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Fated

by Elizabeth Kaye Daugherty 10 months ago in Short Story
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An immigrant’s daughter has a dream telling her to find her soulmate under a peach tree, but when her closest friend and confidant tells her that destiny is not fate, but what we choose, will she seek the tree of her dreams or accept love in a vineyard instead?

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I have never known a field to grow blades of grass. Blades cut. Wild fields of grass are more like strands of long, thick hair. Waving in breezes, brushing against skin, bracing the tender lavender sky. The ocean of green stretches before me from beneath my toes toward the lanky shape on the horizon. A tilted and wiry tree, its branches bowed with the weight of plump fruit.

I find myself running fingers through the grass, holding hands with the earth, captured by the pull of gravity and the turning of the globe.

When I arrive at the base of the tree, spread like nature’s lungs, a second set of footsteps approaches. The only sound in the whole place. I strain to hear the whistling wind, to smell what it carries with it, squint to find the sun in the sky but am left with nothing.

It is just me and the stranger who smiles with a smile that touches his eyes, reflecting the pale sky over both our heads. The wind whips his loose-fitting shirt and rolled-up pants, tousels his dark hair, and takes any words we might share.

Instead, he reaches up and plucks a bright peach from its stem then offers it to me.

“Gloria?” He says.

I lurch forward with a start, sitting tangled in my blankets. I clutch my chest as my heart pounds.

“Gloria!” The same voice, but this time I recognize that it is not the same as the mysterious man of my dreams.

I sigh. “Abuela. You startled me.”

“So jumpy, this girl,” she mutters. “You’re going to be late if you don’t get up soon. Didn’t you hear your alarm going off?”

I search for my phone in the mess of sheets and find it still plugged into the wall, its screen blinking with a missed alarm. I run my hand over my face before ripping the cord out. “I guess I must’ve slept through it. Probably because of that crazy dream.”

All at once, my grandmother’s emotional gasp and deceptively soft arms surround me. “Mi hija, you said a dream?”

She shakes me and any sleep remaining in my eyes. She calls me hija because she’s raised me ever since I was a baby, after my mother died. “Ay, sí. Why? It was just a dream.”

I try to push away from her grasp, but she shakes her head. “No, hija, it was the dream!”

At this, she lets me go and I topple out of bed.

“Tell me everything,” she continues, oblivious or uncaring that her outburst could have cracked my head open. Again. “Was he handsome? Was he rich?”

I rub the back of my neck. “I don’t know, he was just a guy -- wait, I didn’t tell you there even was a he!”

Abuela leads me by the shoulders to the kitchen. “Because I know all about it!”

“Uh... you do?”

She deposits me in the nook of our kitchen, cluttered and would be covered in dust if we had been here long enough for it to settle, and busies herself with digging out cereal and a bowl for me.

“Of course I do,” she says. “I had one such dream when I was your age. So did your mother and my mother.”

I pour milk over my breakfast and eye my grandmother. “I didn’t even tell you anything about it.”

She winks. “You don’t have to. All the women in our family share dreams with our soulmates.”

I cough and struggle not to choke on my first bite. “Soulmate?!”

“Oh, hija,” she laughs, but the mirthless sound falls around her. “I suppose your mother never got a chance to tell you.”

I cast down my glance. “And dad’s not been in the picture for a long time.”

“My mother called it el sueño del destino.”

“The dream of fate?”

She nods and a sparkle returns to her eyes. “Your mother dreamt of an American man and so we came here from México. You wouldn’t be here if not for that!”

“Well, what am I supposed to do now? I dreamt about a fruit tree...”

“Gloria! El viñedo!”

I shake my head. “No, I’d know if I worked with him.”

Abuela taps her chin as I slurp down the last of my milk. “Just keep an eye out. Maybe you’re remembering it wrong somehow.”

“Sure, Abuela,” I put my bowl and spoon in the sink. “I have to get going, though.”

“Don’t worry about it, have a good day at work.”

I go to pull on my boots when all at once Abuela wraps her arms around me again. This time, though, without her excited vice grip.

“Thank you for telling me, hija, and thank you for everything else.”

I pat her arm, remembering how little we have in the bank after paying rent for this month. It’ll be another long shift but it’ll keep us above water. “You know where your green card is?”

