The bell above the door tinkled as Caroline entered. She called out into the incense heavy air. The windows were blocked by mismatched silk curtains and the lights were dim. She leaned over to study a shelf full of little bottles and different colored rocks.
“Ah, my first customer of the night,” the woman said in a heavy foreign accent. She startled Caroline as she glided into the room. Her black kinky hair had streaks of gray that spilled out over a violet shawl that covered her thin shoulders.
“Um, I must have made a mistake. I’m not sure why I’m here,” Caroline said. She turned to leave.
“Because you want your message,” the woman said. “The spirits are trying to speak to you, but you are not listening.” It had its intended effect and stopped Caroline in her tracks. She looked over her shoulder at the fortuneteller.
“Come, come in and sit down,” the woman waved her in. “Madame Zelda will enlighten you.” Caroline’s feet followed the request and she soon found herself in a dim sitting room. Madame Zelda sat across from her and unwrapped a deck of cards. She began to shuffle them then froze as she stared over Caroline’s shoulder. Zelda nodded.
“She says you are supposed to shuffle,” she set the stack of cards in front of Caroline.
“What?” Caroline said with confusion. In response, Zelda only gestured for her to shuffle. Caroline picked up the cards and began to shuffle. They were larger than she was used to and unwieldy. Zelda resumed staring over Caroline’s shoulder.
Caroline tried to shuffle the cards together for the third time and some popped out of her grip.
“Don’t move!” Zelda whispered as Caroline began to reach for the errant cards. The fortuneteller’s eyes were wide as she leaned over the table. She flipped over the first card where it lay.
“The Three of Swords…upright. Pain, grief, feelings of your heartbreak and betrayal. These are things you’ve experienced, yes? You must feel your sadness, then let it go.” Cylus’s face staring at her as he drove away from the bank flashed in her mind. The heart being pierced by three swords seemed like an apt representation of what it felt like to be abandoned holding Margot as she bled out on the granite stairs. Zelda turned over the next card.
“The Two of Cups…upright. Two join to one. Are you engaged?” she asked. Caroline shook her head. “Any prospect?” Again Caroline shook her head. “Well, this shows a mutually beneficial relationship. There’s respect, attraction…of course, it could be business…” Zelda looked up to read Caroline’s face, but she was busy trying to put the pieces together in her own mind.
It could be Frank, she thought.
“Maybe this next one will clarify.” Zelda reached down and turned the next card. “Hm…The Emperor…upright, which is good. The Emperor is a leader or patriarch bringing security or comfort to those around him. A strategic thinker…He likes success and is not afraid of conflict or defeating his rivals…values loyalty. Anything?” Zelda looked up at her again.
Definitely Frank, Caroline thought to herself as she nodded. With a bit of excitement, Zelda flipped the last fallen card.
“The Knight of Cups…but it’s sideways. I can’t tell if it’s upright or reversed.” Zelda leaned back in her chair with her brow furrowed.
“What does that mean?” Caroline asked.
“It could be romance and creative success or…jealousy and disappointment.”
“You can’t figure out which?” Zelda tapped her chin as she thought. She looked over Caroline’s shoulder again and nodded.
“Perhaps…pick another card.”
Caroline cut the deck and picked another card without looking at it. Zelda reached forward and flipped it over.
“There, you see? The Star, have faith, trust in yourself and all will be well.” The fortuneteller smiled. Caroline relaxed.
“Yes, a knight in shining armor led by his heart.” Zelda looked rather pleased with herself. Caroline tried to overlook the Jersey accent that seeped through. “The spirits feel that you understand the message.”
“I don’t get it. They’re cards. What do you mean by spirits?” asked Caroline.
“There is a woman who follows you. She brought you to me. She says you were not listening.” Zelda put her hands on the cards. “This is her message. An Mmm.”
“Mmm?” Caroline was lost.
“No, an Em. The letter M,” Zelda clarified. Caroline inhaled sharply.
“Margot.” Caroline supplied the answer, but Zelda beamed with her own brilliance as if she solved it.
“Yes, this Margot, she is pushing you towards the Emperor.” Zelda slid the card in front of Caroline. Caroline’s eyes bulged in disbelief. She shook her head.
“I have to go.” Caroline rose from her seat. Zelda called a number after her and she stopped. Zelda repeated the cost of her reading. Caroline sighed and opened her pocketbook. The price was the same amount as the few bills she had in her purse. She hurriedly slammed it on the shelf with the colored stones and left. The bright tingling of the bell followed her down the stairs. She took several deep breaths of the cold spring air.
If what Zelda said was true, Margot wanted Caroline to be with Frank. She started back to Libellule, the closest place she could get a drink.
Continue reading this storyline: HERE.