Three fortune cookies tossed down onto the bill.Â Sharp-edged and sloped notations in what he imagined was bad Chinese handwriting, printed over in blue-purple ink with the mathematical tally.Â Eleanor reached for one first, her long fingers holding it dainty as chopsticks.Â Michael and Daniel were slower; their fingertips almost touching as they each took the one closest.Â And then the bill sat alone.
She snapped it open and the bits of cookie fell onto the tablecloth like the shells of a nut.Â The paper meat of which she smoothed out between her fingers.
A giggle, not really concealed.
Michael, chewing on a segment, raised an eyebrow.
“You will make friends though your winning personality –”
“– in bed,” added Michael, reaching across the table to steal the cookie she’d discarded. He raised his fortune.
“The caring of your friends will make you humble –”
“– in bed.” Now she finished the joke.Â “Humble? That would certainly be…interesting.”
Michael stuck out his tongue, and then they both looked at Daniel. The fortune cookie still sat whole in the empty spot where his plate had been.
The fortune, when he broke it out, appeared to be hand-written.Â Something about the lettering jangled in the back of his brain.
“Someday you’ll understand
how much I miss them”
And as he scanned, he recognized Gloria’s handwriting.Â All the blood drained from his face, and their faces filled with worry.
Eleanor grabbed the tiny slip of paper from between his fingers.
“Oh, that is weird” and Daniel flinched “I’ve never seen a completely blank fortune before.”
Michael took it from her and turned it over and over.
“Not even any lucky numbers.”Â He set it back in front of Daniel.Â “Perhaps you can invent your fortune then, or maybe all the numbers are lucky.”
The miniscule scrap of blank white paper, curled up at the edges, reflected the light.Â He blinked and squinted, and the fortune was still blank.