She had told me to return in two weeks, enough time for her to make the arrangements necessary. And for two weeks, each day decided to stretch itself into infinity and test my reason. My aunt had told me to come ready for a long journey in which more than likely I may never return and if I didn’t show up on time, she would understand and would be glad to never bring it up ever again. I promised that even if the sky was to fall on that day, I will be there on time. On july 10th, I left my family. My father’s birthday was a month away and the plan was for to have dealt with Fate before then. In my bag, I had a pocket size notebook, a knife, a red and black pen, a water bottle, three underwears, and a lunch bag made of oranges, chicken and fried potatoes. Before leaving the house, I had slipped an adieu note next to each one of my family member, and while I was about to get out of my parents bedroom. My father had sat up in bed, looked right at me and for a moment, I froze in place, sweating and thinking that I was done, but he mumbled and said about me going to bed and then he fell back to sleep, the house gently rocked by his snoring. I ran all the way to my aunt’s house, my heart on my heels, refusing to look or turn back. This is what I wanted.
When I got to her door, I knocked and rang the bell for five minutes before she opened it up. She looked me up and down and asked me what time is it. I didn’t have a watch, but I was sure that I was on time because I had left the house ten minutes earlier than I usually did. She looked at her watch and said: “It’s ten past midnight. You are late and this is not happening anymore. Go home, child.” She was about to shut the door on me when I slid my foot in there only to regret I when I felt the pain but I held on and said: “I left the house on time and I’m sure if you didn’t take too long to answer the door, I would have been on time.”
“take your foot off, I need to return to bed.”
“LISTEN, PLEASE! I will owe you for the rest of my life! Whatever it is, just name it!”
She paused for a second and the same gleam I saw last time went by her eyes. She finally opened the door.
“You might not have a whole lot of life left when you return.”
I followed her in the kitchen as she introduced me to someone who had his back to me.
“Look what the wind blew by”
The man turned around, his coat had seen better days, and his white shirt found it a challenge to remain white and his brown pants grabbed his waist properly but flopped about his legs. Yet you could tell by how he held himself that this outfit was his best. He was in his forties, a creepy smile creased his face permanently, and he missed the last finger on both hands and I couldn’t get my eyes off his hands even as he extended his right hand to greet me. I was too polite to refuse it.
“so you’re the boy who thinks you want to find Fate?”
He exchanged a look with my aunt then he asked:
“What’s the bag for?”
“Well, I was told that I was going for a long journey so I packed a few things. Is that problem?”
“No, just that we have been over this.”
“I’m sorry what?”
“Never mind, you can bring anything you want just remember that I won’t help you carry it.”
“No problem sir. I will be fine.”
“If there’s nothing else, we should be on our way.”
He looked at my aunt who looked at me as if to dissuade me for saying yes.
“You are not coming?” I asked
“No honey. I will be here waiting for you.”
And we left, we waved each other good bye and then I followed the stranger in silence. All of a sudden, I started asking myself if I was in my right mind to trust someone whose name I didn’t know to lead me like this. I mean my aunt wouldn’t let me leave with a dangerous man, but how well did she know this man? Maybe I should just go home and just forget about all this. I kept looking right and left, but the streets were unusually quiet in this warm night. I wasn’t usually allowed to be out at this time of the night, and I have always thought that I was missing something. We met a homeless man, buried under thick blankets, lying on a cardboard and as I passed him by, he let out: “Damn fools!” and he kept repeating it even as we got further away. My guide had ignored him completely and I was going to ask what he thought of what just happened, but I changed my mind when I looked at his hands again. I wondered if he lost his fingers on one of those adventures at sea with my aunt. I also wondered what he must have done to the person who had caused him to lose his fingers. I barely could control my tongue from trying to tug at him and get him to tell me all these things.
We stopped in front of a house which I recognized as the house of the Mrs. Swing. She was the most popular seamstress in town. There was no celebration or official event if the guests didn’t wear her clothes. She was such in high demand that orders came from all over the world, but for some unknown reason, she only owned this house and worked by herself. What set her apart from the rest of seamstresses was not only her ability to take one look at you and know all your measurements to the dot but also her perception in creating a piece of cloth that not only fit your personality but also the season of your life. If you passed the interview, only then you could pass your command, write her a check and expect the delivery at your door. You were not to ask to see what material she used or how long it took. More than one customer was not pleased with this order of things, but once they put on the clothes, however eccentric it looked at first, it fitted them perfectly like a second skin. Our town wasn’t the best in our country, but we always felt special that we could point out to her house as proof that we may not have the glamour of big cities, but we could challenge any city when it came to our fashion sense. So given the clothes of my guide, I thought he wanted to upgrade his style and I didn’t blame him.
“We have arrived, son. Here lives Fate.”
“What? Are you sure? Mrs. Swing is Fate?”
“Yes she’s always been and she always will be. So go on now and knock, I will wait here for you to go in.”