When I was thirteen years old, my dad enrolled me in a youth employment program. What that meant was that while my friends were having pool parties, going to the movies, or watching TV, I was in a government building with no windows at a desk near my chain-smoking boss' office. My job was to answer and manage nine phone lines, do filing, and anything else I was asked to do. During my breaks, I'd read Seventeen magazine, a rag aimed at teen girls that offered self-confidence advice, fashion tips, recipes, and suggestions for trendy new things to try.

The office was ten miles away and my parents were busy, so I had to learn how to take the city bus all by myself. As a mostly-sheltered teen, I think this was the hardest part of my summer. Older men seemed to gravitate my direction and—even though there were plenty of other seats—they tended to settle down right beside me, creeping me out.

One of the riders on my regular route would sit nearby but not right next to me. He was on the youngish side—somewhere between twenty and twenty five. He was nice enough but smelled of malt liquor and cigarettes. He would smile a toothless grin each morning and eventually we began chatting, little bits at a time. His name was Kevin. He was kind, and I started looking forward to seeing him since he seemed to keep the scarier men away.

During lunch, I read an article entitled, "Palm Reading for Fun and Profit." It seemed pretty straight forward and so I decided to test it out on my friend on the way home.

Artwork by Julie Paschkis

Artwork by Julie Paschkis

I told Kevin about my new-found skill and asked him to hold out his hand. As I moved my finger up and down the deepened, calloused grooves of his hand, I said things like, "Oh...interesting!" and "Hmmm..." and "Wow!" Impressed by the adjectives, he pressed me to tell him more.

"Well," I said, flush with sudden power, "This line is your life line. It tells you how long you'll live."

"Yes? And...?"

I looked into his eyes and saw total belief.

"Well... according to your palm, you are going to have a long and happy life!"

He seemed relieved. I continued.

"And this? This is your love line. See how it branches off here? This shows how many kids you are going to have. It looks like... hmm... three. Yes. Three."

His gummy grin told me he was buying it. With my new found power, I realized I could say just about anything. I returned to gazing at his palm.

"You have had a hard life, " I said.

"Whoa. My palm told you that?"

Actually everything about you told me that.

"Yes," I continued, "but even though your life has been hard, great things are in store for you... I can see that by your fate line. But..."

"But what?"

"But, you will need to make some changes that will help you get there. Only you know what you need to do to make that happen."

It was his stop. He got up, thanked me profusely, and exited the bus. It looked like he was beaming. That was the last time I saw Kevin. 

I don't know what happened to him after that, but I wish him the best and hope that that he left with the fresh possibilities that Seventeen magazine and I predicted.