In the backroom closet of the storefront on lost heritage shop rows in the flossy strands of Singapore’s lanes, the velvet drapes and rastafarian incense bathed the stucco walls with Arabian splendor, a smoky boudoir plucked from the inner pages of a tourist catalog, as the aged petite Asian lady grazed my open palm with deep magenta talons.
“Very good, very good,” she croaked thinly, “you have the lines of an artist. A painter perhaps?” I nodded yes. That was easy–you didn’t have to read my palm to know that. My hairstyle is a tell-all of the creativity i possess within me. How stereotypical but accurately assumed all the same. “But will you have success?” she asked herself as she scrutinized my chickenscratch lines. “Your line of Saturn is crossed. You will be successful for your art and creativity. That is your strength, not your hobby….”
I smiled, already dreaming of being the next Autumn Whitehurst and choosing my ball gown for my award reception speech: “I’d like to thank God, my muse Flexi, for having faith in me, and Kristy for all the illustration ideas that sprouted from would-be replicated ibook designs.” Caroline Herrera. I would wear a Herrera.
“But,” she muttered.
But? But? No, there is no ‘but’.
“But, too bad…” she sighed. “You are too delicate. See these lines crossing the rest? You are too sensitive. If you are not careful, you will erase all your victories with shame.” She brushed my palm lightly with fingers that felt like they had been soaking in pickle juice for decades.
“If you are to be successful, and you will be, you will need to put aside this shame. You must not feel the shame. You must only live, and work.”
The shame? Did she mean skipping lunch with my extended family in Singapore in which we drove 6 hours down to visit for Chinese New year and going, instead, to the palm reader? Or was it giggling over found porn that I found tucked away under the bed of a certain someone? I got my Christian shame and existential malaise all mixed up.
The old woman pursed her lips, the red lipstick stretching like a vine tendril latching onto her mole, and turned my hand over. She patted my hand lightly, a solemn act of sympathy, and advised me to not be ashamed of anything I did… nor envious of others. I wouldn’t have the time, she explained.
The last thing she told me was to live with abandon and enjoy my coltish youth, for I was a fresh-cut flower. I would wilt between the ride home.
My life would end before I was in my 50’s; my palm said so, and the palm never lies. Her small gold earrings jingled as she said this, and she smoothed my hand between hers.
It’s time to quit smoking….