A flash fiction story by Brian Robinson.
As I boarded the train from Bath to Paddington, serious doubts began to creep in. I knew that moving to London would be like moving to another planet. Nonetheless, I had made my mind up. I decided that life should never be predictable: it should always be random. I wanted adventure. I didn’t want to marry the girl next door. I wanted to find someone exciting and vibrant and I somehow knew that could never happen in Bath.
The positives were that I had a reasonable amount of money in my pocket and a degree to my name, so in theory, I shouldn’t be destitute any time soon. As I got off the train I didn’t yet have a hotel booked. That was a deliberate part of my random strategy. I would decide which hotel to stay only when in the taxi.
“Where to young man?” I rattled off the names of four hotels which I knew were reasonably priced and not light years away from Paddington.
“Yes, but which one?”
“I don’t mind. You decide.”
“I don’t usually recommend hotels. I’ll need to know a bit more about your visit.”
“I’ve just started a gap year, and I’m looking for love, life and adventure.”
“Okay. Well in that case I none of your hotels fit. I have another in mind. Do you want to know more?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Well, I can tell you that if you decide to go there you will certainly meet the love of your life.”
Pull the other one I thought. “How will I know if it’s her? I could get hooked up with the wrong girl,” I said smiling to myself.
“Good question! She will be wearing a pearl earring. That will be enough to single her out.”
“Like in the painting you mean?”
“Well not quite. The earring in the painting is actually quite large, but she will definitely be wearing just one?”
When I arrived at the hotel the girl with a pearl earring was nowhere to be seen. No surprises there, I thought. I stayed in the hotel bar all that evening and guess what? Still no sign of the girl with a pearl earring.
But at breakfast the next morning, there she was, sitting alone. She looked so beautiful that I couldn’t help but stare.
I had to approach her, I had to, even though it felt cripplingly awkward. “Do you mind if I join you?”
She looked around. “There are other tables.”
“Yes, but I couldn’t help noticing your lovely earring. Does that sound a bit lame?”
“No, lots of people admire my earring. It’s a nod to the painting of course. I absolutely love art. The earring was a gift from my dad.”
“He’s not a taxi driver is he?” I said trying to put two and two together in my head.
“No, he’s an architect.”
“I take it London’s not your home. You wouldn’t be in a hotel otherwise.”
“No, I’m just visiting for a few days. I have friends here and we’re going to an art exhibition.”
“Can I ask where home is?”
“Bath, my home is in Bath, I travelled up on the train today.”