Fiction, Home

Short Story: Lucy

“Psychic/Medium $25” – turquoise cursive curled on a black A-sign outside a brick-walled shop.

Michelle had dragged me here because, “You never know” and “What if?” and “Come on, Lucy, it’ll be fun – if you hate it, I’ll pay for yours, too,” even though I knew I’d be paying for both of us because Michelle never had any cash on her.

Whatever. I gave in. I always gave in to Michelle because she’s my best friend and kind of like a sweet stray cat I unofficially adopted and also the free spirit part of me secretly wants to be and to be honest, today I’m just out of fucks to give.

My estranged mother died 10 years ago today and I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal because I’ve always been over it, but I woke up this morning and realized apparently it’s a pretty big fuckin’ deal.

She left when I was three – just took off one day without a word, leaving my dad to work two jobs and parent three kids – so I never had any real memories of her anyway. Then when I was 19, my sisters and I each got a hefty cheque in the mail from her estate. Apparently, she’d come from money – dad never knew about this so I guess she hid it well – and had left all of it to us and charity when she died. I never cashed the cheque. I was perfectly fine with not having any attachment to her until this 10-year anniversary caught up with me and filled me with this weird combination of raw loss and pure rage that I didn’t know what to do with – so I called Michelle, and her solution was to take me out (on my dime) for dim sum and bubble tea and a movie, and if all that failed, a drink (or four). The psychic was an unwelcome detour between bubble tea and the movie.

“Come on, you go first,” Michelle said, pushing me through a colourful bead curtain – of course there was a colourful bead curtain – toward the dimly lit backroom of an antique store.

“Michelle, I…”

“It’s a half hour of your life – you’ll live.”

We got to the backroom, half-drunk bubble teas in hand, where an old, dark-haired woman covered in rings and scarves sat laying out tarot cards at a small wooden table. Candles and crystals all over the place; incense burning on some sort of shrine thing behind her – this was like every psychic scene from every cliché movie ever – with a colourful bead curtain to boot.

“Which one of you would like to go first?” She asked, without looking up.

“She will!” Michelle shoved me forward.

The woman looked up at me.

“What kind of reading would you like?”

“Um…”

“I think just a general read would work for her,” Michelle answered for me. “Ya know, see what you pick up. I’ll wait outside!”

The woman and I made awkward eye contact. I gave her a forced smile.

“Please have a seat,” she said.

I sat down across from her at her table and set my bubble tea on the floor.

“What’s your name?”

“Kelly,” I lied. She pursed her lips like she knew.

“Do you have a specific question you’d like to ask?”

“Sure, how ‘bout, ‘will I find love this year?’” I winced at my own sarcasm.

“Alright,” the woman said, gathering her tarot cards into a stack. She handed them to me.

“Shuffle these and think about your question as you shuffle.”

I sighed. “For how long?”

“Until you feel they have been shuffled enough,” she said simply, not entertaining my tone.

I sighed again and took the cards, beginning to shuffle. I could feel the woman’s eyes on me.

“You know, Lucy, your mother never actually died.”

Fiction, Home

Flash Fiction: A Kiss before War

The last time I saw the love of my life, I knew I was going to lose him. Drafted into a fight he didn’t start, I could not, would not, accept his going. And yet, I knew I had to. Despite the fact that allowing him to leave went against every feeling in my heart, every principle in my brain, I knew I had to let him go. It was the right thing to do, even if it tore me apart.

We stood beside a brick wall, waiting for the train. The train. The train that would strip my soul of its mate. I wished it wasn’t real. That this was an illusion, a horrible nightmare. This was just too much. We were so happy, so right for each other. I had no idea how I was going to bear this.

I’d already sobbed every day for two weeks, from the moment we found out he’d have to join up. I couldn’t control my imagination, the terrible pictures of potential disasters that were running rampant through my head. And the worst bit was seeing him cry. I’d never seen him cry before. This was killing us both, and watching each other writhe in emotional pain made it a thousand times more difficult to deal with. We were helpless against external forces that were going to separate us, I knew, forever.

Yes miracles happened, people came back from war, but for some reason, every cell in my body was reluctantly but completely sure that this was it. I felt it, I’d dreamt it; there was no way around it. Call it woman’s intuition, but I just knew, and I hated it.

The sound of the approaching train’s steam whistle ripped at my heart. Grief was a knot in my stomach, tying itself tighter and tighter. I threw myself around him, holding on for the last time.

Determined to be strong for him, I held back my tears as best I could. He kissed me, and pulled away. Told me how much he loved me, said I was perfect. As he walked toward the train, I couldn’t help it; I screamed his name and ran after him.

One final embrace, then he wiped the welling tears from my eyes and blinked back his own. I stepped away slowly, retreating against the brick wall as I watched him board.

I stood, a forced smile on my face; I had to be strong. He pressed his hand to the window, not taking his eyes off me. I met his gaze, and didn’t break it until he was out of sight. I watched the end of the train roll away around the corner. Hearing only the sound of its rumbling, shuffling chugga-chug and the murmurs of people around me, I crumpled to the ground, unsure if I would ever get up.