A Twist of Fate

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a romantic fantasy about love, fate, and second chances.

How many people place the blame of their relationships troubles, on the failure of a long lost love. Michael was one of those people, and Fate gives him a second chance to find "the one who got away". However, as Michael will find out, one never knows where fate will lead you ...

Submitted: June 09, 2008

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Submitted: June 09, 2008

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“So … Steve says you work in the financial industry.” She spoke in that hesitant tone characteristic of first date small talk.
Michael looked across the table at his date for the evening. She looked pleasant enough he thought, but if asked later, he doubted he would be able to describe her. He wasn’t really paying very close attention to her features. He couldn’t even recall her name: Patty Ssss…omething, Patty Ssss…tarts with an S, Patty Ssss…ue me but I’ll never remember.
“Yeah, it’s just work.” Michael spoke in a detached tone. Why did his friends insist on setting him up? “Steve says you are an art critic?” He asked her, just going through the motions, which was something he seemed to be doing a lot of lately. 
“Yes, I work for the Post. I have a column…”
She went on. Michael nodded perfunctorily, but his thoughts were elsewhere. After what seemed like an endless number of meaningless dates, he had accepted the inevitability of his single life. He had accepted his fate. His relationships never worked out, and he knew when it had all started.
Her name was Sandy Novaceck, and she was the one who got away. Michael recognized it wasn’t logical to blame ten years of bad relationships on one mishap during his senior year in college, but deep in his heart, he knew it all began with her. Even after all these years, he still had vivid memories of Sandy. She always sat in the third row of Professor Tannenbaum’s History of Western Music class. Her angelic face was adorned with sapphire blue eyes, and long ash blond hair that cascaded down over her shoulders into her back. Her delicate beauty complemented the sound of Chopin’s Nocturnes in a sensory overflow of sight and sound he would never forget.
He had fallen in love on the first lecture, the moment his eyes set on her. He could not rationalize why, but his heart needed no explanations. For the next three months, he had watched her silently, but on the last day of class, he knew he would have to make his move. He didn’t know then, but fate had a different plan in mind.
That Wednesday morning, he stuffed his books in his backpack with a sense of determination, filled with purpose, like a warrior readying himself for battle. He had waited far too long. Today he would put an end to it.
"So what are you gonna do man? You just gonna walk up to her and say Hi, my name is Mike, and I think you are real neat." His pre-game routine was interrupted by his roommate, Rob, who had given him no end of abuse over the whole thing.
"You're an asshole, Rob." He did like Rob most of the time, but he sure as hell didn't need negative attitude now.
"Dude, I just don't wanna see you get all messed up, you know? You've been dreaming about this chick for months now, and you've never even spoken to her. That's fucked up man!"
"Just drop it, Rob. I know it doesn't make sense to you, but I just know this is right. Yes, I was a wimp for the last few months. Yes, I should have spoken to her already, but that’s all history. I have one lecture left, and I WILL do it!"
Rob shook his head, but mercifully refrained from another verbal jab. “Don’t worry man, I know what I’m doing,” Michael said as he walked out, patting his friend on the shoulder as he passed by. A few hours later, he sat in class licking his dry lips, as Professor Tannenbaum summarized the last chapter.
"Schoenberg believed he was instituting order to a disorganized music landscape. He felt his method was a natural evolution, and although most people rejected it, Schoenberg’s twelve-tone method did represent a significant break-through in modern music composition.”
Michael shifted and reshifted on his chair, as the professor seemed to be going on forever. At the end of class, he intended to intercept Sandy on her way out, and ask her to join his study group for the finals. Not particularly original, but it would serve as an ice-breaker.
As the bell rang, Michael slowly gathered his pencil, notebook, and textbook, but when he was about to stand up, he noticed Sandy was busy talking to another woman. He couldn’t very well talk to her now, so he remained seated, paging through his textbook, attempting to look casual. His stomach contracted to a tight ball, as he waited and listened to the other woman talk Sandy’s ear off.
All of a sudden, Sandy looked down her at her watch and cried out, “Oh my god! I have to run! I’ll see you later.” She was off and running instantly, and before Michael could gather his things and get up, she was already past him, well on her way out. There was no way he could catch up with her now, and still maintain any semblance of spontaneity. 
