It was just a black fabric tent, the kind that you can tie the front flaps open if you want to. They had taken a large picture board and set it to one side of the tent flap and it had a black and white image of a hand on it. The hand had an eye set into the center of it. It was a very creepy realistic looking image, so much so that I expected the eye to wink at me. There was a brightly coloured banner that said, “Palm & Tarot Card Reading” and it was set across the top half of the tent. There was a smaller sign pinned to the tent that said, “tea leaves and crystal ball readings as well. Ask inside.”
The tent itself was at the very back of the fair on the perimeter. It had taken us a while to find it. The only reason we even knew it was there was because earlier in the day Kim had told us about the amazing reading she got about a date and a new job. Her phone rang as soon as she walked out of the tent to set up an interview and shortly after Derrick texted her to go to the movies. So, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. I had been feeling down on my luck lately and was desperate for good news. Holly didn’t think it was a good idea though, she subscribed to the “make your own future” school of thought.
Anyway, as we stood there considering the tent a woman came out smiling with tears of joy rolling over her cheeks. I was sold; it was time to go in. I rubbed my hands together building up heat between them as I marched with purpose towards the tent flap. “You’re on your own woman, I’m not going in there. I have a real sinking feeling about this,” Holly yelled at my back. I flashed a quick smile over my shoulder and slid inside.
The first thing I noticed was the marked difference in temperature and I couldn’t get my coat off quickly enough. I hung it over the back of one of the two chairs at the round table and sat down. The space was small and dark. The only light was from the dancing candle flames. There was an incenses burning and it was throwing a woody lavender scent into the air. It really was set-up like I imagined a classic gypsy crystal ball, tarot, tea leaf, palm reading space. It seemed to speak to that mystical idea of movies.
Something in the atmosphere changed and I suddenly felt tense. I was thinking about leaving when I noticed that there was no noise from the fair-grounds penetrating the fabric tent! That was impossible wasn’t it? The tension I felt took on an eerie feeling. Just as I was about to stand and leave she entered the room and made a gesture with her hand to remain in my seat.
She didn’t speak. She glided across the tent and floated into her chair. She had long white hair that she wore in a long loose braid. Her eyes were black and make-up less. There was no expression on her face as she reached across the table and pulled my hands towards her. There was a heat radiating from her that almost burned my skin and it was all I could do not to pull away. “Soft hands,” she whispered. “So young, so lost, such pain.”
I looked at my hands in hers. Her hands look weathered and aged with sun spots and wrinkles. Her skin was pale and large veins shifted and moved beneath the skin. It was a large contrast to my own skin. She turned my hands over palms up. She released my left hand and mumbled something about major hand that I didn’t catch. “You have a water hand,” she whispered but she didn’t offer any explanation. “You have questions, but there isn’t time to ask. KNOW that you will be okay,” I felt her grip tighten and I tried to pull my hand back in response but she held tight. I hurt where her fingers dug into me.
Her face was so close to my hand that I couldn’t see my hand until she turned her head sideways and looked up at me. She peered intently at me. Without looking from my face she ran her finger over some of the more prominent lines in my hand naming them. She started at the outside edge of my hand and traced the heart line, and then from the middle finger down to my wrist and she named it the destiny line. “Um, lady this isn’t what I thought I was signing up for,” I said trying to pull my hand away again.
She didn’t move, didn’t release me, and she didn’t even blink. I felt mesmerized by her eyes and didn’t realize she had let go until I looked down at my hand resting free on the table with the palm turned up. I felt a strange sensation in the space between my thumb and first finger that ran in a semicircle towards my wrist. I jumped up and backed away from her without taking my eyes from her. When I bumped the fabric tent flap I turned to dodge out. “IT WILL BLEED,” she yelled as I broke into a run.
I was panting and near hysterics when I saw Holly. I moved toward her at a slower pace. I felt drained and uncertain. Holly stopped dead when she say me and her gaze locked on the ground on my right side. I stopped too, terror seizing me and I slowly turned to look where she was looking. There was blood, so much blood. I slowly lifted my right hand up and the last thing I saw was blood flowing from the life line in my hand…
By Shari Marshall – 2019