What is Flash Fiction? It’s telling a short story in a limited amount of words. Some call Flash Fiction a story in 300 words, 500 words, or under 1,000 words. There are varying degrees of word counts for this type of writing, and some Flash Fiction definitions include a word count of 1,500 words. In today’s case, I’ve told a little story in 646 words. Usually with Flash Fiction, there is a clear beginning, a middle, and a wrap up. I wrote this story a couple of years ago, and polished it up a bit. Sharing it again because it’s one of my favorites!
THE FORTUNE TELLER
“That boy loves you,” the old woman next door calls to me as she sees Nick peel away in his black BMW. She is sitting on her stoop in the 98 degree weather, her dyed red hair in old-fashioned rollers, her socks gathered at her heels in her slip-ons. The look on her face indicates that she wants me to engage in further conversation. We have been friendly since we’ve lived next to each other in the row homes of Baltimore, but have never had a long, in-depth conversation.
“He may, but he’s leaving,” I say.
“Probably for the best,” she replies.
I’ve lived beside this odd-looking woman for almost a year, and she pretty much keeps to herself. She knows nothing of my personal life. Her name’s Mable, and I’ve heard others on the block refer to her as “the palm reader,” though she has no official business. I don’t believe in fortune tellers and have never engaged in any sort of it.
“Come here,” she says. “I’ll show you.”
For curiosity’s sake, I walk down the steps from where I am, and climb the four steps to meet her on her stoop. I’m tempted to see what she knows, trying not to let the tears fall in front of her. Her appearance alone warrants concern; there seems to be a twitch in her eye, and she’s wearing more mascara than a runway model. It looks uneven and gloppy. Her coral-colored lipstick goes beyond the outlines of her lips. It is difficult to take her seriously.
She stretches out her hand and asks for my palm. I extend my hand and turn my palm over for her to see.
She examines it. “There is a lot of passion here,” she says, pointing to the line that runs from my wrist up across my palm in a curve ending at the base of my fingertips. “There’s a great deal of love for that boy.”
“However, you will not see him again after today,” she says.
I feel a lump build in my throat.
She continues to look at my hand. “You have a good career, but you’re not quite sure if you want to stay in it. You’re thinking of uprooting yourself and moving someplace far away.”
I get a little chill up my spine. I’ve had this particular thought on and off for the past month, and I’ve told no one. Not even Nick. Not my own parents, or my best friend, Ava.
She focuses on one particular line on my hand, tracing it with her fingertip for what feels like hours, studying it with concerned eyes. She looks puzzled.
“Interesting,” she says.
“What?” I ask, now confused.
“You will travel. You will go where you’ve considered going, and you will be happy.”
“Without Nick,” I say, more as a statement than a question.
“Yes,” she says. “There will be passion again, but only if you go.”
Nick and I have been together for a year. However, I can’t be with him long term, nor should we ever have been together. Nick is unhappily married. He lives apart from his wife, but they are not formally divorced. Nor are there any plans for them to be so. The passion with which Mable speaks is true; it currently exists, but it is a sick, twisted, unhealthy passion, and it has become the ruin of me.
Three weeks ago, I was offered an opportunity to work for my friend’s father’s business in Rome. I’ve always wanted to go abroad, and have seriously contemplated accepting it.
I scoff at the idea of leaving for a moment, and then I stop. She sees my face, and gives me a crooked, quirky smile.
Mable is offbeat, eccentric, ridiculously dressed, and the oddest person I’ve ever talked to, but something tells me to listen. Something makes me take her seriously.