Strike one.
“So you just sat there?” Rob gawked in disbelief.
“I told you Rob, I couldn’t do anything else. She ran out. What was I supposed to do?”
“Run after her!”
“How the hell would that look? It wouldn’t look natural. I’d look like a desperate geek.”
“Yeah, and that would be a stretch.”Rob chuckled.
“Very funny, Rob. I’ll remember your unwavering support the next time you’re too drunk to walk back from a party.”
“All right dude,” Rob said in a placatory tone. “I just want to—“
“Never mind Rob. I have a plan. I’ll call her. I know her name, so I can look her up in the campus directory.” Michael walked decisively across the room as he spoke, and picked up the directory next to the phone. “I’ll tell her I’m setting up a study group,” he continued with conviction as he flipped through the pages. “I got it. 2-3-4-6-7-2-1.” He read the numbers out loud as he dialed them, not wanting to give Rob a chance to interject. This was the time to be bold.
“Hello,” a female voice answered.
“Hi. May I speak to Sandy?”
“I’m sorry, but there is no Sandy here.”
Michael’s boldness dissipated all at once. He apologized, hung up, and slumped into the couch in resignation. An incorrect listing in the directory? He stared at the ceiling exasperated. Why was fate conspiring to keep him away from his destiny?
Strike two.
“What now? You’re not giving up, are you, man?” Rob asked encouragingly.
He must have looked pathetic to instill pity on Rob. He straightened himself up, and took a deep breath. In his mind’s eyes, he saw her sweet face, her luminous eyes, and her welcoming smile. She was meant for him, and he just had to be persistent. “Well, I do know for sure where she’ll be on Thursday 10am.  I’ll make my do or die move at the finals”.
And so it was, that it all came down to two hours. Tuesday came, and Michael had two hours to try to convince a woman who didn’t know he existed, that they were meant to be together. He sat a few rows behind her, and as expected, finished the exam before she did. He sat in his chair digging his nails into his palms, while pretending to look down at the exam. Finally, she got up and started walking down the aisle to hand over her exam. He waited just a few seconds, then stood up, about the same time a woman two rows ahead did. Sandy handed over her exam. He was only a few steps behind, with the other woman in between. He was practicing his rehearsed lines in his head, when the woman ahead of him started talking to the professor. 
“I just wanted to tell you I really enjoyed your class. I loved the way …”
Bla-bla-bla, he thought. Sandy was literally walking out of his life, and there he stood waiting to submit his exam, trapped behind this woman kissing up to Professor Tannenbaum. When he finally turned in his exam, and marched out as fast as he could, Sandy was gone. 
Gone forever.
Strike three! He was out.
Two days later Michael graduated from NYU, with a diploma in Mathematics in his hand, and emptiness in his heart. He had often replayed these scenes, and had always thought if he had only done something different, things might have worked out. Everything lost, on the whims of fate.
“What would you like sir?” The voice of the waiter penetrated his mind like an unwelcome guest, and brought him back to tonight’s stark reality. His soon to be doomed date still sat across from him. Patty Sss…. Oh, screw it! I’ll never remember it. Just the latest casualty in fate’s little game.
“What would you like sir?” The waiter repeated. There was a strange, powerful tone to his voice. He seemed to be the same man who had earlier served them drinks, and yet … he wasn’t. There was something different about him now. Where originally he had only seen an ordinary waiter in a plain white uniform, he now saw a tall powerful presence. He had dark hair, square jaw, and a fierce face, but what really drew Michael’s attention, was a peculiar glimmer in his eyes.
He forced himself to look away, dismissed these meaningless musings, and concentrated on the original question. What would I like? He pondered on the question, then shook his in disgust. What I would like pal, you don’t have on your menu. What I’d like, is a second chance. 
Although Michael never uttered the words out loud, the waiter nonetheless responded with a lopsided smile, “If that is what you want sir, that is what you shall have.”
Michael reeled in astonishment, and involuntarily jerked his right arm hitting the glass of white Zinfandel. The glass tipped over the table, but as it began to fall, everything slowed. The glass slowed its plunge to the ground, and eventually stopped in mid-air, on a forty-five degree angle, with the wine droplets spilling out frozen in time. It looked like one of those high-speed special-effect shots. He raised his head, looked around, and noticed everyone and everything around him was also motionless. Everyone but the waiter, who regarded him critically and added, “You think fate tricked you? Make your own fate if you think you can do better.” Before he could say anything, he felt a sudden dizzy sensation. The world around him began to fade out, and a new scene gradually replaced it.
 
