Through His Lens (edited version)

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Is this all a dream?

As I walked through the velvet curtains a waft of woody incense hit me and smoke plumes swam through the hazy air in front of my face. It was a comforting smell and it reminded me of being by the lake with Harrison the other day.

That day.

The tent was coloured red and white stripped on the outside, whereas in here it was midnight blue. Stars were speckled across the ceiling that appeared to be twinkling as if they were real.

It didn't look like anyone was in the room with me so after calling out with no response I walked over to a cabinet pushed up to one side of the tent. It was filled with rows of different coloured and shaped bottles. Luggage tags were hanging off of them with written inscriptions that I could barely read. One particular bottle caught my attention amongst the crowd. The liquid inside was a cloudy colour yet it had an ink black trail running through. The black was dancing around the bottle but it never mixed with the white which would've turned it a moody grey.

I turned my head to try and read the tag on the side. I squinted to try and read the scrawl until eventually it clicked.

'Nightmares?'

'I think you already have enough of those already don't you?'

A voice from behind me said making me jump out of my skin and almost drop the bottle.

I turned around clutching a hand to my chest and found a middle-aged slender woman in front of me. She was dressed in a black flowy dress that made her red hair more vibrant. I guess if you work in this place you have to have interesting locks.

'I'm sorry I didn't realise I was keeping you waiting. I thought I was alone.'

'No, I'm the one who should be sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you. I was here but I was intrigued to see what you made of the room. I like seeing what area draws people in.'

I nodded in understanding but I was sure when I came in no one was in here. I even called out and there was no response.

'Please take a seat.'

She motioned for me to sit on a wooden chair in front of an apothecary table, herself sitting on the opposite side.

Laid out were many different objects ranging from a crystal ball, to an empty cup on top a saucer and then a pendulum on a silver chain. However, it was a pack of black and white cards that caught my attention the most. The artist in me was attracted to the beautiful drawings on the back of the cards ranging from flowers, to trees and then the night sky. I wondered what the pictures on the other side look like.

'So tarot is your medium of choice?' She asked quizzically. She smiled softly but had a look on her face that said she was holding back from saying something.

'I guess so?'

'I find that a certain object speaks to people most. It seems the cards have chosen you and you have chosen them.'

'Ok then, yes let's use the cards.'

She passed them face down to me and asked me to shuffle them. Then once I was done I needed to split them into four piles.

'I've met you before.' Her eyebrows dipped showing confusion as her almost black eyes ran over my face.

'I don't think so. I've never been here before.'

'Hmmm no I'm sure I have.' Ok this woman was seriously strange. Hopefully I could just get this done and over with quickly so I could go and find my friends.

'Ok if you say so.'

I carried on doing as I was told and then looked to her for assistance once I'd created the four piles.

'Now choose one of the four. Whichever one speaks to you the most.'

I tried to remain polite and not roll my eyes but the only thing currently speaking to me was my stomach and it was saying let's go, I'm hungry again.

I pointed towards the first pile which made her smile and proceed to put all the cards back together again, ensuring the group I'd chosen was on top. Then she started laying out the cards, positioning them in was I supposed was a specific pattern.

I glanced over the cards and I smiled when I realised I was right, the illustrations were beautiful. They were in black and white but had flecks of foil that glistened when the candle light shadows danced over them.

'Ok, so the cards are laid out to give you a reading on your past, present and future. The cards can intertwine with one another and it's important to remember your future may be hinted in the cards, however it is not set in stone. Your actions in your present will influence your future but the cards will give you an idea of what it is looking like if you stay on the path that you're currently on.'

She looked at me deep in the eyes with intent like she was giving me a warning but also staring straight into my soul. I shivered which made her smile.

'Your first card is the three of swords.'

Without even know what the card meant I knew it related to me. The image showed a pulsating heart pierced by three sharp swords. Swollen clouds floated in the sky with droplets of rain drizzling down, some making contact with the heart and mixing with the blood from the three wounds.

'This card is a power one and it's representing something from your past. It can mean many things, heartbreak, hurt, betrayal, but the common factor of them all is an element of grief. The three of swords for you was reversed meaning this pain was caused fairly recently and you may still be recovering from this. It may not feel like it now but grief is a necessary part of life. It's something we all go through at some part of our life and it can make us stronger as a person. Sometimes life gives us no choice and makes a decision for us but what will determine your future is how you deal with it.'

