Old China Hand

The old china hand is crazed with hairline cracks, in addition to the maze of painted lines meant to represent the archetypal palm with five trunks in whose dubious shade a palmist has taken shelter.

Her shop is deserted. The hand stands guard in the window, flanked by crimson curtains like a morning sky flushed with portent: sailors, after all, take warning from a single hair in the pilot’s rosy palm. If he wants to take a loss in the futures market, that’s his own business, but no one wants to see him go blind.

And though the palmist knows this simulacrum like the back of–well, you know, she has yet to notice the spider setting up housekeeping above the Mount of Venus, stretching a hyperbolic Line of Fate between thumb & index finger, & pulling it taut with a Heart Line to the far side of the Mount of the Moon.

The web blossoms like a handkerchief between the fingers, like a magician’s tissue of lies. Such legerdemain is not for the slight of hand. Now the spider waits for customers as warily as the owner of the hair salon across the street, a quintessential small-town girl who feels more than a little disoriented by the china hand’s cheerful, permanent wave.

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