#
 
“… and although most people rejected it, Schoenberg’s twelve-tone method did represented a significant break-through in modern music composition.” He heard Professor Tannenbaum’s voice before his eyes fully absorbed where he was. He slowly turned around, eyes narrowed surveying the room, until … WHAM! A sudden spurt of adrenaline rushed through his veins and he shot upright in his chair, once the realization of where he was hit him. He was back! He was back at NYU, in his History of Western Music lecture. He rapidly shifted his gaze to the left, and there she was, looking at him like everyone else in the now silent classroom.
He would have stared at her forever, but the spell was mercifully broken by the professor’s thundering voice. “Mr. Leary! Are you feeling ill, or were you shocked by my remarks about Schoenberg?”
“Hum, I, hum, …” he stuttered before he could partially regain his composure and continue, “I’m very sorry sir. I think I just blacked out for a second. I’m not really sure what happened.”
 “Do you need any help?” The professor asked in a sympathetic tone now, since he realized how genuinely confused Michael appeared.
“No, thank you. I think I’m fine now. It won’t happen again,” he answered quickly. The last thing he wanted was to be sent out of the room. Professor Tannenbaum nodded and went on with the lecture. Michael had to summon every ounce of self-control to maintain a calm façade, while his mind was in complete turmoil. This couldn’t be happening. He was a Mathematician for Christ sake! He didn’t believe in magic!
She was there though. He couldn’t deny that. Sandy sat there, just a few feet away, just the way he remembered her from ten years ago. Make your own fate if you think you can do better, he recalled the waiter saying. Damn well he could. After all the times he had replayed this, he knew exactly what to do. He couldn’t stop Sandy from talking to the woman beside her, but he would be ready to intercept her on her way out.
When the lecture was over, he waited patiently while Sandy and the other woman chatted. Once Sandy walked away, he walked casually in the same direction, timing his steps so they would meet at the door. As she drew nearer, he opened his warmest smile, looked at her, and spoke the well planned words he knew by heart. 
“Hi, I wanted to kno—“
“I’m sorry. I’m in a rush,” she brushed him aside like he was an annoyance. Before he could begin to regroup, she was already several feet down the hallway. He stood there stupefied for a few seconds. It never happened this way in the many versions he had dreamt up.
“Are you ok? Are you having another … episode?” He heard a female voice from behind. He turned, and there stood the woman he always thought of as the woman who sat beside Sandy. He regarded her curiously, puzzled by the question, until he recalled the little scene he had caused when he first “landed” in this reality.
“Oh! I’m alright, thanks,” he replied after the brief pause. “I was just thinking about something.”
“Not about Schoenberg again I hope,” she said with a mocking smile.
“No,” he answered with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Though I will say the professor is highly overrating the contributions of serialism1 in modern music. Call me narrow minded, but I like my music to actually, well, sound like music.”
She looked at him with mild surprise. She didn’t expect an actual intelligent answer. “I wasn’t serious, you know, but that was a pretty insightful comment. Wrong,” she said emphatically, pausing briefly for effect, “but insightful.”
He chuckled in spite of himself. He knew he probably should be running after Sandy, but he couldn’t resist a little round of verbal repartee. “Now, why exactly do you think I’m wrong? Are you a big fan of twelve-tone music? Do you have all of Schoenberg’s CDs?” He asked, mimicking the voice of an overly excited fourteen-year-old.
“No, smart ass,” she laughed, obviously enjoying this. “To tell you the truth, I think all of it sucks. But, what you have to remember that music will stagnate if composers don’t try to push the envelope. If they never made strides beyond the confines of their contemporary musicians, we would all still be singing Gregorian Chants.”
“Well, not every change is a good change,” he retorted. “It’s like natural selection in evolution. Some mutations are advantageous and are eventually perpetuated in the race, while others are useless and get dropped aside. Have you heard much serial music lately?”
“The big difference is it takes thousands, sometimes millions of years for natural selection to take its course. We’ll have to wait a hundred years before we can truly appreciate how all the diverse influences shaped our contemporary music landscape.”
Bemused, he looked at her. The passion in her voice was contagious. He found himself paying closer attention to her features. She certainly did not possess the stunning beauty of Sandy, but she was cute in her own way. Her blue eyes spoke of a warm personality, and the thin wire glasses she wore gave her an intelligent look, which matched the wit she clearly displayed.
“Well, it was nice chatting with you, but I have to run to my next class,” she said before he could fire his next verbal round. “See you in finals.”
“Yes, see you then. Don’t study too hard.” His eyes followed her as she walked away.
For a second, he almost thought of following her, but then he remembered what he was here for. The girl was nice, but she wasn’t his goddess. She wasn’t Sandy. Fate had drawn the gauntlet, and he wasn’t running away. Next step: the phone call.
 
