“Thank you for coming, welcome to Eko.” I greet the young lady walking through the curtain of beads.
Sure bead curtains went out with the 70’s, but much like the rest of things in this place, it was done for effect. What self-respecting fortuneteller doesn’t have a bead curtain anyway?
“My name is Desmona, but please call me Des.” I smile warmly at the young woman with curly, dirty blonde hair and pretty hazel eyes. She’s nice looking, a tad thin, but full breasts and a cute sprinkle of freckles across her nose.
She’s dressed simply in khaki pants and a pretty white blouse.
I know without reading her why she is here. People seldom surprise me anymore, I wonder if they ever have. If so, I can’t remember such a time.
Young women usually want to know three things. Will they meet the man of their dreams? Will they get married? And when will these things happen? Nothing less, and never anything more. But I may be a bit cynical.
“My name is Brenda.” She whispers shyly.
I guess I can be a bit of a shock, not exactly what people expect when they hear ‘fortune teller’. For one, I’m not a gypsy. I have very light brown skin, mixed with so much I just check ‘other’ on the census. Long locs that reach down to the center of my back. Thirty-five, but I’m sure I seem younger. Jade eyes that tilt up in the corners. People tell me they look like cat eyes although I’m pretty sure no feline genes run in my blood.
I welcome her to sit at the small round table with my elaborate crystal ball in the center. Three gray stone dragons hold the crystal ball high on the back of their wings. Much like most things in this place, it’s all staged. People expect certain things when they come to see a fortune teller. I do my best to give them exactly what they imagine. I have rent to pay like everyone else.
I settle into the high back black cloth chair that is my ‘throne’, a small table sits to my left. Large round candles sitting on pedestals in the four corners of the room burn low to give the place an eerie feel. Burning incense, dream catchers, Ouija board, a shelf of nick knacks and other bits and bobs all to lend an air of authenticity in this mockery I call a shop. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
I plaster on my best fake smile, “So what would you like to know Brenda?”
She looks away sheepishly.
I begin shuffling my deck of tarot cards, well-worn with age. The picture of a simple golden emblem of vines shaped into a circle adorn the back. Out of everything in this place, these are the most real, at least to me.
“The cards perhaps?” I suggest gently.
Palm readings are $5, I can get $20 for the cards, she came in inquiring about both. Please pick the cards I need milk and eggs.
She nods and hums in agreement lightly. I like the shy ones. They are open to suggestion.
“Good.” I move my crystal ball of bullshit to the small table next to my chair.
I shuffle the cards in earnest, my hands flashing with rings as I try to arrange the cards of her future randomly when it’s everything but. I jiggle my wrists more than necessary to make my million bracelets chime with flair, just to help the ambiance.
“There are two types of readings I can do. A question reading, to answer a specific question you may have, or an open reading. Open readings are more expensive, they take more of my corporeal energy to manifest a true reading of such depth.” Layers of bullshit on top of bullshit.
“I… I only have one question.” She stutters out softly.
“Good, then ask your question and have your answer.”
She looks at me really, for what seems like the first time. Her hazel eyes wide and full of fear.
“Should I run?”
I almost lose character, and for the first time today, I really pause to look at her. The wrinkles around her eyes, the puffiness beneath them, all hidden with expertly applied make-up.
“Oh my dear.” I whisper and place the deck in the center of the table.
“I want you to cut the cards, separate them into four piles, to your left first, then to the right, then above, leaving one stack directly in front of you. Keep the question in your mind while you do this.”
Her thin hands trembles as she cuts the cards as I’ve told her. Tarot cards do nothing but reveal one possible future of many.
It’s a mix of synchronicity and magic. Synchronicity is the thought that even the seemingly random events in life, have a deeper meaning, chance given a purpose. The magic portion is harder to explain, it mainly deals with a person’s aura. We carry the decisions of our lives within us.
A child falls from a tree, thereby learning to fear high places. They grow into adults with that same fear of heights tinging their auras. Years later if there are three possible futures, with three different outcomes, but two of those outcomes require that same person to be somewhere up high. Those two futures become subscripts and thus less likely to occur. Simply because this person has a phobia of heights, simply because they fell from a tree when they were a child.
The first rule of fortune telling is that the future is ever fluid and ever changing, we all have choices to make, both large and small and those choices change the outcome of our lives. But as with all things, at some point, those choices and chances run out and fate takes over. A person’s destiny cannot be escaped, I would know.
The simpler explanation is that at a certain age we have made every choice we are ever going to make, and any new situation we encounter is just a slight deviation of the last. Humans after all, are creatures of habit.
Brenda has been here before, not in this place, but in this moment. She has faced this decision before, and no other time has she chosen to run. Because of that, she will tinge the cards, and they will tell her not to run. The magic of the cards does not change the future, it only allows a peek into one of the millions of possibilities, the most probable.
I gather the cards and flip one over.
“The tower.” I whisper placing it in the Celtic Cross position.
“Crisis, destruction, danger. This is your present.”
She nods slowly, hope filling her eyes that I may be real, that I may be able to help her. But the truth is…. I just need milk and eggs.
This type of reading should be done at night while a storm rages above us, cracks of thunder, and flashes of lightning to terrify us. This reading is too gloomy for a sunny August afternoon.
I finish doing her reading with a heavy heart, from all that I see here. She should have run a long time ago, and now it’s probably too late.
I want to ask her more, find out what has happened, but if there is one thing I have learned in my thirty-five years on this earth, it’s that – ignorance is bliss.
She’s silent through the entire reading, but tears fall as her wretched future is laid out so plainly in front of her. Most people think they want to know the future, but they have no idea, ignorance truly is bliss.
I would give anything to be unknowing of my future, but that was not my destiny. I’ve been reading futures since I was twelve, my first fortune was the telling of my death.
I have about two years left unless I can change the echoes of time.