- Vol. 10
- Chapter 07
They were two motherless sisters, one copper-haired, the other golden-maned, who never rolled far away from each other. You could see them both, one tall, one small, clutching each other's hand, seated on the edge of the road, crabgrass, dandelions happy to serve as settee. The younger one waved at passing cars stuffed with happy families and boisterous well-fed children, trucks of crates of Florida oranges, trailers carrying grunting pigs, mooing cows. Dust rushed through their hair, their patched-up skirts, sneaked between pages of books nestled between the older sister's thighs. Sometimes, a kind stranger would offer the girls a handful of pennies, a cold hotdog in a bun, a bottle of water. The young sister split the hotdog between them, devoured her half, save for a morsel of the bread she fed the warbling magpies that sauntered around them.
Once, a van screeched to a stop real close. The sudden surge of air lifted their skirts, revealing pale thin legs underneath.
"What are you girls doing out here?" the man asked, after rolling down the window.
Before the older sister could utter a word, the little one said, “My sister is a seer. Would you like to have your palm read?”
The man licked his lips, twisted his neck back and forth. No other cars in sight. It was late afternoon, the sky a thunderous gray canvas for a dwindling sun peeling away lazy clouds after a flash of April rain.
The man hopped out of the van. “Oh yeah?” he said. Pebbles clanked under his heavy boots. Magpies tilted their head, eyeing him.
“It’s five dollars for a minute,” the little one said, and lifted her open palm, the other hand still holding her sister’s.
The man threw back his head with a roar. “Aren’t you greedy, little girl!”
He stepped closer, and realized the older sister was blind, her eyelids half-closed to hide a bland stare. It made him wince but soon, a cruel smile spread across his unshaven face. He pulled out a gun he’d tucked in the back of his jeans. The little one gasped.
The older sister who had sensed the danger as soon as she heard the man’s voice, squeezed her sister’s hand. In one swift move with her right hand, she grabbed her folding cane she’d kept behind her and swung it at the man’s face. The man cursed and shot blindly into the air. She sprung up like a lioness and struck him a second time. He covered his bloodied ear, screaming. A tribe of magpies swooped in, screeching, forcing the man to stumble backward and back into his van. He sped off and disappeared into the horizon.
The sisters unclasped their hands. The little one picked up the scattered books, placed them back into his sister’s lap. She covered her and herself with a thin shawl like a tent, placed her hand back into her sister’s, and lifted her face to catch the last sun rays of the day.