Serendipity: The fact of finding interesting or valuable things by chance.
It all began, that fateful morning.
Joseph had gotten up as he always did, kissing his wife goodbye before getting into his car and heading into the city center where he worked.
Annette never really was a morning person, and try as she did, she could never get into the habit of waking up early to prepare breakfast for him. He himself did not want to wake up early to prepare his own breakfast either, for he wasn't much good at it anyway.
So, every morning, he would grab coffee and a quick bite from the coffeeshop on the way to the hospital.
He entered the coffeeshop, joining the queue. The queue was rather long that day, so he passed the time by going on his phone. Time passed, and soon he found himself close to the front of the queue.
Right in front of him, ordering her drink, was a woman with her young daughter. The little girl pulled on her mother's arm as she was ordering.
"Mummy, I want a muffin," the little girl begged.
"Sweetheart, not today, alright?" The woman replied.
"But mummy..." The little girl whined.
"Maybe some other day, darling," the woman replied, reaching into her handbag for her purse.
"Please, mummy, just one muffin, please..." The young girl was beginning to get upset.
The woman paid no more attention to the young girl's whining, for she realised a more pressing issue.
"I'm so sorry," she said to the cashier, "I think I left my purse at home! Just cancel my order, sorry!"
Just then, Joseph decided to speak up. He was in a good mood that morning after all, still feeling the joy from yesterday's events, and he felt sorry for the poor woman, trying to hold things together as her daughter threatened to start throwing a tantrum.
"Miss, let me pay for you," Joseph said, holding out his credit card to the cashier.
The woman turned to face him. "It's alright, I-" She blinked and took another look at him. "Joseph?"
Though it had been years since he last met her, Joseph still recognised Leonora. After all, they had spent two years as husband and wife back in the day. Even though there were never any real feelings between them, they had still spent so much time together that it would be hard for him to not recognise her.
Just then, the cashier spoke, "So sorry to disturb you two, but you're holding up the queue..."
Joseph smiled apologetically. "Here, I'll pay for her order. Could you also add on an expresso and chicken sandwich for me? And a muffin for the little girl too."
"Joseph, you don't have to..." Leonora objected politely.
"Just take it as a favour from me to you. After all, it's been a while," he replied.
Leonora did not object any further.
The three of them found a seat near the window and waited for their food and drinks.
"So..." both Joseph and Leonora spoke at the same time, then laughed.
"You first," Joseph said.
"I just wanted to ask, how has life been for you these days?" Leonora asked.
"Pretty good, actually. Yesterday was my anniversary with my wife Annette, you remember her right?" Joseph said.
"Yeah, of course! After all these years, you finally won her over. Congrats!" Leonora said, seeming to be genuinely happy for him.
"Well, how about you? How have you been?" Joseph asked.
"It's been... alright, I guess. Could be better, but could be worse too," she answered.
A few brief moments of silence passed as Joseph realised she wasn't going to elaborate any more on the topic.
"Well... you haven't introduced me to this little girl here. Is she your daughter?" Joseph asked.
"Yes, this is Camila, my daughter. Mila, say hi!" Leonora prompted her daughter.
But little Mila did not do as she was told; she simply clung onto her mother's arm instead.
"Mila, say hi," Leonora repeated herself in a firmer voice. "Sorry, she's shy," she said to Joseph.
"Ahh, don't call her that. It'll only make her more shy. Right, Mila?" Joseph said, looking at the little girl.
Little Mila was a very lovely child. She had inherited her mother's curly brown hair and large, doe-like eyes, though hers were a charming green rather than her mother's solid black.
Mila looked back up at Joseph, and though the distrust was apparent in her eyes, she recluctantly spoke. "Hi," she said so softly it sounded more like a whisper.
"What a sweet little girl," Joseph thought to himself.
Just then, their order was called out, and both Joseph and Leonora got up to get it.
"I'll go, Leonora. You can stay with Mila," Joseph said, already walking off. He soon brought back their food and drinks, handing Mila her muffin and Leonora her coffee.
"Thanks again, for bailing me out just now," Leonora said.
"It's no problem, really," Joseph said, knowing that Leonora was still uneasy about letting him pay for her.
Beside Leonora, little Mila munched happily on her muffin, much more at ease than she had been before.
"How old is she?" Joseph asked, trying to make small talk.
"She's six this year. Just started first grade," Leonora said, looking at Mila. "Oh, Mila, eat properly! You've gotten crumbs all over the table!"
Mila looked at her mother guiltily. "Sorry mummy," she said, in a pouty tone.
Leonora sighed exaggeratedly, pulling out a pack of wet wipes to clean off the table.
"Kids, am I right?" Joseph said, a smile tugging at his lips.
"Yeah. Oh, do you have any kids?" Leonora asked.
"Well, not yet, but I want to," Joseph replied.
"Ah, that's nice, " Leonora said, not really knowing how to reply.
"How did you end up here in E City? I always thought you were still in A City," Joseph asked, changing the topic.
"I moved here," Leonora answered. "I like it better here. Plus the schools are better here, they say." She looked lovingly at her daughter.
Joseph glanced at his watch, and realised he did not have much time left. He hastily finished his sandwich, then looked at Leonora. "I'm sorry, I have to go soon. It was nice meeting you again, though. Maybe we should keep in touch?"
"Sure! My number's the same as it was before, if you still have it," Leonora said.
"Yeah, I do still have it. I'll see you again some day, maybe?" Joseph said, already getting up to leave.
"Okay, see you!" Leonora said, waving goodbye. Little Mila also waved at him.
Joseph got back to his car, and drove to the hospital he worked at, ready to start another day of work.