#
 
Michael avoided going back to the dorms. If memory served, the last time he went through this, Rob had bombarded him with questions about his misadventures with Sandy. He didn't feel like dealing with them, now. He had to concentrate on the phone call. He walked a few blocks to University Hall, working out the plan in his head.
Ten years ago, he had reached the wrong number. Over the years, he realized there were two good possibilities. First, there might have been crossed wires. Second, Sandy might have once lived in the house he called, but moved. If he pressed a bit, he could pull out a forwarding address, or at least some useful information. He entered University Hall, and strolled to the dinning area, where he knew he’d find a pay phone. As luck would have it, Fate did find it in its heart to leave a quarter in his jeans’ pocket. He deposited the coin, took a deep breath, and slowly dialed the number he had obtained from the campus directory.
“Hello,” a female voice answered.
“Hi. May I speak to Sandy?”
“I’m sorry, but there is no Sandy here,” the woman replied politely, but with a tinge of irritation.
Shit he though. It was time for plan B. This woman had to know something. “Are you sure you don’t have any information on a Sandy? Maybe one of your roommates will know. I’m in her music class, and I need to get some notes from her.” It was a white lie, but who would ever know.
“Hey, is that Mr. Schoenberg?” The woman’s tone had suddenly changed into a warm teasing voice he recognized from only a few hours earlier. In spite of the apparent second failure with Sandy, he couldn’t help but smile on his side of the line.
“Mrs. Schoenberg, is that you? Don’t tell me this is your number?” He asked with genuine surprise.
“Schoenberg residence it is,” she quipped. “The big question is, why are you calling? The Sandy you’re looking for, wouldn’t be Sandy Novaceck from our music class by any chance, would she?” Her tone implied this was clearly a rhetorical question.
“Well, er …, yes.” He slurred the answer out, like a little kid caught with the hand in the cookie jar. “She, … hum, she said she might want to study together. But I, hum …, I lost her phone number, so I had to look her up on the campus directory,” he sputtered his answer, in a pitiful attempt to adapt his story on the fly. He never anticipated he’d be talking to someone who was taking the same class.
She paused for a second, while he felt like an accused man waiting for the jury to deliver a verdict. “You know, that was one of the most pathetic attempts at deception I have ever seen,” she said in a slow reproachful tone. “I could see in class today that she didn’t know you from Adam. How did you expect me to buy that story?”
He thought of protesting for a moment, but realized it would be pointless. He didn’t know what was stranger, the fact that she spoke to him as if they were old friends, or the fact that it felt natural to him. “Ok, you got me. You have to give me a little leniency here though. What were the chances that somebody in the same class would answer her number?”
“I’d say the chances were pretty good, given the fact that the directory has the wrong listing for her.”
“Say what?”
“You’re not the first person calling here for her,” she admitted with a tinge of guilt. “It’s just that I’m tired of explaining this, so I just say it’s the wrong number. This is actually the only reason I know her. I recognized her name when Professor Tannenbaum was taking attendance, so I went up, and we talked about it. She actually preferred I didn’t give anyone a forwarding number. I guess if you look as good as she does, you get a lot of guys like you calling.”
“It’s not really like that … well, maybe it is but … not really the way you are painting, because … hum …” Damn, he thought. There he was hopelessly at a loss for words again. Facing unbeatable odds of satisfactorily explaining his point, he just paused, then blurted out in an attempt of humor, “So how about them Yankees?”
She chuckled at his forced change of subject. “Their hitting isn’t bad. Don Mattingly and Steve Sax are pretty good, and this Bernie Williams guy seems like a real good prospect. You can’t win with that lousy pitching though. I think Yankee’s fan should get used to the fact that the age of dynasties is over.”
It’s a good thing she couldn’t see his jaw drop. She would have accused him of being sexist. “Something tells me you might be wrong about the dynasty days,” he said, laughing to himself. “But, I must say I’m rather impressed with your scope of knowledge. A classical music lover, and quite the little sports analyst too.”
“Oh, drop the condescending tone,” she snapped. “I can tell you are one of those types who puts everything in pretty rigid and exact categories. Music can’t be atonal. Women can’t know sports. What else? I’ll bet you are an engineering type, right? Everything can be reduced to a well defined formula.” She challenged him, but her voice showed no real anger.
“Well, I'm a Math major,” he reluctantly said, not very pleased with admitting she had been pretty close. “However, I think you are off the mark with the rest. I’m not the narrow-minded chauvinist you’re portraying. I mean, how many Math major guys do you know who enjoy a History of Western Music class?”
"Well ..."
“And if you want to play this game,” he countered, “ I can pretty much pigeon hole you as a left wing liberal arts major, something like Political Science. Am I right?”
“Close.” She seemed equally reluctant to admit he had not missed by much. “I’m a journalism major. But, I don’t think of myself as a left wing liberal. I just try to respect most forms of artistic expression.”
“I generally do, too,” Michael replied defensively. “The reason I take music classes in addition to my technical ones, is that I know there is more to life than mathematical theorems.” He paused and softened his tone. “I guess we’re just two complex individuals, ” he said in a joking pompous voice. Long had been since he last had such a mentally stimulating discussion. Once again, Michael had at least temporarily forgotten the all-important mission he had returned here for.
“Yes, complex. I like the way you put it,” she said cheerfully. “Misunderstood geniuses wasting away in a sea of undergrad mediocrity,” she complete in theatrical fashion. “Well, that at least until Friday night, when it’s time to hit the bars,” she laughed.
At the mention of Friday night, he nearly asked her if she wanted to get together for a beer, but he stopped himself short. What am I doing? He asked himself. You didn’t come here for a fling. You came here for your dream girl. You had a plan. Stick to it!
“Well, Mrs. Schoenberg, I’ve got to go work on one of those mathematical theorems us narrow-minded engineering types enjoy so much,” he said, trying to end the conversation on a good note.
“All right, and I’ll get ready for my ACLU meeting. I’ll see you at finals Mr. Schoenberg.”
After she hung up, Michael slowly replaced the receiver, feeling rather content and relaxed. He didn’t even know her name, he thought, but maybe that was for the best. He needed to concentrate on the only name that really mattered: Sandy. The final exam was in two days. Time to refocus.
 
