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by Leah Mueller

Content Warnings: none

The plastic soothsayer huddled in her wooden booth, separated from the crowd by Plexiglass. Above her head, a sign read ‘Izabella.’ Not her given name, but nothing was real in the flea market.

Crowds of people passed through the corridors. Most of them wanted to see the gorilla, Ivan. He sat sullenly inside his pen, surrounded by piles of bananas and wilted lettuce.

Izabella felt resentful. She dispensed fortunes, and Ivan dangled from ropes for folks’ amusement. He was far more popular, however. This puzzled her. Ivan emitted a pungent smell that should have acted as a deterrent.

When someone put a dollar in Izabella’s booth, her bejewelled fingers hovered above a dusty crystal ball. They moved back and forth as she intoned, ‘Your fortune is in the stars. Give me money, and I’ll tell you more.’

Another dull afternoon. Then, suddenly, a young girl approached, her small, grubby hands filled to overflowing with bills. One by one, she plugged them into the machine. Izabella did her best to keep up. She dispensed a series of cards printed with lucky numbers and begged the girl for additional cash.

Without warning, Izabella’s booth began to shake as if it were in the throes of an earthquake. She tried to continue her work, but all her attempts proved useless. The crystal ball detached from its pedestal, rolled from the table, and hit the floor with a dull thud. 

Izabella heard a ripping sound and realised that her booth’s steel brackets had given way.

When the enclosure unmoored itself and ascended through the linoleum ceiling, she felt only relief. Her body seemed oddly weightless, as though gravity no longer existed. It drifted upwards like a leaf. 

The grimy tiles parted, and she headed towards the sky. After thirty years, it was finally quitting time. For once, she had an advantage over Ivan. Stupid gorilla.

Izabella could see her patron’s upturned face and goodbye wave. ‘Thanks for the fortunes!’ she cried. Her expression looked radiant, beautiful.

‘Any time.’ 

Izabella could hardly wait to see the world outside her booth. After so many years, she had a lot of catching up to do. For the first time in her life, she couldn’t care less what the future held.

Leah Mueller: 

Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. Her most recent books, "Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices" (Czykmate Press), "Death and Heartbreak" (Weasel Press), and "Cocktails at Denny's" (Alien Buddha) were released in 2019. Her new chapbook, "Land of Eternal Thirst" will be published in summer, 2021. Leah’s work appears in Rattle, Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere. Visit her website at

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