The Tile

Mark believed in love. However, now that he was 48 and still single, he wasn’t sure if love believed in him. He’d gone on countless blind dates, and tried all of the dating apps: Matched, Zoosk, Tinder, eHarmony… even Farmers Only. (He wasn’t even a farmer, the closest farm animals he’d come close to were the ones you could get from a drive-thru.) Mark was tired, and was beginning to lose hope.

One day after lunch, Mark stopped at the park fountain as he did every day. Ever since he was little he had loved making a wish and tossing it into the fountain. Normally he would close his eyes and flip the coin into the water. After today’s failed date though, he couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes. So he made his daily wish for love, and tossed the coin in. It ricocheted off of the base of the fountain and slowly sunk. He looked at the tile he had hit. It was beautiful. Had the tile always been there? He had passed this fountain every day, there was no way he possibly could’ve missed it. But either way, there it was along the base of the fountain. Its colors rippling and reflecting in the water. How had he never noticed it before? He wasn’t sure if it was the red bleeding into the blue, or the way the colors swirled together into an intricate and abstract design. But something about it mesmerized him.

As he gazed at the tile, an old story crept into his mind about an ancient stone that could reveal the name of someone’s true love. Mark shook his head, it was ridiculous, that wasn’t how love worked. However, the thought lingered.

He needed to have that tile. It didn’t matter how.

That night, as if in a trance, Mark went back to the fountain. Without hesitating, he jumped in. He chipped away at the tile and gently pried it loose with a screwdriver. As he stood in the fountain admiring the colors of the tile, he was blinded by a flashlight. It was a police officer, accusing him of defacing public property. He tried to explain the story and why he was in the fountain, but it was no use. She confiscated the tile and arrested him.

Defeated, Mark sat in the jail kicking himself for not turning the tile over while he had a chance. What if his true love’s name was written on the back of it, and now he’d never know? What was he doing anyway, was he crazy? Was it even worth believing in love anymore? With the questions still racing around his head, Mark slowly fell asleep.

The next morning Mark awoke to the sound of his cell being opened. The officer from the night before told him he was free to go, and that he could collect his things at the front desk. Knowing he would never see the tile again, Mark slowly collected his belongings. As he turned to leave he felt a tap on his shoulder, it was the officer. She handed him the tile and said, “something tells me you need this more than the city does.” As he was about to say thank you, a voice called from the other room “Annalyse the chief needs you.” Without another word, she turned and left. As she walked away, Mark flipped over the tile. It had one word written on the back – “Annalyse”.

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