I love a short story that can convince me it has an entire world built behind it in the very first sentence, and this story is one of those. A pure joy to read, from start to finish.
Review of Greta Hayer, “The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 306 (June 18, 2020): listen online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.
Knowing what lies in store for you versus the perhaps illusory freedom that comes from not knowing is the conflict that lies at the heart of this story. As its title suggests, the story revolves around two main characters, both unnamed. The augur somehow has the ability to foretell a person’s future by examining “every bump and line in his flesh.” The girl abandoned on his doorstep is, from the start, a spirited creature. Each comes to rely on the other, but the relationship is not without conflict. Though the augur has taught his adopted daughter to read and write, he refuses to teach her his way of foretelling the future. When one day he finds the girl reading a priceless volume called The Diviner’s Book of Augury, he rips it from her hands and throws it in the fire. Was this cruel or kind? I have my own opinion, but I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself.