“You have boyfriend troubles?”
It is more statement than question, and it is the first thing out of the fuschia-saronged woman’s mouth the moment I lower myself onto her pouf cushion. This is apparently the aura I’m giving out these days, and there’s nothing I can say to defend myself. So, instead, I let out an uncomfortable laugh. She doesn’t elaborate — yet. She just sits down across the little table, smiles knowingly, and takes my hands. “We shall see,” she says.
As she studies my palms, part of me wants to believe that’s how she begins every fortune. After all, I bet an impressive portion of women seeking out fortunetellers do so because they’re having boyfriend issues or husband issues. And the lack of a wedding band on my left ring finger obviously signifies, statistically speaking, that there’s a decent chance that I’m having the former.
And so I ignore the look in her eyes that makes me want to believe that she could see that in me. After all, I am not the sort of girl who lets thoughts of a boy consume her entire being. Not anymore. Never again. I wonder if he’s texted me.
The woman’s thick Persian accent snaps me out of my neuroses and back to reality, and she begins drawing lines with a blank ink pen on my palm, telling me what each signifies. Much of it is what I’ve heard before, which I suppose is a good sign, but a few things are different. She asks if I’ve thought about going back to school. “Not really,” I answer. Her brow furrows, and she shakes her head.
“No, I see something with education here. Think about that.”
She moves on before I can begin to.
“Something with sports in your future perhaps,” she mumbles. “Play sports?”
“When I was younger,” I tell her.
Again, her brow furrows. “Maybe related to education. Something with that.”
If she’d meant to distract me from my “boyfriend troubles,” she’s done a good job. I’m now bent on processing all this, to figure out if there’s any truth, any discernment this woman has about my life that I’ve perhaps not yet touched upon myself. Despite the fact that I’ve come into this with a healthy amount of skepticism — I don’t want to reveal anything to help them concoct a story that I want to hear — something about her words stirs my imagination if not recognition.
She drops my hands and pulls out the tarot cards. She lays a few out.
And then she begins guessing names of people in my life left and right with disturbing accuracy. My father. A good friend. My sister.
Another row of cards. She stares, squeezes her eyes shut for a moment, and then a few searching syllables and consonants escape her lips.
“Who is this person? The boy?”
“His last name,” I admit.
“He is not the one for you,” she says. She looks into my eyes. “But you knew that.”
I nod, but in the moment of silent recognition that follows, I feel my heart sinking straight through my body, through the pouf cushion and into the ground. Even though she is right that I have always known that her statement is true, my mind’s voice is already shouting its rebuttal: We are not yet done with each other, it insists. We have more to learn, to teach! I am not ready to let go. I am not done falling.
And though I say none of this, and not enough true time passes in that frozen moment for all the emotion to show in my eyes, the woman’s lips just barely curl into a tiny smirk.
“But he is OK for now,” she says, laying out another row of cards as if the matter is settled. “In current relationship, just go with the flow. It will be fine.”
My heart returns to my body, settling somewhere in that pit of the stomach where hope and sadness meet. Not quite home, but close enough to carry on.
“I think that’s pretty good advice regardless of the fortune,” I say. In fact, that piece of advice alone might have been worth the price of the entire fortune, I think. Like all good advice, it’s something I already know I should do. But that’s what the best advice really is — the magic is rarely in the delivery itself, but rather its timing.
The cards continue to reveal their secrets as it all sinks in.
She tells me I should move away, travel at least. I am unsurprised. “I’ve considered it,” I tell her.
She tells me to watch out for an ex bent on attacking me somehow. I am again unsurprised. “I can handle it,” I say, surprising myself with the steady determination in my voice, and I can tell she does not doubt me.
She delivers the news that I will have three children: two girls and a boy. Here I am slightly surprised, as she has added one child to the load I was expecting based on a two-minute palm reading I had months ago in London. I am momentarily hit with the notion that I might want to think about getting started in a nearer future if I’ve got to pop out three kids. But then she informs me that two of them might be twins, and I figure that buys me a little more time, which is good since taking care of myself seems like a monumental task some days.
She tells me I will marry a man in a uniform. She does not know what kind — “perhaps a sports uniform” — but definitely a uniform. I am once again surprised, and this is the most skeptical I have been, for I no longer know for certain that I am the marrying type, and while the idea of a man in uniform might do it for some girls, I have never been in that camp.
“You just wait,” she says, grinning. “People come back years later and tell me I am always right! You will see!” She laughs, and I can’t help but chuckle myself.