By Chance

‘“Elle,” Niall smiled. “It’s a pleasure to meet yeh’.” He said, shaking Elle’s hand gently. Elle recognised the twang that was evident in the way he spoke to be an Irish accent. She caught his bright blue eyes in her own and felt somehow that Niall was also familiar to her.’
Elle has lived in central London for a little over a week with just one key to her flat. One afternoon she bumps into somebody in the street, losing her only key down the drain. The stranger, somehow familiar, convinces her to stay the night at his place where she meets his flatmates, who are also familiar to her. They are generous, humorous and very welcoming, and it doesn’t take long for Elle to recall who they really are. From there laughter, talent, friendship, romance and careers ensue, all by chance.


3. Three

As the day went on, the typical London weather turned quickly. The cloudy sky held its promise as it began to pour down with rain, the water rushing through the streets and flowing through the storm water drains loudly. This was the time when Elle would usually stop for her break, but with the rain came customers who retreated into the dry warmth of the cafe, and there was no time to stop. Instead, she fixed herself another coffee, remembering Ron’s words from earlier that day, and continued on working away at the coffee machine.


The rain was relentless for a long time, and the afternoon turned into an overly extended lunch rush. As long as there was rain, there was plenty of business. It was nearing half past four in the afternoon, and having being chatting to Nat throughout the day, Elle had told her of her urgent plans to visit the locksmith.


“The locksmith will probably be closed by five. You’re tired as anything, it’s been a long day and you still have jobs to do. You can leave early today.” Nat insisted.


“Look at all the people in here,” Elle said, gesturing around the small cafe. It was nearly overflowing with customers, just like the rain in the gutters.


“We’ll be closing soon, it’s alright. Off you go.” Nat said, pushing Elle away from the coffee machine and taking her place.


“Thanks, Nat.” Elle smiled gratefully. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” She said as the hung up her apron. With a chorus of waves from the other employees, she fetched her bag and struggled to wriggle her way out of the cafe by squeezing between the abundance of customers. Reaching the door, she pulled out her umbrella from her bag. She stepped outside only to be hit by a rush of cold wind with shards of water accompanying it. Hastily, she began walking down the street. Just as she went to open her umbrella she noticed her key had gotten caught and was dangling off of one of the spokes. She quickly got a hold of it, her heart jumping at the thought that she had almost lost it, and returned to her previous action of opening her umbrella. Right before she was able to, she walked around the corner to see a large black umbrella before being knocked to the cold and wet pavement, dropping her umbrella in a nearby puddle and losing her grip on her key.


Forgetting about her umbrella, she quickly located the area as to where her key had landed- in the gutter. Right in the same moment she went to retrieve it, she watched as the heavy flow of water dragged it into the storm water drain close by.


Elle couldn’t believe what she had just seen. She stood there on the side of the street becoming increasingly wet, staring agape at the storm water drain. Her key had simply disappeared. Her one and only, single key to her flat. This was exactly why she couldn’t afford to put off getting copies made any longer. In case she was to lose it. She should have done it sooner.


Suddenly something was diverting the cold shards of rain from pelting down on her sodden body. Surprised, she turned around to see the person at fault for knocking her down holding her now opened umbrella over her head. It was the young man with brown eyes and curly hair from earlier that day, whose name she could not remember for the life of her.


“Are you alright?” He shouted over the roar of the rain, concern evident in his voice.


“Not really,” Elle half laughed as her voice shuddered. The boy looked at her soaking form, waiting for her to explain.


“I just lost my only key to my flat down the drain.” Elle said. The boy’s face immediately changed from worry to horror.


“Did you just say your only key?” He asked, not believing what he was hearing. Elle pressed her lips together in a thin line and nodded.


“I was off to get copies made just now.” She told him, adding to the guilt he was already feeling.


“I’m so sorry, this is my entire fault!” He exclaimed as Elle finally took her umbrella out of his hand.


“It’s alright...” She insisted, though her mind was only trying to think of ways she would be able to get into her flat that evening.


“No, it’s not.” He said determinedly. “Wait here for just a moment, please? Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back.” Elle watched as he closed his own umbrella and rushed into The Corner Bakery, squeezing through the masses of people crammed inside in the warmth. Not knowing what else to do, as it seemed she had nowhere she needed to be and nowhere she could go freely, she waited. Not five minutes later, she spotted him working his way back out onto the wet street where the rain had not held up. He exited the cafe with a steaming take-away coffee in each hand. He rushed to meet Elle under her umbrella and forcefully handed her one of the invitingly warm cups.


“I wish a coffee was all it took for my door to open.” She laughed half-heartedly.


“A peace offering. I’m truly sorry.” He apologised again as he put up his own umbrella once more. “I feel terrible. I should have been more careful. I really want to make it up to you. You can stay at my place tonight; a hot shower and dry blankets! I’m really, really sorry.”


“I don’t know... I don’t even know you-” Elle openly hesitated but was quickly interrupted.


“Please, it’s the least I can do.” The boy pleaded, not taking no for an answer. Being as tired and as cold as she was, she hardly bothered to think of any other options available to her in this scenario.


“Sure. Ok.” She gave into him defiantly.


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