Fortune Telling

by Stacy Wennstrom
As a child, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. You always began in a specific situation, the starting point you shared with all readers of that book, but based on your choices, any number of fates were possible. Take one path and you might find what you were seeking on page 58. Take a different path and you might find yourself surrounded by foes on page 19. While you forged your own path in this interactive book series, you did not have endless opportunities to rewrite your story. Eventually, you came to the end, whether this occurred after decision #1 or decision #4. It was a delicate balance of fate and free will.

Sometimes in literature, fortune is fixed. Oedipus the King might be one of the more extreme examples of this. The parents of Oedipus made every attempt to thwart Oedipus’ fate, but in doing so, they only created the circumstances that enabled Oedipus to kill his own father and marry his mother. Romeo and Juliet charted their own paths, but could not escape the fate that was written in the stars.

Sometimes, fortune is a bit more whimsical. In O. Henry’s short story, “The Gift of the Magi,” a poor wife sells her beautiful hair to buy a chain for her husband’s prized watch, only to find her husband has sold his watch to buy his wife combs for her hair.

Whether one’s fortune is determined by the stars or by chance or by the actions of one’s own hands and feet, you will find fortunes told in the fiction and poetry of our September issue.

The theme of our December issue is Origins, and submissions will be open from September 1st through November 1st. Our submissions guidelines can be found here. Halfway Down the Stairs is also still seeking a poetry editor, so please visit this page for more information.

Thank you to our readers, our authors, and to everyone who submitted to our September issue.
Stacy Wennstrom is a senior editor at Halfway Down the Stairs. For staff biographies, click here.

© 2016, Stacy Wennstrom