Stevie’s Serendipity: A Short Story About Serendipity
Listen to the new podcast Stevie’s Serendipity or read the original short story below! Take a beat, take a breath, and listen in!
Of all the ridiculous scenarios Stevie Waldrop had gotten herself into, her current situation would be hard to beat. Perhaps she would never tell.
Who was she kidding?
This would probably be one of those viral social media stories, leaked by her gossip thriving sister, who by now, knew that Stevie was stranded on the Spanish island of Mallorca. At 46 years old, Stevie would have never imagined herself calling her 78-year-old father, at home in Ohio to say, “Hey Daddy, I missed my cruise ship’s departure at one of the ports. I am stuck with only the small amount of cash in my fanny pack, my passport and wallet are on the ship. I got a hold of the cruise line and I have to wait two days for the next ship… could you wire me some money?”
Her father, ever the jokester, had sarcastically answered, “Who is this?”
Her mother had jumped on the line and reprimanded her about leaving the ship without her ID, her persistent tardiness, and a lack of sound judgment. Stevie had answered the accusations as if she were 9-years-old and missed the school bus again, “Yes, mama.”
And so there she sat drinking a cup of the most delicious coffee she’d ever lifted to her lips, in a darling cafe, somewhere on the historic streets of Mallorca, waiting for her dad to wire her money to buy clean underwear and rent a room until her ship literally came in.
A voice broke her from her self-loathing mind ritual, “Mas Cafe?”
“Yes, I mean,” she struggled, “Uh.. si, por for…”
The stunning server interrupted her, “I speak English.”
Stevie did a full-body melt and sighed, “Oh, thank God.”
“Yes, please, more coffee. Do you happen to know where I could rent a room for a couple of nights?”
As the native-looking woman poured more coffee she answered, “You can rent the room above the cafe, I need to go check my books, but I am pretty sure my next guest doesn’t arrive for 4 days.” She stuck her hand out and said, “I am Cora Bristol, I own this cafe and the nifty gift shop, next door and I have an Airbnb upstairs.”
Stevie shook hands, completely engulfed with gratitude, “Stevie Waldrop, nice to meet you. You don’t have an accent?”
“No, I am actually from Florida. I came here 20 years ago on a cruise, missed my port call, and have been stuck here ever since.”
Stevie’s eyes widened, and Cora laughed, “I’m just kidding, I heard you making your phone call.
No, I moved here 20 years ago. I fell in love with a guy from here who was studying marine biology in Miami. Perhaps foolishly, I followed him here and made it my home, and then about 8 years ago, he followed some tart he met on the internet to Canada. I love it here. So I stayed. Mind if I sit with you?”
“Not at all, please,” Cora pulled out a chair and sat. She lifted a long, polished finger, and dozens of colorful bracelets slipped down her slim arm, as she motioned to a waiter for another cup.
“Stevie? That’s an unusual name?”
“My dad is a big fan of Fleetwood Mac, he calls me ‘Gypsy, after one of his favorite songs. My sister is named Sara, after his other favorite.”
Cora snickered, as the waiter delivered her cup. “That makes sense I guess. I love Fleetwood Mac myself.” She poured herself steamy java and freshened Stevie’s cup, “First time to cruise to Spain?”
Stevie took another sip and explained her situation, “Actually the first time to do anything, in spite of my “Gypsy” nickname, I hadn’t ever been anywhere. Up until about 8 months ago, I owned a flower shop in Sugarcreek, Ohio. I bought it from my aunt when she retired 27 years ago. I had an opportunity to sell it to a young, idealistic couple, wanting a small town cliche existence, took the money, and ran. And this trip was on my bucket list.”
“Admirable.” nodded Cora. “No kids? Not married?”
“No.” Stevie answered, “I forgot to get married and have a family.”
Cora laughed and inquired, “Regrets?”
“Nope.” Stevie pondered, “My older sister has 8 kids and 5 step kids and 4 divorces. I left that madness up to her.”
Cora nearly choked, “EIGHT?”
Stevie laughed, “Yes. I love my nieces and nephews, but I was always relieved to see them go. What about you? You have any kids before your husband left for Canada with the tart?”
