[WP] Everytime you touch somebody you get a flash of your entire future with them.
“Why the hell did I let you drag me here?” I shouted in Paul’s ear. I had to shout, because there were a million damn people packed into Times Square just to see the ball drop for New Year's Eve. And of course we’d gotten jammed into some little offshoot alley where we couldn’t see anything but were still pressed by people on all sides. I was just on the edge of the ‘current’ within the crowd, where a steady stream of onlookers were managing to press their way through to Times Square. And when they brushed past me, I got a little glimpse of when we might interact again. For most, there was nothing. New York is a big place. But every once and a while I did get a little flash of seeing them in a store somewhere, or other chance encounters.
“Because you need to get out!” Paul answered. “You would have just stayed at home and watched a re-run of the ball drop on your TV and then fallen asleep at 10 PM.” He knew me so well. One of the benefits to my power is that I’m easily able to choose my friends; with just a handshake, I know our whole future together. Paul and I would lose touch about 15 years from now, after he and his future wife move up to Connecticut and have a set of twins. But we’d still send each other Christmas cards and visit occasionally. He’d be very happy then. “You never go out any more,” he continued. “You need to put yourself out there and meet someone new!”
I knew exactly what he meant: I hadn’t been on an actual real date in a while. See, knowing when things will work out (like with Paul) was an upside, but with a very real downside: I know when things won’t work out. Every date that I go on, I know just how it will end. I know that he’ll stop calling me and move on to some other piece of ass if we sleep together. Or that we can have two relatively happy years together before he starts cheating with his coworker. The potential record so far was a grand five-year relationship that ended with a fight over how he would never make a real commitment. Quite underwhelming. So now, I don’t even bother dating with the guy unless I know in advance that it will be a fun little fling with no real strings attached.
“I’m just not looking for someone,” I answered Paul. He didn’t exactly know about my abilities; I just told him that I’m good at reading people.
“Exactly!” he said. “You’re not looking. You’re hiding. That’s why I brought you out.”
As I was preparing my retort, someone in the surging crowd brushed past me. A man, with soft brown eyes and a close-cropped beard. For our first date, he took me to learn trapeze swinging! For our fifth date, we went to the Statue of Liberty, which I’d never been to even after years of living in New York. For our one year anniversary, we rented a little house on the beach in Long Island. And when he proposed to me, he did it right here in Times Square; I acted so surprised for him. In the vision, I could see myself gleefully shouting yes! It went on like that through our lives: buying a home, raising our children, and retiring together. And the flash ended with him by my bedside in a hospital.
I don't know how long it lasted. But by the time I recovered from that intense journey through my future life… the crowd had moved on. I stood on my tiptoes and waded in headfirst, but there it was too dark, and the light kept changing. All I could see were winter hats and thick coats. Damn, I hate being short!
“Whoa!” Paul suddenly realized that I’d left and jumped in after me. “Where are you going?”
“There was a guy!” I told him, still scanning the crowd. I must have looked like a loon, hopping as high as I could to try to get a glimpse of him. “I saw a guy! I need to find him.”
Paul laughed. “Must have been one hell of a looker to set you off like this.”
“Help me find him!” The lights from all of the billboards and everything kept changing, making it hard to keep my eyes focused on anything. The whole place was a whirlwind of activity and sound. This was far worse than finding a needle in a haystack.
“All right, all right,” Paul said, putting a hand on my shoulder to calm me down. “What does he look like?”
“He’s…. he’s got brown hair… and…” It was all so clear in my mind, but that was because I could see him in the future. I had no idea what he was wearing tonight. And all of these stupid people in the crowd weren’t helping. “And brown eyes… medium height…”
“So he could be pretty much anyone,” Paul said.
“I’ve got to find him!” I repeated.
“Do you know him or something?” Paul asked. “Why is this guy so special?”
I sighed. I couldn’t tell Paul about the life I’d seen. Not unless I wanted to be involuntarily committed, that is. “Never mind,” I whispered. Tears were welling up in my eyes as the realization began to set in. I stood on a fire hydrant and surveyed the crowd. Everyone looked the same in their winter clothes. With only about half an hour left until 12:00, it would take a miracle to find him. And I just wasn’t that lucky. Goodbye, mystery soul mate, I thought.
“Don’t worry about it,” Paul said, trying to cheer me up. “There’s plenty of other guys out here! We’ll find you a good one.”
“Yeah… sure,” I said, knowing that no other guy would do. I’d missed my chance.
The next few weeks were all a dreary blur. I’d found my one, and probably only, chance at true happiness… and I had let it slip away. And the worst part was the utter helplessness of knowing that there was absolutely no way to find him. I’d spent days searching through facebook photos of friends, New Years Eve parties… hell, I even hired a sketch artist! No luck though. By this point, I was just sleepwalking through life.
And then on my way down to work one morning, the elevator chimed at the fifth floor… and he walked in. Those same soft eyes, that beard… it was the man that I’d seen. My eyes must have gone wide, because he did a double-take and gave a confused grin.
“Do we… know each other?” He asked. I never heard voices in my visions, but it just seemed to fit him so well. He sounded exactly as I’d imagined him.
I managed to compose myself and gave a weak laugh. “No, I don’t think we do.”
He continued to look at me, still a little confused. “Well, how about we get to know each other? Over coffee maybe?”
The elevator chimed again and we arrived at the lobby. “How about we go learn how to do trapeze swinging instead?” I asked.
"A little unusual for a first date..." he answered with a grin that assured me he was interested.
I shrugged, trying to look casual even as I was practically screaming with joy internally. I'd found him! Well, somehow he had found me, but I didn't really care about the distinction right now. "I guess I'm just a girl who knows what I want," I answered.
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This one's pretty good. 10/10, 11/10 with rice, 12/10 with luna. Nice.
I didn't mean to brush up against her as I entered the little coffee shop. It was just one of those things. A small doorway; one person leaving, one entering. Sure, I maybe -- probably -- shouldn't have been looking at my newspaper whilst walking.
"Sorry," I murmured, as I held up an apologetic hand. I walked over to the barista and we exchanged formalities before I ordered my usual latte. Perhaps if I'd looked back I might have seen the girl I'd touched -- a girl with long, copper red hair and a pale face -- stop in the doorway and stare at me.
I took my coffee to a quiet little table in the corner, and sipped at it slowly as I read my paper.
"Hey," said a bubbly voice. The red haired girl pulled up a seat opposite me.
