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Things Aren't Always What They Seem: A Short Story


It was a foggy Monday morning, and on the front porch of a 1920s home in downtown Riverside, sat a man in his late 30s. In his hand he held a photograph of a beautiful woman with long flowing hair and striking eyes that were as bright as the luminous stars that shined in the night sky. His gourmet coffee that he placed by his feet was cold by now. But Jacob didn’t care about that. His focus and attention was on the photograph of his ex-girlfriend. Six months ago, Stacy vanished from his life. She left him a note on his bedroom door that read, “Goodbye Jacob. I don’t want to be with you anymore.” This hit Jacob like a ton of bricks. He thought things were going great with Stacy and him. But, then again, maybe he was so much in the clouds that he didn’t notice her becoming more distant as time progressed. Jacob placed the photo on his lap and took a sip of his cold coffee. He looked at the empty chair to the left of him where Stacy would normally sit. They would sit out here and talk for hours about anything and everything. Stacy would point at the stars in the sky and would ask Jacob if he wanted to sail to the stars with her. Of course, he would reply with a big “Yes!” Jacob felt the flow of warm tears fall down his face. He wiped the tears with his hand. As Jacob turned his head to the right, his eyes immediately caught a white feather on the porch. Jacob stood up and picked up the feather; and as soon as did so, the memory of last night came back to him.

For some reason, Jacob was falling deeper and deeper into the abyss. Everything under the sun that could possibly go wrong went wrong: Uncle Ray yelled at him for burning his breakfast. Jacob’s book that he awaited for in the mail for two months finally arrived, but when he opened the package, it was the wrong book. Jacob ordered a cafe mocha, but received a latte. His favorite bagel was burnt. But what really crushed Jacob was when he saw a young couple on a park bench holding each other. They were so much in love. He could see the love in their eyes. He immediately thought of Stacy and couldn’t hold back the tears. Jacob tried to seek counsel from his uncle, but that only made things worse.

“Jacob, you want to know why Stacy left you?” stated Uncle Ray. “She left you, because you are a pathetic loser!”

A half hour later Jacob found himself on the bridge, ready to say goodbye to the world. He placed Stacy’s photo in his pocket and then began to get ready to climb the railing, but as soon as he put his hand on the railing a beautiful voice spoke to him. “You don’t have to do this, Jacob. You are deeply loved. Your words and love touch people’s lives.” Jacob turned around and saw a beautiful angelic being right before his eyes. When Jacob looked into her eyes, he felt a wave of love radiate from her heart center. It was a love that he had never felt before.


Sally was on top of the world. She was listening to her favorite song by Jacob Thompson called “Luminous Eyes.” Oh, how she loved his voice! She could listen to his songs night and day and never tire. Sally pictured Jacob and herself sitting on a bench at the park watching the ducks in the lake, her head resting on Jacob’s chest, his fingers running through her hair. Oh, such sweet Heaven! Then, Sally was awakened from her daydream. Sally’s friend Amy waved her hand in front of Sally’s eyes.

Earth to Sally!” said Amy. “Are you there?”

“Oh hi, Amy! Yes, I am here. I was just thinking about Jacob.” Sally smiled.

“You mean the guy that you work at the coffee shop with?” Sally nodded her head. “Come on, Sally! You can do better than that! Why don’t you go for Tony? He has a BMW and is loaded. You will definitely be taken care of!”

“I don’t like Tony. I don’t care about his money! He is so into himself it is sickening.”

“Yeah, but Jacob is a dead end!”

“Amy, I disagree with you. I believe in Jacob. To me, he is the richest man in the world. He touches people’s hearts with his writings and songs. It is just a matter of time before the world recognizes this beautiful gem. Plus, we are both simple folks. We don’t need a lot of money to be happy. We both appreciate the little things in life.” Sally winked at Amy. Amy smiled.

Okay, you win. But since you are not interested in Tony, can I have him?” We both laughed.

“Hey, do you want to get some frozen yogurt? My treat.”


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The rain was coming down pretty steady. However, that would not deter people from getting their cup of Joe or fancy coffee at Coffee Planet. Both Jacob and Sally came an hour early to get a head start, before the Riversiders demanded their morning coffee! We all know how crazy some can get if they can’t get their dose of caffeine. It can be the end of the world for some. Jacob brewed the drip coffee while Sally stocked the pastries. They worked quickly so they could take their usual ten minute break before they had to open.

“Jacob, you want a little one, or big one?” said Sally, smiling.

“I’ll take the big one,” Jacob replied, smiling as well.

