Fortune

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The gypsies had been at the bottom of Farmer Dolton’s field for a week now. I had seen them on my way to the school house and back each day. They collected water, attended their horses, re-build their fires, cooked meals and talked in small groups. The sun shone off their brightly colored clothes and their strange accented voices filled the air. They seemed magical to me.

Everybody told me not to go near them. My teacher explained. ‘they are uneducated,ill-mannered and thieves. Not something young respectable ladies should be staring at.’

The priest said, ‘we shouldn’t love them like our neighbors for they are beyond God’s help. They worship Satan! We should all stay clear of them because they will led us into temptation! Just like the snake did to Eve.’

My maid added, ‘they kidnap children and sell them off to fairies!’

I wasn’t sure I believed any of them. I guess that’s why I did it. I sneaked under the fence and into their camp, early Saturday morning. The air smelt like burnt fire wood and herbs, mixed with the stench of horse stables. I moved around the heavily decorated caravans, my skirts all tugged in and trying to be as quiet as possible. Luckily, no one was around.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. I jumped, screaming and tumbling to the floor. Though my loose hair covered my face, I could see an old woman standing before me. She was bent over, leaning on a twisted stick which her gnarled hands seemed to be a part of. Her hair was long and light grey, her brown face heavy with wrinkles. She was wearing a bright orange skirt, dark cream blouse and a brown waist corset.

She looked at me, no doubt noticing my fine blue dress, black leather boots, matching blue hat and blonde hair. I got to my feet, brushing my hair back and then fluffing out my skirts. I wasn’t feeling afraid, what could this old woman do to me?

‘Your fortune told for a few coins, child,’ she spoke in a cracked voice that reminded me of bare tree branches rubbing together in the wind.

‘My fortune?’ I questioned.

She nodded and uttered, ‘I see all that the fates allow to be seen. Cross my hand with sliver and I’ll read your palm.’

I frowned, not sure I had any silver on me. There’s only a few copper coins in my coin pouch but I had been saving them to buy sweets with after church tomorrow.

‘Don’t you want to know if you will marry a good husband?’ the old gypsy asked, ‘led a comfortable life? Be blessed with children?’

‘I am too young to marry!’ I cried.

‘Does not matter. All our fates are already written,’ she spoke then held a hand out to me.

I tugged my red coin pouch out, opened it and stared in. I pulled out two copper coins and give them to her. There was still three left for sweets now.

She whipped the coins away faster then I thought she could move. She grabbed my arm, took off my white glove and raised my hand so close to her face I could feel her warm breath on my skin. I felt a pinch like pain and I tried to wiggle away from her, but her grip was so tight!

The old women began muttering under her breath and I could feel the tips of her long finger nails against my skin.

‘There has been a lot of tragedy in your life, I see,’ she mused, ‘too much death; brothers, mother and grandma. No doubt there will be more. You will marry twice but only have three children. You’ll have a long life but death will carry on shadowing you.’

I stared at her in shock and looked down at my palm. Questions popped into my hand, but I could not find my voice.

‘Beware of traveling over seas. There’s great danger in distant lands for you. I can see you are a strong, curious lady, that might cause trouble for you, but it will also save you. Reading will make you wise and respected. You will write and that will let you be comfortable in your old age.’

She stopped and looked at me with sparkling eyes.

‘That’s all?’ I whispered.

She let go of my hand, ‘all that’s in your palm,’ she replied.

I looked at all the lines crossing my palm and wondered how she could see all of that. The banging of a door made me jump and I saw a shirtless man coming out of one of the caravans close behind us.

‘Be off with you child,’ the old woman hissed, ‘ ’tis no place for ladies like you.’

Clutching my skirts, I dashed passed the old gypsy and to the fence. There I stopped and looked back. The old woman had hobbled away and was talking to the man as he washed at a bucket. I slipped through the fence and ran all the way home. I didn’t tell anyone what had happened. My fortune was my own.

The Yearly Drawing

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Roisin sat alone in a darkened room with only the flicking of candle light for company. Arranging her long and many skirts around the stool before settling at the low table, she shut her eyes, drew in a deep breath and prepared herself. Gently tugging back the purple velvet cloth she had draped around her like a shawl, she picked up the card box in her left hand.

The black liqueur box felt cold and smooth in her net gloved hand. It weighed heavily in her palm and she thought about this feeling. The box seemed to hold fate inside of it and mysterious that only the universe knew. That’s where all the weight come from secretly. With her right hand, Roisin slide the lid off and looked inside.

A very faded, but once bright red colored patterned card back met her eyes. The design was flowing, plant leaf like and had an Italian air to it. She touched the white board, which was yellowed with a hundred or so years of age and many fingers. Slowly, she lifted all the large cards out and put the box to one side.

Even though the cards weighted less, they felt more heavier in her hand. Roisin looked at them then held them out as she asked the invisible fingers of fate to touch them. She shut her eyes again and pictured shadows reaching out from the corners towards her. Upon opening her eyes nothing had changed and she was still alone in the room.

