My prompt location: Palmist’s tent
The fair was in full swing, with it’s noise and smells. Charliza was somehow underwhelmed.
“Come on, come on!” Her little sister tugged at her hand, “there’s Billy Joe.” Pointing to the lanky youth standing near the ferris wheel. Elbow perched on a fence rail, his sandy blonde hair ruffled by the breeze, he cut a fine image of a young man. Decked out in his plaid button down and his well worn but newly laundered jeans, right down to his polished boots, he was what every young lady in the county should want in a man. So why didn’t she?
Sissy was still tugging urgently on her arm. Charliza turned and headed in the direction of the candie apple stand. Her sister turned and sniffed the air “Apples!” she cried. Pulling Charliza in the other direction. Well, one disaster averted. While Sissy perused the selections at the apple stand, Charliza did some constructive wool gathering. Why? Why was she so different?
Everyone assumed she and Billy Joe would marry, have a passel of kids, combine their inheritances of the family farm and ranch and set up their relations for many generations to come. It was their duty. It was fate.
“NOT going to happen!” Charliza thought fiercely to herself.
Great Goddess how she despised the name Charliza. So frilly and feminine. She much preferred her childhood nickname, Charlie. It seemed that everyone was trying to decide her future and her fate for her. Charlie hated that, she was a warrior. Beneath the skirts of her frock, she worn tight leggings and comfortable, sturdy boots. Her leather corset was gored and allowed for maximum movement. It was also reinforced with a lightweight steel underlining. She smiled at the memory of the dwarf who had made it for her. He had winked at her, laughter in his gruff voice “a secret fighter are we?” Then he had smiled and charged her only a fraction of what the magically enhance garment was worth.
Strapped to her hip was her ever present aether pistol. Everybody carried one. Men, women, even children above a certain age were visibly armed. What most did not know was that Charlie was also “unvisibly” armed. She carried daggers in her boot tops, a small knife with jeweled hilt in her belt. Her corset concealed throwing knives. Her hair sticks were sharpened steel darts. Even her bracelet, crafted of strong silk and braided silver, unwound into a lethal garrote. Of the hundreds of people at the county fair today, Charlie was undoubtedly the most deadly. She smiled at the knowledge, she and Sissy were safe, always.
Out of the corner of her eye Charliza saw Billy Joe making a bee-line straight for her. Bugger! She grabbed Sissy’s arm and dragged her along as she bobbed and weaved through the crowd. Suddenly, she found herself in front of the palmist’s tent. Billy Joe was scanning the crowd, looking for her. Charlie glanced quickly around for an escape route and pulling Sissy along with her, ducked into the palmist’s tent. They sat in the waiting room, enjoying the respite from the heat.
The palmist stuck her head out from behind the curtain that partitioned off the “reading room” from the “waiting room.” “NEXT,” she called in a loud voice.
“Go on, go get your palm read.” Sissy had automatically assumed that Charlie had come this was with the intention of getting her palm read, her fortune told.
Not wanting to explain her flight from Billy Joe, Charlie reluctantly rose to follow the palmist. “Stay here and if anybody comes in, give a whistle. OK?”
Sissy nodded and went back to her all-day apple.
Charlie followed the palmist into the reading room and sat. She dutifully presented her hand. The palmist studied it, tracing strange patterns in Charlie’s hand. The tallow candle sputtered and stunk, cheap wick Charlie decided.
“Well, look here” the palmist spoke, gesturing to Charlie’s hand. “That’s the longest life line I’ve ever seen. She studied some more, bringing out a magnifying glass for closer study. Charlie stared hard, trying to see what the palmist saw, but they were only lines. Weren’t they?
Suddenly, the palmist dropped the magnifying glass, released Charlie’s hand, stood quickly and in a frightened voice said, “You will live a long life, marry well and have many fine sons. There is no charge, go in peace.” She turned to go.
“WAIT!” Charlie shouted at the palmist’s back, “please, wait.” The palmist turned. “What did you see?”
It wasn’t the fear in Charlie’s voice that made the palmist return to her seat, it was the sheer force of her will, projecting through her voice.
“Oh” thought the palmist as she retook her seat, “this one is strong.” And so, she sat and once again took Charlie’s hand. “You have an infinity symbol intersecting with your life line. You may well live forever. You have only the slightest of family lines which usually means no children.”
OK, Charlie could live with that, wasn’t sure the marriage and kids thing was for her anyway. “What else?”
The palmist sighed and continued tracing a particularly long line on Charlie’s palm. This is your strength line, it is uncommonly long. How many weapons do you carry, right now?”
“Thirteen” Charlie answered without hesitation. “Fifteen if you count these hand which can snap a neck with one twist.” She never even blinked as she said it.
The palmist looked at Charlie with something between fear and awe. “You are a warrior. You might be a hero or … an assassin.”
Charlie started at that. The palmist continued. “Here’s the thing though, you have NO fate line. I’ve looked everywhere even in the hidden crevices of your palm, you simply have no fate line. You have no destiny except that which you choose for yourself. You are an unknown” With that the palmist dropped Charlie’s hand and left the tent.
Charlie’s next stop was the tattooist tent where she had “No Destiny” inked on her left forearm and “My Choice” on her right. Her mother would drop over in a dead faint when she saw them, but Charlie was old enough to be on her own. She was old enough to choose her own destiny.