"Uh, hi?" I looked up from my paper and took her in for the first time. She was pretty, but not in the way I usually think of pretty. She wore thick black glasses that sharply contrasted her pale complexion.
"So, you're the guy huh."
"The guy?" I repeated, slightly dumbstruck. "I'm not often called the guy."
"My guy." She smiled and looked at me with a strange intensity. I felt as if she was drinking me up like I was nothing more than a mug of lukewarm coffee.
"Okay..." My brows furrowed together. "Look, I'm sorry about bumping into you. Let me buy you a drink to apologise."
"You're a business man. I didn't think I'd spend my life with a business man."
"Excuse me?" I said, as I looked down at my charcoal suit.
"But at least you're kind of cute," she continued, ignoring my indignation. She was smiling now, and it was infectious. I found myself suddenly smiling too.
"Look, maybe there's been some kind of mistake," I said, only half hoping there had been.
"Nope. You're him. You're the guy. You're name's John, right? Well, you're my John from here on."
She knew my name... I didn't want to look as shocked as I felt. "...I don't belong to anyone. I'm like," I paused for a moment as I tried to think up a clever metaphor, "A feather floating in the wind. I'm free."
"Wow," she said, as her face creased into a frown. "Maybe you're not the one." She leaned over and touched my hand with hers. "Damn, you definitely are."
"Look, I got this thing. This power. When I touch someone, I can see everyday of my future that that person appears in. It's just a quick glimpse - snapshots, really. But I see you and me together far into the future."
"Oh?" I'm taken aback, and pause again for a moment. "Well, are we happy?"
"We are very happy."
"Well... in that case I guess I better get you a coffee, so we can discuss our future properly."
"No, it's OK, I'll get my own. I'll be back in a moment. Hey, let me get you one too. I think you'd like..." She closed her eyes for just a moment. "A latte!" she said triumphantly.
My mouth dropped open and she smiled an irresistible smile.
"I'll be back in a second," she said.
I watched as she walked over to the barrista, and I watched as she tried to subtly slip him a ten dollar note.
I couldn't help laughing as the realisation hit me. She looked back at me and smiled.
prepped to be called out, but what is a luna?
EDIT: i'm an idiot, but i'm leaving this here as a record for future generations.
I clasped my hand onto Peter's backpack to avoid losing him as we pushed through the crowded market. As we wended our way though the crowd, I caught snippets of my future with every stranger I brushed up against. One man was a cashier who would sell me some Advil later that day. One was an old lady that I would give up my seat for on the bus tomorrow. We would chat and she'd tell me about her grandkids. I passed a pretty girl and foresaw an exciting night in a plush hotel room, I'd have to remember to strike up a conversation with her later. Easy enough, we'd stop by the same restaurant tonight for dinner anyway.
The crowd thinned out as we left the vicinity of the market, and finally I could see the Seattle skyline across the docks. Dark clouds rolled across the sky, mirroring the waves of the ocean beneath.
"Should've bought an umbrella," Peter said, squinting up worriedly. I clapped a hand on his shoulder, nodding as I processed what I saw.
"Walk a few minutes that way," I pointed down a narrow street. "And there'll be a shop to your right that exclusively sells umbrellas. You're going to buy a bright yellow one. I'll tell you right now that I don't like it, but you'll love it. I know because you're going to be ranting about it nonstop on the way back to the hotel."
Peter blinked at me. "I hate it when you do that," he grumbled with mock annoyance. "Thought I'd be used to it by now." I grinned, which quickly turned to a grimace as I put a hand to my temple.
"Gives me a killer headache when we go through the crowds though. Too many visions. Ugh."
"You deserve that. You know what, I'll defy fate. I'm not gonna pick the yellow one." Peter set his shoulders indignantly and headed down the street.
I laid down on a nearby bench, still pressing a hand against my head. I admit, my little gift had served me well in life. I knew that when I approached Peter the first day of middle school, knowing that I was meeting my lifelong friend, roommate in college, and best man at my wedding. Funny enough, I couldn't see the face of the girl I was marrying. That's the thing with my visions. They're specific to the person I touch.
I groaned and turned on my side. My head was practically exploding with pain. I gritted my teeth, knowing I'd just have to suck it up and deal with it. This was an unfortunate side effect of my gift, and it happened often when I interacted with too many people. There was at least one other consequence I could think of. And it was that it made my dating life, well... somewhat boring.
I could meet a girl, buy her a few drinks. I could see our future together. A week or two, a month, hell, sometimes even years. I could see happiness with them, but what was the point if it was never going to last? Things got predictable, especially with me, when I could literally predict the outcome of every relationship. So I didn't bother. The point is, I've never met a girl I could marry.
I rolled to my feet and made my way to the nearest pharmacy. Peter was going to get lost (a detail I'd neglected to mention because I thought it'd be funny) so I had about half an hour to kill. I bought some Advil from the man I'd run into earlier, and on an impulse, decided to get a cup of coffee when I saw a cute barista behind the counter of the coffeeshop next door.
"Hey," she smiled as I approached. Up close now, I realized she wasn't just cute. She was insanely beautiful. I can't do her justice by trying to describe her, so I won't even try. I took a moment to catch my breath before I said, "Can I get two medium lattes please?" I owed Peter one after making him get lost.
"Sure thing," she said, as she swiped my card. Her voice was sweet as a song. I desperately tried to clear my head. God, what was wrong with me? I'd never considered myself a romantic. I stepped back as I watched her work. A loose strand of hair fell across her face as she picked up the milk jug. I couldn't wait to see our future together. Maybe I'd brush her fingers when she handed me the coffee....
"Here you go." She smiled, holding out the lattes in each hand.
"Thank you," I said, hesitantly smiling back. I reached out with both hands and took them. For the span of one beat of my racing heart, our fingers touched. That should've been all it took to conjure up a vision of our entire lives together. But I saw nothing. Not darkness, which was what I sometimes saw when I met someone who was dying soon. Just... nothing. How was this possible? My breath caught in my throat.
"Excuse me," I blurted out as she turned away. She turned back, a questioning look on her face. "I know this might sound weird..." I hesitated, and barreled on before I could lose my nerve, "But can I see your hand?"
She lifted an eyebrow. Then laughed. "This is a first," she said, holding out her hand. I took it in mine, expecting... I don't know, something. But she was a blank slate. Unreadable. Was this what other guys went through? They'd just jump blindly into the cold water without knowing the girl's entire future? It was near unbearable.
