A Conventional Woman by Len Kuntz

She was known as a conventional woman, but shocked people by marrying a blind man named Eugene.

Before their union, she’d met Eugene on a dare, he being a palm reader at the county fair. He smoothed her hand as if it were a sovereign flag and, wearing a straight face, declared that she would wed him within the year.

Initially, Eugene’s audacity repulsed her, but as days passed she found herself picturing him tracing his fingers over her face, Eugene’s fingers like paint brushes across her body, eager to fill in her open spaces with bright, hopefulness.

They wed on a remote island, and when Eugene fell ill, the dutiful new wife went in search of stomach medicine but found instead a small house-front offering tarot and palmistry readings.

The discovery of the place in an exotic land just hours following their matrimony seemed a good omen, so she strode confidently through the rope of beads hanging in the doorway.

Cowbells clattered. A man, stooped but handsome, appeared and told her to sit.

She slipped off the wedding ring, feeling her pulse rippling where bone would be.

His fingers felt hot and certain on her skin. Sure enough, within minutes, he did it—he claimed they would be wed by the following summer.

She screamed, “No!”

“It’s true,” he said. “Either that or your death.”

She put her ring and ran out the door, into the busy street, not seeing the careening tourist bus that would run her down.

.

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14 Comments

Filed under Len Kuntz

14 responses to “A Conventional Woman by Len Kuntz

  1. Wow, best coincidence I’ve read so far. Great story.

  2. Another wow, Len. Something Chekhovian here (a very fine feat) – calls to mind “The Darling” – but oh so much darker. (Yow.) And tighter. Wow again – a collusion of coincidences! (PS is it *coincidence* that two stories this week – at least, so far – have fairs in them???)

  3. You make us believe the unbelievable. Well done, Len!

  4. Melissa McEwen

    Chekhovian indeed Catherine! I love Chekhov.

    Len, I read the first paragraph and I was giddy with excitement because I couldn’t wait to read the rest.

    And this: “He smoothed her hand as if it were a sovereign flag” — woweewow.

    Good storytelling Len!

  5. thanks you guys. i really appreciate your reading and remarking.

  6. I’ll offer this: Chekhov funneled through Roald Dahl! (his short stories), the way the narrative is delivered, as if under stage lights, with darkness always ready at the end. Can there be anything coincidental in a Tarot card story?

  7. wow, reminded me of an escher drawing or of one of the absurdist stories of gunter eich…(cp his radioplay “dreams”). love it.

  8. Kim Hutchinson

    Not to echo Marcus (forgive me), but wow. Surreal and so cool! Just loved it.

  9. I saw none of the twists coming. So yes, a definite wow.

  10. such a good dark twist of fate.

  11. okay, i’m going give this a ‘wow’ too ;^)

    so much drama, but it works. and the best response to the theme i’ve read yet. peace…

  12. Michael Parker

    Wow, this was a wonderfully unique and captivating story! The bizarre twist of fate in this feels like an old fable. Len, your prose is wonderful, especially this section: “she found herself picturing him tracing his fingers over her face, Eugene’s fingers like paint brushes across her body, eager to fill in her open spaces with bright, hopefulness. ”
    Great title, too.
    best,

  13. I suppose you’ve been wow’d out by this time. Very nice! Your first sentence is wonderful – a blind palm reader – inspired. She was ready for someone to fill in her open spaces – open to having her hand held. Doris

  14. Pingback: Week #41 – Coincidence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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