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The Palmist: A short Story From Birds Of Paradise Misplaced:

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The Palmist is a short story collected in Andrew Lam’s newest ebook, Birds of Paradise Lost. It was revealed in March of 2013 and won a Pen/Josephine Miles Literary Award and is currently a finalist for First Fiction of the California Guide Award 2014. It was learn on Selected Shorts by Tony-winner James Naughton, and by the author himself on American Public Media, Thestory.org

The palmist closed up store early because of the ache. He felt as if he was being roasted, slowly, inside out. By noon he may not give attention to his customers’ palms; their life and love
traces had all didn’t point to any important future, however blurred and streaked as a substitute into rivers and streams of his reminiscences.

Outdoors, the weather had turned. Darkish clouds hung low and the wind was heavy with moisture. He reached the bus stop’s tiny shelter when it began to pour. He didn’t have to wait long, how- ever. The good previous 38 Geary pulled up in a couple of minutes, and he felt mildly consoled, though sharp pains flared and blossomed from deep inside his bowels like tiny geysers, and so they made every of his three steps up the bus laborious.

It was warm and humid on the bus, and crowded, and a high-quality mist lined the windows. He sat on the entrance bench facing the aisle, the one reserved for the handicapped and the elderly. A fats woman with rosy cheeks who stayed standing gave him a dirty look. It was true: his hair was nonetheless mostly black, and he appeared to be a couple of years wanting senior citizenship. The palmist pretended not to note her. He leaned contemptuously back in opposition to the worn and cracked vinyl and smiled to himself. He closed his eyes. A faint odor of turned earth reached his nostrils. The palmist inhaled deeply and saw once more a golden rice discipline, a beatific smile, a face lengthy gone; his first kiss.

The rain fell harder on the roof of the bus as it rumbled towards the sea.

At the next cease, a teenager got on. Caught in the downpour without an umbrella, he was soaking wet, and his further-giant T- shirt that said “Play Hard . . . Keep Laborious” clung to him. It occurred to the palmist that this was the face of someone who hadn’t yet learned to be fearful of the weather. The teenager stood towering above the palmist, blocking him from seeing the fats woman, who, now and again, nonetheless glanced disapprovingly at him.

So young, the palmist thought, the age of my youngest son, maybe, had he lived. The palmist tried to conjure his son’s face in his mind however couldn’t. It had been some years for the reason that little boy drowned within the South China Sea, along with his two older sisters and their mother. The palmist had escaped on a different boat, a smaller one which left a day after his household’s boat, and, consequently, reached America alone.

Hearken to creator Andrew Lam read The Palmist on American Public Media Thestory.org

Alone, thought the palmist and sighed. Alone.It was then that his gaze fell upon the teenager’s hand. He saw something there. He leaned forward, and did one thing he never did before on the 38 Geary. He spoke up, rather loudly, excitedly.

“You,” he stated in his heavy accent. “I see fantastic life!”The teenager regarded down on the previous man, and arched his eyebrows.”I am a palmist,” mentioned the palmist. “Perhaps you give me your hand?”

The teenager did nothing. No one had ever requested to see his hand on this bus before. The fats woman snickered. Oh, she’d seen all of it on the 38 Geary. She wasn’t stunned. “This my final reading, no mon- ey, free, reward for you,” the palmist pressed on. “Give me your hand.”

“I don’t know,” the teenager mentioned, scratching his chin. He was nervous. He felt as if he was caught inside a shifting glass house and

that, with the passengers wanting on, he had someway become certainly one of its most conspicuous plants.

“What, what you do not know?” requested the palmist. “Possibly I know. Possibly I answer.”

“Dude,” the teenager said. “I don’t know if I believe in all that hocus-pocus stuff.” And though he didn’t say it, he didn’t know whether or not he wished to be touched by the previous man who had wrinkled, bony arms and a nauseating tobacco breath. To stall, the teenager said, “I’ve a query, though. Are you able to learn your own future? Are you able to, like, inform when you’re gonna die and stuff?” Then, he considered it. “Nah, forget it,” he said. “Sorry, that was stupid.”

The bus stopped abruptly at retro wwe t shirts the subsequent cease, and everybody who was standing struggled to remain on their ft. However these near the front of the bus have been additionally struggling to hearken to the conversation.

“No, no, not silly,” stated the palmist. “Good question. Long ago, I requested similar factor, you understand. I learn similar story in lots of fingers of my folks: story that stated one thing dangerous will happen. Catastrophe. However in my hand here, I read solely good thing. This line here, see, say I have comfortable family, comfortable future. No downside. So I feel: me, my family, no drawback. Now I know higher: all fingers affect each other, all lines run into each other, inform an enormous story. When the conflict ended in my nation, you understand, it was so dangerous for everybody. And my household? Gone, gone beneath the sea. You recognize, reading palm not like reading map. You feel and see right here in heart also, in stomach also, not simply here in your head. It is, how d’you say, tuition?”

“Intuition,” the teenager corrected him and tried to stifle a giggle. “Sure,” nodded the palmist. “Intuition.”

The teenager liked the sound of the old man’s voice. Its timbre reminded him of that of his lengthy dead grandfather, who also came from another country, one whose identify had since changed a number of instances as a result of wars.