She tapped her finger on the card next to it before looking at me again.

'The wheel of fortunes also come up in your past and it can mean both good and bad. It is a cycle out of our control and can be a catalyst for a turn of events. For you I think it links with the three of swords in terms of grief. It's important to remember with this though that the wheel is constantly turning and with bad also comes good. Life's a balance so look towards the happy.'

I sat silently staring at the two cards she'd been speaking about. I guess the cards can be subjective and will mean different things to different people but it was weird to think that the cards did make sense to me. If I hadn't lost my family I would never have moved to America. I'd have never met the people I consider close friends or even family now.

'The next card is the Hermit.' she said pulling me back from my thoughts.

The card showed a man that looked to me like a grim reaper. A cloaked man was holding his weight up with a pole. The image was sad and dreary which gave me a little anxiety as to what the card meant.

'Now as much as this can link with the other two cards I feel like this goes further back than that. For you it's reversed which can mean you've been in situations where you've preferred to be alone, or maybe someone else has taken the spotlight. You like your own space but it's possible that your seclusion previously has held you back. I can feel loneliness coming from the card. I can see the card linking with the wheel of fortunes in a sense. Like in the past you felt this feeling of not being completely yourself and you've felt your share of loss, but recently things have turned around and are gradually becoming happier.'

It was no surprise to me to pull a card relating to being introverted. I was very used to letting my sister be the outgoing twin. I was comfortable in my own bubble but then I'd also never had anyone try to take me out of my comfort zone. Every day since being here has been out of my comfort zone. After my family died it's like a part of me died as well so I just didn't care anymore. I'd been unhappy with myself for so long that pretending to be someone else felt easier.

'Now it may be surprising to hear this but your next card is death. Please don't be alarmed though as the name makes it very misunderstood.'

I tried to let this convince me however final destination like deaths ran through my head.

'The death card is all about new beginnings, a start of a new chapter. This is a present card for you so I feel like this signifies you trying to move on from your past and starting a new beginning. Whatever caused your heartbreak and pain has also put you on a new path with a new start. It can also mean that you as a person have evolved and changed. Maybe you were previously more of a hermit and now you're more outgoing. Just be aware that you can never fully close off your old self. There will be parts of your life that may bring out the hermit in you again but just remember the death card. When one door closes another opens, so stay positive and surround yourself with people that love you. Death teaches us to keep moving forward.'

Ok now I was starting to get a little freaked out with how accurate this was. It's like watching the last year of my life being told through cards. I listened as she carried on whilst trying to calm my panicked heart.

'Next to death is strength. For this it's fairly self-explanatory. It shows in the present you have an inner strength most likely linked with the new path you're on. It shows that although life has been a struggle for you recently, you have an inner power that has helped you from falling apart. Just remember though that you don't have to be strong all of the time. Strength is also allowing yourself to let out all of your emotions because that's a part of the healing process. If you bottle those emotions up in an aim to stay strong you can be detrimental to yourself.

I hope you have someone in your life that you feel comfortable with to be open about the hurt you've experienced in the past. Please don't cut your emotions off. Especially as the next card is the two of cups. This card represents an equal partnership, where both parties is giving the same amount in the relationship. The type of relationship this card represents is different for everyone but I believe for you it means love. It represents commitments and balance but that doesn't mean you don't have to work at it. Every relationship has its ups and downs but by being strong and honest with your feelings it will last. It's also important to note that this can also mean an equal friendship that can develop into love.'

Her warm eyes met mine like she was trying to emphasise what she was saying.

'So you mean in my case I could be friends with someone, potentially the love of my life, but nothing ever changes?'

'It means that sometimes you have to make the first move to give the other person confidence to admit their feelings to you. Love is a scary thing and some people prefer to sit on it rather than experience it fully. Also, sometimes friendship means more to people then being honest and potentially losing that person.'

My face heated up when I went over everyone in my life currently and who could potentially be that person. There was one in particular that stood out.

'The high priestess is also shown in your present. In a reading she can mean that it's time to trust your intuition rather than focusing on your intellect. Don't be scared to listen to your intuition even if your conscious mind is telling you you're doing the wrong thing.

