The Dead Man and the Palm Reader / Tristan Foster

So you, Dead Man, if you cast your mind back to that day in the market, you, when you went to the palm reader, wandered into her tent almost by mistake. This is what you told me, remember? Wandered in as if tricked. Thinking it was an extension of the stall next door, where you had already spent forty-five minutes turning over the things for sale, the usual flea market flotsam, busted clocks and cameras and faux bone china, but also things which were jarringly personal. The stall holder stood there by his tables which were set with photo frames holding moments from his life, at picnics or at ceremonies, weddings and birthdays, or at the beach or on holiday, on the steps of a cathedral or in the snow. With a dog or a cat, family pets that had come and gone from their lives. Ashtrays with ash and cigarette butts piled in them and clumsy painted portraits. There were documents and files and notebooks which were also, it became clear, as you leafed through them, his. And of course they were, these were his things; they were all for sale. But it was as if he didn’t know the protocols of erasure one must undertake before you sell your things. You have to step outside the item, become the middleman, as if the leather jacket a customer is haggling with you for was never actually yours, you had never climbed into it, it had never warmed you, not in a million years. He stood there, melancholy eyes, as if selling pieces of himself, offcuts of his memory. Or no, a month old buzz cut, eyes wide, as if in shock. That is my detail, not yours.


Hadn’t really wanted your palm read, did you, but there you were, in her stall, sitting and slurping the dregs of your drink, your hand upturned in hers. Hand cut and stained and calloused but she ignored all of that and traced your life line, four times, five times. Traced and traced her finger along your palm. Made the comment you would live a long, long time, a millennium, an aeon, your life line so long and so neat, it was as if you would never, ever meet your death.

Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years, co-authored with Kyle Coma-Thompson.

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