“My stop not far away now,” the palmist continued. “This your final chance. Free. No cost.”

“Go on, kiddo,” the fats woman stated, nudging him along with her el- bow, smiling. She wished to hear this boy’s future. “I have been hear- ing. It is all proper. He is for real, I can tell now.”

That was what he needed. “Ok,” the teenager said and opened his proper fist. The previous man leaned forward, his face burning with seriousness as he trailed the assorted traces and contours and fleshy retro wwe t shirts knolls on the teenager’s palm. He bent the boy’s wrist this manner and that, kneaded and prodded the fingers and knuckles as if to measure the strength of his resolve. He made mysterious calculations in his own language, mumbling a number of singsong words to himself.

Lastly, the palmist appeared up and, in a solemn voice, spoke. “You’ll become an artist. When twenty-5, twenty-six, you’re going to vary very much. If you do not choose right, oh, so many regrets. However don’t be afraid. By no means be afraid. Transfer ahead. Always. You’ve got assist. These squares here, right here, see, they’re spirits and mentors, they come protect, information you. When you attain moun- taintop, folks in all places will hear you, know you, see you, your artwork, what you see, others will see. Oh, so much love. You number one someday.”

The palmist went on like this for a while. Despite his pains, which flared up intermittently, he went on to talk of the abnormal palms and unhappy faces that he had learn, and the misfortunes he noticed coming and the wondrous opportunities he saw squandered by worry and distrust. Divorces, marriages, and dying in households he read too many. Damaged romance, betrayals and adulteries, too pedestrian to recollect. Twice, nevertheless, he held hands that had committed unspeakable evil, and he was sick for every week every time, and once, he held the hand of a reincarnated saint. How many palms had he read since he came to America? “Oh, so many,” he answered his personal question, laughing. “Too many. Hundreds. Who care now? Not me.”

When the palmist completed speaking, the teenager retrieved his hand and checked out it. He discovered it heavy and overseas someway. Most of what the palmist stated made no sense to him. Sure he liked reading an excellent book every now and then as a result of reading was like being inside a cartoon, however for that very same reason he loved cartoons much more. And even when he bought good grades he hated his stupid English lessons, although it is true, he did write poetry, however only to himself.

However he additionally performed the piano. A singer? Maybe a graphic artist? Possibly a film star? He did not know. All the pieces was nonetheless potential. Apart from, turning twenty-five was up to now away, virtually a decade away.

Earlier than she obtained off the bus, the fats lady touched the teenager frivolously on the shoulder. “Plenty of luck, kiddo,” she said, and wiped a tear from the nook of her eye.

Nearing his stop, the palmist struggled to stand up, wincing as he did, and the teenager helped him. The teenager wished to say one thing to the old man but he didn’t. When the bus stopped, he flashed a smile as an alternative and waved to the palmist, who, in turn, gave him a look that he, in later years, would interpret as that of impossible longing. In later years, too, he would understand the palmist in various lights, cruel or benevolent or mysterious, depending on how he fared in his quest, and as soon as, in a fanciful moment, the palmist would appear to him as the first amongst many bodhisattvas in his life, and indicate that theirs was an inevitable encounter within the cosmic sense of issues. At that second, nonetheless, all he noticed was a small and sad-looking outdated man whose eyes appeared on the verge of tears as he quietly nodded as soon as to the teenager before step- ping out into the downpour.

The teenager lived close to the top of the line, past the park. As common, the bus was near empty at this stretch, and he sat down on the bench that the palmist had previously occupied. He may still feel the warmth of the vinyl.

With everybody gone now, he grew bored. He turned to the fogged-up window behind him and drew a sailor holding a bottle standing on a sloop. It sailed an ocean stuffed with dangerous waves. The boat, it appeared, was heading toward a woman with large, round breasts in a hula skirt and she was dancing on a distant shore. Behind her, he drew just a few tall mountains and swaying palm bushes. He hesitated earlier than mischievously giving her two, three more heads and eight or 9 more arms than she truly wanted to entice the drunken sailor to her island, after which he pulled back to look.

Amongst her waving arms, the teenager noticed a dashing world of males, women, and youngsters under black, inexperienced, crimson, blue, polka- dotted umbrellas and plastic ponchos. He watched till the folks and storefront home windows streaked into green: green pine bushes, fern groves, placid lakes, and well-tended grass meadows.

The park . . . beyond which was the sea.

Hear Andrew Lam read “Grandma’s Tales” on Thestory.org

The rain tapered off, and some columns of sunlight pierced the grey clouds, setting the street aglow like a golden river. The boy could not wait to get off the bus and run or do one thing–glide above the clouds if he could. Excessive above the clouds, a jet aircraft soared. People had been flying to marvelous countries to take up mysterious destinies.

With repeated circular movements of his hand, he wiped away sailor, boat, waves, and woman. Where the palmist’s thumbnail had pressed into the middle of his palm and made a crescent moon, he may still feel a vague tingling sensation. “A poet!” he stated to him- self and gave just a little snort. He checked out his cool, wet palm earlier than wiping it clear on his faded Levis. “What a day,” he mentioned, shaking his head.

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