fully disappear, so when they spotted each other randomly in line at the supermarket, they were both delighted to see each other, and delighted to see the delight on each other’s faces. To the surprise of people near them they hugged as if they were old friends separated by years, and fell into a soft comfortable silence together. Once again, they stopped near Dan’s door and he said.

“You still haven’t told me your name.”

It was her turn to smile and say with a wink.

“I know.”

And they lived happily, ever after.

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