Prompt: the old man stares hard at you, seeming to see into your soul. “I will tell you your future.” he says, “but first you must tell me mine.” written 7 January 2021
The night market was alive with music and magic. Dancers in silk skirts twirled between stalls selling amulets, potions, and all manner of enchanted objects. Among the bright colors and bouncing music, a small, hooded figure maneuvered clumsily through the crowd.
Pulling her hood farther down, she searched the stalls until she found the one draped in purple gauze and advertising a fortune teller. Stepping through the curtain, the noise of the night market was dulled to a murmur. The tent was lit by a single oil lamp hanging in the far corner. Sitting on a cushion was a frail looking man swathed in as many layers of gauze as his stall. A short table sat between them, scattered with a variety of items she knew he would not need. For the first time that night, she put her hood down, revealing eyes the silver of pure moonlight. Eyes that matched his exactly.
The man smiled, and said in a language no one else in the market would understand, “I will tell you your future, but first you must tell me mine.”
She sat cross-legged on the empty cushion and replied, “Do you want pretty lies or vague truths?”
He laughed. “How did you find yourself in the land of mortals?”
“Same as you. I fell.” she shifted uncomfortably. “How do I go back?”
“It’s not that simple, child. You have to live out a full human lifetime and make human connections.” he said.
She scoffed. “And you make human connections by conning them?”
“I have loved and lost already.” he spat. “Now I wait for my body to fail me so I can return to the sky.”
Her face twisted in anger and disdain. “Why should I lower myself to such a pitiful existence? Why would I make connections only to lose them?”
The old man smiled sadly at her. “To remember to be human, child. Without it, our light fades.”
He was right, she knew, and she slumped, her energy gone. “It’s not an easy thing to do on purpose.” she complained. He reached over and gently took her hand.
“I know, child. You must do your best to live without focusing on the weight of your past. Humanity is not easy, and neither is love. Such is our curse.”
The girl hung her head, despaired. As tears fell, she felt his arms wrap around her and she began to sob. He held her as she cried, mourning her fall, her curse, and her own humanity. When she was done, he quietly helped her clean her face and gather herself. They embraced, and she pulled her hood back over her eyes before returning to the bustle of the night market.