“Fifty cents,” the kid says, holding out his scarred hands and smiling with blackened tiny teeth in a thin-lipped mouth.” He must have sensed my hesitation. “That’s a bargain, Mr. A turn of the focus ring and wallah, your future, plain as the nose on your face. Clarity like you’ve never known. Your whole life lies inside this lens. All you have to do is step up and take a look—but first, the coin.”
His sales pitch is smooth, practiced. The kid’s hand takes on a new urgency, creeping closer to the coin in my palm. This is all the silver I own and is more than most people have. I squeeze my hand and the coin into a fist and walk away—from the angry kid, from the sorry glimpse of a future I won’t be able to change anyway. At least that’s what I tell myself as the next person in line steps up to the Viewmaster. No use staying to watch her joy or pain.
Besides, nightfall isn’t far off, and I need to make it to shelter before the shadows convulse in the horizon. We all do. Don’t need a Viewmaster to tell me the Scaries will come out tonight.
I know that much. And maybe that’s all I need to know to survive another night.
For more flash fiction, visit the blog page. Every week I write a postcard short story to go with one of my images. Enjoy!