Destination Destiny: A Short Story about Destiny
Are you living your best life? Listen here or read it below, it’s your destiny! Love, J
When she imagined her feet, she pictured them swollen to the size of two loaves of bread. They throbbed. Literally, her feet were throbbing in her overpriced work shoes. The shoes cost her a full day’s wages. They had barely been of any help.
Destiny was on her feet at least 10 hours a day.
On this day, she limped home in agony. Not only had the shoes failed to make her day at the cafe less painful, but they also afforded her a wicked blister as well.
Her long brunette hair was escaping the confines of her management-required bun. As it blew in the warm June breeze, the smell of grease from the cafe’s kitchen flooded her. Discouragement chased her down the block. She felt all the pangs of failure, well, she was the quintessential 22-year-old waitress, down on her life and luck.
She proded herself. “Come on Destiny, you’re almost there.”
Through weary eyes, she could barely see the porch of her family’s Bronx brownstone. As her destination grew more feasible, dread assaulted her.
The dear old woman who lived directly next door was sitting on her stoop, 3 feet from Destiny’s door. It wasn’t that Destiny did not like Mrs. Caplan. But the lonely old woman had the gift of gab. And Destiny just wanted a heaping bowl of her mother’s eggplant ravioli, a hot bath, a glass of wine, and her bed.
Her alarm clock would be alerting her to another day of drudgery too soon. In her mind, she contrived her escape. Mrs. Caplan spotted her and began to wave and holler,
“Destiny! Good evening! Come, sit with me!”
Barely able to lift her bone-tired arm she half-heartedly waved and bantered back, “Okay Mrs. Caplan, but I don’t have long this evening.” She arrived mid sentence and flopped into the aluminum chair next to the lonely widow, fully convinced she might sleep where she landed. The proximity of Destiny’s home and all she truly craved, nearly brought tears to her eyes.
“How was work sweet girl?”
“Oh, it was fine. “ She mumbled.
“Uh-oh, someone is lying to a poor old woman on her porch stoop simply in need of good company.”
“Destiny laughed, “Which is worse, lying to a poor old woman or crumbling into hysterics in the street over a life wasted?”
“Egads Destiny! Is it all that bad?”
Destiny stared at the red maple tree, which had been a part of her existence since the beginning, “Mrs. Caplan,” She asked, “Don’t you find it odd, the way the trees in New York thrive in spite of concrete surroundings and the shade of so many tall buildings? I have always worried that one day I would leave for work and this tree will have given up the ghost and Father would have to have it removed. I so love this tree.”
Mrs. Caplan took a sip of tea from her lacy gold-trimmed China cup. “Ah, so we are simply exchanging pleasantries this evening?” She pointed to the teapot and a second empty cup, “Tea?”
Destiny declined. “No thank you. I am sorry Mrs. Caplan, I am just so tired. I am not feeling very chatty tonight.”
The old woman reached for Destiny’s hand and squeezed it, their eyes met and Destiny succumbed to her state of mind and tears escaped her stormy gray eyes.
Neither of them spoke for an exponential amount of time and then Mrs. Caplan said, “Did you know, I consider you my closest friend?”
“No,” Destiny sniffled, “that is very sweet.”
Mrs. Caplan laughed, “I wasn’t trying to be sweet, I was trying to convince you to talk to me. Tell me that my plan worked.”
Destiny stretched back and reached into the pocket of her cafe issued, hot pink, polyester smock in search of a tissue. She wiped her nose and said, “It is very kind of you. I consider you my only friend.”
“Nonsense, certainly you have friends?”
“I guess,” Destiny pondered. “Most of my close friends went to college after graduation and have since married and have fancy careers and picket fences.”
“And what about you love? When will you spread your wings and leave the nest to do grand things?”
Destiny attempted to add light to her personal tragedy. “Well, now that I know I am your closest friend, perhaps it is best I stay.”
Mrs. Caplan swatted at Destiny, “Don’t be a fool, I have managed alone longer than I managed my Theodore. Besides,did I tell you? I am thinking of selling the home and moving to Arizona to live with my sister.”
“Really?” Destiny nudged.
“Well, I can hardly imagine it. But I can’t even get to the second or third floor. And I haven’t been to the basement since 1995. It is too much house for a widow with no children. And my sister Nelda has great-grandchildren now. It would be nice to be around the little ones. But enough about my thoughtful planning. What about you Destiny? You are so smart and talented, when are you going to do what you are meant to do?”
Destiny snorted, “What I was meant to do? Or what do I have to do?”
Mrs. Caplan swatted at her again, “Stop complaining. Tell me your wildest dream.”
The lump in Destiny’s throat longed to erupt all her heartbreak, she didn’t want to allow it. An awkward silence hung thick in the stale city air.
The old woman pushed further.
And Destiny cut loose.
“Fine! If you were my fairy godmother, I would demand that you provide me tuition for the art institute! Enough to pay for a full four years. Not one semester on and the next off to serve poached eggs and grilled cheese to strangers in hopes they might be merciful with tips.” Having said it out loud, more wishful thinking bubbled up.
“I would finish my degree and then I would pursue brokers in New York, Paris, London, and Los Angeles. My art would be widely sought after by dealers and designers. I would have a studio apartment in the art district. I would paint and attend lavish art shows, drink champagne, and my assistant would only disturb me to let me know which corner of the globe I was needed on, for my next wildly successful art show.”
“Very good!” Mrs. Caplan encouraged. “Now, since I am not a fairy godmother, how will you achieve such things?”
Destiny blew her nose, “I won’t. I will work at the cafe and do a few classes at the community college, hopefully land a job as a receptionist, and then alone and unaccomplished, I will live with my parents and when they are dead and gone, I will sit on this stoop and wave down the neighbors for companionship.”