Next to her is the two of wands which feels like a transition into your future. This card is all about planning and moving forward. You're stepping out of your bubble and exploring new experiences. This card encourages you to strive on and push forward.'

The next card I could see on the table cloth was a blindfolded lady with her arms crossed over her chest. In each hand she was holding as sword.

'The two of swords refers to a stalemate. Which is interesting as it is next to the two of wands. These two cards are all about your future and what path you take. With the two of wands you're being encouraged to try something new and plan for the future but the two of swords indicates that you have two paths you can choose from. One maybe more comforting to you and safer, however the other could be a bit of a gamble. Neither option may seem that appealing as to how it will affect you or other people but it's a decision you'll have to make.'

That seems about right. I mean if I'm thinking about it now at some point I'll need to decide whether I want to stay in America or go back to the uk. I'm 16 at the moment which is why I'm living with Lindsay and Simon but when I'm 18 I'll be an adult, and can technically make my own decisions.

'Your last card is the four of wands and feels a lot further in the future. This card symbolises stability and a relaxed family environment. If I was to speak about the feeling I've gotten from the cards all together it seems like you've had something happen that's broken up your family life. However, your future shows you content with the people surrounding you. I personally believe that family is who you make them. They're not always blood related, there will be people in your life who feel more like family to you than a friend. I think once you get past your loss, you'll have a family is as big or small as you make it.'

I stayed quiet processing everything she'd told me. There were parts that just seemed so accurate that I just couldn't explain it.

'May I ask who is it you brought with you? They have been very distracting.'

I shook myself out of a daze to look at the exit.

'Oh erm I came with my friends-'

She shook her head interrupted me mid-sentence.

'No not them. The one that follows you around. They sound like a subconscious but they're definitely not you.'

I felt like my mouth was going to fall to the floor.

'If it's who I think you're talking about it's my sister.'

'Twin?'

'Yes.'

'Now I understand. I was getting confused because in my head they look and sound like you. At first I thought maybe you have a very loud head voice but this makes more sense.'

Yeah the ghost of my sister following me round all the time makes plenty of sense?!

'You can see her?' I asked my voice practically a whisper.

'No not see, only hear.'

'Do you know, why?' I'd been convincing myself I was crazy. That it was part of my vivid imagination or some weird part of me trying to keep her alive, but if this woman could hear her then what the hell was going on?

'I've heard of it happening a few times. When we're close to certain people they leave marks on us. You and your sister were close?'

'Very, but also completely different.'

'I expect not only did you not want to lose her but she didn't want lose you. You may or may not have known this but most likely she was very protective over you. Sometimes they just want to make sure you'll be ok before they fully leave you.'

I knew my sister would've done anything for me but I never thought she was that protective. I mean if I were being bullied she'd stand up for me without a bat of an eyelid but I wouldn't say she'd go to the length of wanting to know what I was doing and who I was with all the time. Or maybe I just didn't realise?

'I think someone's waiting for you.' She said as she looked up at the curtain.

Shit Taliah! How long had I been in here for?

'Thank you for the reading, it really was....eye-opening.' Understatement of the year.

'How much do I owe you?'

'Don't worry about it, it's on the house.'

'Really? I want to give you something to say thank you for everything.'

She sat and thought for a moment before her face lit up.

'I know. Write a secret for the wall. You write it anonymously but you never know, the powers that be might help you out.'

She winked at me before passing some paper and a pen.

I thought for a moment what would deem a good enough secret to write down. Then the perfect one came to mind. I quickly scribbled it down then placed the pen back on the table.

'Thank you again....sorry I don't think I got you name? I'm Eve.'

She smiled as she collected all the tarot cards back together and shuffled them.

'I'm Esme.'

I waved goodbye as I exited back through the partition curtains. The wall of lights hit me instantly and I searched for what I thought would be the perfect place to leave my secret. Out of the corner of my eye I found a space that had been left with hardly any scraps of paper near it. Taking a wooden clip I pegged it onto the string, making sure it was secure and not going to fly away.

I took one last look at the tent before deciding I better get a move on before Taliah filed a missing person's report. I smiled softly when I thought about just how wrong I'd been. It could've been pure luck but Esme managed to give me a reading that was so scarily accurate I was kind of convinced I was dreaming.

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