Jacob and Sally sat on the couch, sipping their coffee. Sally pulled a brochure out of her backpack that featured a selection of Tiny Houses. She slid closer to Jacob and handed him the brochure. Jacob flipped through the pages while Sally rested her head on Jacob’s shoulder, taking a catnap. It was amazing that Jacob was actually thinking about Tiny Houses the other day. How did Sally know that? They both got off the couch when they heard the door chime. Their first customer was Jacob’s uncle.

“Hi uncle!” announced Jacob. “You want your usual?”

“Of course I do! Don’t be stupid!” Jacob filled up the coffee and handed it to his uncle. His uncle paid him the money. “Jacob, when are you going to find a “real” job? You can do better than this!” Sally gave Jacob’s uncle a dirty look and walked away.

“Uncle, I love my job!” Uncle Ray shook his head and walked out the door.

“Sally, you are going to get yourself fired!” said Jacob with concern in his voice.

“Jacob, I don’t care!” cried Sally. “He has no right to treat you that way!”

Why do you like me so much? You are so beautiful! You can have any man in the world, yet you want me.” Sally placed her hand on Jacob’s heart.

“I can’t help it. You have such a beautiful heart.” Sally kissed Jacob gently on the lips and returned to her chores. Jacob’s eyes became wet. He was deeply touched by Sally’s words and action.

That night the beautiful angelic being came into Jacob’s dream. With her powerful eyes, she motioned for Jacob to pay attention to a video screen that was in front of them. First, the number 0 appeared on the screen; then followed by the numbers 3, 6, and 9. She then nodded her head. Jacob heard the word “remember” in his mind.

Terry Fatland - Soulful Eyes

Jacob climbed out of bed and reached for his cell phone. He received a Facebook message from Sally. He opened up the message and read:

“Jacob, do you believe in angles? Well I do. LOL. You are not going to believe this. I was driving in my car with Amy last night. We were on our way to get a bite to eat at the Thai restaurant on Brockton. However, when I got to the intersection of Central and Riverside a voice told me to stop. I slammed on the break, nearly missing a car that flew through the intersection, running a red light. If I didn’t stop, both Amy I would probably be dead. Jacob, I am so grateful that we have these beautiful angels around us. I’m thinking about you. Have a beautiful day. I’ll catch you tomorrow at work.”

Jacob smiled. He put his phone in his pocket. He would respond to her message during his lunch break. Meanwhile it was time to tackle his weekly chores around his house. Although most people Jacob knew hated doing cleaning chores, Jacob didn’t mind; his uncle was at work and this meant that he could crank the music. Jacob popped in Colin Hay’s CD, “Next Year People.” He grabbed the broom out of the closet and began sweeping the floor. When Jacob got close to the basement door, he spotted a white feather right in front of it. He picked up the feather, and the numbers that he saw earlier in his dream this morning, flooded his mind. Jacob smiled. Of course, thought Jacob, the numbers pertain to the combination lock on the basement door. Jacob set the first combination to 0; the second one to 3; the third to 6; and the last one to 9. Here goes, he thought. Jacob gave the lock a firm downward pull and the lock disengaged. He took if off the door and set it on the floor. Jacob flipped on the light switch, opened the door, and began to walk down the steps. As he got near the bottom, Jacob could not believe his eyes. There were musical instruments everywhere! There were at least a dozen acoustic guitars and another dozen electric guitars. There was also a drum set, a couple keyboards, percussion instruments, and on the table right in front of him was an old cassette tape deck. Feeling curious, Jacob pushed the play bottom and a powerful song played from the device. Jacob smiled. It was a song that his uncle had written. His voice was incredible. Jacob could feel his soul in the song. The lyrics spoke directly to his heart. After listening to the song, Jacob decided to rewind the tape and play it again. But this time, he would use his cell phone to record the song. Then, Jacob’s eyes spotted a letter to the left of the tape deck. He picked it up and noticed the letter was written on June 6, 1976, almost 40 years ago. Jacob read the letter:

“Dear Ray, I am so sorry that things turned out the way they did. I did not mean to fall in love with your wife. But one thing led to another, and we can’t turn back. I know I am your business manager, and we were supposed to take your songs to the recording studio, but I am sure that you will probably not want to see me. I don’t blame you. But I do hope and pray that you can find a place in your heart to forgive me.


James Gardner”

And at the bottom of the letter, Uncle Ray wrote his response that never got delivered:

“Go to Hell, James!”

Things made perfect sense now. Jacob understood why his uncle was so bitter. He felt betrayed by both his wife and business manager. Jacob could relate to his uncle’s pain. He was completely devastated when he learned that Stacy did not want to be with him anymore. Then, from out of nowhere a brilliant idea came to him. But first, Jacob had to return to his cleaning chores before his uncle came home.

Terry Fatland - Don't Look Into Her Eyes

It was a packed house at Coffee Planet. There were probably around a one hundred people inside, most of them standing up. Jacob walked toward the stage with his guitar. Sally ran up to him and gave him a quick kiss and wished him luck. Jacob spotted his uncle, looking grim as ever, at one the corner tables. He was probably drinking his usual Mocha Java. Jacob sat on the stool and adjusted the microphone.

“Good Evening, Everyone, I will play a couple of songs tonight. The first one is a brand new song that I wrote the other day, and other one, is an old song that I stumbled upon. I hope you enjoy them.” Jacob smiled.

The crowd grew silent as soon as Jacob started to play. His guitar and voice filled the room with rich beautiful music. Sally was in Heaven. She loved Jacob’s songs, his voice, actually everything about Jacob. The audience was also enjoying it. Some folks were even dancing. A man in a business suit was taking notes. Sally glanced at Jacob’s uncle and saw tears in his eyes. She decided that she would check on him as soon as Jacob was finished playing. It was amazing that people were singing to Jacob’s songs, and it was the first time they ever heard it! Then, the magic came to an end. Jacob thanked the audience. Everyone applauded, including his Uncle Ray. Jacob glanced at his Uncle’s table and got the surprise of a lifetime. Sally was comforting his uncle. She had her hand on top of his. He had tears in his eyes.

“Are you okay, Uncle?” inquired Jacob.

“Yes I am, Jacob. I am so deeply touched that you played my song. I haven’t heard it in 40 years. I didn’t realize how much music meant to me! I gave it up when my wife left me. But tonight I realized that I want it back in my life. Jacob, thank you so much for giving me my life again. I am so, so sorry for how I have treated you over the years. Please forgive me. You are the kindness man in the world. I am so happy that you found this beautiful angel.” Sally blushed.

“Uncle, I am so happy that I was able to help you. When I heard your song, I knew that you were born to be a songwriter. You have a beautiful gift the world would definitely love.”

“Jacob, you are also a gifted songwriter. I am so impressed.”

Then the business man that was taking notes approached their table. He pulled out his business card and handed it to Jacob.

“My name is Jay Thomas. I work for Stardust Records. I am very impressed with your songs. I want to record them.” Both Sally and Uncle Ray smiled.

Actually, the second song was written by my uncle.”

“Bring him along. Both songs were brilliant. I am sure the rest will be equally good.”

Mike was happy when Sally and Jacob told him that they would clean up the coffee shop. Jacob was on cloud nine. Jacob couldn’t believe that Uncle Ray and he would soon take their songs to the recording to studio to be recorded. This was a dream come true. And if things could not get much better, he was with the girl of his dreams. Sally brushed the hair out of her eyes and smiled. Jacob smiled back.

“Jacob, you want some coffee before I toss it out?” asked Sally. Jacob smiled.

“Yes!” Jacob replied.

“Big one? Or small one?”



Jacob walked up to Sally. He placed his hand on her face.

“I want to kiss you!” Jacob kissed Sally passionately.

“Heaven!” replied Sally. “I’ve been waiting forever for you to kiss me. I am so in love with you!”

“And I am so in love with you!” Jacob began to laugh.

“What’s so funny?”

“I have a confession, Sally. The first song I played tonight was written for you.”

Sally smiled and pulled Jacob towards her. “Crazy boy! You want a small kiss? Or a big kiss?”

“Big kiss!”

“Good! That is what you are getting!”


Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on August 09, 2018:

Gripping, excellent story telling :) Enjoyed the plot. Great work.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on January 31, 2016:

Thanks Gypsy Rose Lee, glad you enjoyed the story. Yes, love is amazing!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on January 17, 2016:

Really enjoyed the story. Love always finds a way to bring people together.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on January 11, 2016:

Absolutely DDE! Love holds people together. Thanks for the kind words.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 11, 2016:

Love holds people together and your story is great.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on January 10, 2016:

Marie, glad you enjoyed the story. Yes, it is beautiful how love and understanding heals.

VioletSun from Oregon/ Name: Marie on January 10, 2016:

I enjoyed reading this story, Terry. I was hoping for a happy ending and got one, not only with Sally and Jacob, but with his uncle Ray. Love and understanding heals.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on January 10, 2016:

Thanks Jodah! Glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on January 10, 2016:

Terry, this was the ultimate feel good story. I enjoyed it.

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