As we climbed into the car, we started talking. The conversation we had would not make sense to anyone around us. Lindsay may have been able to catch a word or two, but mostly it was a language unique to Adrian and myself. It was second nature to us when we were alone.
“I hate her sometimes.” Adrian sighed.
“You do not. She just wants you to relax.”
“She’s only stressing herself out more.”
“No. You being stressed stresses her out.” Adrian looked unconvinced, so I continued, “We’ll go out. We’ll have a good time. You’ll come back happier, then Katie will be happier. It will do us all some good, okay?”
“Except for my always chipper sister who needs no good doing”
“Yes, well. I’m perfect. We all know that.”
“Oh yes. I’m sorry. How could I have ever forgotten?”
As we chattered away in our made up language, Adrian had driven us to the movie theater where I worked part-time. We had come in just after the end of a set, so most of the movie had already started, or were at least running the previews. We chose quickly, a movie I had already seen, and enjoyed, but Adrian really wanted to see. Adrian went to grab seats in the nearly empty theater, so he wouldn’t miss the beginning, but I decided to stop and get a soda and some popcorn. After joking around with the people I knew working concessions and getting my soda and popcorn into a carrying tray, I started back towards the theater. After a little bit of an awkward balancing act, I got the tray balanced on one arm. I reached out to pull open the right side door, when all of a sudden the left door swung open very quickly, knocking me flat on my ass, and covering me with Diet Pepsi, and popcorn bits.
“I am so sorry.” The man who came out of theater had already started apologizing. I probably should have been surprised, but I didn’t even bat an eye when I looked up to see Directions Man reaching out a hand to help me up. “Well, I’ll be damned.” He muttered as he realized who I was. I took his hand, and he pulled me back up to my feet. After helping me pick up my soda cups and popcorn bag, he grinned. “I’m Zach, by the way.”
“Elliott.” I responded. I watched him carefully, thinking how strange this was. If we hadn’t gotten her so late, a plan made in a rush, I would have began to wonder if Zach had been following me, something ominous–but that didn’t add up. How could he have possibly known?
“Nice to meet you Elliott. Clearly, fate wants us to be friends.” Zach smiled. Fate. I thought to myself. My mother had always talked about Fate, this great mystical capital letter being that tugged on strings to make us end up where we were supposed to be. I’d never believed her, especially not after the accident, but–
“And wants you to be covered in spilled beverages.” Zach added looking at the soda stain on my shirt. It shook me out of my thoughts of my parents, and I smiled back. Fate or no Fate, I should get to know this guy.
“Clearly. Here, I’ll take those.” I said, offering to take the destroyed soda and popcorn bags away from him.
“No, no, I insist that I buy you replacements.”
“That’s not necessary.” I considered making a karma joke, the way he’d not let me buy his coffee for him, but decided I wasn’t a quick enough thinker to make that joke quite work. “I know people here. They’ll get me refills, no worries.”
“Are you sure?” Zach asked skeptically.
“Positive. After all, I never bought you a new coffee. We’re even now.” I took the cups away from him, and he shrugged. I jumped back into line, explained what happened, exchanged a few mocking curse words with the usher who went off to clean the mess, and managed to get my stuff and get back to the theater around the same time as Zach. He pulled open the door for me, and indicated for me to go first. I nodded my thanks, then sat down next to Adrian who was in the very back row. Zach sat next to a woman in the dead center of the theater, and other than that, the room was empty.
“That took forever.” Adrian whispered.
“Dropped stuff. Had to get refills.” Adrian actually took a second to look over at me, and saw the pleasant soda stains all over my shirt.
“Did you fall on your ass?” he exclaimed, louder than he should have in a movie theater regardless of the fact almost no one was there.
“That’s exactly what I did. Drink your soda.”
“Sorry about that again.” Zach had turned around in his seat, and was squinting back at us.
“No worries.” I called back.
“Leave the woman alone.” The woman who was sitting with Zach slapped him quickly on the arm.
“Fate won’t let me.” Zach said back to the woman, before turning back to me. “Elliott, this is my baby sister, Amanda.”
“Hi Amanda. This is my brother, Adrian.”
“Hello, Adrian.” Zach called up before turning back to the movie.
“Who in the world is that?” Adrian whispered quickly in code.
“Hush,” I countered, pointing to the screen, “Watch your movie.”