Pressing the cards together in her hands, she thought about what she wanted to ask. She felt a slight tingling in her fingers then began to shuffle the cards. For a few moments, she imaged herself in Ireland, deep in all that green and legendary land. The sound of the sea maybe or the wind in the trees. She was there with other people who were waiting in the shadows. They were farmers, maybe, village folk and they feared her yet were fascinated by her.

The image faded and Roisin came back too. She was sat in her bedroom again. The black out curtains on the window, the candles flicking against the walls and the silence pressing down on her. She looked at the cards and realised the shuffling had stopped. Placing them down, she drew the top three and lay then side by side.

Her fingers strayed towards the set aside deck and for a moment she thought about drawing more and making a cross. The reading would be more in depth, but not any clearer. Deciding, she didn’t want to be sat puzzling over the messages, Roisin removed her hand and touched her finger tips to the first card.

She flipped it over, the nine of cups; the wish card. One of her wishes or hopes had come true recently. Happiness and love was her’s and there was good luck in her daily work.

The next was the three of wands; presently she should be experiencing more success and financial matters were better. She should be proud of her work and perhaps a new job was coming up. Life and love was looking fine as long as she was being treated as an equal. If not it was time to move on and if she single, she needed to allow more time.

The last one. She turned it and pressed it down on the table. strength; remember to stay focused and keep things in check. Spend quiet time being reflect and keep a straight head. Work should be going well, there is room to move up or around though and finally find your true worth. If she was in love it was going well and if not now was a good time to find someone.

Roisin rested her hands on the table. She didn’t need to ask the deck anything else. She slipped off the make-shirt shawl and gathered the cards back together. She put them back in the liqueur box then from under the table took out a plastic box. Ignoring the papers and other stuff inside, she put the tarot cards away.

She got up, her thoughts still reflecting on the reading. She blew the candles out and lifting the blinds, let the dull autumn afternoon back inside. Her bedroom lost all of the sinister atmosphere and became a bright space once more.

She packed everything away and got changed into normal clothes again.

The reading had been good. Yet, she felt drawn to find out more. There was always a turn. The cards promised so much and yet fate loved snatching it away. She sat down on her bed next to the box which she couldn’t put away until the candles had gone back in. Roisin looked at the black tarot box through the wavy plastic lid.

They called to her in away she couldn’t described. She could heard them whispering to come out again. Other people needed to hear their fates and she had to be the one to tell them. Her family line was of tellers, so it was her destiny. But she couldn’t do it. Never had she been able to bring herself to embrace it and become one with this ancient magic.

Roisin couldn’t keep away and that was why on Halloween every year, she opened herself up to it to give her some peace. One day though, she knew it would consume like every female member in her family. She would leave like her mother, grandmother and aunts, going wherever the string of fate lead her, telling those who would listen the messages she had for them.

There would be no coming back from that.

Just Be

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Looking down at the tarot card in her hand, Moon thought it was too much of a sign. The Queen of Swords was sat upside down in a Gothic style throne and frowning as if she was very disappointed in Moon. The Queen’s long sword pointed upwards in a threatening manner as if it was questioning Moon too.

Setting the card aside on the purple velvet covered circle table, Moon shut her eyes and tried to block everything out. Still though, she could hear the arcade staff setting up for the day, their voices mixing with eager cries of children waiting outside and the sea waves splashing against the wall. She breathed in deeply, focusing on relaxing and opening herself to what the universe was saying.

Letting out a deep sigh, Moon opened her eyes again and looked down. The Queen of Swords was still there. That frown looking deeper then before and the eyes more piercing. Of course, she knew what the card meant. There wasn’t one in the whole deck she did not know. It was just that…She was having an hard time taking in the message.

The sound of the arcade’s doors opening drew her attention. She stood from the small high back chair and took a few steps to the side. Trying to make her skirt and bangles not jangle so much, Moon peeped out from the heavy purple curtains that surrounded her little box and watched people entering. There was only a handful; a few local kids with no where else to go during the summer holidays, grandparents with their grandchild, a tried mother with her trio and two very elderly women.

Moon let the curtain fall back. She was not due to open yet, even though she was desperate for the money but she knew none of those people would come to her. Stepping back and sitting down again, she looked at the Queen of Swords then picked the card up.

‘I shall try to be more myself,’ she whispered, ‘though being less like any female in my family is hard. It’s difficult to find your own path when someone’s already cut it out for you. Looking at all the different angles might help though.’

Moon placed the card back with the others, shuffled the deck and placed them into the small wooden box again. Placing that in her bag and picking it up, she left the tent. The curtains that had been muffling the sounds and smells of the outside world settled behind her and Moon walked away.

Going out of the arcades bright red painted doors, she turned and walked alongside the sea wall. Breathing in the fresh, salty air, she took a few minutes to think deeply about things. The Queen of Swords was firmly fixed in her mind’s eye and Moon could almost hear the Queen’s voice telling her to listen to her inner self.

