THE FORTUNE TELLER PART 1
She could smell him long before he entered the hut.
After much banging and shouting, he eventually found the door.
‘I wanna, you tell fortunes?’
‘Certainly.' the crone replied.
She tried to concentrate on the cards but his psyche was just too confused.
‘Why don’t I just read your palm?’
He offered his hand. She inspected it carefully.
‘Take care when crossing the road; you are in grave danger.’
He paid the £20 and staggered through the door.
Suddenly she heard a screech of brakes and a loud bang.
‘I didn’t even need the crystal ball.’ she said to herself.
THE FORTUNE TELLER PART 2
The door stood slightly ajar; the lone ray of sunshine highlighting the withered poinsettia in the cracked pot.
A round table stood In the middle of the room, the wood gnarled and pitted like an old tree stump. The ancient dusty radio fought for space alongside the faded business forms, the jar of sharpened pencils and the Tarot fortune telling cards. Undisturbed dust lay everywhere.
Behind the table sat an old crone, wizened beyond years, age unknown. She had closed her deep-set eyes and a huge frown had settled on her crinkly forehead. As if in prayer, she joined her yellowed and tarnished hands together. The crone uttered no words. Any prayer would be as silent as the grave.
A solid silver locket hung loosely around her multi-lined neck; her jaw lay slack and unmoving. The thick strands of hair were dark, but the bottle of auburn hair dye on the small side table gave the game away. Her hair hardly moved, yet a breeze was blowing from the back entrance behind her. The fibres hung as limp as a damp curtain only partially covering her many age lines.
Nothing moved as time appeared to stand still. It was a deceptively peaceful scene for the room leached a hint of suspicion and menace. Her garish clothes of red and yellows were at odds with the drab surroundings and thus did little to quell the tension in the stuffy room. The eyes, still closed, added to the silence.
Only the ticking clock seemed alive.
A flicker and the lids opened to reveal unforgiving eyes as cold as an Arctic sea. They flashed once, then again. Icy, ancient and terrifying they pierced the very heart of the young girl.
She sat bolt upright in the chair directly opposite the crone, deep fear etched on her young innocent face. Her eyes were moist with tears, and her hands were moist with cold sweat. Perspiration ran down her face and fell in tiny droplets from her chin. Her shaking hands tried to brush the dampness aside but the flow refused to subside. With all her heart she wanted to turn and run as far from this nightmare as was possible. Alas, with legs like jelly and her imagination out of control, she hardly moved a muscle. Sheer terror had found a new friend.
‘Be calm my child. Have no fear. All will be well. A simple brew is all you need to ensure his everlasting love. And here is the potion; open it, smell the herbs, for it is a simple - yet secret - herbal brew. I assure you that no harm will befall either you or your beloved,’ she croaked.
A tiny hanky mysteriously appeared in the girl’s lap. Without thinking, she put it to her face and dabbed at her eyes. The crone heard the girl stifle a single sob. She knew that the girl had started on the road back to normality, for now she had reached the very peak of despair and learnt how to conquer it. Now it was downhill all the way.
The Fortune Teller allowed a brief smile to flash across her face. She knew that the girl would pay any amount that she asked, for her desire would overcome her fear. She had seen the same story played out, so many, many times over the years.
As the girl relaxed into her chair the Fortune Teller pushed a small piece of paper across the table. She unfolded it so that the girl could see the price she would need to pay. The girl quickly looked at the price, then sniffed at the contents of the potion before pushing the phial deep into her handbag. She paid the old one the required £40 and then went to depart.
‘It is written that I will see you again child. I once met your brother, but he did not listen. I know that you will not make the same mistake. So it is goodbye . . .for now.’
The girl speedily departed through the door, her mind in total disarray as she thought of her deceased brother and the potion in her bag. The crone could hear her footsteps fading away in the distance. The scene was all so familiar to her.
‘They always leave so much quicker than they arrive,’ she whispered to herself.
‘I wonder why?’ she cackled.
The Fortune Teller put the cash into the leather money belt around her waist. She removed the astral tablecloth from the side table, exposing her new laptop. She powered it up so that she could check both her emails and her internet diary. Satisfied, she awaited the entrance of her next needy victim.
THE FORTUNE TELLER PART 3
As Hazel Lyons sat on the freshly painted council bench at the shore end of the rusty pier, a sense of déjà vu began to spread through her body. She recalled the last time, some seven years ago, when she had sat in exactly the same place. Then, having just turned seventeen, she had been building up the courage to visit the Fortune Teller. Hazel clearly remembered her meeting with Madame Crystal and as she did, the fear began to grow all over again. Although it was all those years ago, she had never forgotten her nervousness. Her mind told her that she had seen it through once and therefore she could see it through again. The familiar steely determination to succeed grew inside her.
