Eli Zaleznik

A Twist of Fate

It was mid-October, the weather was getting cooler. Trees were dropping their leaves, and pine needles were strewn across the roads. I traveled these roads every day. I was a bus driver.

"Hello Geoff," said the passenger who got on board as I stopped, "How are you doing today?"

"Pretty good, Tom, and yourself?"

"Same as usual, shower eat and work," sighed Tom.

I knew most of the passengers who stopped on the bus. Plenty regularly rode the buses to their jobs and school. In addition to my job as a bus driver, I worked night shifts at the local McDonalds. The words "Welcome to McDonalds, may I take your order?" were burned into my brain.

My family was pretty well-to-do, supported by my father, until he had an unfortunate run-in with the law. He lost his life in a jail riot when I was only 14. Our money slowly ran out, and I had to skip college to support my mother, who lost her will on his death.

My job at the golden arches consisted of shifts. Some days I had register, some days I had window, and some days I cooked the food. My advice here is: Don’t eat fast food, it is terrible. If you see what it was like back there, you would understand.

I had a pretty normal life until one day, at around six, when I stopped at the next stop. The regulars were there, James and Cindy, the stereotypical teenagers, the quiet girl who never talked and Max, who liked to converse with me. There was one more boy whom I had never seen before, not like that was anything new, though. He was sitting down with the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and checking his watch. He got up as the bus came, took the last spot in the line. Max, James, Cindy and the silent girl deposited their fares, but the hooded boy never came on the bus. He looked directly at my face and said two simple words and walked away.

"Don’t crash."

Theses words didn’t sound strange. They could easily be overlooked as a friendly bit of advice, as this was the time where plenty of drunken people hit the roads when they should not. I had traveled some distance before two bright headlights shown in my eyes. I quickly swerved to avoid the crazy driver, but the car behind me was not so lucky. They collided, and I quickly called the police to report the crash. The hooded boy’s words echoed in my head, like a man hollering from the top of a mountain.

"Don’t crash. Don’t crash. Don’t crash."

The newspaper the next day reported no survivors in that crash. I avoided death or had I survived, losing my job. Was it coincidence that the boy had warned me of the crash, or did he know what was in store for my future?

My life continued normally for a few days until one of my shifts at McDs. I was working at the register, until Linda got sick in the back. She got to go home and lie down. I was ordered to take a double shift. When not at the register, I had to watch the fries. I nodded absentmindedly while the manager instructed me of my duties.

The shift went pretty well until near closing time, that hooded boy walked in. Setting the previous day’s events aside, I greeted him with the customary "Welcome to McDonalds, may I take your order?"

He looked at the menu and replied:

"Don’t burn yourself."

He then proceeded to open the door and walk out. I took great heed of his words, and I was incredibly cautions handling the hot oil with the fries. Just a few minutes before closing time, an incredible shaking overcame the building. I ran away from the fries to keep the register from falling, and I looked out the window. The shadow of a low flying plane moved away from the small fast food joint. It lifted higher and flew off. I heard a scream from behind me. John had been running down the aisle to keep the other register from falling and had been drenched by the burning oil.

That enigmatic boy once again saved me from a terrible accident. We closed up as the ambulance came to cart John to recovery from his terrible full-body burns. I walked home, turning up the volume on my CD player to try to drown out my thoughts of the recent events. While I looked up at the moon, one major connection hit me, fate. The car behind me got hit when I swerved and when I was in that quake, the oil had hit John instead of me. Both had suffered terribly while I had gotten off because of that strange kid. How much longer could I use this boy as a means to test fate? I would find the answer soon enough.

The walk home was long, and when I got back I fed my dog, a Yorkshire terrier, and turned on the TV. The news came on, and the newscasters announced the last story. "Man killed by burns in fast food incident."

The next few days went without a hitch. On Friday, my day off, I went to the town park. I half expected to see the boy there, but he didn’t show up. Maybe this would be a normal day after all, I had thought. But I spoke too soon.

After shopping, I returned home. I went into the kitchen and noticed something odd right away. There was a small post-it not on my refrigerator.

"Don’t cut yourself."

I knew this was the work of that kid, but how did he get in here? I promptly followed his advice and put all the knives strewn across the kitchen into a drawer, and the custom made that I got from a friend back into its case. I then went to take a shower. When I dried off, I went back to watch TV. As I turned the corner into the kitchen, I slipped on one of the dog’s chew toys, and fell with my wrist on the counter where the knife had been, and my body had crushed the unfortunate dog. The small terrier was no longer breathing. I took care of the nasty business and lazed around the house for the rest of the day. I was not going to let things go on like this. This game of dodging death had to end soon, and it will.

I had trouble sleeping that night, so I phoned in sick the next day and let myself take another day off. I knew how this worked now to a certain degree. If there was nothing to take my place in these terrible events, they would either not happen, or I would be the one whom the event happens to. I was taking a big risk here, and I knew it. Soon I would be where I am right now, but that I didn’t know. I sat there waiting around for something to happen, but nothing did. It was getting dark out, so I went to bed. I woke up suddenly at a creaking noise as someone snuck through the door. I got out of bed and peeked around the corner into the kitchen. A hooded figure stood there and looked at me. I moved to grab the phone but he was too fast. He pulled the phone away and pointed something at my head. A cold metal circle pressed up against my temple. The figure whispered two words in my ear.

"Don’t die."

Then he squeezed the trigger.


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.