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Two fortunes


Troy S. Braswell

Troy S. Braswell

The waitress brought me two fortune cookies. Two. That’s not supposed to happen, not when you come to the restaurant alone! You get one. Only one. That’s just the way it is.

But she brought me two fortune cookies! What am I supposed to do with that? How am I to choose? Two potential paths on the small red pallet, set carefully atop the bill. Both of them encased in perfectly molded plastic wrapping, both cookies with slight defects in their manufacture, but neither offering any indication as to the potential fortune within! What am I supposed to do, with two?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

and sorry I could not travel both

and be one traveler, long I stood

and looked down one as far as I could

to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Oh, the weight of decision! How to choose? At least Robert Frost had the benefit of visual inspection, so to determine whether to follow the crowd or press forth on his own. But here before me are these two fortune cookies, each with equal potential for hope and prosperity, for kindness and encouragement; for riches and glory!

I could choose the one, but what if the second fortune is better than the first? What if that fortune is the fortune for which I was intended? My fate will be forever sealed to the commitment of the first!

But what if the second is no fortune at all, but one of those wasted slips of paper saying something like “You’re soul is full of kindness.”? I already know that, dammit! That’s not a fortune! What if I choose the second and that’s what I get? The prosperity and blessing of the first will be forever lost, wasted, like a Chinese donut that rolls off your plate.

The waitress brought me two fortune cookies. Why would she do that? Perhaps it was a test to see what my reaction would be. Would I point out the error? Ah, but then what to do? Should I have her to decide, which was the mistake and which was mine? How could I place that much power in another’s hand? No, better that I should keep them both and decide.

Or perhaps I am meant to share, to give one cookie away, but then again, how am I to choose? The cookie I yield might be the one, that one fortune cookie meant especially for me. If I give it away, how will I know what my life might have been? And what if the one given is better than the one kept? How might I come to resent that person for the blessing usurped from my hand? Or perhaps worse yet, what if that fortune is unkind? Oh, the guilt, that would then be mine!

Upon closer inspection, I note a crack in one, and glimpsing within make out a few stray words: Your… but not for… beauti… What might that mean? Oh, the torture of not knowing!Those missing words could mean the difference between beauty or ugly! I don’t want to be ugly. Nobody wants to be ugly. The second cookie reveals part of its secret as well: … wait for… …right doo… Am I to wait? Am I not? What if the “right” doo is not the “correct” doo? What if by waiting I miss the doo all together? I might need that doo.

The waitress brought me two fortune cookies, so I suppose I’ll have to choose. Though the weight of the world could hang in the balance, at least this I know: the cookie will be tasty. Unless of course, it’s not. It could be stale. Sometimes they’re stale.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

somewhere ages and ages hence:

two roads diverged in a wood, and I

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

And so betwixt the two, one fortune cookie I shall choose. Having been inspected and handled in my impossibly difficult plight, one of the two is now distinctly broken, and thus calling my name. Turned over in my hand, it has opened itself and so now reveals its secrets to me, my fortune, my fate:

“Don’t wait for others to open the right doors for you.”

Well, that’s ironic. I wonder what the other one says…

This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal