A/N: This story is rated T for violence, harsh situations, and slight innuendo.

"Is there something wrong with my age

"Is there something wrong with my age?" I asked the fortuneteller. She sat in front of me, not looking at me, just staring down at the cards she never seemed to stop shuffling. Until she actually did a reading, that is. She smiled, nodded her head a bit, mumbled something to herself, then chuckled a bit. I was beginning to wonder if she was even listening anymore.

I waited another moment, just to see if I'd get an answer, but she just kept staring at the cards; shuffling them. I had just turned to walk away when she finally spoke to me. "Sonny, I'm sure your age is just fine for you. But you see, at your age, the only fortune I can see is –" I heard her pull a card from the deck – maybe from the top, maybe the bottom, maybe the middle – I couldn't see and so I couldn't tell you. But I turned to look at it anyway. She was holding up The Child, a card used to symbolize youth (of course), and I knew from prior experience that it generally implied renewal, a new arrival, longevity, etc. depending on the person for whom it was drawn. In my case, I think it had a bit more direct meaning.

She watched me as I looked at the card. I'm sure she could read my expression as well as she could the cards: the mystified expression I must have had while I tried to think of what the card meant, then the disappointment as I realized it probably meant just what it said. Luckily, she interrupted my thoughts just as I was garnering hope that maybe, just maybe, it really meant something. "At your age, boy, you have too many possibilities in your future for any Telling to actually mean anything. Adults settle into a pattern of living, eventually, and so their actions, and the reactions of the world around them, begin to behave a certain way. The older a person gets, the more their life settles, and so it becomes easier and easier to Tell. Even seemingly unpredictable events are drawn into the pattern of one's life."

I must have looked pretty dumbfounded right about then, because she started to laugh, "You'll see; once you're older." She looked back down at her cards and started to shuffle them again. I stood there for a second, but I knew that that was the best I was going to get. I walked away, back towards the crowd. I heard her start to mumble again, but this time I was able to pick up a phrase as I walked off. "I just hope you're right about this," Whatever that means. I didn't even bother trying to make sense of it; she was clearly out of her mind and I knew she wasn't speaking to me anyway.

This would never have happened, I reflected, had it not been for the couple towards whom I now walked. The guy had stopped me on the street several days ago, asking if I know a decent Teller. Well, as I said earlier, I often spent some time listening to people talk to this lady, because, crazy or not, she got good results, or so I had been told. I never saw the results, myself, just what people told me. But this guy asked me, so I took him to her. I was going there anyway. Along the way, I found out he's got this girl he likes, and she likes him, but her father hates his guts. So he asked the Teller-lady for some advice on how to get the girl's father's approval so they can get married. Well she did her thing, like she does, and off he walked, not exactly happy, but not as angry as some I'd seen leaving. Of course, I had no idea what she said to him: "The past is public, but the future is private" – Teller's creed, but I'm sure you already knew that. I know I sure as heck don't agree with it, but that's not the point.

Anyway, he walked off without so much as a thank you, even though he had offered to make it worth my while if I brought him. I thought about going after, but I couldn't think of what I'd say to the guy once I caught up to him; it's not like we had agreed on some kind of payment or anything.

So couple of days passed, and I'm standing in the crowd listening to some guy telling the lady how well her Telling worked, and how quickly he managed to get his girlfriend to become his fiancée. Now, while this did kind of strike a chord, it wasn't exactly an uncommon tale, so I thought nothing of it: until the guy turned around and saw me. He rushed over so fast that I nearly decked him. Luckily, I remembered him in time, and he didn't even realize I had tensed up. Well, maybe I should have decked him, because the next thing I knew, he had given me a penny so that I could go get my fortune told by the Teller-lady, and he started pushing me in that direction.

Well, ok, sure, I wouldn't mind getting my fortune told, and you saw how upset I was when she claimed it was impossible, but I could probably think of a couple hundred things I'd rather get with a penny: "Silver's not cheap" – the money lender's unofficial creed, and one I knew from experience to be more true than not.

Now, as I walked back towards the couple, I wondered if the guy would ask for his money back. There was nothing wrong with them still being there – lots of people hung around to listen, even though they couldn't hear the predictions. I think some stuck around because people are naturally drawn towards mystery, like me, but I think most were there because they thought the Tellers resembled hope - change your life around for just a penny, that sort of thing. But this couple wasn't just hanging around listening; they we waiting for me. I could tell, since the guy kept waving his hand towards me like I should hurry. Well, I didn't have anything else to do for a little while, so I walked over.

"You look upset," he said as I came close. "Don't be. I know what she tells you probably seems impossible, but it'll all work out," He stopped at this point to give the women next to him a sideways, but well-meant, hug. "Trust me." They both smiled at each other, making me feel really out of place.

It was that then I realized what he had said; he didn't know that I hadn't gotten a fortune, since he wouldn't have been able to hear her response. All he'd heard was me say something about my age. It kind of surprised me, though: it required an effort on her part to block out her response from others' hearing, and Tellers only do that during a proper Telling. In retrospect, I guess I got a free Telling, even though I didn't learn anything. Well, I wasn't about to go back and pay her, that was certain, and I didn't much feel like giving the penny back to the guy. I know it must make me sound like a thief, but I'm not really: just an opportunist. Besides, as I figured it, he owed me from a couple days back.

The couple was still standing there smiling at each other, only much closer now, with their foreheads pressed together. It didn't look like they'd miss me, so I started to walk away. But as soon as I did, the guy must have looked over at me, because he said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm afraid I'd forgotten you were there." Both he and the woman blushed pretty deeply as he said it, and I knew it wasn't because they thought I wasn't worth their attention; they had just gotten a bit … distracted.

"No problem," I said, wondering if there was something else the guy wanted. He was kind of starting to creep me out, actually.

"I didn't get a chance to thank you properly the other day, can we buy you some lunch?" He asked. Well, I wasn't about to turn down an offer like that, especially not from somebody who had just thrown away a silver penny for a street rat like myself to get his fortune told. But the guy was kind of making me nervous: the people I knew never bought each other lunch unless they were family, friends as close as family, or friends hoping to start a family. Well, since his girlfriend was there, I figured he thought he owed me more than I thought he did, and so he thought we fell into that second group. People are funny about stuff like that. Even so, the penny that I had pocketed was more than enough payment, so I figured should say no.

"If you'd like to," I told them, "but I really can't stay too long, I'm expected to be somewhere soon." Ok, so it was a lie, but I think they knew that, so it wasn't really a lie. Well, maybe the man didn't know, he just got all flustered, assuring me that he wouldn't keep me long, that he knew just the place, and I should follow him. But the woman knew; I could see it in her eyes as her boyfriend ranted. We both followed him up the street … all the way up to Market Street.