Ties Of Fate

March 9, 2012
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He was going to do this.
John Edwards finished tying his shoelace and gazed nonchalantly around the almost deserted street, pausing to watch a lonely plastic bag wind its way down the road until it was completely swallowed by darkness. It was a cold night, possibly the coldest they’d had all winter. A cruel breeze hissed viciously through the air, lifting John’s hair off the back of his neck and sending goosebumps rippling down his spine. As though they were magnets, his eyes flickered once again towards a small woman who was huddled in the corner of a bus stop shelter. Her black form merged in the night before him, like a figure half chiselled from a block of stone. She was frail and unhealthy looking, clutching a small black bag tightly in her lap and shivering slightly from the cold. But it was not her he was so interested in.

He was going to do this.
John watched the woman’s bag as she readjusted it on her lap, deciding how much money it contained and how long it would take him to sprint across the street, grab it and be gone. But in the back of his mind, guilt clung to him like a garment. He reminded himself why he was doing this: it was an easy way to get money for his mother to see a doctor, a luxury they had previously been unable to afford. But although he reminded himself that without medical help, she would die before the year was up, it did not stop him from feeling as cruel and inconsiderate as the bitter wind blowing around him. It was as though his brain were encased in crystal, so clear that even his smallest weaknesses he could not hide from himself.

He was going to do this.
Yet still, he had not moved. The woman now looked as though she were in discomfort, her whole body had gone rigid and her skin had turned whiter than polished and glowing bone. Had she noticed the way his beady eyes watched her, and the way he kept twitching nervously like one of those small wooden dolls that are held up by strings? He took a tentative step towards her, deeply inhaling the clean night air, so thick with anticipation it could’ve been sliced through with a bread knife. This was it; he was going to do this. His thoughts were with his mother as he slowly counted down, after all, this was for her.
3… his breathing had gone shallow and haggard, as if he were in the middle of an intense marathon, instead of standing as if frozen on the sidewalk…
2… a massive rush of adrenaline coursed through his body…
1… there was no turning back now; his foot had already begun to lift off the cobbled sidewalk…

Suddenly, there was a loud thump and the lady collapsed like a house of cards. John gave a start and without thinking, he began sprinting across the road. He knelt by her side, horrified to find her sprawled unconscious on the ground, her already pale cheeks rapidly draining of the little colour they had left. Throwing his jacket over her and wincing as the cold sliced into his bare shoulders, John frantically reached into his jeans for his mobile. His hands shook as he dialled triple zero.

Late that evening, John finally dragged himself out of his mother’s room. It had been a long night, and he couldn’t stand feeling any more pangs of misery and guilt everytime he looked into her cloudy grey eyes. Exhausted, he barely heard his phone ring as he climbed into bed.
‘Good evening, is this John Edwards?’
‘Yes.’ John stifled a yawn.
‘My name is Evan Palmer; I work as a doctor at the private hospital. Earlier this night, I received an urgent call from reception; they told me that my wife had suffered a serious stroke while waiting for her bus. When I looked in the calls register to see who had found her, your name and number came up.’
The man’s voice was deep, smooth and oddly calming. There was a slight pause, and when John said nothing, he continued.
‘I’d like to thank you for saving my wife, what you did will not be forgotten. If there is any way I can repay you, please, just name it.’
As John lay there, he felt a warm sort of joy spreading throughout his body. So miracles did happen, every once in a while. ‘There is actually one thing. You said you’re a doctor?’
‘I am.’
John thought of his mother, and smiled.

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