Mortified by her brashness Destiny tried to recover, “I mean, I just, I didn’t mean…”
Mrs. Caplan patted her shoulder, “There now, I am not offended. I know, this is the last place you want to be.”
“That’s not true!” Destiny argued.
“It’s alright Destiny,” She sympathized. “Tell me, why haven’t you pursued the life you desire?”
“I can’t” she explained. “After Father’s stroke, I had to stay home to help Mother. By the time he was well enough for mother to manage, I had missed the deadline for scholarships to the art institute, now, I am too old for the freshman scholarships and I hold too many credits from the community college to be considered for others. Mrs. Caplan, I am certain I have lamented this to you all before . And I simply must be realistic. Dreaming doesn’t pay for school and it distracts me from the obvious. I won’t ever be a famous artist. My father thinks that an associate degree in office management will advance my chances of being hired by a law firm or medical practice. Then I could at least afford to move out. I am well organized, perhaps I would work my way up in a good company as an executive assistant.”
“Is that what you want?” Mrs. Caplan asked, “To organize another man’s papers and lunch appointments? Or do you want to paint?”
“Well, I don’t want to be a starving artist. You have been around long enough to know that waitresses far outnumber modern impressionist artists.”
Mrs. Caplan leaned forward, her arthritic hands grabbed both of Destiny’s and she tightened her grip and shook them, “Look at me.” Destiny looked into the eyes of her only friend. Deep brown pools with dancing pupils, the whites of her eyes were slightly yellow from age, possibly cataracts. Her thick glasses clouded the view but Destiny knew, this woman had seen it all. From a teenage marriage and a brave, penniless move to the United States, to a childless existence, pressing suit shirts in her Theodore’s dry cleaning business, until his death 16-years ago.
The elderly widow’s false teeth slipped and clicked a bit as she began to lecture.
“You will do whatever you say you will do. If you say you will never accomplish your dreams, you are spot on. If you say that you will not be stopped, nothing will stop you. Change what you say. Change what you believe. Do whatever it takes to be that jet-setting artist, and when you have arrived, send me a plane ticket to attend your first exhibit. I prefer not to go abroad, too many ghosts from the past, but I have never been to California. Stop lamenting what is not, and get excited about what can be. The world can only stop you if you believe it has the power to stop you.”
Destiny broke the soul connecting stare, “What if I can’t?”
Mrs. Caplan slid back in her chair, “What if you can?”
They sat in silence. “Mrs. Caplan,” Destiny inquired, “Did you live your dreams?”
The old woman took a moment to answer.
“You know what, yes. I was married to the love of my life for 48 years. I got to work with him every day. We had nice things and a beautiful home. I thought I would have liked to have children in my youth, but if I had truly wanted a houseful of little feet, I could have made that happen. Honestly, deep in my heart, I don’t think I wanted to share my Theodore with anyone. I believe my vision for my life was an accurate depiction of what I wanted and what I got. This is how I know what I am saying to you is true. If you believe this is all you will have in life, you will continue to see this same mundane unhappiness. If you believe you are destined for greatness, greatness will come to you. I have always had greatness. I have loved my life and I am excited about my future.”
Destiny admired Mrs. Caplan, and suddenly felt grateful she had not tried to escape this evening’s visit.
Mrs. Caplan shakily stood. “I am tired, I am going to get my bath and go to bed. You know, I think I will call the realtor in the morning, you know that pretty one with the office next to the coffee shop? I want to move to Arizona. And I am going to make it happen. Oh, I have quite a bit of free time so I did some investigating for you,” Mrs. Caplan reached into the pocket of her house dress and pulled out a small scrap of light blue paper. “I was talking to my nephew a couple days ago. He is a professor of British Literature in Michigan, which makes as much sense as Easter Service at the Synagog to me. Anyway, I told him some of your struggles, I trust you don’t mind. He said you should look into this.” She placed the paper in Destiny’s hand. “Goodnight my friend.”
“Good night Mrs. Caplan.”
Destiny sat a while longer. The street light barely illuminated Mrs. Caplan’s shaking handwriting. Destiny squinted and read, “NON TRADITIONAL STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS AND GRANTS.” She searched her mind, where had she heard of that? Suddenly, from somewhere deep in her a surge of energy replenished her weary bones. She climbed the stairs of her porch in childlike time. Destiny blew through the front door, barely acknowledging her Mother and Father who were playing chess while simultaneously watching Jeopardy, in the living room. She scaled two flights and flipped on the light of her bedroom. In a flash, she opened her laptop and typed NEW YORK SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS in the search bar. Her eyes darted about the home page and she clicked on the mother load, “SCHOLARSHIPS.” And then she followed the link, “NON TRADITIONAL STUDENTS.”
The page slowly loaded. At the top in bold maroon letters it read, ARE YOU READY TO MEET YOUR DESTINY?
And Destiny answered out loud in the silence. “YES, I am.”
This week’s quality question is a favorite of mine. Are you living your best life?
It is very easy to get caught up in the belief that life is happening to us. When I first encountered this false belief, I was asked by a friend, “How did you ever become an author and artist? You never mentioned those goals?”
And she was right, I hadn’t. But I thought about them often. When I started professing the desire, out loud to myself and in prayer, I slowly began to see them become realities. I don’t believe that I dreamed them into existence, but I believe the more I pursued them, believing ANYTHING is possible, the more my subconscious recognized them as opportunities to be on the look out for.
So, are you living your best life, setting goals that will bring you to a place of bliss? Or are you simply reciting harsh realities and spying more of those bleak outcomes?
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