(Below is Christina M. Strichter's The Fortune Teller and Ryan Bromage's Reflection Anxiety. More fiction, a play(!), and poetry from our second issue still available, only $3.00 ppd!)
The Fortune Teller
by Christina M. Strichter
Once upon a time, there was a psychic. But not a real psychic. Just a faker who dressed like a gypsy and conned tourists and fools out of their money. She wore gaudy rings and pretended to see images in a crystal ball. She would make up happy futures with love and children and wealth and fame out of lines on a person's hand. She would listen to dreams and tell the dreamers that their parents were the cause of all their troubles, but everything would be righted soon. She laid out tarot cards, but she took Death from the pack because it frightened people. She could even speak to the dead, though not through a complex fiber-optic network or anything silly like that. She just used a holography projector she stole from her ex-husband accompanied by an audio cassette of groans and moans. She had many ugly dangling earrings, and she colored one of her teeth gold. The gold-painted tooth glittered when she smiled. One day she told a man how successful he would be, and how he would give his wife many children; all from a quick glance at his palm. The man stood up and pulled an eight-inch blade from a sheath strapped to his leg.
"You lying wench," he said, "I can't have kids. I'm impotent."
He stabbed her seventeen times. The neighbors heard her screams. They assumed she was merely "speaking with the dead." Perhaps now she really is.
by Ryan Bromage
Kevin stood in front of the bathroom mirror much longer than usual. He was brushing his teeth and suddenly thought, what if the guy on the other side of the glass is real and I'm just a reflection? What if he's the truth and I'm a lie? He stood there, staring, trying to figure it out. He was afraid to simply walk away, thinking that if he stepped too far from the mirror he might disappear. He thought about closing his eyes, but feared he might dissipate into the air. He considered shattering the mirror but was afraid of breaking his own body into a thousand lost fragments, though he was also afraid that if he was real, it might hurt his hand.
He looked ridiculous, standing in front of the mirror with toothpaste foam all around his mouth. His hair was tangled and disorderly, and his white pajamas with blue stripes were wrinkled. He had sleep in his eyes, his eyes that still were not open all the way. He clutched his blue toothbrush in his right hand, as if it were a talisman protecting his reality. Yet his opposite, the man in the mirror, was doing the same, except that he appeared to be left-handed.
If only Kevin had realized that his fear was preventing both him and his opposite from doing anything other than stare at the mirror. If only he could have told himself that there's nothing wrong with being a reflection! He could say, look, if I'm a reflection, so be it. Who am I to argue with the nature of mirrors? Perhaps I will disappear when the real Kevin leaves. I do not fear this. I have been an excellent reflection. I have played my part in the morning routine. And perhaps when Kevin returns this evening, I will return as well.
But he did not see things so maturely or unselfishly. He wanted to be the real Kevin, whether he was or not. He is probably still there, wasting away, staring at the mirror and clutching his blue toothbrush.
Published 1994. Crowright 2000 Osric Publishing. Last updated 07.02.2000