“A daughter, Tia. She’s eleven. She should be wandering in here from school in about an hour. She is a mini-me, so we butt heads constantly. That is one thing they don’t tell you about having children, they are just carbon copies of oneself. All the things that I make myself crazy trying to overcome, she manifests like a mirror.”
“Imagine having eight of yourself!” Stevie teased.
Cora laughed and bantered, “No thank you.” She sipped more coffee and continued to investigate, “So, once your back on your way, what are you going to do with your windfall and bucket list?”
Stevie zoned out for a moment. Cora snapped her fingers and her bracelets clinked together, “Hello? What is next for Stevie the Gypsy from Ohio?”
“I have no idea.” She zoned out again.
Cora leaned back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest. “That sounds like a recipe for disaster. You’re not a meticulous planner I guess?”
“I am not a meticulous anything.” Stevie stated flatly, unsure why she was divulging all her secrets to a stranger in an open-air cafe in Spain, she continued, “Truth be told, if that couple hadn’t swooped in with a big bag of cash, I probably would have lost the flower shop to bankruptcy. I am a great florist, a horrible bookkeeper, and a below-average business owner. I’d make a great employee, but selling the shop in such a way was a miracle.”
Cora raised her cup in a cheering motion as if to toast and said, “AH! Serendipity!”
“What is that?” Stevie inquired.
“You don’t know what serendipity is?”
“I don’t think so.” said Stevie.
“It is a happy chance, a fortunate stroke of luck.”
Stevie shook her head, “I’m baptist, we don’t believe in luck.”
Cora belly laughed. “Well, I am Catholic, and we rub amulets and offer novenas to saints in hopes that serendipity will lead us on.” She continued, “This encounter is serendipity.”
“How is this serendipity?”
Cora leaned her elbows on the table, resting her chin in her palm. “What are the chances that you would miss your boat, end up in this one cafe, out of 100, with a chatty shop owner who has a room for you to let and clothes for you to borrow?”
Stevie eyeballed the thin, tall woman seated across from her. Cora was no less than 5 feet 10 inches tall. She probably only weighed 120 soaking wet. Cora had a genuine gypsy quality about her with curly, jet black hair to her waist and cat-like green eyes. She didn’t appear to have a stitch of makeup on, yet her black lashes nearly looked fake, her cheeks had a pinkish glow, and her lips were full and red. She wore a starched white peasant blouse and floor-length skirt of layered mismatched swatches of silk.
Stevie adjusted her moo moo-ish sundress and fidgeted with her auburn pixie cut hair. She struggled to explain, in English, how Cora’s clothes would not fit her, “I seriously doubt my size ten butt will fit into your long and tall clothes.”
Cora stood, “No silly, I have a full closet of things left behind by guests. Come on, I’ll take you to my storage closet and then up to the room and you can rifle through the clothes and then get settled. We can stop by the gift shop to see if your wire transfer came through and grab you a toothbrush and whatever else you need to get by the next couple of days.”
“That is quite generous of you.”
“Well,” Cora said, “I never ignore serendipity. I say we use this providential coincidence to its highest potential.”
The two newfound friends made their way to the gift shop. Cora grabbed a straw basket from behind the counter and handed it to Stevie, “Grab whatever you need to survive, I’ll check to see if your money has arrived.”
Stevie, grabbed toothpaste, a comb, a toothbrush, a couple of travel-sized bottles of body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and some Benadryl. Jet lag was still her constant travel companion and she really didn’t want to toss and turn all night on Ohio time.
She placed the basket on the counter and Cora transferred the contents to a little brown bag.
After a few signed papers and a quick call to her dad to let him know she received the funds, Stevie had money to function and actually, what turned out to be a perfect fit in pajamas, two sundresses, two pairs of a forgetful strangers undies, and a clever sun hat, she could wear as she wandered a Spanish beach waiting for her ride home.
Cora escorted Stevie up a picturesque alley staircase to the most beautiful room Stevie had ever seen. The one-room apartment had exposed brick walls, lace curtains, antique furnishings, and splashes of bright Spanish and shabby chic accents. Against one wall was, a queen-sized rod iron sleigh bed with crisp linens, fluffy down pillows, and a familiar-looking teddy bear resting against bright Morrocan mismatched-looking throw pillows. “How weird!” Stevie blurted.