"I, uh..." My mind searched furiously for what to say as I stood there awkwardly holding her hand. "I know this may seem a little unexpected, but... would you like to get coffee with me?" She watched me, her expression amused.
"I mean, I know you work in a coffeeshop and all. So it doesn't have to be coffee. Maybe tea. But anyways. I thought... I mean, it would be nice..." She burst out into laughter. It sounded like music.
"This might just be the worst attempt a guy has ever made to ask me out on a date," she said, and my heart fell. Perhaps it showed on my face, because she stopped laughing. But I could still see traces of it in her eyes.
"Yes," she said seriously, and squeezed my hand. "Coffee, excuse me, tea sounds lovely." She gave me a playful smile. "Meet me at the end of my shift. Seven o'clock. Don't keep a girl waiting." She let go, motioning forward the next customer. I stepped back, feeling elated. I could sense a crazy grin starting to spread across my face. As I turned to leave the door swung open.
"There you are," said Peter, staring at me. "Why didn't you tell me I was going to get lost? Asshole." I laughed as I saw the curved handle of a yellow umbrella sticking out of his backpack.
"Shut up." He shifted on his feet. "It was on sale," he added, reluctantly. I laughed again.
"Here. I got you a coffee." He took it and grunted what could've been a thanks.
"You look happy," he observed. Peter didn't miss much. "I saw you talking to the girl. What did you see?"
"That's the thing, man." I glanced up at her and our eyes met. She quickly looked away, but I could see a smile dancing on the corner of her lips. "I didn't see anything. It's never happened before."
"Mmm." Peter looked down at his coffee and smacked his lips appreciatively. "You think it's gonna work out?"
I smiled. "For the first time ever... I have no idea."
I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to abuse my gift to get ahead in life- I mean, if I could poke my teacher and catch a glimpse of his upcoming pop quiz with the answers, think of all the other things I could do. Become a doctor and diagnose them with a touch on the arm, or win every game show by shaking the host's hand.
But I'm not really a clever guy. I don't chase success like that, I just use it to get by. I know, right? How fucking lame. I wish I had the drive, really, but it doesn't come to everyone. I don't know how I ended up with this power or I'd ask why they gave it to me, of all people. I'm not a hero, or some badass. I'm just... Normal.
I don't know what's worse- the smell of alcohol, or the rank breath of those who ate a burger beforehand. I can tell you this much, though... The combination of both is disgusting.
"Sam, how is it that no matter how many times we do this, you always look miserable?" Steven asked me, slamming a shot of bourbon. "It's like you want to be alone. Forever."
I swirled the bourbon in my shot glass, trying to avoid drinking it. "I'll know when a woman is interested in me. Until then, why waste time getting hammered and making a fool of myself around ones that won't like me?"
"How could you possibly know?"
"I just would."
He beckoned to the bartender for another round. "Whatever you say, Professor X. While you have fun with that, I'll do things the easy way."
I sighed and glanced around the bar, somewhat hopelessly. All of the women in sight were in big groups, or with another guy, and you can't just touch one without getting the shit kicked out of you.
That was, until, I saw a flash of green in the dark. A fierce, shimmering green that captivated me in that single instant. I leaned forward, craning my neck to get a better look.
She was beautiful. Maybe not by societal standards, in her somewhat modest dress, but something about that pale skin seemingly reflecting those green eyes... I had to try. She was with friends, though, and that makes things complicated.
After thinking about it for a moment, I grabbed my bourbon and walked toward her. I heard Steve say something to me, probably cheering me on, but the words fell flat to my focus. I walked around her friends, to her side...
And stumbled harder than I meant to, falling onto her bourbon-first. Her friends yelped and gasped, but she remained fairly calm.
"H- holy shit," I said, holding both hands up like she was pointing a gun at me. "I'm so, so sorry. I tripped, and... Bartender, can we have a few napkins?"
The bartender rolled his eyes at me and passed a like of paper napkins over, which I used to pat myself and the counter dry while she took care of herself. I felt her friends' eyes upon me, warming my body with judgmemt and shame. The worst part is that I'd seen nothing when I touched her. Nothing.
"I'm sorry, again," I said, running back to Steve.
"Wow, you nailed it, buddy." He chuckled and slammed another shot down. "One more for me, and none for my friend here. He'll just spill it."
The bartender laughed and went about his business while I stared at the countertop.
What happened next was chaos, the chaos that occurs when a hundred people freak out and can't tell whats happening. It's dark, loud, and confusing. When it finally calmed down a bit, women were screaming and crying.
"She slipped on the floor, it's all wet... Oh my God, call 911!" A girl was screaming. I stood on my toes to see what was going on. and
Those green eyes, the light in them faded, looked back at me. Her hair was wet with bourbon and blood, as black as the emptiness I saw when i first touched her.
thanks for reading! been a while since I posted here. lots of older stories at /sub/resonatingfury.
By the time Klara reached the dilapidated hut by the edge of the town, dusk had fallen.
She cast a quick eye behind her, and satisfied that she was not being followed, rapped urgently on the rotting wooden door. Beneath her shawl, her baby stirred, and she instinctively pulled him closer to her chest.
The door creaked open, and a faint smell of incense wafted out. A sonorous voice, heavy and sombre, rang out from the gloom within.
“You come again.”
Klara dove in, heart beating like drums in the heavy stillness of the night. “Yes, and again and again I will come, until I am satisfied.”
That elicited a chuckle. “Fine then, pass it over to me. You’re the only one who still believes in me anyway.”
As her eyes adjusted, Klara perceived that the old lady had taken off her gloves, revealing the most wrinkled pair of hands she had ever seen. Klara briefly wondered just how many lives had brushed past those miraculous hands.
The old lady grunted as she received the bundle from Klara, and with one wizened old finger, touched the baby on its forehead.
Klara had been mentally steeling herself for days since the baby was born, and yet, trapped in this tiny hut with the old lady, Klara found herself woefully unprepared. Klara winced as the old lady’s eyes rolled back in their sockets, and almost leapt to retrieve her baby as the old lady spasmed where she sat.
Then, it was over, and the old lady passed the bundle back to Klara.
“Please, tell me. Does this one fare better than the other three before him?” Klara began, her voice barely a rasp.
“You sound desperate. Why is that?”
“I have… I will have only two more children after this little one. It is just as you foretold, as you told my parents, back when I was but a babe. So I must know, please, will this one live long and happy?”
