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Just coincidence.

by rmol1950 

Posted: 16 January 2015
Word Count: 751
Summary: here is my contribution to this weeks competition. It is an old piece that I think fits the bill.

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

She looked Italian. Southern European anyway. Henna red hair, rich brown eyes, olive skin. Her makeup was tastefully bold. Colourful chic clothes. A very attractive woman, he thought. She smiled at him with perfect teeth and he realised she was amused by his attention.

‘So why are you here?’ she asked.

‘To have my fortune told.’

‘But you don’t believe in fortune tellers, do you.’ She was still smiling at him, gently caressing an ivory and gold pendant at her throat. A key of life, he realised. Maybe she’s Egyptian.

‘Persian’, she said. ‘Please answer the question. Why are you here?’

Amused and impressed by the mind reading trick, he returned her smile. ‘OK. My wife booked you as part of my birthday present. Lets just say I’m an easy going sceptic. What’s your name?’ He tried to take control of the conversation.

‘You may call me Celeste. So, Mr Sceptic, let us see what life has in store for you.’ She opened a drawer and placed a glass sphere on the table. ‘My crystal ball.’ Her smile was mischievous now. Long red nailed fingers cupped the crystal. ‘Have you seen one of these before?’

‘Only at the movies.’

She leant forward, elbows on the table, elegant hands draped over the crystal, and involuntarily he leaned forward to watch. The crystal seemed suddenly red. Probably the reflection of her nails, he thought.

‘Now that is strange’, she said thoughtfully. ‘One hundred and thirteen.’

‘One hundred and thirteen what?’

‘Just the number, and flames. One hundred and thirteen. Does that mean anything to you?’


‘Nobody lives at number 113? You don’t have an appointment at 13 minutes past one?

‘No, nothing I can think of.’ He shook his head, thinking.

She looked hard at him, clearly troubled. ‘What are you doing in 113 days time?’ She opened a filofax, calculating. ‘What are you doing on July 25th?’

His smile faded. ‘July 25th is the second part of my birthday present. We’re flying from Paris to New York on Concorde.’

She reached across the table and clasped his wrist. ‘Cancel it.’ she said. There was an urgency in her voice now.

‘I can’t do that. It’s all paid for. Hotels booked, everything.’

Listen to me.’ Her grip tightened. ‘I know you don’t believe this, but postpone it. Fly another time. What have you got to lose? It’s a chance, coincidence, you’re thinking. Who is this crazy old woman, you ask. I don’t care what you think, just please don’t fly on July 25th.’

Later that night at dinner his wife asked about the fortune teller and knowing she would be terrified by the warning, he lied. ‘She said I would live a long and happy life. And by the way, she was gorgeous. Are you trying to get rid of me?’

But as the weeks passed his determined pragmatism began to fade and, to his surprise and annoyance, he became increasingly nervous. Finally, stuck in traffic near Heathrow airport, the deafening roar of Concorde taking off drowned a BBC news report about an air crash in China. Feeling foolish, and too embarrassed to explain the real reason, he called his wife with an excuse to postpone their holiday for a few days.

He was working from home on July 25th when his wife shouted to him from the living room. ‘Oh my God. That’s the flight we were booked on.’ She was standing rigidly in front of the TV, one hand partly covering her face as if hiding from what she was seeing. On the screen, shaky and blurred amateur video footage showed the familiar shape of Concorde streaming a long jet of flame and black smoke low against a backdrop of trees and buildings. The next scene cut to a pillar of black smoke in the distance.

He slumped into an armchair, head in his hands. ‘She told me not to fly today.’

‘What? Who?’

‘The fortune teller.’ He explained.

‘And you didn’t tell anybody? You didn’t warn anybody?’

‘What was I supposed to say?’ He realised he was shouting. ‘Please don’t fly! Some Gypsy fortune teller saw it in a fucking crystal ball?’

The next morning he called the mobile number on the fortune teller’s card.

‘Can I speak to Celeste please.’

A male voice answered. ‘Are you a family member or friend?’

‘What? No. I’m a client. Why?’

‘I regret to inform you that Celeste Concorde died late last night following a gas explosion and fire in her home.’

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Comments by other Members

euclid at 19:42 on 16 January 2015  Report this post
Ooh, nice one.

Could you have placed Celeste's home under the flight path?


Bazz at 19:50 on 16 January 2015  Report this post
This is really neatly plotted, love how the coincidence resolves itself in the end. I think her name being Concorde is unnecessary, that just adds to the coincidence in a needless way. Great story though, certainly plays on chance and the reader's expectations.

Desormais at 08:24 on 17 January 2015  Report this post
Really good story, and you built the suspense nicely.  I was sure he was going to catch that flight  And the wife's reaction asking why he hadn't warned the others, that was a thought provoking stroke.  What would you say?   How guilty would you feel?  But the irony of her telling her own fortune was masterful.  Nicely written - two things spring to mind.  I think the use of the "who is this crazy old woman" actually destroys the image of the fortuneteller that you've beautifully set up.  The use of the word 'old' seems off-kilter.  And I didn't know whether 'Celeste Concorde' was a touch of over-kill.  I think the reader had already got the powerful implications.  Nice to see something from you again.



Sorry, I didn't see that Bazz had already mentioned Concorde. :(

TassieDevil at 08:41 on 17 January 2015  Report this post
I enjoyed your writing style - the short sentences to begin with grabbed my attention straight away. Also some fine touches to add to the fortune teller speil - the number referring to days.

Cornelia at 09:24 on 17 January 2015  Report this post
Lovely story and I really enjoyed the dialogue. I was anxious to see how you'd tie up the ending,thinking it was sure to disappoint -but it didn't. Great use of irony when the fortune teller couldn't forecast her own demise.

I thoght there were a couple of places where, as has been noticed, it was a bit over-emphatic. The name has already been mentioned.

'he realised she was amused by his attention.'

Maybe could be 'She seemed to be laughing at him'?

'He tried to take control of the conversation.''

A'tell, not show' redundancy. It's clear from the context that's what he's  doing.

I liked the precision of her fortune-telling - the number 113 and the use of the filofax - a mix of the exotic and the banal. Could you upgrade her to the calendar on her mobile phone ?



Jubbly at 12:00 on 17 January 2015  Report this post
Oooh goose bumpy, great stuff. I agree you don't need the surname Concorde and I also think you could cut the line 'Amused and impressed by the mind reading trick,' as it is evident what has just happened and a subtler way of introducing her poweres. Really enjoyed it. 

Julie :)

fiona_j at 13:57 on 17 January 2015  Report this post
Excellent story. I liked the progression of his growing concern. And his rant at his wife! I was wondering if he was going to take the flight an regret it as it went down.

I was half expecting Celeste to be on the flight, as if not really believing her own prediction. I'm not sure about the ending, but I don't know how I would change it either!



V`yonne at 17:43 on 17 January 2015  Report this post
Richard, It's great to read your stuff again and that was a top notch double header! devil Devilishly clever and nicely written.

rmol1950 at 07:49 on 19 January 2015  Report this post
Thanks to everybody for the kind comments and useful advice. I agree the name Cocorde is one too far and the reference to the mind reading trick is unnecessary. I will leave it a couple of weeks and try a revision.

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