#
 
He’d certainly had an interesting few days, walking down memory lane. Ten years is not such a long time, but the contrast between campus life, and his suburban existence in Princeton, made it feel like an eternity. He had once felt at home walking down the streets of Greenwich Village, but the rapid pace of New York was almost too much for him now. He probably couldn't live here anymore, but he didn't mind visiting.
"Four down, one to go! Hey Joe, give us a couple pints of Guinness!”
He was now sitting with his friend Rob at the Slaughtered Lamb, their favorite pub in the Village. Rob was celebrating the near end of finals week. Seeing him again was great fun. He had moved to California right after graduation, and they had lost touch over the years
“So how did you do so far in your last finals week, Mike?”
He hadn’t really known whether he was in the past to stay, so he realized he better make a decent effort on his finals. He did know the winners of the next ten World Series, but somehow he didn’t fell right making a living out of that.
“I did all right in Numerical Analysis and Advanced Differential Equations, but think I got butchered in Abstract Algebra.” He still dealt with most of this Math stuff in his job at Dow Jones, but Abstract Algebra was different. There isn’t a lot of use for ring theory outside of the realms of academia. “I just hope I managed to pull a C.”
A “C” in Math, he thought. That would certainly shock Mrs. Schoenberg, who has me neatly pegged as an engineering type. He did look for her as they walked to the pub tonight. He had a feeling she’d be fun company over a pint. Maybe he could even set her up with Rob. Nah, he reconsidered, he’s not the right type for her. She needs someone more like--
“Tomorrow is the big one though, right? And I don’t mean the exam.” Rob interrupted his thoughts, sliding a full mug in front of him.
“I suppose it is.” Tomorrow was the music final. His last chance with Sandy.
“Don’t you think you already tried hard enough? Why obsess about this, and spoil your last week in college?”
“I just have to know Rob. Call it a hunch, but I have a feeling that if I don’t see this through, I’ll spend the next ten years of my life comparing every woman I meet to this unattainable goddess. Maybe it’s my overly logical mathematical brain, but I simply cannot accept that little twists of fate will keep me from meeting my ideal woman.”
Rob stared at him for a few seconds, looking unconvinced, but then he shrugged, smiled, and raised a toast.
“To the search for the ideal woman!”
 
#
 
Michael stood at Washington Square, outside Pless Hall, where the History of Western Music final exam was to take place. Forces he couldn’t begin to comprehend had brought him here, but now he hesitated. Entering this building would trigger the final sequence in a chain of events that had already deeply affected his life once. What would happen if he failed a second time? Michael looked down, and took a deep breath. He knew what he had to do. He lifted his head, and pushed through the doors.
As he walked into the exam room, he surveyed the layout of the medium sized amphitheater. He looked around, and saw Sandy sitting about half way up. He walked down the center aisle, and this time he made sure he sat ahead of her. The moment she got up, he would stand up a second later, and walk down just behind her. This time he would make sure no brown noser would get in between them.
He sat down and started working on the lines he would use when he caught up with her. He was interrupted by a soft voice coming from his left. “Good luck, Mr. Schoenberg.” He looked up and saw his best new buddy, looking down at him with her pleasant face. 
He smiled back and said, “Good luck, Mrs. Schoenberg. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll have an essay on Serialism.” She chuckled and walked a few steps back up to her seat. She seemed like a very special girl, he thought. Once more, he felt relaxed just thinking of her.