The old lady frowned, and paused, two things which gave Klara much concern. Klara had never known her to hesitate, and for better or worse, the old lady had always delivered her prophecies without any preamble. Something was wrong.
“I will be honest with you, young one. I see two futures. It is rare, but it happens.”
“Two… futures? But, how can that be? You said you could see your entire future with anyone you touched, so how could you see two futures?”
A note of consternation entered the old lady’s voice. “As I said, it happens. He will live one of two lives, which one I cannot say just yet. I do not control these things.”
“Forgive me, I meant no insult," Klara stuttered, "Please, tell me what these futures hold.”
“You are very lucky,” said the old lady as she slipped her gloves back on, “In one future, you hold in your arms one of the greatest leaders our world will ever see. Men from afar will bend knee to him, swear their lives to him. He will unite these lands and lead them to prosperity as never has been seen before. In his wake, he will leave us stronger, faster, better, than any man from any other land. Humanity will be made better by his hand.”
Relief washed over Klara, and unexpected tears came unbidden to her eyes. Finally, the gods had mercy enough to ensure that at least one of her brood had a bright future in front of him. Yet, she had difficulty believing it. Her baby? This small, underdeveloped thing in her arms, barely alive, already dismissed by the midwives as likely to expire before he was one year old?
Something niggled at the back of Klara’s mind, and she finally found the words to express it. “And… the other future? What happens there?”
A gentle smile flashed across the old lady’s face.
“He will be but a painter, a humble, unassuming painter who will find fulfilment, but never fame. And yet, scores of mothers untold, across these lands and beyond, will be the happier for it.”
It's probably my fault; I'm really not thinking today and I doubt I made it clear. She got his name from the barista (protagonist is a regular at that coffee shop), she guessed he was a businessman from the suit he was wearing, and presumed he wanted another latte. She gave the barista money for revealing the guys name and helping set her up.
I like how it's not you with the power.
Thanks, I thought a different perspective might be fun. And neither of them really had the power in the end :)
Nothing, what's a luna with you?
Ah surprise hitler baby
Hi Luna, Great work again. I noticed that you do a lot of writing on here. I just joined last week so I'm very new to all this and actually did a story as well below, can you give me any critiques?
If you knew the future, would you change anything?
It was horrible at first, when the ability first developed. Imagine. Knowing how your own mother will die. Imagine knowing your brother gets on a flight in twenty years which falls into the ocean. Your best friend in desperate times betrays you.
It was too much to handle.
So I isolated myself. I moved to another country, leaving behind everyone and everything I knew. I couldn't have much of a future with strangers could I?
I moved somewhere cold anyways, where I could keep my skin covered, where I had an excuse to not let an inch of my skin be exposed. I worked, watched TV, browsed the internet, and played games. Nothing that would require physical interaction. I'd thought myself terribly clever, I would isolate myself and not have to go through the pain that comes with every relationship, every connection.
Until I met him.
I was walking home when he came up to me, saying I'd dropped one of my files, in the snow a few ways ago. I remember his smile, the disheveled hair, the dark eyes. His voice. And I smiled and thanked him.
And we continued to talk, walking all the way to my apartment, where he asked if I wanted to grab some coffee with him tomorrow.
I mean, one coffee couldn't hurt. And I hadn't had a real conversation in years, I'd forgotten how delightful it could be.
So I went. Again and again. It was after a month that I finally admitted to myself that I was in too deep to back out, to ghost him, to walk away from it all again. I would follow through.
I'd thought when I finally touched him, when we made contact, it would be special, I would've carefully planned it out, mentally prepared myself.
But life is anything but planned out.
I had dropped my pen on the ground, and we both went down to get it.
Our foreheads collided, and for the first time in years, the vision came to me.
I saw us together, laughing, joking, I saw us at the altar, I saw us enjoying ourselves. I saw our child. And that's when thing started to go wrong. I saw the disease, I saw him fall to it, I saw what it do my child, it destroyed her, turned her bitter, skeptical of the world. The last part of the vision is me holding his hand as he lay in a hospital bed.
And I'm thrown back into reality. He looked at me with concerned eyes, asked if I was okay.
I could run. I could avoid the terrible fate we would all suffer, our daughter would suffer if I let this continue. And I could do it I realized, I had it in me to run, to never look back.
But did I want to.
I looked at him with his concerned eyes, the kind face, and the wrinkled spotted face he would have in the future. I made my decision.
I kissed him.
If you enjoyed, check out my new subreddit XcessiveWriting
Sure I can, but I am going to be away from my computer for the next hour or so. So it's going to have to wait till then. Sorry.
One thing that I considered doing was that she would have to find the guy through clues that she saw in the vision. Like if she saw him in a certain neighborhood all the time, she would realize he lived there, etc. But that would be too long of a story to do with a prompt. So I had to end it with her just coincidentally finding him instead.
I think it works well not being 100% clear. It allows the reader to interpret it how they want to. While I picked up what you meant, I could also see it from another point of view, where it's her paying for the coffee's and trying to be subtle.
I could do that, but honestly I really dislike it when people post incomplete stories on /sub/writingprompts. If you want to write a longer story, then go ahead and write a longer story. But don't write a tenth of a story, post it, and then at the end say "I'll do the rest later."
I think that a prompt response should be self-contained and should wrap up the central conflict between the characters of the prompt. Writing multi-part stories is fine; I've done dozens of them. But Part 1 should always be able to stand alone.
Beautiful story.. had me intrigued. I would read that book if it were longer. You are clearly very talented
Oh god, where to start. Nothing feels real anymore, I can't bring myself to enjoy even the things I used to love doing. I haven't felt true happiness in months. My family doesn't understand, they react to my apathy as if it were just laziness and I respond with anger because it's easier than articulating my feelings. I haven't touched my schoolwork in weeks because I just can't imagine a life where I don't just kill myself by the end of college.
The future was clear in a way the past had never been. I know, I know, predicting the future is risky business and all, and you’d be better off taking stock tips from a monkey than from a broker – but the past was polluted with memory and stained by starlight. People – myself included – remembered the past the way they want to remember it, with all the annoying bugs airbrushed out of dusty polaroids. There was no such problem with the future, because I could see it as clear as day – but that’s not important yet. Anyway, I’m off track now – what I’m trying to say is the past is complicated, I guess? Done.
Today had been a hot one. At the station there are always people who are rushing to get somewhere. They’ve got this glazed look in their eyes and this automatic gait in their feet and they’re thinking about stuff, you know? All the little things that mattered a great deal by the end of the day and ceased to matter by the end of the week. Jezza’s got to finish that report or else Nicole will be really mad. You know, boring stuff we spend our life on. What’s really interesting is how a person’s skin feels. You can tell a lot about what they’ve been doing. Are their arms sweaty? Do they have a tan? Do the hands have workmen callouses or are their fingers at home on a touchscreen?
I like to ride the train for this reason. Rush hour is best. Nothing equalises businessmen and tradesmen better than being squashed on board the same train carriage. It also allows me to ‘accidentally’ brush up against people. And this is really important.
You see, I’ve got a secret. If I touch someone I can see their entire future with me. Most of the time this doesn’t last beyond the stop – I get off, or he gets off, and we never see each other again. Occasionally there’s something more. We both get off at the State Library, play chess in the same room, and never speak to each other. There aren’t really that many deep connections you can make with someone without starting out awkward.
And this is the reason why, in the two years this sixth sense has been with me, it has scored me the grand total of one lifelong friend. And I was on my way to see him now.
When I got off at the city station the first thing I saw was a police officer before me.
“Hey, man,” I said, tipping my cap. When I’m nervous I tend to tip my cap. “Hope it’s going well.”
“Hot today,” he said back. “Enjoy your day.”
There seemed to be a lot of them today. I knew we had gotten a terrorist threat a couple of days before this, so that was probably why. You can’t let them win – you have to go about and do your job, and so what if you got killed? It would simply be a mark against them. Strike me down with all of your hatred, and I shall become…bla bla bla. Anyway I walked out of the station. On the steps outside I saw my best friend Mark.
“Hi, Mark,” I said, smiling at the six foot tall, tanned figure before me. In the two years of our friendship we had travelled around the country, and gained a greater respect for the unseen things we had - qualities like love and courage that are both incredibly sappy and incredibly important at the same time.
“Took you long enough getting here,” he said. “What’s the hold up?”
“I had to see a person,” I replied. Not true – but roll with it for now. “What did you want to see me about?”
“Let’s go have breakfast,” he said. “I’ve got someone I’d like you to meet.”
Lisa Day was the second girl I had seen hanging out with Mark – the first, of course, being his sister.
“Hey!” she said, standing up as I was sitting down. “I’m Lisa!”
I shook her outstretched hand. “I’m Casey.”
And then we just froze like that, awkwardly, in the trendiest coffee shop in the city, like each of us had seen something that we should not have.
“Uhh…do you want to sit down?” I asked.
She blushed. “I will,” she said. Squeakily she fitted herself into her chair. The sound made no dent on the steady hum of the coffee shop. In the morning air the businessmen milled about in the coffee shop like it was a ship's battle station.
Mark had the worried look of an animal caught in a trap. “Coffee?” he asked.
“Two, please,” I said, anything to send my best friend away. Mark duly obliged.
When he was gone, I looked back at Lisa.
“Look, I don’t know you that well,” I said quickly. “But I think…I have to tell you something.”
“And me you,” she said quickly.
And for a moment we just froze there.
“I can see my future with you,” I spluttered out. “I need, I think you need to –“
“Worst pickup line ever,” she whispered.
I looked up. Mark was still ordering drinks. Quickly I turned my look back on Lisa.
“Lisa, I really can see our future. But it’s not a good one. We need to go, now, before it happens.”
Lisa started into my black eyes, and I could see my own reflected in her blue.
“I can see yours too,” she said. “Don’t bother. We’re both going to die together.”
Oh no. Oh no…
From outside I can hear the first sounds of the terrorist attack.
I looked at my watch, at the dial that still said 8:22AM. Mark has turned to the door now. He knows something is wrong.
I feel Lisa grip my hand. There is nothing we can do to fight destiny. The future was clear in a way the past had never been.
A shot rings out.
But that would be too long of a story to do with a prompt. So I had to end it with her just coincidentally finding him instead.
Or, and I'm talking hypothetically here, you could consider expanding the story and posting it on your subreddit. I know, it's a wild idea, never been done... but I believe in you! You got this! Alright guys, I gave it my best shot... maybe we'll get more!
"An espresso, please." I rummaged in my handbag and took a couple of coins to give to the barista. He smiled - a handsome, flirty grin - and asked for my name. As he gave me my change, his fingers brushed my palm.
All the colours of the rainbow blinded me for a second. I grew woozy and grabbed onto the counter for support. I saw a faint vision on my closed eyelids. I concentrated on making out the shapes. Slowly, they came into focus.
I was running - a sharp pain in my abdomen forced me to turn a corner and take a breath. I heard his footsteps behind me. I had to keep going or something terrible would happen. I turned into a dark alleyway, lined on either side with industrial-sized recycling bins, and blankets used by homeless people. Gasping for breath, I clutched the side of the recycling bin, and crouched behind it, willing my exhausted lungs to stop panting. I clenched my eyes shut.
Someone was whistling in the alleyway, and it was getting closer. “Where are you?” a voice rang out. I buried my face in my arms. Someone grabbed my arm, violently-
-and brightness. Concerned murmuring. The coffee shop appeared around me. I was on the floor, the handsome barista looking down at me, worried. I backed away in panic.
"Get away from me!" I screamed and rushed towards the door.
"Wait!" the barista shouted faintly, and then footsteps behind me. An overwhelming sense of déjà vu enveloped me. I ran for around half a mile before a stitch began to form in my stomach. I turned a corner and took a breath. I could hear him behind me.
This was my curse. Although I knew what was coming, I was powerless to stop it. Behind the recycling bin, I put my head in my arms and prayed silently. He grabbed my arm.
"Hey, you left your handbag. Are you OK? Do you need to go to the hospital?" the handsome barista said, kindly.
Interesting. Did he see nothing because his actions kill her in the next few minutes?
I'd eat a rice, or a luna.
Yep! That's the idea. He thought she just didn't like him, when in reality his choice of actions kills her.
I feel incredibly dense here, but what was that with the money at the end?
Oh, I totally agree with you. As I said in a comment above, if I were to expand the story it would be that she tracks down the guy from clues that she saw in the vision. But that would become a novel-length project, and I didn't want to leave the story with her beginning the search while knowing that I wouldn't finish writing it. So instead they just met coincidentally. It's not a plausible ending but at least it wraps up the story.