‘What do I want?’ Moon said aloud without meaning too.

A nearby seagull squawked at her and Moon turned to give the creature a dirty look. The bird took flight, flapping large white and grey wings across the sea’s choppy surface. Moon rested her arms on the wall and looked out. The morning sky seemed full of promises and it was beckoning anyone willing enough to travel towards the horizon a chance to take one of those promises.

How difficult can it be to reach out and take what I want?  Moon thought.

She looked back at the arcade and beyond it the wooden pier. She could just make a few people all ready walking down towards the funfair and the theater at the end. Turning back, Moon watched the waves knocking against the wall. The water seemed to be asking her to let it in and in her mind, Moon let it in.

 

Written In The Palm

I was too old to believe the stories now, but still going passed Old Weezie’s run-down shack I couldn’t help but pause. A dusty pathway lead across the bare ground to the unpainted single floor wooden house. Snow was falling heavily on to the tinned roof and dropping all around me. I shook my pink umbrella and looked at the broken steps leading up to the unsafe porch where an old rocking chair sit before a slightly ajar door. Two curtained, but empty large windows flanked the door, staring slightlessly out.

Glancing around the street, I saw no one else though I could hear a radio tinkling out music. All the other houses looked new with their bright red bricks and black slate roofs. A few cars were parked on driveways before gargare doors whilst a few others were parked next to the curb. Christmas lights, trees and decorations sat in windows, around them or outside. I noted a large white snowman on one roof and two fiberglass reindeers looking startled in a nearby garden.

I was torn; Should I carry on or go and see if she was okay? I didn’t know if her door was ajar like that all the time. Breathing deeply and knowing it was seasonal to be neighborly, I started walking up the path. The voices of childhood echoed around me, making me recall the stories about Old Weezie. They said she had been reading palms for a hundred years and could see every bodies future in her crystal ball. She had a third eye on her forehead and witches blood flowing in her crooked veins.

I reached the porch and went up, keeping close to the side. The old wooden boards creaked loudly under me, giving out a warning of my approach. I paused and tried to peer inside, but the door wasn’t open enough. I put down my umbrella, shaking out the snow and thought the one story that had always scared me the most. Old Weezie capturing animals and at midnight killing them and removing their insides. She would read the organs and predicate the births and deaths of people before eating them.

I shivered then knocked on the door. It swung in and I had to poke my head inside and call out. My voice echoed and shortly after a tried, old wheezy voice called out for me to enter. The word no almost forced itself out of me, but my feet had already moved inside. The hallway was dark, but there was a light coming from the door to my right. I knocked on it and the same voice asked me to enter again.

I eased the door open and entered a heavily scented crowed room. Everywhere I looked was an interesting object jammed against normal looking bric-a-brac and other weird things. My eyes focused on a small table and two chairs in the middle of the room. In one of the chairs a small woman was at propped up on a pile of cushions. Her long white hair was in a bun and her face was wrinkled so much it was hard to make out any features.

‘Sit down and I shall tell you what you wish to know,’ Old Weezie stated.

‘I just came to see if you were alright. Your front door was open and it’s freezing outside. It’s just being to snow again. I should go, I’m late for work,’ I rambled off.

She smiled and pointed at the chair, ‘I can see you wish to know so much.’

I tightened my lips together and thought about running.

‘My lowest price and fastest reading for you…let me see your palm.’

‘It won’t hurt, right?’

She laughed, a low struggling sound that was almost like a dying trumpet.

I walked over and sat down, now feeling it would be too rude just to leave. She named her price and I paid, watching her squirrel the note away. She held out her right hand and I placed left hand down into it. I felt a small wave of cold then her other fingers were tracing along the lines of my palm.

‘You’ll lead a long and good life,’ her voice rang out, ‘you’ll get married twice and have only one child. The first marriage will be short and ending in tragedy, but the second marriage will be to your soulmate.’

I looked down at our hands, my thoughts whirling, how true was any of this?

‘You will be happy, but your health will be bad for a time,’ she continued, ‘I see you getting better though and having grandchildren. You’ll work hard for a time, but then find that it’s all paid off. You are confident, but need a little bit more trust in yourself.’

She let go of my hand, that smile still fixed to her face.

‘That’s it?’ I questioned.

‘Yes. Unless you wanted a more detail reading? That’ll cost you twice as much.’

‘I’m fine, thanks.’

I looked down at the lines crisscrossing my palm, her words repeating in my ears.

‘You’ll be let for work,’ she stated.

‘Yes, yes. I should go. Thank you.’

I stood up and left, closing the door behind me then trying to put the front door back into place. It wouldn’t quite fit and I was forced to leave it. I walked away and hurried to work, thinking over things till it all became stuck in my head. Deep down, I knew only time would tell if she had seen my future, but I couldn’t help but think that maybe some of those childhood stories had been right about Old Weezie.