His thoughts were interrupted as the exams were distributed, and he figured he might as well work on his. He didn’t fare all that bad, but he was sure he must have done better the last time. He still kept up with his music, but remembering the major characteristics of NeoClassicism in Russia, was a bit too much for him now. He finished his exam, and waited for what felt like a million years, casually looking over his shoulder from time to time.
Finally, about ten minutes later, Sandy got up. He tried to get up as inconspicuously as he could, but at this point he almost didn’t care anymore about discretion. Just as planned, he walked up right behind her. He heard the sound of the other woman getting up a few rows behind them, and instinctively glanced back. It was Mrs. Schoenberg. He now really wished he knew her name. It was uncanny how their paths just kept colliding. Sandy handed over her exam, and so did he. As he slowly followed Sandy up the aisle, he could still hear Mrs. Schoenberg behind him, talking to Professor Tannenbaum.
“I just wanted to tell you I really enjoyed your class. I loved the way you brought the composers to life, giving us all the little details …” Her voice faded as he moved further away. Funny, he thought, that what he had once perceived as a silly attempt to kiss up to the teacher, now sounded like a thoughtful student genuinely expressing her appreciation to a professor she admired. 
He looked ahead again, and Sandy had just walked out the swinging doors. He reached the doors as they were just about to shut, and pushed them open without conviction. Sandy was walking only a few steps ahead of him.
“Sandy?” He called.
She turned around and looked at him inquiringly, as he closed the gap between them. She obviously recognized him from the class, but she had no idea what he might want with her. “Yes?” She said in a dubious expression.
He had arrived. He was here, at the moment he planned for, longed for, all along. Yet, he didn’t feel the joy or nervousness he anticipated. It seemed like all of a sudden, this discussion was not as meaningful to him as it should be. He looked back at the swinging doors. It was then that a sudden realization hit him. He was actually more interested in the person who was about to walk out of those doors, than the one standing in front of him. He wanted to see Mrs. Schoenberg.He faced Sandy again. Michael thought of all the lines he had rehearsed over the years, but they all stopped short on his tongue. They no longer felt right.
“Do you have the time?” That was all Michael could say.
He was already turning around as she answered. He walked back slowly towards the exam room, opened the door and looked down the aisle. She wasn’t there! She must have walked out the side door. He walked quickly down the aisle, under the curious eyes of Professor Tannenbaum, then turned in the direction of the side door. He pushed it open in a rush, and stepped into an empty hallway. 
“Shit!” He exclaimed. “I can’t believe I did this again!” History had repeated itself. He again had lost his ideal woman, only this time it was a different one. This time it was the right one. How could he have been so dumb as to not notice what had been going on? His heart had been sending messages, which his mind had been too narrow to fully assimilate.
He walked back into the room and went up to the Professor’s desk. Considering how loud he had screamed, he was sure everyone inside had heard him. Before he could say anything, the professor said critically, “Mr. Leary, this has been quite a peculiar week for you hasn’t it?”
“Professor Tannenbaum, I’m truly sorry,” he said in as humble a voice as he could muster. “There is something going on, but I assure you it has nothing to do with your class, and I apologize for the disruptions.” As he spoke, his eyes moved to the top of the stack of exams, and he saw what he was looking for. Her name was Patty Summers. As he read it, the name felt strangely familiar. Patty Summers, he repeated in his mind. Then again slower, P-A-T-T-Y S—
Patty S? 
 “Patty Summers! I remember now!” He exclaimed, and the world around him began to fade once more.
 
