“You’re late husband owes us a debt and it must be paid ‘fore you leave the country, lil’ lady,” the man says with an Irish accent. His thick mustache twitches with joy at my misfortune.
I swallow hard and blink back tears as I stare at the one-way ticket in my hand. It had taken every dime I could make to buy it. This was my chance, the only chance I’d get to start over. “But–” My chin quivers.
“But nothin’. It’s the law. Your husband owes us so you gotta pay.” He takes a step closer, his large shoulders looming above my head. “Now.”
“I don’t have any money. How can I–”
He grins and shifts the toothpick that sticks between his teeth. “That third-class ticket you’re holding would do the trick. Always wanted to explore the world, see how much money I could make somewhere other than this dirt heap.”
My heart sinks. How long would it take for me to save up again? Where would I live until I was able to afford another ticket? “And I wouldn’t owe anymore? Ever again?”
The man laughs deep in his gut. Chills spill across my skin.
“You’re debt will be paid, lil’ lady. On my word.” He holds out a hand. “Do we have a deal?”
I duck my head and accept my fate. Never a day in my life had I ever had anything other than bad luck. Guess today was no different.
As a single tear slips down my cheek, I hand him the ticket.
He squeezes it in his palm with a glimmer in his smile. “Thanks! Can’t wait to see what the Titanic will hold!” before he slinks away.
©Laura L. Zimmerman