The Chance Meeting

Short Story by Daphne Crause

Crash! Tinkle, tinkle.

“Oh no. What was that?” cried Amanda. “That was coming from downstairs.”

The sudden unexpected noise made her let out a little scream. Then she froze for a moment as though she was a statue at Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, and she dropped her cotton wool puff into the egg mixture she was putting on her face.

Putting egg on her face was her usual routine on a Sunday morning. She had time to try and make herself look good for the week ahead. She was already half done putting the mixture on when she heard the crash, but the noise called for immediate action. The rest would have to wait till later.

Grabbing a baggy t-shirt and a pair of pull up pants from a nearby chair in her bathroom, she quickly put them on. Then she put on her fluffy pink slippers and walked quickly out of her bedroom and down a little passageway towards the stairs.

“Did my kitchen cabinet off the wall? Did someone smash a window? What was it?”

Her mind was going crazy with all her negative thoughts, and her heart was beating so hard it could jump right out of her chest. Safety had always been a concern to her. As a youngster she had always been worried about their house being burgled. Now that she was living on her own this became even more important to her.

She heard a car driving slowly down the road and it sounded like it stopped outside the house.

“Is someone spying on me?” she whispered. “Maybe someone has broken in and that is the pickup car waiting to pick the guy up, like you see in the movies. Maybe I’m just being stupid.”

As she came down the first half of the stairs she feared what she might see. Instinctively she slowed down and crouched down on the landing, looking very slowly around the railing to see if she could see anyone. When she didn’t see or hear anyone she came down the second half of the stairs at a more normal pace.

Her heart was still beating hard in her chest, but she relaxed a little when she realized that there was nobody in the house.

“You’re just being paranoid.”

In her mind she could see her father pointing his finger at her and saying those words. He was always saying it to her when she was younger. 

“Okay maybe it wasn’t a smashed window. So what was it?” she said to herself.

Turning left at the bottom of the stairs she went into the kitchen. Nope, there was nothing there. As she came out of the kitchen she looked around the dining room and couldn’t see anything wrong there either.

She walked back past the stairs and looked on the other side where her lounge was.

Letting out a shriek she cried,

“Oh no, my crystal chandelier. What happened?”

The chandelier lay smashed on the floor. It looked like thousands of pieces of glass snow on the brown tiles.

“Oh man, what do I do now?” she thought as she panicked. “Do I sweep it up? Do I call insurance? Boy do I need a man in my life to help me right now.”

Just then there was a loud knock on the door. Amanda froze again in panic. Who was there? Was this person snooping? What did they want? She hated people knocking on her door.

She tip toed to the door because she didn’t want anyone to know she was there.

“Is anybody home? It’s security here. Is everything all right? I heard a smashing sound and someone screaming.”

Amanda still peeped through the little peephole in the door to see who it was and to confirm that the man was really speaking the truth. You couldn’t just trust people blindly you know. And especially you couldn’t trust a strange man.

As she looked through the peephole she could see the front of the security car in the road, and she saw the guard standing in his familiar blue uniform.

“Umm… my crystal chandelier just fell off the ceiling.”

“Can I help you?”

“Uh… sure, thank you,” she said.

She felt very stupid for being so suspicious. After all she had just said she would love a man to help her out right now.

She unlocked the dead bolt and opened the door.

“Please come in… Jim?”

She saw his name sewed onto the top left-hand shoulder of his uniform. Jim was the head guard of the complex where she stayed. She had never spoken to him. But she had seen him and waved to him once or twice as he rode around the complex in his car to make sure everything was okay.

She led him into the lounge and pointed to the mess. Then she pulled up the blinds on the two big windows to let in some more light. As she looked out she saw that it was rather cloudy again, but some blue sky was starting to show. Perhaps it would clear today.

“Oh boy, what a mess,” Jim said.

He just stood and looked at the pieces on the floor. He shook his head as if he didn’t have a clue what to do. Then he looked up at the ceiling and down on the floor again.

“Aha, I think I can see what happened here.”

He began to rummage through the bits of glass, being careful not to cut himself on the broken pieces. At last he found a bigger piece of the chandelier which seemed to be more intact. It was shaped like a large teardrop and he could see that it was the piece that had been attached to the ceiling.

He picked it up and held the wire that was coming out from the top of the piece.

“Hmm, it looks to me like the wire that was holding it on to the ceiling developed a weak spot and it couldn’t hold the weight of the chandelier anymore. Perhaps it happened after the recent earthquake. Do you have insurance to cover this breakage?”

“Yes, thankfully I do. I will get hold of them first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Good. There shouldn’t be any problem making a claim for it. We need to just keep this main piece in case they want to see it. Now, do you have a broom? I will help you to sweep everything up.”

“I’ve got two. I can help too,” she said.

She walked quickly to the kitchen to a little utility cupboard where all her cleaning gadgets were neatly packed away. Grabbing two brooms and a scoop to sweep the pieces into, she walked back to the lounge.

As she was coming past the stairs her right foot got caught in the hem of her pull up pants and she fell with an embarrassing thump onto her hands and knees on the floor.

