by nic bowen
A short story about a magical street corner.
|There was nothing seemingly significant about the corner of Poddington Street and Revell Road. It hasn’t been mentioned in history books, nor is it graced by any grand landmarks. In fact, most people who pass by never think twice about its history. The same pruned hedges had been growing there for generations. In the summer months their leaves bloom to a deep, luscious green, inviting throes of insects to buzz among them. As Autumn gives way to Winter, the leaves start crinkling at the edges before turning a rich brown. These leaves are then shed for Winter, exposing a skeletal throng of branches. These hedges seemed to be the only thing that ever changed on Poddington and Revell, everything else was constant. Just another corner on another street, simply one of thousands across the globe.
However, a series of strange meetings have been occurring there since the streets over the years. Some would say that this was coincidental, others would say that greater forces were at work.
The first of these occurred during the early 1900s. The stone pavements had just been laid, the concrete still wet, the hedges only seedlings. It was a cold winters morning when Lucius Greeley, a young chimney-sweep, made his way down Poddington Street. Looking down, his hands wedged firmly in his pockets, his thoughts kept him a million miles away. Just around the bend a young newspaper crier named William Cogg made his way briskly down Revell Road, whirling a toy wooden aeroplane above his head, not a care in the world. As fate would have it, Willaim and Lucius were bound for collision.
With a loud thud, the two boys crashed into one another. A flurry of coats and scarves briefly flailed about before they both fell back onto their behinds. Both sat with their legs stretched before them, and met each other’s gaze.
‘Watch where you’re walking, ya bum.’ cried Lucius.
‘That’s rich! You ran into me buddy.’ yelled William with equal forcefulness.
Both of them sat there, catching their breath before Lucius noticed the wooden aeroplane that William had dropped.
‘Say, that’s a pretty keen plane you have there, mind if I take a look?’
‘Sure thing, just be careful, my grandpa carved it out himself.’
Lucius held the plane careful, softly spinning the tiny wooden propeller.
‘So you fancy planes huh?’ asked William.
‘Sure. On Sundays when the weather’s clear my pa drives me up to Bourough Airfields and we watch the pilots train.’ replied Lucius.
Both boys scrambled to their feet and dusted off their coats.
‘Sorry about bumping into you, I can be all left feet sometimes. The name’s William, but my friends call me Willie.’ said William as he extended an open hand.
‘Hey don’t sweat it, I can be a real goof sometimes too. I’m Lucius’ answered Lucius as he shook William’s hand.
‘Say, I’m heading to the candy store. A couple of us are gonna shoot marbles, you wanna tag along?’ asked William.
‘Sure thing, I got nothing better to do.’ replied Lucius.
The boys made their way across the street, chatting enthusiastically while William pointed out the detailed carvings on the plane.
Greeley and Cogg Aviation went on to revolutionise the world of aeronautics, introducing some of the world’s first commercial aircraft. All throughout their years of friendship the boys would pass by those same street corners many times, never thinking anything significant of them.
Many more chance meetings have taken place on Poddington and Revell over the years. Star-crossed lovers have had their first meetings or long-lost siblings had been reunited. Once, a pair of twins that were separated at birth happened upon one another while waiting for a bus. From life changing events, to ones as small as picking up some spare change, there has always been an unseen magic about Poddington and Revell.
The latest pair to stumble into a chance meeting on the mysterious street corner are two people that had all but resigned themselves to a life of melancholic solitude. Gordon Peevy and Jessica Arnold were both born in the small town of Kippsgrove, a quaint place famous for its apple groves, and summers that seemed endless.
Gordon born was on the 15th of August, Jessica exactly a month to the day later. Although they both went to the same school, and even had some classes together, both had remained oblivious to the others existence. That was until one stormy summers night when a few of the neighbourhood kids all got together to play spin the bottle.
They gathered in a musty basement illuminated by a few old gas lamps. The rain pattered loudly on the tin roof. The kids sat on their haunches, forming a circle around an old soda bottle. Their chattering and giggling would quiet down every time the spinning bottle slowed to a halt, the neck and rim pointing out a boy and girl on opposite sides of the circle. Each time a pair was selected, they would get into a old, wooden wardrobe and would only be allowed out once the rest of the group was convinced that they had done the deed.
After a few couples had made their way into the wardrobe, the bottle landed facing Gordon and Jessica. A chorus of hooting and hollering erupted as the pair nervously made their way into the wardrobe. Both of them scrambled to climb in, the doors creaking as they closed them behind themselves. A thin sliver of light shone through a gap between the doors, providing just enough light that they could vaguely make out the others face. For a few seconds that sat facing each other in complete silence, the only sounds they heard were the cries of the children in the room. Gordon felt that being the boy, it was up to him to do the kissing. This revelation caused have wave of panic to flow over Gordon, he tried speaking but it felt as though his heart was beating in his throat.
