Spring, 2003
24-Hour Short Story Contest
3rd Place Winner!


She felt silly as the man with the odd accent looked down, making benign statements to her palm. Why had she allowed her sister to drag her to this psychic's convention?

She couldn't help but roll her eyes as he completed the reading with a dramatic wave of his arms. However, his final words shocked her...

One Step Beyond
by Lindsay Rose Musgrave, White Plains, NY

My sister does sad and pathetic really well.

"I hope you can make it," Sarah said with her head bowed, her voice almost a whisper. There are many things I?d rather do today than go to a psychic convention, but my sister is hard to resist.

Sarah could use some psychic distraction. My youngest niece graduates soon, and my brother-in-law decided his obligations as a husband will end the same day. He?s quitting Wall Street and moving to Key West to tend bar. Charles the stockbroker in his Armani suit and perfectly coiffed hair tending bar. How he?s going to survive I don?t know ? he hates to sweat, hates bugs, and drinks his beer from a glass. Ever since he read that Carl Hiassen novel a few months ago he?s been itching to run away from it all and kick back. He even thinks he?s got a shot at some of the eye candy that comes down for the weekend from Miami. Ha! Once Sarah?s lawyer gets through with him he won?t be a Sugar Daddy, he?ll be a Sweet ?n Low Daddy.

Sarah?s never been materialistic. She?s always been drawn to earthy-crunchy and metaphysical things ? astrology, tarot, and such. My friends and I used to tease her when she?d stay home to make candles and soap while we went out to clubs.

"You know, even Ma and Pa Ingalls let Laura out of the little house for a night on the prairie once in a while."

"I?m making peppermint soap for when you come home smelling like smoke," she replied.

"Oh I gave that up, and coke doesn?t smell," I laughed at my joke.

"It?s a wonder you can smell anything with how much you put up your nose."

The joke was on me, though, when Bloomingdale?s started carrying Sarah?s stuff and she sold the rights to some huge manufacturer. That?s how Charles and Sarah met ? he was a junior grunt in acquisitions and fell hard for her natural beauty at the closing meeting. Whenever his broker buddies complained about their high maintenance wives, Charles just bragged about his children?s organic earth mother. Poor, na?ve Sarah. I wish I could have told her the novelty was wearing off as Charles climbed the ladder. She doesn?t see it coming, so who was I to say no to her request for an afternoon of spiritual guidance?

The ballroom of the Hyatt was a sea of tie-dye and incense. India print tapestries ballooned from the kiosk walls. Lost souls in search of direction drifted amongst the vendors admiring the amulets and potions. You?d never believe the Feingold bar mitzvah was here just last night. I wandered the aisles looking for Sarah.

"You will stumble on enlightenment." A gypsy gazed into her crystal ball, nobody at the table in front of her.

"Were you talking to me?"

She didn?t answer, still staring at the ball.

"Wacko," I muttered.

I never believed in psychics. Like horoscopes, I thought they generalized enough so that anyone could read into what they were saying and make it apply to their own life. Sarah used to do tarot readings for me, but no matter what the cards were, she?d always have the same interpretation.

"I see a tall man in your future," she said.

"Is he cute?"

"He?s a trickster. He leads you to places you should not go."

"I certainly hope so."

"You need to be careful around this man."

I knew Sarah took it seriously, so I played along. Maybe a psychic?s reading today would open her eyes to Charles. A skipping, twirling conga line of women with tambourines forced me to step backwards into one of the booths.

"Welcome," said the old man at the table.

"Sorry," I said, "Just trying to get out of the way."

"Please sit and give me your hands." He reached out his hands to take mine, and I noticed he was blind. A blind palm reader, this should be good. I placed my hands palms up on his. He trembled and the color drained from his face.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"I am," he said and then relaxed and smiled. "I see a tall, evil man."

"I?ve heard that one," I replied. Must be a standard psychic response.

"You trusted this man."

"I did?"

"You purchased things from him ? name starts with ?D?."

I thought for a minute, the memory hazy. "Do you mean Darryl?"


Darryl the Dope Dealer. I guess he was on the tall side.

"You?re concerned about your sister," he continued. He was starting to give me the creeps.

"She?s here somewhere. I need to go find her."

"I will give her a message from you, if you?d like."

"Thanks, but I?ll speak with her myself."

"Oh, can she communicate with you, too?"

"Ever since she was fourteen months old."

He paused and his sightless eyes peered into mine. "I meant since you passed on."

What Lindsay won:

$200 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)


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