What Price Honesty

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Marleybones had loved Lambykins since second grade. Never married, never asked, she’d persevered through his other women and ego-filled outbursts.

Geminis are mercurial, he’d explained.

It all changed with a Tarot reading. The significator, an upside-down heart pierced by three swords, foretold sorrow. But the outside formation moved from karma through completion. Luck was with her. Her boss was like a father to her. Her new ad campaign had won awards. She’d met someone else, just friends, but someone who liked her. She ghosted Lambykins. When he called, she was firm. She was free. Aquarians are not afraid of change.

ScareCity

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Applauding a soprano note, the musician’s circle welcomed Katie. A yellow school bus served as the troupe’s rolling home. The air burned her lungs, but it was better than staying at ScareCity with Affluenza three times her age.

“No mask?”

“State of the art filters there.” She pointed to the building edging the lot.

While the flutist gave her a brownie baked on charcoal, the viola player found a mask. They tuned up. When Katie sang, the timbre of her voice was untouched by the scourge of wildfire smoke. In the morning, she left with them to see the world.

Growth

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From a young age, she worked with her father on weekends at a community garden halfway between his home and her mother’s. The relationship developed slowly, the way carrots do. The woman did well in school and married, expecting a happily ever after.

On her son’s fifth birthday, her father collapsed while frosting a superhero cake. The cake was perfect. The party was not. Winter set in, hardening the ground.

In the spring, her mother dragged her daughter to the old garden plot. “It’s yours now.” Sifting the soil, she and her children planted seeds for future remembering.

Wanderer

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Theodore grew up in a family that was asset rich, but empathy poor. He dreamed of escape. Filling panniers with snacks and casual clothes, he biked inland, towards Fresno, meaning to sample cappuccino in every coffeehouse in every California town of fewer than 500 people.

Ted, his road name, was shocked that people in some places hadn’t tasted espresso. In one cafe, they percolated coffee on a stovetop using Folgers regular grind from the can. A dark brown, it smelled burnt. The waitress said, “Folks here like this brand.” It broke his heart. He married her. Then, she changed his life.

The Lovers

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The law degree did him no good. The teaching position tied her down. Free spirits, Alice and Steven couldn’t bring themselves to follow a conventional path any longer. They had some savings. They sold the condo and bought a shack in the woods.

After Eden, the arguments about money started. He found a side gig writing briefs. She asked her father for a book advance. If it hadn’t been for that, they might have starved. Settled in and surprised at the ways their paths diverged, each found happiness elsewhere. Ten years on, at the station, they didn’t recognize one another.

The Star

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 He takes stock of himself, answering questions about love, work, and money from an online survey. He’d expected something to be off. He’d hoped it wasn’t him. No such luck. Noting the site is ad-free, he trusts the advice.

Find your strengths, your weaknesses. Stop coasting. Clean up, make food and share it. Dig deep if you want to find fulfillment.

He’s at a loss. He goes to the pound. Gets a dog. A sweet pit bull, one whose ears were never clipped. She sleeps under his desk at work.  Tummy up, vulnerable, a support animal. Co-workers stop to pat her.