#
 
As his vision returned, and the dizziness dissipated, he heard the sound of his wine glass breaking on the ground. He did not look down though. He stared straight ahead. It was her, he confirmed in amazement. Her hair was longer, the glasses replaced by contact lenses, the face had a more mature complexion, but it was still undeniably her. Mrs. Schoenberg, or as he now knew, Mrs. Patty Summers. Still speechless, he looked up at the waiter. He still saw the same strange glimmer in his eyes, but he now also wore a triumphant smile on his face. A moment passed, the magic disappeared, and he was looking at what he knew was just an ordinary waiter.
There goes Mr. Fate.
For years, he had blamed fate for taking away his dream girl. What he now realized, was that fate had in fact tried to guide him to her. Fate had placed her in his class. Fate had switched phone numbers. Fate had made sure she was right in front of him in the finals line. Somehow, at age twenty, he had been blinded by a silly fantasy. He was now getting a second chance, but the agent of fate had made sure he had his eyes opened this time. He now understood what he had really missed ten years ago.
He looked at her, and she was regarding him with a guarded expression.He realized he must have looked rather strange, dropping the glass, then just sitting there wide eyed staring at her.
He didn’t now what to say, but that problem was solved when she spoke first. “You know what? I think I’ll be leaving now. You’ve been acting strange the whole night, like you don’t want to be here.” She started moving away.
“No. Please stay,” he pleaded as he reached out and held her hand. Although it felt to him like it all happened three nights ago, he recalled the dismissive way he had treated her at the beginning of their date. He couldn’t blame her. “Please stay,” he repeated softly. 
She paused and looked at him curiously. “All right,” she said, moving her seat back in, “but do you mind telling me what’s going on with you?”
“I’ll tell you what,” he grinned. “I promise I’ll tell you all my secrets on our third date.”
“Third date?” She said sounding surprised, but also partially amused. “How can you be so confident, considering I almost walked out on you three seconds ago?” She asked, the radiant look he remembered returning to her face.
“Well, I have a feeling we have a lot in common,” he said with a devious smile. “I hear you are a music critic for the New York Post, and there is something I always wanted to ask an expert. What do you think of Arnold Schoenberg, and his twelve-tone method?”
 


1 Serialism, or the twelve-tone method, was a musical movement initiated by Arnold Schoenberg in 1923. It abandoned the standard major-minor tonal scales which characterized most well known pieces of western music, in favor of a “method” for composing music based on an atonal collection of twelve ordered pitches
 


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