She stretched her legs and thought about walking along the pier but hesitated as her mind wandered back over those last seven years. Her boyfriend John had certainly changed after his ‘new’ drink. He became completely besotted with her; so much so that the outcome was obvious. They were married within a few wonderful and exciting months. Now they wanted a family. Unfortunately, all their efforts over the last two years had drawn a blank. Hazel and John were desperate. They had no money for fertility treatment and were way down on the NHS list of priority patients.
Hazel had travelled the twenty miles back to her birthplace, and to the old pier. Madame Crystal was her last hope. Whether this visit was successful or not, she was determined not to tell John; just like the first time. The potion worked then, so why not another herbal brew this time?
As her head cleared she stood up and began the long walk along the wooden planks. Nearing the end of the structure she viewed the old wooden hut. It looked just as dilapidated as before but if anything, there was even more flaky red paint on the door, and the grey tiled roof looked positively dangerous.
The door surprisingly opened to her slight touch. As her eyes became accustomed to the gloom, she again took in the inside of the Fortune Teller’s hovel. At first, everything appeared to be the same. The cards, the pencils, the forms were all as before, but there were some changes. A new flowing poinsettia was sitting proudly on the table, alongside the largest crystal ball that Hazel had ever seen.
There was no sign of Madame Crystal.
Hazel had come too far to turn back now so she sat and waited. As she did, she took a closer look at her surroundings. The glass mirrors, with their layers of grime, still swayed from the ceiling. An old painting of a witch hung precariously from a hook and the red candles were still unlit. It all seemed so familiar that all the memories came flooding back.
Then her eyes dimmed for the light in the hut appeared to change. It grew more opaque and thickened yet a breeze blew through the gap in the back door. Hazel sat very still in her seat. Fear had returned to her and with it the inevitable sweat. The hairs on her neck rose up like prickles on a hog.
‘I told you that we would meet again child.’
Hazel screamed. The crone had magically appeared and was sitting on the chair opposite, her flowing robes now orange and black. This time, a blue hat covered her head, a large hat covered in dust, cobwebs and a live spider.
‘I know why you are here and what you want from me.’
‘How can you know . . . what I . . . want?’ Hazel’s voice faltered and drifted away.
‘I know your destiny, as if it were my own. How I know is my secret.’
‘I don’t believe that.’
The crone adjusted her hat. ‘Does it matter? The love potion worked, did it not?’
Hazel meekly nodded.
‘So now you seek my help in your desire for a family.’
She nodded again, her chest pumping with a mixture of fear and excitement.
‘How much . . . do you want to have a baby?’ Madame Crystal leant over the table as she spoke.
‘Please help me Madame. I will pay you all I have. I beg you . . . please.’ Hazel sobbed, her tears making perfect circles in the thick dust on the table like rain drops on the sand. Words gurgled between her weeping.
‘So child, what price are you really prepared to pay? I do not want your money.’
Between her tears, Hazel looked up. Once again she took in the grey eyes of the crone but this time there was a noticeable difference. There was a crackle as a ring of fire appeared in each one. The power of two golden halos burned into her. Unable to take her eyes away, she capitulated.
‘Anything . . .anything you want.’
‘I said this once before and thus I will say it again. Do not be afraid my dear child, for you have nothing to fear from me and neither will your daughter.’
‘Yes, your daughter, yet to be born. Now let me tell you what you have to do.’
Hazel listened intently to her instructions. She knew what she had to do and why, and when the potion appeared on the table, she had drunk it greedily, savouring the sweet tasting nectar. When she left the hut, her whole body shook with fatigue and worry yet her heart soared. It was time to return home to John, and his love.
THE FORTUNE TELLER PART 4
One year later Hazel returned to the old pier, her step steady and assured as she walked along the wooden decking. So many things had changed since she last walked this way for the pier was undergoing a massive renovation. She also had something new to offer for she carried her recently born daughter in her arms.
Sadness shrouded her body as she approached the hut for it stood forlorn and lost in a wave of modernisation. Nevertheless she forced herself to enter. The hut was deserted and stripped bare of all adornments. Hazel sighed, looked around for a sign of the witch, and then took a deep breath.
‘I promised that I would bring her to you Madame Crystal. I truly thank you Madame.’
A joyous cry resonated in the small place.
‘Thank you my child. You have made me so very happy. I know that you will show your daughter the true path, and in turn she will teach you, for you are as worthy as she is. I bid you farewell . . . for now.’
As if on cue, baby Crystal opened her eyes. Grey and ancient, they twinkled with fire in the shadows.
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