I'm pretty sure this is an unexpected Hitler moment, but I think you could edit it slightly and it would be an amazing reference to Picasso:
'My mother told me "If you are a solider, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope. Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso"'
Which isn't funny, but that's what sprang to mind, enjoyed the story as it is though! Thanks :)
Gah. I hadn't realized how immersive your writing was until I finished the story and got a bit disoriented whilst thinking about something else. Now I'm frustrated, but thankful for the good read.
Edit: Okay I'm sorry I have a small question. You mention that he sees darkness when people are going to die soon. What about people with whom he won't ever have any further interactions?
I guess I'm in for a lot of hate but I'm going to say it anyway. I'll expect you to take criticism seriously since your hobby, or maybe job, is so reliant on self-improvement.
As I can see you cut your story into two halves. The first one was pretty good actually, I really liked it. The problem lies in the second half: It felt pretty rushed - even forced. Especially since we know that the chance of meeting a certain person from such a huge number of people is incredibly low.
I don't know if you lost motivation at the end, or you didn't want to leave it at a bad ending, but personally, the second half of this story could have taken some work.
It didn't happen with everyone. I would shake a colleagues hand or maybe touch somebody and say excuse me, but you rarely ever saw something in those kinds of interactions. Usually all I ever saw was me shaking the colleagues hand the next day, or for years after. I might see nothing when I tap the women's shoulder in the grocery store because it will be the only time in my life I'll touch her again.
Before, I never really thought about how many people and places you only go once in your life. Or how many places you will never go again.
Graduating highschool was surreal, our parents always told us it would be. All the hugs, handshakes, and arms wrapped around each other for pictures that we think will outlast time. Yet, that was the day I saw more blanks, more dead ends than I had before. I grew up with those people and now I see nothing when we touch. I knew it was inevitable but I didn't know how hard it'd be to stomach the reality of it. I would never see them again.
Everybody uses the knowing for their own gain. Whether it's worth sticking around that person, our how to get brownie points at a job. This leads to being touched by almost every person you interact with nowadays.
Of course the most common use is for love. They always say you see the most when you meet your soulmate. That you'll see beautiful weddings and a white picket fence with your kids coming through the bronze latched gate after school. Or you'll see each morning you wake up next to each other and watch as Father Time slowly catches up to you two.
I never liked the knowing. I thought it ruined all genuine connection between us. Call me old fashion, but I had always preferred spontaneous infatuation. Asking someone for their phone number or leaving mine on a napkin and then being consumed by the suspense of whether they would call. Or the nerves of a first date, how would it end? Trying to find bits and pieces of myself as I'm sure they do me.
Friends of mine used the knowing, meeting their soulmates early on and now I'm the outlier. Dating apps never worked and every first date the girls grab your arm in a subtle manner and hope they see the veil over their eyes or hear the footsteps of our children on the floor above as they banter playfully through the house we bought.
Yet, when you don't see this, why even continue the date? As much as we can see and know with this gift, and as often as people find love with it, it can't be forced.
Therefore all my dates, the older I got, led to bland conversation where it was apparent she didn't see what she wanted. You see, you must initiate the contact to see your timeline with them. That's why I'm a handshake, both parties see where it all leads, but with a blind date touching my arm, only she sees her time with me.
So this goes on for years, more and more people post about their found love and what they saw. They comment congratulations and follow up pictures. Dating apps fail and blind dates become uninterested. The perpetual hopeless romanticism I've subjected myself into.
So everyday I take the train to work and do my best to avoid physical contact, especially with women I find attractive. As the years go by I study the patterns within my own. Who takes the same train at the same time I do? Who takes the same elevator to a different floor? I saw no point in touching these people because our patterns line up with our timelines, our futures are predictable and uneventful.
I was late today, as I couldn't find a tie to go with my shirt for work. How would that change my timeline?
I was rushing into the station, I swipe my card and hustle through the gates. My train is leaving and I catch a car farther back on it than I usually am. Saved by a light brown messenger bag flying through the closing doors. I jump in and gasp for air and attempt to calm my adrenaline induced nerves. As I look to my right to thank the bags owner, the train jerks to a start and my hand flys toward the slender yellow pole for those standing.
Home recordings of a young boy with almond brown hair taking his first steps on hardwood floors with white trim around the room. Silk curtains with white cloth furniture surround the frames of the footage.
I hear a small laugh, a modest giggle from the side of the video.
Then I'm in the train, still looking to my right. I let go of the pole and her hand comes out from under it. I'm looking at her, knowing what I saw. What I felt. What I knew.
She's got the same look of awe in her eyes, a wandering gander that found itself in me. She fixes her hair, her almond brown hair, and laughs a little bit. Maybe even a giggle.
I don't think you do anything wrong per se, but just not the right style for me. Any points I'd have would probably detract from the style your fans enjoy. You don't ask a horror fan how to write romance.
I guess my initial comment was just meant to seem a genuine compliment rather than flattery. Personally I've always appreciated compliments more from people that don't like something. Such as when somebody disliked something I wrote but liked one of the characters or a certain scene.
Maybe it didn't come across clearly...
No worries. It came across as "Your writing sucks but at least you don't do very much of it." But I certainly see what you mean and I don't take any offense. Sorry if I read more into it than what you intended.
With regard to your compliment, I totally agree. I think prompt responses should be a compact self-contained story. That doesn't mean a story with no loose ends and no chance of continuation; it just means that the central conflict of the prompt (like here it is her finding the guy) is resolved. I'm glad you appreciate the fact that I try to write complete prompt responses.
Thanks, I guess?
If you have any suggestions on how to improve my writing, I'd be happy to hear them. Maybe PM me?
I really don't like being touched.
I'm not the only one in that regard, of course. There's this thing called haphephobia that some people have that makes them so protective of their personal space that they are terrified at the thought of anyone, even their closest friends or family, touching them. I don't have that, though. What I've got doesn't actually have a name.
If touching people gave you a lifetime of visions of the future at the speed of light, you wouldn't like being touched either.
The visions vary depending on the person, of course. For example, if I touch my mom I'll see every Christmas and birthday I'll spend with her from now on. I'll see each time she forgets what she was doing, and then forgets my name, and then I'll see when I help move her into an assisted living home, and when I visit every weekend and notice her fading away a little bit more each time. Then I'll see her for the last time, when her body is skin and bone, and the nurses tell me she hasn't been eating, and her eyes wander the room without looking at anything in particular, and I try to tell her that I love her but she doesn't even seem to understand the words. I would see this every single time I touch her, only a little bit less each time as we get closer and closer to the end.
