I'm sorry for all the spelling errors. I spent a lot of time running it through an online spell check, but it removed my formatting, and I didn't want to go through a blob of text trying to sort out paragraphs. I misspell restaurant a lot because I pronounce "aunt" the correct way, not as "ant."
I wanted this to be a one shot, but my laptop has given me reasons not to fully trust it anymore. I didn't want to risk losing all that I've written, so please enjoy part 1.
" The Fortune Cookie"
My hands were clasped tightly together as if in prayer, and my eyes kept drifting to the empty chair at my right. After all these years of being married to that careless man, my heart still firmly held onto the tiniest bit of hope that my husband would suddenly be sitting there. It was my fiftieth birthday party and our children had equially pitched in to rent out the restaraunt for the ocassion. He should have been there.
"Don't worry Mom. I'll bet Dad is just running a little late. He'll be here," Gohan said with a worried smile. He knew as well as i did that Goku had no reason to be running late. My husband was not the type to work for a living. There was nothing important keeping him from being at my side.
"That's right! He'll be here. When has Dad ever passed up the chance to eat free food?" Goten laughed.
I turned my attention away from the empy chair beside me with a smile, touched by my children's concern.
I lovingly gazed at every friend and family member in the restaraunt. Bulma and her family were there, dressed down in their simplest garmets so that I could stand out in my new purple dress, which Gohan had given to me this morning. My father was seated at another table with his good friend Master Roshi, laughing so hard at his own joakes that his belly shook. Krillin and his family were there, too. Marron slowly plucked the sushi on her plate with her chopsticks, savoring each bite as she politly listened to Bulla talk about clothes.
Eighteen caught my stare and smiled back. Our kids used to have playdates together, and we used to be good friends until our kids went to high school and the playdates stopped. Eighteen still looked the same. Not even a day older.
"Krillin," Eighteen barked, handing him Marron's empty cup." She needs a refill."
"Um, we have waitresses for that honey," He replied, laughing good naturedly as Eighteen thrusted the empty cup into his hand. He laughed and said," You're right, I should do it. Gee, they must be understaffed here. Maybe Marron should fill out an application. . ."
"No way, Dad!" Marron groaned.
Beside me, on my left, my only granddaughter tugged on Gohan's sleeve." Papa, are they hiring? Do you think they'll hire me?"
"I think you have to be over sixteen to work here sweetheart."
"That's not fair!"
"Pan, you have school to worry about. You don't have time for a job," Videl said, transporting steamed broccoli and fish from her plate onto her daughter's plate.
"She's right Pan," I said, taking a drink of my hot tea." You should focus on becoming a doctor, not a waitress. Oh, nothing would make me happier than to see my granddaughter become a doctor! Don't you think it will be exciting to have a doctor in the family, Gohan?"
"Uh, sure. Yeah, Mom." Gohan agreed, scratching his head as if he were already thinking of a way to make my dream come true. I could never count on Goku to be there for me, but Gohan was different. I knew he would do anything to make me proud. I worked hard as a mother to see him become a scholar, and that hard work payed off. Surely, he would see to it that Pan becomes a doctor. I just hoped I'd be alive long enough to witness it.
An hour went by. A familiar, painful ache crept it's way into my heart and burned its way to the pit of my soul. I tried to ignore it; I tried not to think about how my Goku wasn't at my birthday party.
"The food was delicious. I can't eat another bite," I remarked, tossing my white napkin onto the now empty plate in surrender." Thank you, Gohan, Videl, and Goten. You really didn't have to go to all this trouble to rent out such an expensive restaraunt. A simple picnic would've been enough."
"It was no trouble at all, Chichi." Videl reasurred.
"We were happy to do it Mom," Gohan said.
Goten got up from his seat to hug me in my chair. " You deserve a night of not cooking. If I knew how to cook we'd be eating at home instead."
I patted Goten's arm since I could not return the embrace without getting out of my seat. I could see that Trunks was dying to tease Goten for showing me affection, but since it was my birthday, he didn't openly call Goten a "Mama's Boy."
"I'm just happy I don't have to wash all these dishes."
There were mountains of empty plates stacked out of our way at the unoccupied tables. The staff would have to stay late to get them all done. I remembered the nights when I stayed up past midnight washing the dishes Goku, Goten, and Gohan had left for me.
"Can I give Grandma her present now?" Pan asked, producing a silver wrapped gift from under her chair.
Before Gohan could answer, Krillin shouted," Yeah let's do presents! Chichi, you're going to love what we picked out for you!"
