Word Count 499
By Mike Cecconi
She was beautiful, everyone around there was, that slightly sullen hiding how tired you are kind of beautiful you’d see in actresses and actors, beautiful like grocery-store produce kept ripe for weeks through chemical exposure, a waxen sheen to gloss over impending collapse into despair. That fake it ‘til you make it beauty one accrues through time spent in Los Angeles.
The office I worked in, a bungalow on what used to be Charlie Chaplin’s lot some hundred years ago, when posters shifted on the walls we said it was his ghost, the people I worked for there had a level of cult fame, so I was wary when someone knocked on the door unexpectedly. You never knew when some rando would show up looking to drop off a terrible unsolicited screenplay, so I was always on my guard.
When I answered the door, though, she had a job application for some different office down the block in her trembling hands, so I let go my tension. The streets were poorly marked in that part of town and so relieved, I smiled and gave her better directions. She’d been nervous too, wanting to make a good impression with potential bosses by dropping off her resume in person instead of by e-mail or the post, she too exhaled then she did an odd thing, she took my hand and offered a palm reading as thanks for my help and understanding.
I don’t believe in magic, I’ve never seen the supernatural, I’m open to it but maybe I haven’t the right kind of eyes or maybe the spirits just ignore me. I knew full well it wasn’t Charlie’s ghost, just our wonky air conditioning. Despite my doubts about mystics and statistics, I allowed it. It seemed like one of the moments you just go with so, in the doorway on Sycamore, I obliged her my hand and she followed the lines with one slender finger. Had I not been taken at the time, it could’ve been the meet-cute in some old movie made on the soundstage across the street, but it wasn’t, just two weirdos having a moment of shared humanity, there in the freak kingdom.
She followed this fold and that fold, tracing out where moving parts divide and concentrated for what felt like an hour but was probably a minute-and-a-half, saying nothing but thinking intently. Eventually I asked her “well, what did you see?” and she looked up at me, most have to look up, I’m a big shambling thing, she looked up and said, “you’re going to be an amazing success…” then paused, an ellipsis stuck deep in her throat, before adding “…but not for a very long time.”
That was nine, maybe ten years ago now? Two girlfriends ago, three cars and two coasts ago, sometimes I think back of her and wonder, has it been long enough now? The spirits do not answer me, of course, not even Charlie Chaplin’s and yet still I wonder. When.