If I accidentally brush elbows with a stranger, I'll see every time I run into them or see them in a crowd. Sure, it's less emotionally taxing, but try to imagine seeing a flash of a hundred unrelated encounters with someone you know nothing about in the blink of an eye, the visions themselves so random that as soon as you snap out of it your brain aches from trying to process it all and you forget where you are or what you're doing and have no way of knowing for sure if this is right now or if it's just another vision.
I really don't like being touched.
I've been dating my girlfriend for ten months and we've never touched.
We met through an online haphephobia support group. She was talking about movies in a forum and I told her she had really good taste. After a while people got upset that we had essentially taken over the thread with a back-and-forth dialog comparing the meanings we took out of films, favorite films, and ones we hadn't seen yet, so we moved our conversation to private chat. It wasn't long before we were chatting about other interests and hobbies, and only a week later I asked if we could move the conversation over to Skype. It would be easier to talk face-to-face than to type everything out, I reasoned, and she agreed.
It wasn't long before we were talking to each other over Skype every single day, and it wasn't much longer before I told her she was the coolest, smartest, funniest girl I'd ever met and asked if she'd be my girlfriend.
For ten months we were comfortable keeping our relationship strictly online. For ten months it made it easier to imagine that we were a normal couple, romantically kept apart by nothing but the mileage between us.
Then she told me she wanted to come see me.
She told me she might even, maybe, possibly, depending on how she felt in the moment, want to sit down on a park bench with me and lean against my shoulder. She told me she had been picturing that a lot lately. She told me she wanted to know what it felt like.
How could I tell her that touching is more painful to me than it could ever be to her? How could I possibly explain that, no matter what our future is together, touching her would be like watching my mom die over and over again?
When she showed so much bravery to overcome her own fears, when she drove across four states alone in a beaten down sedan to see me, how could I possibly tell her I didn't have the courage to do the same?
"I really don't like being touched," I warn her.
"Me neither," she says with a smile from the other side of the park bench.
"But I think if I had to touch anyone," I say. "I'd want it to be you."
I put my palm down on the bench halfway between us and spread out my fingers.
She places her hand next to it, holds her breath, and slowly inches it toward mine.
Our fingers touch.
For the first time, I see my entire life flash before my eyes.
Thank you for reading and a big thanks to u/elmufino for the great prompt!
If you liked this, please check out /sub/yackemflaber for more!
This was cute Nick! :) This part made me chuckle.
"...I don't belong to anyone. I'm like," I paused for a moment as I tried to think up a clever metaphor, "A feather floating in the wind. I'm free."
Why not both?
It seemed clear enough to me :)
Hey, that's what I went for! I just don't think I executed it very well, based on the comments. She got his name from the barista - that's why she slipped him some money at the end.
At least it didn't have Satan in the prompt
Geez Luna, your stories are consistently one of the highlights of my day. I get absolutely swept up in them. And as a bearded lad with normal brown eyes- I liked your choice for Prince Charming.
Luna Lovegood, otherwise known as 'Loony Lovegood,' is the daughter of Xenophilius Lovegood, editor of The Quibbler. Luna enjoys reading, is excellent at solving riddles, and sleepwalks so often she wears her shoes to bed.
Edit; You're never too old to read Harry Potter.. Don't miss out!
I was kind of hoping that after the NYE vision she had upon brushing into him, she would:
1) not find him, and despair over losing their life together
2)realize that if she could lose that vision by not finding him the night of NYE, the visions were not set in stone and only possibilities
3) learn to not place absolute faith in her visions, and pre-emptively overcome flaws she found in people
4) gain true power to take the reins of the lives of her and those around her
But then you made it super cute and I couldn't help but grin and feel feelings. :) thank you as always for a fantastic literary ride
"Mom I.." The truth was heartbreaking, I couldn't bring myself to tell her the truth. I had never used my gift on her before, why would I? who wants to know how or when a person they love will die, especially their own mother.
"what is it, what did you see" There was fear in her eyes, I could see her tears begin to swell and her bottom lip tremble, as she desperately wanted an answer.
"Mom" I struggled to say something, my chest felt like it was on fire, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
I couldn't tell her the truth, so I lied, "the cancer kills you 15 years from now" a tear rolled down my cheek as I lied to her, if she knew the truth she would be inconsolable and scared, I didn't even understand what I was seeing.
She covered her mouth as she gasped, I reached out to comfort her, "it's ok honey, it's ok, really that's plenty of time" She smiled as tears streamed down her face. We had just met with the oncologist who told my mother she had breast cancer.
The truth was she would only be alive for another three months, and it wasn't cancer that killed her, she would die a lonely death, alone with no one by her side.
I'm a Seer, my gift came about when I turned 8 years old. When I used my gift to see my mother's death, I saw her running with my siblings and me through what looked like a forest I had never seen before, the entire wood was covered in deep snow.
My gift was still young, I could see everything from the host's eyes, not hear or understand her thoughts like older Seers, but only see, my gift had not advanced that far yet.
The vision of the last moments of her life was excruciating for me to watch, Each step she took through the snow seemed like a struggle, My Mother would keep looking around as if she was running from something, "what is she running from" I thought.
Eventually in the vision she handed me my baby sister and ran in a direction away from us, as she turned back to take one final look at her young family, I could see myself trying to break free from my older brothers holding me, it seemed as though I was trying to stop her; of course I would, I would be the only person who knew what was coming next.
After travelling away from us for a few minutes she stopped walking. She looked down at her hands; they were shaking, Was she cold? or was it fear that made her shake?" I had so many questions.
Suddenly I could tell she was panicking, she would look around the empty forest frantically, as if she was searching for something or someone, she began sprinting through the snow as fast as she could.
She had run right towards them, they were police, well they were wearing police uniforms anyway. The three men pointed their guns at her. She raised her hands towards the men, then like a flash, she was lying in the snow, I could see blood, then nothing.
"Your gift truly is remarkable Joseph" she hugged me, I didn't want her to let go, I never wanted to move from this spot because she would be safe. I wanted to tell her what I saw, but I needed to understand what I was seeing first, I needed help.
They say it's a gift to be a Seer, right now it feels like a curse.
Major edits* Thanks Luna and Xcessive
Well, their username, but also
Hehe I hope you liked the ending!
He must appear quite odd fully wrapped up in winter clothing on a relatively warm autumn day. Joe noticed the curious looks he received from the strangers on the walkway. He didn’t care.
“Let them look” he thought to himself while forming a fist with his hands. The gloves made some squeezing noises. Joe blushed – maybe did care a little after all.
