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The Gypsy Knew

Story ID:10032
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Caldwell ID USA
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I wrote this for the Writer's Weekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest.

Below is the topic I received and the story I wrote.

Except for the gypsy, it is mostly a true story. Georgia was my wife.

The cold wind battered the fortune teller's wagon, threatening
an early frost. The girls climbed down, simultaneously giggling
and shivering about the message the old witch had delivered. As
their feet pushed through the red and orange leaves, a shadow
emerged from the gnarled maple trees. A bent man in tattered
layers stepped in front of the girls, leaned over, and put
his crooked finger to his lips...


WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 950

The Gypsy Knew

The two girls giggled. Leaves fluttered around their ankles. They stepped into the gypsy’s
tent. The smell of dry grass was strong under the canvas that rattled under a strong fall wind.
Nine-year-old Terry held her little sister’s hand. Georgia was four.
They stepped up to the table, where the old woman sat.

It was a rare treat for the sisters. The fair was beyond their parents means, but this day,
they wanted their children to have fun. Their future was uncertain.

Terry handed a few coins to the fortuneteller.

The old lady cackled. ”So you want to know your future, do you?”

Georgia gripped her sister’s hand tighter. Both girls nodded.

“Sit!” The lady demanded and pointed to the chairs in front of her.

The girls did as they were told.
The woman, dressed in bright and ragged clothing, frightened Georgia.

“Give me your hands!” The woman demanded.
The old woman’s hands were cold and clammy. Georgia wanted to pull her hand free,
but was brave and held on. She watched the old lady’s eyes close and felt her grip grow tighter.
The Gypsy shuddered; her eyes opened and stared at Georgia, “You will marry a man from a
distant land, have two children.” She sighed. “But your life will be short.”

The lady turned attention to Terry. “I see darkness.”

Terry pulled her hand from the lady, “What?”

“I see darkness. You will be successful, but one day darkness will come. Both of you
face major changes.”

The young girls fled in fear. Their parents laughed, thinking the old woman
scared them in fun. The truth – the woman was mean, and quite right.

The year was 1956. Within months their country was in the midst of a revolution.
Georgia and Terry stared out the window of their apartment as Russian tanks rolled through
the streets, firing randomly at buildings.

One night they were roused from sleep by their parents. They took what they could carry
and left their building as gunfire barked not far away. After a few blocks, they were met by
others. They piled into the back of a truck driven by three intimidating men dressed in black.

The small group fled the city and soon reached the mountains at the border with
Austria. Other refugees arrived. One of the men in the truck motioned for the group to follow

The small band did as they were told. They climbed the mountains on a well-worn
trail. Older refugees fell behind and were forgotten. They crossed one mountain, then another.
Each time the guide assured them the border was just over the next rise.

Exhausted from hours of heavy hiking, they finally saw the lights of the guard towers
at the border. Georgia watched the guards in the towers scan the horizon. She held her
mother’s hand tightly. Tibor, her father, held Terry.

They huddled in the trees, out of reach of the spotlights. A man in tattered layers of
clothing stepped in front of the girls, leaned over, and put his crooked finger to his lips,
“SHHH!” He warned. “Go that way …one at a time. You’ll be free soon.”

Their mother went first. She bolted from the trees, ran through the early snow, and
disappeared into the forest on the other side of the border.

“Terry, you next.” Their father said. Terry stared at him, pale with fright. “Run
as fast as you can. Follow your mother’s tracks.”

Terry stood still, afraid to move. “Go!” Their father demanded.

Like a startled rabbit, Terry ran and disappeared into the darkness. “Follow your
sister, Georgia. I’ll be right behind you.” Georgia followed her sister’s tracks as the guards
turned their backs, so the people could flee the dangers of their homeland.

Weeks later, the exhausted family boarded a ship in Amsterdam for the trip to
Canada. They found peace at last.

In 1984, dressed in a tuxedo, Georgia’s new husband raised his glass of champagne
to toast the father of the bride, “Tibor, I thank you for your courage. You fled your country and
migrated to Canada to find safety for your family. If you had not done this, I would not have
Georgia as my wife today. I love her and I thank you.”

They had two children – a boy and a girl.

Georgia’s mother died of cancer the next year. Her father died of a stroke several
years later. In 1999, Terry was murdered by one of Canada’s most notorious mass murders.
She was the eighth of his nine victims. Alerted by concerned co-workers, her beaten and
stabbed body was found by her landlord.

The killer was convicted of five of the murders and spends the rest of his life in prison.

In 2004, Georgia’s husband held her hand. Their daughter held her other. Georgia gasped
for breath. Her liver and kidneys had failed. Time was up. She took one final breath, let it go and
the heart monitor displayed a flat line.

The gypsy knew.

Michael T. Smith