An Unexpected Day

A short story written by Morgan Tanaka for Lori Cohen’s Advanced Composition class. Enjoy!

The machine sprung open as Maggie placed the crisp ten dollar bill in the cash register. “Here you go, ma’am, $1.75 is your change. Enjoy the ice cream!” she smiled, and

handed the woman a receipt. Maggie let out a huge sigh as the customer left Serendipity. The humid Manhattan weather consumed her. She wiped off a bead of sweat from her left temple.

The jingle from the door surprised her. “Hey,” a familiar voice said.

“Oh. Uh… Hi.” Maggie blushed and pushed back her auburn bangs. “What can I getcha?”

“The usual,” the stranger said with a voice as sweet as Serendipity’s specialty, the frozen

hot chocolate Maggie served every day.

“I’m Derek; I don’t believe we’ve officially met. You’re Maggie, correct?” his forest green eyes glistened. Maggie lost it.

“Uh… Yeah. How’d you know?”


“Oh.” She felt another drop of sweat trickle down her wrist. Excited, she grabbed an ice cream bowl. “Banana Split, right?”

“Exactly, you remembered?”

After Maggie moved from Montana a month ago, Derek’s weekly order of banana split was all she could think about. That and the dimple that showed on his right cheek when he grinned. Her hand shook as she poured warm fudge on top of the freshly cut bananas. Maggie handed Derek the huge bowl, “And…That’s for you.”

“Thanks, so… how did you get a job here?” Derek sat down in the back of the creamery. The distance made Maggie dizzy. She came out from behind the counter and sat in the smooth, metal chair next to him.

“I…Um…Well, my Grandmother owned this place. And it’s a family tradition to work here. After she passed away, Aunt Ruth needed some extra hands. I…offered to um…help out because I’m looking at some grad schools in New York.” Maggie plopped her elbows on the table and clenched her grandmother’s silver heart necklace that was around her neck.

“Oh, seriously? What a coincidence! I’m looking at schools too—thinking of majoring in Anthropology. My favorite so far is Columbia University.” Derek said, digging the spoon into the strawberry ice cream.

“Wow. How funny. I’m thinking about going to school there myself. I’m interested in World Affairs and International Relations. The IR program is very strong there. I’m worried I may not get accepted because it is super competitive. My dream is to work for President Clinton,” she stared at Derek’s banana split. As if reading her mind, he pushed the bowl towards her.

Derek looked at her and smiled. “That’s the most I’ve ever heard you talk.” The door squeaked open and in came a young woman on her Iphone.  “Hey baby, how’s it going?”

Maggie’s mouth dropped. “Lexi? What are you doing here?”

Confused, Derek grabbed her hand and looked at Maggie. “Are you two friends?”

“More like sisters!” Lexi shouted and wrapped her hands around Derek’s waist. “You didn’t tell me you were here, sis!”

“Um… I’m working for Aunt Ruth ‘til the end of summer.” Her heart sank down to her hips as she stared at their hands. “I didn’t know you two were dating.”

“Oh. I thought you knew. Sorry Mags.” Lexi kissed Derek and smiled.

Maggie felt betrayed. After all this time she thought Derek was single. The way they got along. She thought they had something special. Derek sat back down and Lexi grabbed a spoon. They were busy in their own conversation.

U2 blasted through the old fashion speakers and Maggie bobbed her head to the music, trying to forget about what just happened. She didn’t know why Derek was so interested in Lexi. Derek had dark brown hair, forest green eyes, and wore the same Yankees cap every day. Lexi was a boy crazy-shopaholic, and cared more about how her hair looked than her family. Ever since they were little, Lexi was always prettier and more popular and Maggie was always the awkward one. She sighed and picked up a broom. Maggie mouthed the lyrics to “Beautiful Day” as she swept the front of the shop.

“This is my favorite song!” Derek shouted as he picked up a spoon to use as his microphone. Derek stood next to Maggie and put his arm around her as they both sang to Bono. Lexi pulled out her compact mirror and reapplied her ballerina pink lipstick.