The two brooms went flying in different directions. The one went half way up the stairs, then came clattering back down again. The other one landed on the nearby dining room table, narrowly missing a small vase with roses in it.

“Oh boy, how stupid of me,” she wailed.

“Ooh, that’s got to hurt. Are you okay?”

Jim rushed to her aid like a real Sir Galahad. He bent down and put his hand out to help her up.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m just rather bruised, that’s all.”

As she looked up at Jim her heart began to beat extra fast. But this time it wasn’t out of fear or panic. She was looking at the face of a man who had the most beautiful green eyes she had ever seen. To her he was SO good looking.

“Wow he’s nice. I really like him,” she thought to herself. “Oye don’t tell me I’m falling in love with the security guard of this complex. No, this is stupid. Let me get back to the business at hand.”

Holding out her hand she took hold of Jim’s hand and he helped her back onto her feet. She could feel him holding her hand tightly, and for a brief moment she really enjoyed the feeling. She felt secure and safe.

“Are you all right? Can you still walk?” he asked.

“I’m pretty sore, but it’ll be okay. I think I’m just rather bruised. Thank you for your concern.”

“Listen, why don’t you just sit down and I’ll do the sweeping. I’ll be done in just a few minutes,” Jim suggested.

“Thank you, you’re very kind.”

Jim helped her to her sofa in the lounge and she sat down, rather relieved that he was going to do the work. Her calves and knees were throbbing and it was good to just rest them for a while.

Jim went and grabbed one of the brooms. Then he got to work, quickly sweeping from one side and then the other until the glass was in a neat heap in the middle.

“He works so fast, he’s like Superman.” Amanda thought. “If I had done it, it would have probably taken me 3 times as long to do. I guess I need to become more of a driver.”

The sun suddenly began to break through the clouds and sunlight streamed through the blinds that Amanda had opened.

“Oh that is so nice to see the sun,” she cried out.

She gave a huge smile, and somehow the pain in her calves began to fade away as she basked in the rays of the sun. They began to shine on Amanda’s face. She felt the warmth and saw the beautiful pale yellow color that the rays made everything turn. She could spend hours in the morning sitting by that window and sunning herself like a lizard. It made her feel happy.

Jim was now finished sweeping all the pieces into the scoop. He turned to look at her and began to frown.

“Something wrong?” Amanda asked.

“Oh dear, did I do something wrong?” she wondered. “Why is he looking at me so weird? I hope he doesn’t want to do something bad now that I’m all alone with him.”

“Are you all right? You umm… you kind of look a little ill. I think the fall must have drained the life out of you.”

“Me feeling ill? Nah, I’m feeling just fine, aside from my calves and knees aching. But actually I’m feeling a lot better already.”

“Oh okay. You just looked rather pale… almost yellow. Maybe it’s just the sun shining on you.”

Suddenly Amanda burst out laughing. She put her head back and laughed until her sides hurt. When she could eventually get her breath back and talk reasonably again she explained what happened to Jim.

“When I first heard the smash I was upstairs putting some egg on my face. I do it every week as a natural face mask. I had done half of it, but I left the other half undone to come and see what had happened. Let me guess, the left side is more shiny and yellow right?”

Jim looked at her closely again then he gave a big smile.

“Yup, sure is.”

Then he also began to laugh and the two of them chuckled for a few minutes.

“Well you’ve sure started my day off great, Miss…? I don’t even know your name.”

“It’s Amanda. Amanda Cromway. Thank you for helping me Jim.”

She felt truly grateful for Jim’s help. If he hadn’t been there she would have gone off in all different directions at once. He was strong, level-headed and kind – everything she wanted in a man. And he was the head of security. What more could she want?

“I had better get going. It was a pleasure to help you. If you need me for anything else, you just yell okay? Here is my cell phone number and the number to call at the gate if you have a problem.”

“Thank you. I’ll do that.”

She walked to the door and opened it for Jim. Then she watched as he walked out and got into his car. He started the engine, smiled at her and waved good bye as he drove off.

“I’ll see you around Amanda.”

Amanda walked back inside the house and was about to sit down on the sofa once again when she felt the left side of her face pulling as the egg dried.

“Oh dear, I had better go and wash the egg off my face now,” she thought. “I’ll do the other half later.”

She hobbled upstairs and quickly rinsed the egg off with warm water. Then she headed back to the sofa and the warm sun again. Everything else could wait. The sunshine was rare these days so she wanted to make the most of it.

As she sank into the soft cushions she began to think over the events that had just happened and she suddenly realized,

“Wow, I’ve just met a total stranger – a man – and I’m not even afraid anymore. And even more amazing is he seemed to like me – baggy t-shirt, pull up pants, yellow face and all.

“Hmm, maybe I can meet him again dressed in my smart business attire. I wonder if I will need his help for anything else.”

Her vivid imagination began going crazy again as she wondered how she could get him to come over to see her again. Maybe her water heater would stop working. Or maybe she would need someone to do the garden for her and he could tell her where to find such a person.

Eventually, her daydream world became the world of real dreams, and she drifted off into a peaceful sleep.