“Wow, that is not the usual response upon seeing this room.” Cora inquired.
“No, no,” Stevie stammered, “the room is breathtaking. That’s my bear?”
She crossed the room and picked the teddy bear up off the bed. “I have this bear. I have had it since I was three. My dad gave it to me for my third birthday. I call him Mr. Cuddles.”
“Serendipity,” Cora said as she unpacked the newly purchased toiletries onto a fancy cabinet next to a hand-stenciled pedestal sink. Stevie stared into the intimate glass eyes of the little brown bear.
Cora commanded her attention, “Stevie, the toilet and shower are in that closet. It takes a minute for the water to heat, so don’t jump right in or you’ll be frozen. There are towels in the armoire and this little kitchen has snacks and a microwave.” She moved across the room to a sitting area with an antique trunk for a side table. “There’s no television, but this radio works.” Cora turned the 1980’s model box radio. “This station plays American songs.” She adjusted the volume the hum of home barely filled the space.
Cora made her way to the door.
“I need to get back down to the cafe for the after-work rush. I would love it if you would join me and Tia for dinner in the cafe.”
“Yes, thank you, Cora.” Stevie felt herself zoning out again. What was going on here? She felt like she was supposed to be in this exact place at this exact moment? And her bear? She hugged the stuffed buddy to her chest.
Cora snapped her fingers to grab Stevie’s attention, “You okay?”
Stevie answered, “Serendipity? Is that a real thing? Because everything about this seems more planned than my arranged cruise and vacation.”
Cora laughed, “Well, I don’t believe in coincidences. And you look a little freaked out, so I hesitate to tell you this.”
“What?” Stevie pleaded.
“Well, I have been looking for a manager for the gift shop. And… I have been talking to a vendor about having market flowers for sale in the front.”
Stevie was stunned. “You mean, me? Work for you? In Spain? Where would I live?”
“Actually, I would rent this to you as part of your salary. I am completely over being a B&B hostess. I was actually about to advertise this space for rent.” Cora stood in the open doorway, “Why don’t you unwind and then head down to the cafe about 7:00?”
Stevie’s mind was reeling.
“How are you so casual? You just invited a stranded stranger from Ohio to work for you and live in your home?”
Cora tossed her head back laughing, “No, this isn’t my home, it’s a loft apartment. And I roll with serendipity. If you are interested you could give it a go. I need the help, but if you’re destined to head back to Sugar Creek, something else will work out. Try not to think so much Stevie. I’ll see you at dinner.”
Cora left, shutting the door behind her.
Still clutching the little bear Stevie moved to one of the 6 street-facing windows of the apartment. She stared out at the Spanish market street below. The hustle and bustle of a workday ending in a foreign landing hypnotized her.
Ideas and ingenuity rained down on her.
She could live here. Even if it was only for a year, or six months. What an adventure that would be. She was quickly pulled from the dream by a welcomed melody. She rushed to the sitting area and turned the volume knob up on the radio.
If it was a sign, or serendipity Stevie needed to pinch herself, the song flooded the room. Stevie began to twirl and sing along to the raspy voice of her namesake.
So I’m back to the velvet underground
Back to the floor that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was
To the gypsy that I was…
All at once, she knew, adventure was now, serendipity her tour guide.
I have to say, I could probably turn this short story into a book! I had so much fun writing it. One thing I ponder when I write such stories is if they actually are glimpses of adventures I wish I was having. I thought about this for a while and then I realized, No, I love the adventure I am on.
And this week’s quality question is in two parts, in reference to adventure and serendipitous beliefs.
Is your life an adventure? And have you ever had an adventure that was totally serendipity? Our Creator is a great planner of chance and the miraculous. I love how He rolls.
We would love to hear your answer! Stay in touch with us and be sure and leave a review on iTunes so more people can listen in to our next remarkable thought. I’m Jami Amerine, thanks for joining me. Bye!
Check out last week’s episode here.
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