She nods and I kiss her forehead.

The California sunlight is familiar and warm, and the air carries scents from the ocean even though it’s miles away. This is my home even though the only one I know is my grandmother and the people I work with.

I can’t help but look harder at the faces of my coworkers as I pass, but none of them seem to want to meet my face as usual. If my dreams were linked with this man supposed to be my soulmate, would he be looking for me as well, or would he just brush off the anchor baby like everyone else?

Of course, glancing over the faces of my coworkers wasn’t odd behavior on my part. Every day I looked for her, my friend, Angel. She didn’t avoid my gaze or treat me like some elitist who didn’t need a green card to be there, fighting against the DHS and ICE just to get their work visas and go back and forth across the border.

Among the familiarly unfamiliar faces, though, I don’t spot her as the clock rounds 7. I pass the posts in the front acres of the vineyard and the workers trimming, fertilizing, weeding, and spraying the rows and rows of intertwining grapevines. She isn’t with them, either.

The thought slips across my mind that maybe she, too, was held up by some sort of prophetic soulmate dream. Or something.

My heart sinks lower as I bring a ladder on my trek toward the back acres of the vineyard with still no sight of her and a sheen of sweat coating me to reward my efforts instead.

I position the ladder and twist my cap forward to keep the creeping sun off my face and turn my gaze from the grapes to the pear trees dousing the closest acre in shade with their canopy.

“Hey!”

I whirl around, my wide eyes meeting her kind pair and her mouth turned up in a smirk.

“Angel,” I sighed her name, breathing out the scents of grapes and pears mingling with the sweat in her dark hair.

She shakes her head and clicks her tongue as she struts toward me. “You were late today.”

“Sorry, it’s been a weird...”

“I’m going to have to report this, you know that right?” She crosses her arms and narrows her eyes. Then she breaks, and laughter flows through the cracks. “Your face! You believe me!”

I stick out my tongue, but can’t stop the smile that spreads over my face. I don’t want to. The warmth of the day reaches all the way down to my bones.

“What? No comeback?” She puts her hands on her hips and cocks her head to the side. “Are you feeling alright?”

“Yeah, everything’s...” I trail off and attempt to turn away from her, but like a magnet, I’m drawn away from the tools I should be using to work. “You want to do a speed round?”

Angel grins. “Always.”

Within moments the short ladder is slung against the nearest tree and its highest branches are in my hands. The bark is rough against my palms, but still yewy and gives easily as I slide from step to step on the ladder. Angel moves in a blur leaving behind sunburnt leaves, withering fruit buds, and erroneous twigs. By the time I planted my feet on the ground, Angel had folded her hands behind her back and was waiting for me to let go.

I did, the tree snapping upright again with a rustle of loose leaves and a rattling of tender wood.

“That might’ve been my personal best time. Did you have your watch going?”

“What do you think about soulmates?”

She ponders me. “Soulmates?”

I nod, though the rising color in my cheeks and neck betray how insecure I am.

“I believe in them,” she says in a matter-of-fact tone. “But not in the way most people do.”

I heft the ladder and rotate it around the base of the tree. She follows me with the same halfhearted work ethic, and I almost think she might be as distracted as I am.

“Destiny might not be real but someone can still have a soulmate. A soulmate is someone who you choose, not some cosmic force.”

I stop short of taking a handful of supple branches.

Angel’s eyes rush from the tree to me, who stared.

“You don’t believe in destiny?”

She doesn't hesitate and closes the space between us with two long strides. Never blinking, holding me with just her vice-grip gaze. “Only the kind we make for ourselves.”

In the golden light filtering through the leaves of the vineyard, my fate, my life, my future split into a fork where one end led to the soft field of grass and its single, strange tree, and the other brought me to this moment with Angel and surrounded by the fruity scent bathed in golden light.

By Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I bend forward and down to choose her. I have a feeling like the next time I dream about a soulmate, the face will be a familiar one.

Short Story

About the author

Elizabeth Kaye Daugherty

Elizabeth Kaye Daugherty, or EKD for short, enjoys a good story, cats, and dragons.

Though she has always written fiction, she found a love of creative nonfiction while studying at Full Sail University.

https://linktr.ee/Ekdwriter

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