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This is a true story of friendship, coincidence, tilt-a-whirls, and fortune cookies. Although not necessarily in that order.

The carnival is back in the mall parking lot again. That means it's been a year since this story occurred. Not much has happened since then. A lot has happened since then. I can't quite make up my mind which.

I don't hold much stock in fortune telling. Then, of course, I don't hold much stock in much of anything. I'm one of those annoying agnostic types, and faith isn't really one of my strong points. Conversely I won't ever deny any plausible possibility, but it seems silly and irresponsible to chalk up the events in your life to some sort of cosmic crap shoot. I read the horoscopes in the morning paper and figure that people that believe in them probably end up making them true, and people that don't believe in them make them false. Self-fulfilling prophecies. Spiritual placebos.

Whether or not these things are for real, I'm a big fan of coincidence. For everything that there's a one-in-a-million chance of, that millionth time where everything falls into place deserves recognition whether it was planned that way or not.

Each year in the spring a small carnival sets up shop in the parking lot of West Towne Mall. I don't normally make it a habit of going, but when a bunch of my friends decided they were going to go check it out for once, I decided to go along with them.

The plan was that we'd meet in the mall's food court at noon, grab a bite to eat, then walk over to the carnival. I was one of the first ones there, so I decided to grab a snack over at the Chinese place in the food court. Something on the menu caught my eye-

Dozen Fortune Cookies, $2.00

Of all the methods of divination, fortune cookies are by far the least believable. They aren't even Chinese in origin, and there's no sort of mystic process as far as writing them is concerned. Most fortune cookies are written by English majors as a part time job. No one really takes fortune cookies seriously, but everyone loves them anyway. I bought a dozen, and decided I'd give one to everyone who came.

One by one they all showed up, and one by one I gave them each a cookie. People read them aloud to the others, and we got a good laugh when we found one that could easily be inbedded. We were getting low, and I was quietly/frantically (I can't quite make up my mind which) hoping she would show up before I ran out.

"She" was/is the love of my life, though I had never told her that. I could wax on for pages about what it was about her that drew me to her so, but I really doubt any of you want to hear that. The important part is that by the time I realized how I felt about her, she was already dating another guy I knew. I told myself that it was probably for the best; that I didn't want to mess up our friendship by making it into a relationship. I didn't want to make things awkward. I didn't want to rock the boat. We were just close friends, nothing more, nothing less. When her boyfriend dumped her I wanted to tell her how I felt, but by the time I got up the courage to do so she and her ex were back together again. There I found myself, back in the same boat I was before.

She was one of the last ones to show up, and by the time everyone got a cookie there was only one left in the bag. I offered to share it with her.

We unwrapped the cookie and each took half. We both read the fortune in silence, and stood there. Neither one of us knew what to say.

The fortune read:

There is a true and sincere friendship
between you both.

That was the only time I've ever shared a fortune cookie, and the only fortune I've ever seen that was directed toward two people.

We went over to the carnival and had a good time. Rode a few rides. Shared a funnel cake. We didn't talk about the fortune, but I think it can be safe to say we were both thinking about it.

Fortune. Probability. Kismet. Coincidence. Call it what you will.

Several months later, I decided that I had to tell her how I felt. She told me that it was alright, and that we'd always be friends at the very least, and nothing could change that.

I gave her the fortune as a birthday present. Giving it up was the hardest thing I've ever done. Giving it to her was the easiest thing I've ever done. I can't quite make up my mind which.

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