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Red Hot Christmas by Mara White, K. Larsen (17)





“The thumb is associated with the will and desire, do you see this here?” The woman asked as she pointed. Jackie did. Obviously. It was her hand. She glanced at her boyfriend, Kratch, and rolled her eyes. He grinned and stuffed more fried dough in his mouth. Jackie didn’t want to be at this table. Kratch had dragged her to the Tchotchke High School Fair because he wanted fried dough. And now here she was, sitting with a palm reader, of all people. Her sisters were running around at home, unsupervised, and she’d rather be with them—which was saying something.

“Yes. I see it,” she answered.

“This shows that your will and your desire won’t match up for a little while.”

“Is that a problem?” Jackie asked dryly. At seventeen, she didn’t expect her will and desire to match up for a while. She had plenty of time to figure things out. She still had a year of high school to get through. Her forehead bunched up, trying to see the lines the woman was talking about.

“No, no. There are great things showing for you. There are three main lines on each hand: the head, the heart and the life line.”

“Great. Thanks. So . . .” Her boyfriend laughed, as the woman went on, “You’re a flashy little thing who doesn’t like to stay still and is constantly keeping busy. The one you are with now will be a long relationship, but he is not the one.” Internally, Jackie already knew that. Externally, she cringed. He was standing right behind her did this woman have no tact? She loved Kratch but she had big plans. She was going to get out of this small town. She was going to go to college and she wouldn’t allow Kratch to hold her back from that. “You will have a true love affair, my dear. He will appear out of nowhere and sweep you off your feet. But . . .” she pulled Jackie’s hand closer and inspected. “This will not come easy because of your will and desire. You will have many lovers and for a time, feel that your love life is tumultuous.”

“Are you serious?” Kratch butted in. Jackie giggled. She couldn’t help it. This woman had balls. Calling out multiple lovers to an underage girl with her boyfriend standing right there. Jackie had to give her props for that.

The woman shot him an irritated look. “Sh, young man.”

Jackie yanked her hand from the lady’s grip and stood. Although she was pleased to hear she wouldn’t be marrying Kratch, she didn’t like hearing tumultuous and love in the same sentence. “Uh. Thanks. Here,” Jackie said and set a five dollar bill on the table. The woman winked at her, which made Jackie feel all sorts of weird.

“You got big plans with someone else?” Kratch asked, slinging an arm around her as they walked the fair.

She looked up at him. “Come on. You don’t believe in that crap, do you?” she asked.

“Naw. Just makin’ sure you don’t.” He leaned down and kissed her.

Jackie scoffed. “Definitely not. With my luck, I’ll be barefoot and pregnant with your rug rat three months after graduation.” With her luck she would, but she was doing everything in her power to change her luck, as the last years of high school ticked away. Kratch cackled. He didn’t laugh. It was louder than that, more . . . cackle-y. Jackie leaned her head on his shoulder as they checked out the other booths. A tumultuous love affair—what kind of nonsense was that.


By the time she got home, her dad had the girls in bed. No matter, she still went in and kissed each one on the forehead and made sure their blankets were pulled up to their chins. Jackie couldn’t sleep until she knew her younger sisters were safe and sound in their beds. When her head hit the pillow, she tried to fall asleep but her brain was in overdrive. “You will have a true love affair, my dear. He will appear out of nowhere and sweep you off your feet. There are great things showing for you.” She didn’t know what that meant. She came from a poor family, running a depressed farm. She was small town. Who wants small town? She had sisters to raise. Who would sweep all that off their feet, she wondered. More like sweep it under the carpet. Still, the idea took root. Jackie smiled. Maybe her luck really would change. Clichés were truths anyway—and wasn’t there one about there being another person out there for everyone?

She stretched out her limbs before pulling the comforter over her. A distinct pink pink pink prevented her from falling asleep. She stood up and stomped to the window.

“Jackie—I love you!” Kratch called up toward her. He knew she hated that sunshine song by Len. He had altered to include her name. She pressed her forehead against the window and used her hands to signal Kratch to go away. He beamed up at her and she couldn’t help but smile back. He was a goofball. She watched as he mouthed goodnight and started walking back through the fields between their farms.



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