Prompt: Write about two of your established characters (who know each other in our world, or at least their canon world) meeting for the first time in a parallel universe.
I love the concept of parallel universes, and some of my favorite books use them really well. I used my main protagonist and her potential love interest for this short scene. It's set kind of in conjunction with something that happened in my original draft of this book, but I decided recently I was probably going to radically change all of that, so now it could definitely happen in a parallel universe where she and this guy had never met before and where she still had to be on the run (the reasons for which I'm keeping a secret). Anyways, enough background. Here's the piece. Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading!
In another life, she is the rain-soaked girl who stumbles into the diner in a Kentucky town too small to remember. The diner is dead that night, so he’s busied himself with organizing the silverware. When the bell over the door jangles, he looks up, the customary greeting on the tip of his tongue.
His words freeze, and he can’t get even a simple “hi” out. Despite the hair plastered to her head and her red nose, she is lovely. He wipes his hands on his apron and grabs the spare hand towels. She accepts them with chattering teeth and a quick smile that restarts his heart.
“What are you doing out on a night like this?” he manages.
“Long story,” she says. “Do y’all have hot chocolate?”
“Yeah. It’s just Swiss Miss, though. Nothing fancy.”
“That sounds perfect.”
She sits at one of the barstools at the counter. He’s alone at the diner with her; ordinarily, he wouldn’t be, but Hector ran home to check on his wife and kids since their roof leaks a lot. Neither of them thought they’d get any customers on a night like this.
He heats up a cup of cocoa quickly and slides it in front of her. She wraps her hands around it for warmth and stares into the steam rising. Then she stirs her spoon round and round in the cup. Water droplets are beading at the end of her hair, and she’s still shivering a bit. Her jacket is drying on the seat next to her, but there’s nothing she can do about her damp skirt and boots.
“I’m kind of on the run,” she says eventually, just after he’s returned to the silverware. Her quiet voice, rusty with disuse, startles him. “The police aren’t going to come after me…I don’t think…but this rain is making things a little difficult.” She looks up at him, and her blue eyes are surprisingly sad. “You’re not harboring a wanted murderer or anything, I promise. I wish I could tell you more, but I’ve kind of been taught my whole life to keep things secret.”
She looks back down at the cup of hot chocolate and laughs, almost to herself. “And here I am, breaking the number one rule—confiding in a stranger. I can only imagine what my mother would say.”
He reaches up and grabs another cup. He heats the milk in the microwave and then tosses in the powdered chocolate mix. All the while, she’s quiet and the rain beats against the windows. He catches her glancing over her shoulder, although the parking lot is too dark to see much. Still, he gets the sense she can make out every detail.
When his hot chocolate is ready, he leans his elbows across from her on the counter and takes a long sip from his mug.
“I’m Sam O’Hara. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ll probably die here even though I want nothing more to get out and become a film actor. There. I’m not a stranger anymore,” he says.
Her eyes sparkle, and he wonders if she’s a special agent, a spy, a trained assassin, or just a girl who longs for something more, just like he does.
“I’m Avi,” she says. Her lips part, as if she wants to say something more. It looks like she changes her mind before she says, “What’s stopping you from leaving this town?”
“Money, mostly. You don’t earn big bucks waiting tables at a place like this, and rent in California is killer. I have to save for years before I’ll be able to afford to live out there.”
She nods. Then she shoves her empty cup towards him and starts riffling through her bag. “Thanks for the cocoa. It looks like the rain is letting up, so I should go while it’s still dark. How much do I owe you?”
He waves a hand. “It’s on the house.”
Her gaze flits up; her eyes are wide. “Really, I can pay.”
“Fine, give me a dollar and we’ll call it even. It was nice to have the company, even for a little bit,” he replies.
He turns to put their cups on the pass-through to the back; he’ll wash them later. When he turns back, she’s scribbling on a piece of paper.
“Here,” she says. “If you ever make it out to California, and I’m not in jail, message me at this username on Twitter. You seem like a cool guy, Sam O’Hara.”
She stands and pulls on her coat. Her lip curls at the damp fabric, but she doesn’t say anything. As she heads out into the rain, she tosses a wave over her shoulder.
It’s not until after she leaves that he finds the stack of money under the towels she used to dry off. He stares at the bills and figures it must be a couple thousand dollars at least. He wonders if she robbed a bank, and he tentatively touches the bills. The idea of charity doesn’t sit all that well with him, but his dream means everything to him. Besides, if everything works out like he hopes it will, he can always pay her back. He can consider this a loan, an investment of sorts.
Maybe he’ll see her in California sooner rather than later.
So what would a prompt about your OCs in an alternate world produce?