“Derek! Quit embarrassing me! I hate when you do this! You listen to music more than you listen to me!” Lexi groaned and ran out of the shop.

Aunt Ruth let Maggie leave early that afternoon. She put her Bose headphones on and walked home, trying to forget about what had happened a few hours earlier. As she walked down 58th avenue, Maggie saw an Arabian police horse. She walked up to it, and slowly brushed its nose. Back in Montana, her family owned a 25-acre property with seven horses. “Aren’t you a cutie?” she whispered, as the horse let out a big sigh. The horse’s cream colored mane reminded Maggie of the Norman Cob she took care of back home named Oh-Mi-Oh-My. She waved good-bye to the police officer and continued on her journey home.

Maggie’s headphones were so loud she could barely feel her phone vibrate in the back or her khaki shorts. It was Lexi.

Lexi: Hey Mags. Derek and I are sort of fighting right now. We may break up. 

Maggie grinned. She quickly tapped on the phone’s screen and replied: What? Why?

About a minute later, her phone buzzed again. Lexi: We are fighting about music. I feel like he loves it more than he loves me :(.

This was her shot, her opportunity to win over the boy of her dreams. Maggie turned the corner now, and was surprised to see a motorcade pass by. “Someone must be in town,” she thought.

“President Clinton,” a girl told her friend as they walked by Maggie. A shiver went up her spine. This was her lucky day. First, the break-up, and now her once in a lifetime chance to see Bill Clinton. It appeared that the motorcade was headed toward the east side of the city, possibly on its way to the United Nations on 44th and 1st avenue. “The perfect location for an IR graduate to do an internship,” Maggie fantasized.

Maggie skipped up the steps to the beat of the music that played in her ear. She was too happy to even think, so she went up to her room and went right to sleep.

The following day, Maggie arrived at Serendipity at eight o’clock to prepare for the ten o’clock opening. Once she set up the tables, her Aunt walked in.

“Good morning sweetie. Is everything alright?” she asked, in her huge Prada sunglasses and Kate Spade basket bag in arm. Maggie nodded. “Do we have enough people on staff today?” she propped open the front door with her hot pink acrylic nails.

“Um…Yeah. The schedule looks good today.” Maggie replied as she restocked the silverware.

“Alright, honey. I’ll be in the back. If you need anything, give a holler.” Aunt Ruth grinned, as her lilac espadrilles shuffled across the room.

“Sounds good!” Maggie yelled and made her way to the front of the store. She changed the CLOSED sign to OPEN.

She grabbed her orange IPod out of her canvas bag, and hooked it up to the overhead sound system. As Colbie Caillat resonated through the restaurant, Maggie could not help but sing out loud. Once the song came to an end, she could feel someone’s presence in the room.

“Hey,” Derek chuckled. “Great voice you got there. I was wondering if we could talk.”

“Um… Awkward. Sorry. How are you coping with the recent break-up?”

“Oh. Well, I think we both expected this. For about four months, it’s been a struggle, I really do love her though. Very much. Maybe fate will bring us back together again. But for now, we just need space from each other.”

“Ah. I see. So, what did you want to ask me?” Maggie tied up her auburn hair into a messy bun.

“Oh. Right. Um… I was wondering if you would like to accompany me tonight, you know…As friends of course. I’ve been invited to a lecture on Primates given by one of my professors at the Museum of Natural History,” Derek held out two tickets, “I heard President Clinton might stop by at the reception.”

“Seriously?” Maggie tried not to smile. Was this a possible first date? Could this event bring her closer to her job opportunity?

“Yup! So don’t forget to dress nice. The lecture is at seven, and the reception at eight.” Derek hugged Maggie. “OK. I gotta get ready. It’s a big deal for me. See you soon!”

Maggie stood frozen in the middle of the store. She could not believe what just transpired. Her day at work would hopefully fly by, and tonight would be something special.

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