The Interference

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
November/December 2014

Timing is a funny thing. Some religious figures see it as fate, when in reality, it’s chance. The world doesn’t care about any one person enough to stop its continuously moving clock and allow what some people see as “fate” to occur. The world is morphing and changing all around us, and having bad timing can alter what could have been to what actually is. And that is exactly what happened to Helen and Rose, or what might have happened.

I suppose I’ll just start at the end, since I have already spoiled it for you. If, say, this story were to be written in any sort of organized manner, the last few words would say, “Helen and Rose never officially met, and therefore, the course of history wasn’t altered even the tiniest bit. The world kept spinning, the sun kept shining, and the birds kept singing as usual.” Oh, but that’s no fun, is it? What would you learn from that story? That timing is awful, and constantly doing us wrong? I’ll continue my story, starting from the end of it all, and hopefully give you a little something more to think about.

The Interference at the snack bar

Destiny was trying to make its way into the world again

Now, I have already told you that the girls never met, but what if I told you that they almost did? Oh, they were so close! One of the opportunities, the last, to be precise, was a sweltering hot July afternoon, yet Helen was cool as a cucumber, and pale as one, too, in her study. Meanwhile, Rose was attending yet another appointment with the swimming pool and was as crispy as a potato chip. A few hours later, Helen hopped in her car, for no apparent reason but to drive, and Rose mounted her motorcycle (for no apparent reason but to leave). And for a second, as they passed each other on the road, they made unmistakable eye contact. Silly, worthless eye contact, really. The kind where each person thinks, “I am so much better than her,” because, in fact, that eye contact was the only factor holding their destined meeting back. If they hadn’t seen each other at that pitiful time, a little later down the road, Helen would have noticed the poor, shivering girl in her swimsuit, offered to give her a ride, and, well, you know what would have happened. But that wasn’t the case, so each girl’s world remained unaltered, again.

Now, let’s rewind to a few years earlier, at Rose’s sweet-sixteen party, aka the party, at Bowl on a Penny, “the cheapest bowling in America!” which just so happened to be Helen’s place of employment at the time. As they bowled, Rose, a clearly inexperienced bowler, rolled a bowling ball so softly that it came to a halt only a few feet away from where she had dropped it. Laughing as if her daughter had just told the funniest joke in the world, Rose’s mom walked over to a lovely young girl at the Snack Shop. That girl turned the task over to (who else, but…) Helen, of course! Destiny was trying to make its way into the world again. Grudgingly, Helen waddled up to the alley, right as Rose’s friends all gathered around her to give her the presents. Helen handed Rose’s mom the bowling ball, with a hinted “you’re welcome,” and returned to the Snack Shop. And that was the end of it, yet another missed opportunity.

In fact, they both had a few opportunities to meet each other. Each one they missed left them two steps behind, and yet another opportunity caught them off guard. Their first opportunity was truly a shame. It was the perfect scenario, both girls were in the same store, in the same location, on the same day. The only issue: timing.

And though one may groan at the agony of all these missed opportunities, I can sure as anything tell you what would have happened had these scenarios ended in a meeting of the two girls. Yes, it would have been a great friendship at first, filled with many great memories. However, a few years later, Helen would convince Rose to spend less time at the pool. Rose would encourage Helen to give up on her dreams and goals to relax more. Over time, they would gnash away at each person’s individual talents and characteristics and morph into the “normal” person—do nothing great, achieve nothing great, learn nothing great. So be thankful for timing, for the people life lets you meet, and those who life doesn’t.

Now that you know what would have happened if fate had won over reality, be mindful that with the people life gives you, you control your destiny with them. And always be thankful for chance, because this world would have lost two individuals, Helen and Rose, without it.

The Interference Lily Strauss

Lily Strauss, 12
Leawood, Kansas

The Interference Jia Qi Liu

Jia Qi Liu, 13
Oakland, California

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