The restaraunt staff cleared away the dirty dishes as I unwrapped my gifts. I received a pile of new dresses, cookware, and gift cards. That familiar ache intensified, and I tried to keep my smile in place. My reaction to the gifts were overexaggerated, but they were too proud of their gifts to notice my fakeness. Years of heartache had made me a professional liar.
"Thank you for the gifts everyone!" I said, scooting out of my chair, eager for my birthday to be over. The rest started to follow my lead, and slowly rose up from their chairs, their full bellies weighing them down like one of Goku's wristbands.
"Wait. Don't leave yet, not before you've had dessert." One of the servers said. She, along with most of the servers there, came out of the kitchen in a single line, each of them holding a small black tray. We sat down in our seats. They surrounded our table, making us all feel like royal, honored guests.
"Fortune cookies!" Pan gasped as the server behind her chair leaned forward and layed the tray before her. She loved fortune cookies, and would happily eat a box of them to herself if Gohan let her.
"Cheap dessert," Eighteen muttered not so discreetly.
"I hope these numbers are lucky," Krillin prayed, pocketing his fortune." Guess I'll find out after playing the lottery."
I sensed the server behind me, and she gingerly laid the tray down. It made a small tap as it hit the table. My blood went cold, and my smile fell. I willed myself to push the cookie aside, but my arm wouldn't move. My body had gone numb.
"You will be the richest woman on the planet," Bulma predicted, setting her fortune cookie on her daughter's plate. Bulla took both cookies and gave them to her dad.
Vegeta snorted, shoving the cookies into his mouth before breaking them open.
"It's sad some people believe these," Trunks said, holding the strip of paper between two fingers. He was not impressed.
"Yes! It says I will have goodluck in love!" Goten cheered, waving his fortune in front of Trunks' face as if to make him jealous. Trunks sighed.
"What did yours say?" Videl asked Gohan.
"You don't really believe these do you?" Gohan laughed, handing his fortune to her anyway. She gave him hers in return.
Beside me, Pan absently munched on her cookie, letting out an unlady like belch once she finished.
"Are you okay Chichi?" Dad asked. He sounded far away, but he was actually behind my chair, lightly shaking my shoulders. I relized I was crying.
Everyone at the table fell silent. None of them looked at me. I knew they were all mentally cursing Goku, whom had never showed up. Gohan's fists sent small tremors through the table as he struggled to keep his anger in check.
I half heartedly attempted to wipe away my tears and collect myself, but the emotions that broke free from the dam I built needed to be let loose. It was overwhelming. There was no stopping it.
I let myself cry.
I couldn't, however, bring myself to tell them the story of the fortune cookie. That was a burden I couldn't release myself from.
"Thank you for being here, everyone." I whispered, hoping they could hear my genuity despite my breakdown." Really, thank you."
. + . + . + . + .
I was only eighteen when I married Goku. Some people would argue that that's too young to get married. Back then, I thought i was already too old. I thought about Goku every minute of everyday, and each passing year felt like ten years to me. I was in love with him, and longed to be with him.
"Finally," I had whispered after we were officially declared husband and wife on our wedding day. I affectionately gripped Goku's arm and leaned my head against his shoulder. He gently shook me off his arm with a puzzled expression. He didn't want me to touch him, but I didn't care. I held onto his arm again, tighter. He didn't understand me, but that was okay. We had the rest of our lives to understand each other.
We flew from my home village on nimbus right after we married.
"We're a team now," I explained in less romantic words so Goku would understand that our wedding wasn't just a party. It had meaning." That means whereveryou go, i'll follow. When you feel sick, i'll take care of you. If you feel hungry I will cook for you."
I stood up on my knees, peering over Goku's shoulder as nimbus flew us away from the desert near my village. Goku had a blank expression, and I doubted he understood me. In the following years I would come to find out that he understood every word. Because, a day would come when I'd be too upset with him to cook him anything. Goku would pout and, in a small hurt voice, remind me of what I told him." You said you'd cook for me if I felt hungry. Remember, Chichi? You promised."
I pressed my lips against his cheek for a moment, before brushing them agasint his side burns, coming to a hovering stop over his ear. For my final promise, I needed to be sure that he'd hear me. I didn't have the guts to repeat myself. It was just too embarrassing, but I felt it needed to be said.
"If you ever feel lonely, Goku. . . " I paused for the seductiveness of it." You can find me in your bed." Maybe it was the cold wind hitting his bare arms, or maybe my breath had tickled his ear, but I like to think it was my words that made him shiver.