The idea that she’d visit a fortune teller wasn’t so far-fetched, it wasn’t something anyone would expect of her, by any means, but she did quite a few out of the ordinary things, or at least they were out of the ordinary to other people. So this visit to the fortune teller wasn’t exactly odd even if only the fortune teller could have predicted it.
There are people who say that fortune telling is false, fake, a sham. That being a fortune teller is really just being observant. Take the best detective on any police force and they could be a fortune teller and make a solid living. It’s really not a bad retirement. And so while people will say these things, it doesn’t necessarily make it true. People like to deal in black and white, never in gray, and it’s much easier to believe a blanket statement like “fortune tellers are nothing more than observant liars,” than it is to believe that some of them might be more.
She didn’t really know what she believed. She’d never sat down to think about it too deeply. This idea that fortune tellers were shams made no difference to her life so why contemplate it. Bit if she had sat down to think about it, if she had taken a moment to review her biases and beliefs, she’d probably have to say that she was closer to a believer than a scoffer, believed in the spiritual and therefore why wouldn’t she conclude there are simply some things we can’t know but it doesn’t disapprove them, that there was that one aunt she had when she was very little who could always tell when family members were sick or in trouble. And so, why disbelieve.
Even so, she hadn’t set out to see a fortune teller, even though it was well within her circle of probability, she hadn’t intended on sitting at this table with this dark haired cackling man who rubs a ball that could just as easily be plastic as glass, who had insisted payment could wait until the end after having seen the cash in her hand first, who was nothing at all like her idea of a fortune teller in his jeans and t-shirt, bare feet, and a table with no cloth over it. Her mind kept sticking on the idea that there was no table cloth as that was somehow a necessary component or as though not having one meant this specific seer was a charlatan.
It was only after he rubbed the possibly plastic ball on the table, only after he grabbed her hand, only after he’d closed his eyes and raised his face to the ceiling above them painted to look like a sky she noted warily, only after he mumbled before bursting out in laughter that she began to wonder if he was toying with her, if this was his moms shop and he was drunk, playing with her. It was the sharp tone of his laugh, not a deep and hearty joke-well-said laugh like she’d have expected, but a higher almost screeching laugh, as though he was voicing a witch in an animated movie.
She’d decided to leave but before she could stand he opened his eyes and while he ought to have been looking directly at her, directly into her eyes, she could feel the emptiness of his stare, that no one was looking at her even as he clearly was. She began to wonder how quickly she could get out of there, would he stop her, was this how she’d be raped, before the flush of adrenaline rushing through her body could force her legs to stand he began to speak.
All tone was gone, all inflection, he was like a robot, Siri had more personality than this guy. It was like he’d taken a bunch of sleeping pills or like she’d just woken him up and he wasn’t quite awake.
“Your path leads behind the curtain. None will assist you, and you will ask. You won’t come back. There is a woman and you will have to choose.”
At that his eyes closed and his eyebrows came together, his fingers coming up to massage the crinkle they made. When he opened his eyes again he was seeing her. She could feel that he was once again there in the room and rather than this having a calming effect on her now frayed nerves it made tears spring to her eyes and her legs shake with the exhaustion of having run several miles. His eyes became concerned and he ran his hand through his hair before spreading out both hands in a shrugging here’s-your-pizza sort of way.
“Look, I know people are sometimes shocked by what I say, but I have to be clear, I have no idea what was said. This is a private consultation, just you and whatever you heard. People sometimes have follow-up questions and I have to warn you, I can try to help but I’m more lost than you, you at least know why you really came in and that’s usually a clue in whatever you’re told. But I’m getting the feeling that you’re really scared, so if you want to take a minute, I can make us some tea?”
She wanted to nod, she needed to nod, but she still felt frozen. She didn’t realize she was partially raised up out of her seat. No wonder she felt like she’d been running, she was supporting all her weight on bent legs, if this were a date and he went to scoot out her chair she’d still be in the same position, hovering above it, a wax figure of herself. She unclawed her hands from the armrests, stood the remainder of the way, heard the cracking of her knees and reached for her cash, not intending to throw it down but unable to stop herself, her body tense and not responding to her commands.
“No, no thank you,” she heard herself say as she grabbed her purse, and headed stiffly towards the door.
It wasn’t the words she needed help understanding, not that she’d understood them, they made no sense at all, it was the experience she needed explained. What had just happened in there? How had she gone from sitting with a guy at a table to sitting alone as he spoke to her?