PREVIOUSLY: Previously Skeptical By B.A. Sarvey

Word Count 500

Previously Skeptical
By B.A. Sarvey

“This area here tells me that you must see to believe,” the palm reader had begun. “You are a skeptic. That’s good. One should go through life with a little doubt.”
When she mentioned landing a job with White’s, Peter fought the urge to pull his hand away, tried not to react, though he felt his privacy violated. “Stay. There’s more I must tell you.” The sympathetic smile, her reassurances, made his skin prickle. Already he was sweating, nearly panting with anxiety. He wanted desperately to know. But she could only guess. Right?
Never believing in fate, Peter balked at her insistence. A cruel trick. Fishing for a response.
That events in his life had been decided previously, and that someone could read his future in the lines cross-hatching his palms, was too much. The future was not written there. The future hadn’t happened yet. It was not predetermined. It was a safe guess that when he walked out to the mailbox, he would reach into the box, get a bunch of junk mail, cross back to the house, and go inside. But nothing is ever guaranteed. Not even walking back into the house. This was bogus. She couldn’t know.
A complete stranger looking at the way his skin creased and seeing things about his life? Ludicrous! Long life, success, happiness. He expected that. But this woman had names. Dates. Specifics. Had someone fed her information? No. Couldn’t have. They’d never been to Maine before. This street carnival was an impromptu diversion. Stopping at Madame Nora’s booth had been a spur-of-the-moment thing. “It’ll be fun,” Janice had said. It wasn’t fun. Peter’s palm burned like she held it over a candle.
“Your heartline. It is broken. See? She has been gone many months. You grieve for her as though she is dead. But she isn’t.”
Peter stiffened. No one knew how he cried for her. Guys didn’t admit to something like that. And she was dead. Gone too long not to be.
The woman studied him with peaceful blue eyes. She still held his hand but no longer traced the lines. Her attention was on his tear-streaked face. He struggled to appear callous.
“You don’t understand why she hasn’t come back. You are convinced she is dead, but a thorn of hope pricks you. Reminds you daily. Hold onto this. She is alive. She left because she needed freedom. Now she’s trying to find her way home. Your thorn of hope guides her. Be patient. She will come—she might even be there when you return.”
Discomfort exploded into anger. How could she tantalize him with meaningless predictions? Rising abruptly, Peter knocked over his chair. “Time to go,” he snapped at Janice, grabbing her hand, yanking her toward his car.
Hours later, he pulled into the driveway, flung open the car door. No-one waited. “What did you expect, fool?” Peter muttered.
The rhododendron rustled. As she emerged, Peter grabbed her up, buried his face in her matted fur, and wept.

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