The Fool

Sinéad Delaney

Originally published in Sledgehammer Lit

My palm lines are a mess. I couldn’t even count them all. There are too many and I can’t see where one begins and one ends. They’re vaguely uniform in places, hundreds of parallel lines crossing over long crooked ones. Lots of crosses and squares. Under my middle finger, is a deep misshapen star, straggling into three horizontal lines. It’s deeper than the other markings.

My friend tried to read my palm once and she couldn’t find any of the things she had taught herself to look for. I asked what it means, that my palm is so full of lines.

“It just means you’ll have an interesting life,” she said.

In my thirty years, there have been no shipwrecks, no quicksand, no swashbuckling pirates. I studied science and then became an accountant. I love books and I write stories. Boom. Pow. The End. I’ve had betrayals, passing without assassination. Not even a shoot-out. No epic love stories. No avengements. My life would never make a Spanish Novella.

One theme that has been running throughout my life, is a lack of settling. I’m constantly changing direction, always pushing forward, but often facing different directions.

My mother used to say, “Our Sinéad is a force to be reckoned with.”

She thinks anyone who has ever underestimated me has regretted it. I’m not sure she’s right. Not because they shouldn’t, but because people think all kinds of things. Sometimes, things that don’t even make sense. My Dad says that some people are too stupid to realise they’re idiots. I’m lucky then, because I accepted my idiocy quite young.

I remember walking past a man that bullied me in school when we were teenagers. I waved at him to be polite, and he ignored me. He had his nose in the air and a smug smile on his face. I found it pathetic. He was in his thirties but not really. Mentally, he was still outside Woodwork, telling one of the shy girls without brothers that they were ugly or stupid. I remember thinking, I’m glad I know I’m an idiot, or I’d be marching through Tesco with my nose high, having people pity me. Whichever way I’m pushing, at least I haven’t stayed still.

I have too much grit. If I don’t settle, the opportunities won’t reduce, so I just push forward, always. I see myself as a mountain goat, climbing up, even though rocks are falling under my hooves. I am aware though that romantically, no-one wants a mountain goat. Unless they take the mountain goat, and try to make it a lap dog, and mountain goats can’t be lap dogs. They’re an entirely different animal.

I’m both independent and gentle, and people find you are one or the other. I don’t want to be mean. I also don’t want to be an appendage of someone else. I don’t want someone deciding where I go, and what I can say, planning out all my days on my behalf. It’s funny, my friends in school worried about dying alone. I worried about being erased.

I hate lad jokes, because they aren’t real jokes. Punchlines should be surprises. It always seemed to me lad jokes exist to dehumanise. Make women into caricatures so you won’t feel guilty when you attack. I don’t want this. I don’t want to have my personality invented.

Sometimes when it’s raining, I like to open the window a smidge, so I can hear the rain in my dreams. A few times, I dreamed druids turned me into a wolf. They left me in the woods. I caught a rabbit and I shook my head vigorously to break its neck. I sank my teeth into it, and tore its flesh into bits so I could eat it. I howled at the moon, and galloped over logs, racing head first through thorns. The dream ended with me finding the druids so they could break the spell.

Soon I’ll be married. To whom I don’t know, but that’s how it goes. We’ll probably have children too and I’ll need to stay still. No ships, no mountains, no thorn bushes, and definitely no pushing forward.

I’ll show my husband all the lines on my palm. I’ll tell him I think my thought lines are like my palm lines, making crosses, squares and stars. He’ll sigh and get an iron to smooth them out. Then he’ll kiss me good night and tell me to focus. And I’ll cry salty tears. Because I used to have dreams about being a wolf, and eating a rabbit raw.

SINÉAD DELANEY is 30 and from rural Ireland. She enjoys languages and writing. She also enjoys stargazing when cloud cover allows. She loves to read and enjoys many types of genres, believing it's important not to restrict yourself of different ways of seeing the world. After lockdown, she hopes to go to beer gardens in the sun, and walk around the shops without fogged up glasses.