“They don’t know, it’s a matter of protection” he told himself and ran through them carefully avoiding every contact possible. He felt like some sort of very agile dancer, dancing through the crowd in a club.
Finally after some time there were less people to worry about and he was able to take up more speed. He couldn’t miss that train. He had seen this train a few time in his visions before. “The train with no destination” Joe liked to call it – not that it had no destination, just the train scoreboard was broken and didn’t display anything.
“My visions always led me here” muttered Joe to himself. Joe’s visions have started occurring a few months ago. He didn’t talk to anybody about them. He didn’t understand them himself completely. It just started someday when he touched the cashier’s fingers while taking back his change. He suddenly saw Pictures of their future together. At first he thought he was dreaming. It seemed like some sort of nightmare. The pictures he saw were almost the same. The cashier handing out some change to him only his clothes, the amount charged for his breakfast and the date on the receipt varied. And then the Pictures stopped appearing and he was wearing his winter clothes on a seemingly mild day.
Since then Joe had tested his ability with other people. There were different Pictures but the Result was always the same. He saw himself in winter clothing rushing to the train with the broken scoreboard.
And now he was at the station the train in front of him. He recognized some people waiting for a train. “Test subjects” he had called them before.
He waved at a few of them. Most of them turned away as if they hadn’t seen him, some wove back and moved on. Joe didn’t waste any more of his precious time on thoughts about them, the train was about to leave.
He got in and was a bit disappointed. It was a normal train. Nothing special as he had assumed. But Joe was nobody to just give up. He removed the glove of his right hand and touched another passenger slightly on the back of his hand whilst moving forward. His ability kicked in instantly but there was only one picture – himself moving past the person.
Joe opened the eyes and moved past the person he had just touched and tried again with the next. The result stayed the same. What was happening? Why was his ability not working anymore? Joe’s heart began to beat faster. He started sprinting down the train wagon touching everybody but nothing changed.
Suddenly a strong pain struck him like he had never felt before and Joe fell on the ground grasping his chest. His vision started blurring and he heard the screaming of people.
“Is there a doctor here?” someone screamed.
“We need a doctor!” another Voice continued.
“I’m a doctor, let me through” heard Joe a woman saying. She came through the masses of spectators and started talking to him.
“Can you hear me” she wanted to know.
Joe closed his eyes and vaguely felt the touch of two soft fingers pressing against his neck.
No pictures appeared.
“He has no pulse…” the women said, then he lost consciousness.
It was hard knowing when and how everyone you knew would die.
I knew the minute I was born that my mother would die when I was 10 in a car accident. My dad would die of lung cancer when he was 65 and my little brother would plunge to his death at 27 when the parachute didn't open.
I've tried to change it once before. I knew my best friend was going to choke on the grape she inhaled after hearing a funny joke, nobody knew what to do. I took a first aid course. I saved her life. The next day she was found stabbed to death, dumped in an alley like garbage. It was a warning not to interfere. I was only thirteen.
I grew tired of it. I covered my body. I wore gloves, long pants and long sleeves even in the summer. I dyed my hair black, if everyone thought I was going through a goth stage, they weren't going to ask so many questions. My friends thought I was weird, they stopped talking to me. It was for the best anyway, I wanted to make some new friends without the pain of knowing when they'd die.
It was hard, nobody wanted to be friends with the weirdo who wore all black. I understood, at least I got social isolation instead of bullying.
I dove into school work. English was my favourite subject. I wrote lots of stories about my ability to see the future, my teacher liked them a lot. He said I had talent. Eventually I told him that they weren't stories, he was the first one I told. He didn't laugh or ridicule me, he believed me. He asked me if I could see his future, I told him it didn't work like that, I had to touch him. Everything clicked for him and he nodded.
Every once in a while he'd ask me if I wanted to see his future, it had become our personal joke. I hadn't seen the future in years, I was going to graduate next month.
"Fine, but only because I've never told someone what their future holds before," I was scared, but he had been kind to me. He understood and since he wanted to know so badly, I feel I owed him this.
I removed my glove and placed my hand on top of his. He smiled and chills went down my spin, but not the good kind.
My vision was short. He had a knife in his pocket, a big one. I saw blood, my blood. It was everywhere, it hurt.
I recoiled, my heart pounding in my head.
"Well?" He said, still smiling, "I'll give you a head start."
I didn't move, I knew what would happen if I tried to change it.
I felt a single droplet of rain on my cheek as I left the library at around 6pm.
Instantaneously, I froze. Waiting.
This was it. This was the moment I had waited so long for.
I don't remember his face, his eyes, his hair. All I ever saw was his large, dark green umbrella, and long black coat.
We grazed fingers 6 years prior, as I stepped off the tube at Embankment whilst heading to meet a friend for lunch. As we touched, I was shook with electricity. Our entire life, literally, flashed before my eyes. Our first holiday away. Our Wedding. The birth of our daughter. The birth of our son. Lunches. Arguments. Kisses. Tears.
I felt it all.
And as I turned he had gone.
I didn't see his face. I only ever saw him from behind.
One vision stuck with me, engrained in my memory. It was the reason I took this job at the library in the first place.
I would leave work, late, as always and run across the courtyard to try and catch the 18:03 tube headed for Wimbledon. Just as I realised I hadn't brought a jacket, the heavens would open and there he would stand, dark green umbrella in hand, the figure from what felt like my imagination.
I had replayed it in my mind so many times that I rarely took a jacket with me anywhere in the hope he would somehow come sooner. I would linger just a little longer on the courtyard when it rained, waiting.
My eyes flashed open as I heard heavy footsteps run toward me, splashing through the rain. The hairs on my arms stood on end, my toes curled, eyes widened. My heart was close to bursting from my chest.
I inhaled sharply.
"You might want to take this, I'd hate for you to catch a cold," he said, handing me a dusty, faded green umbrella stamped 'National Art Library'.
I spent six years searching for the man of my dreams.
And he had been sat across from my work desk all along.
I think you did it really well and subtle enough that you had to think for a moment, and reflect on the events that went on through the story. The last line when he has his moment realization was key. It forces you to go back a line and wonder wait the subtle "tip" was what made him realize something. Then you connect back to him being a regular (his interaction with barista). I assumed that the woman had been also a regular who had seen him from afar and had casually been stocking him and had eventually gotten the idea of going through the barista to talk to him. It kind of opens up a great parallel line of her imagining their whole life while watching him get his coffee every day while he never notices her.