‘I...uum...I..I mean we..don’t have to,’ muttered Gordon, ‘unless you want to..then we could.’ He finally managed to stutter.
Jessica seemed to sense the apprehension in his voice, and decided it was up to her to take control of the situation.
‘Honestly Gordy, it’s just a kiss.’ She said firmly before leaning forward, placing a quick, soft kiss onto his lips.
When she broke the kiss and leaned back, Gordon was able to make out that she was smiling faintly. She sat there smiling before opening the door and climbing out the closet, a chorus of laughter and cheering erupting as she emerged. A flood of light illuminated the spot where Jessica had been sitting. Gordon waited a few seconds before opening the door on his side of the wardrobe, and a fresh wave of cheering went up as he made his way back into the circle. He sat back directly across from Jessica, the same smile-which he would recall many times later in his life-still set on her face.
From that day onward, Jessica and Gordon grew increasingly closer. They would pass notes to one another during class, exchange sandwiches at break-times and were often seeing holding hands. As the years passed, they entered high school together. This was where they eventually became a couple. They spent their time together at the movies, afternoon picnics at the park and walking their dogs together in the evenings. Even their families would occasionally get together for a Sunday lunch. By this time, they were very much in love.
The years rolled passed and the day came for them to graduate high school, both deciding to attend universities at opposite ends of the country. When they left, both thought their relationship strong enough to withstand the space between them, and the time they spent apart. But time and space can do funny things to people. What was once a blossoming love affair, seemed to slowly fade away. There weren’t any sorrow-fuelled disputes, no tearful breakup. They simply grew apart, their lives spiralling off in different directions. By their final year of university, they hadn’t seen or spoken to one another for months. They graduated, found jobs, got married, moved forward on with their lives. While both their marriages ultimately ended in divorce, they had spent many years happily married. And so they found themselves in their mid-fifties, not necessarily unhappy, but alone and resigned to the fact that they would stay this way. It was around this time in their lives, that Gordon Peevy and Jessica Arnold found themselves destined for a meeting on the corners of Poddington Street and Revell Road.
It was a sunny summers day, with a few clouds in the sky, streaking across it like white brush strokes against a canvas of blue. A light breeze blew, picking up leaves and whipping them about in tiny circles before depositing them on the ground . The people were coming and going, cars zipped about the busy streets; just an ordinary day in an ordinary town. But something extraordinary was afoot.
Gordon Peevy made his way briskly along Revell Road, taking a call on his cellphone. His thoughts entirely focused on the man blaring at him on the other end of the phone. The client was particularly annoyed, and Gordon was trying his upmost to calm him. Just around the corner on Poddington Street, Jessica Arnold strolled along slowly. Without any destination in mind, she was in no kind of hurry. She was content to simply marvel at the world around her. Both immersed in their own worlds; worlds that were about to collide.
It happened as quickly as a lightning flash. Gordon taking rapid, lengthy strides; Jessica slowly shuffling along. They both stepped onto the corner. Jessica felt a mass of soft flesh crash into her, Gordon felt a cold, wet patch slowly spreading on his chest. Both took a step back.
Initially there was confusion. Gordon leaned back at an odd angle, trying to make out what exactly what had spilled on his chest. Jessica held the empty cup in her hand, noticing the spilt smoothie on the ground.
They met each other’s gaze. It took a few seconds for the memories to come flooding back, to match the face in front of them with the one from all those years ago.’
There came an irate blaring from Gordon’s cellphone.
‘Peevy! Are you there?’ came the voice. Gordon slowly raised the phone and ended the call.
‘Gordon Peevy?’ whispered Jessica.
‘Jessica Arnold?’ replied Gordon.
It was as though there was a magnetic force pulling them toward one another, as they came together for a hug that was as warm as it was familiar. As they broke apart, Gordon saw a smile on Jessica’s face that took him back to the night they had first met. They stepped back and noticed that each of them had a wet, red patch on their chests.
‘ Gosh, I’m so sorry about your shirt, I’m afraid I’ve ruined it.’ said Jessica sheepishly.
‘ Don’t worry about it,’ said Gordon, waving away her protests, ‘ I can’t believe this, what are the chances’
And so ends our tale. But should you ever happen to find yourself on that inconspicuous little street corner, make sure that you slow your step, and keep your eyes and ears open. Because who knows, you might find that you have a date with destiny, one of those rare magical moments that we like to call the sweetness of serendipity.