I lifted the flap of the tent, ducking my head and blinking my eyes in the dim light. The enclosure was draped with rich coloured materials and threads of spangled glass and crystals. The lady sitting before me shivered but did not look up. She sat statue still and her silken garments, with their highly embroidered patterns flowed generously to the floor. As I stood there awkwardly, the world outside seemed to retreat and a silence enfolded us.
After a few moments the lady said, “I’m Catrina. We don’t have long,” waving her hand for me to be seated. “There’s much trouble ahead.” Her intense blue eyes looked directly at me. They were full of deep concern.
She continued, “I see a dark road with much danger lying before you, but do not despair. Within you there’s the ability to see the way. You must trust your instincts and remember always that, if you feel danger then that’s because there’s danger to feel.”
My heart went cold. I hadn’t expected such a look into the future when I’d entered the fortune-teller’s tent. I’d expected to be told that I’d meet a tall dark stranger. I thought their unwritten code of conduct didn’t permit bad news. I realized that I was cradling my head in my hands and when I looked up Catrina was gone.
I realized I hadn’t paid so I delved into my bag and placed ten fifty pence pieces in a row on the desk. I’d won them earlier on a side stall with a throw a hoop game. As the last coin touched the table so the noise from the fair started filtering into my mind.
Outside the ground was spongy; so many feet had trodden over the earth. There were children screaming with excitement on the rides and families having a go at winning the prizes on the stalls. Floaty pink clouds of candyfloss were walking about attached by tall sticks to happy children and the sky was punctuated with coloured balloons and streamers. The fair was crowded with happy people enjoying a not so cheap night out, but my joy at being there had diminished and I decided to go home.
Tonight I’d been going out to dinner with Mark to celebrate that we’d been dating for one year.
“Sorry Terri, I can’t do dinner tonight. I have to meet some clients.” Mark said as he came out of the bathroom.
“Are you serious? It’s our anniversary. Surely you could’ve seen them tomorrow.”
“We’ve been through all this before. While I’m still building the business up, it has to come first,” Mark tugged on his shirt as he was speaking. “Anyway I’ll make it up to you at the weekend.”
“But why on earth didn’t you tell me last night? Then I could at least have done something else.” I could hear that unattractive whine in my voice.
“Well I forgot.”
“Now I’m left on my own on our anniversary. Thanks a lot,” I continued.
“O.K. well if you want the truth, I knew you’d go off on one and I didn’t want to ruin the evening. We had a lovely time didn’t we?” He smiled at me with that winning smile.
I knew I’d been wrong footed but by this time Mark was going out of his front door and making his way to the garage. “Don’t forget to lock up when you leave,” he shouted. Minutes later I heard his BMW roar down the road.
On my drive to work I’d seen the fair. I decided I’d go there tonight. My Gran used to take me when I was a child. She passed away about three months ago, so tonight I’d go to the fair and remember her. The one place she would never take me was the fortune-teller’s tent.
“That’s strictly for adults,” she said. “You have to be old enough to know that everything they tell you could apply to anyone. It’s ok for a bit of fun as long as you don’t take it seriously.”
Naturally the one thing I promised myself to do when I was older was go to the fortune-teller’s tent. Now I wished I hadn’t bothered. I decided to head off to my home and watch a DVD when I realized that my laptop was round at Mark’s place. So I went there first.
The house was in darkness as I inserted the key into the front door. We had keys for each other’s homes because we spent most of our time together. We’d been ticking along quite happily going out a couple of times a week and then a few months ago Mark started being more serious. Naturally I’d been pleased. He’s so dynamic and exciting and when he smiles his eyes light up his face and you feel that all is well. His house was a large three-bedroom semi. My place was a tiny little flat at the top of a big old house. It was what I called cosy and Mark called pokey, but it was home.
As I entered his house I switched the light on in the lounge and picked up my laptop. The room seemed warm, which surprised me, as no one was home. It was then I noticed two wine glasses on the coffee table. I knew I’d washed up yesterday. Obviously I was mistaken. I was about to pick up the glasses to wash, when I heard a noise from upstairs. Hugging the laptop to my chest I crept towards the bottom of the stairs.
You must trust your instincts and remember always that if you feel danger then there’s danger to feel.
Is this what the fortune-teller was warning me about? Strangely I felt frightened but not in danger. Quietly I crept upstairs and paused on the landing outside the bedroom I’d slept in the night before.
I heard some giggling and then I heard Mark’s distinctive voice, “…here have another drop of champagne.”
There is much trouble ahead. The fortune-teller had been so right. My whole life had just shattered.
I turned and crept downstairs still hugging my laptop. Like a robot, I turned out the light and put the key back in the door to close it as quietly as I could. I made my escape as efficiently as a thief and it was only when I was in my car and driving away that the tears started to fall.
I found myself driving out to the country. There was nothing about. The roads were empty and it started raining. That suited my frame of mind. I travelled along narrower and narrower roads, without any idea of where I was going. My mind whizzed round all the times spent with Mark and the future that I thought we’d spend together. Everything changed with the sound of that giggle.
Suddenly I realized that I was travelling far too fast. I was coming up to a blind bend and there were warning signs at the side of the road. The image of ten fifty pence pieces flashed before my eyes. I slammed on my brakes so hard that the car jerked violently to a halt. Luckily nothing was following. I sat there for a few moments gathering my thoughts and gradually realized that there was an amber glow ahead, intermittently flashing.
I stuck on my hazards and walked round the corner. There in front of me was a mangled car embedded in the side of a tree. The couple in the car had missed the turning into the narrow entrance to a farm and hit the tree. The rain was now pouring down as I rushed over to the car. I pulled out my mobile. I managed to give the emergency services the name of the farm, which was signposted clearly. The occupants of the car were both still alive but unconscious and I decided to leave them where they were. It seemed to me that the car was unlikely to explode with so much rain pouring down.
What felt like hours passed, standing in the pouring rain and in pitch-blackness except for the amber glow, which lit up the scene one minute and quickly hid it the next. I didn’t try to switch off the indicator. There was complete silence except the sound of my squelching feet as I moved from one side of the car to the other checking the pulses of the two injured youngsters. I should’ve felt alone and scared but I knew I could have easily joined this tangled mess of metal. If I hadn’t stopped, there would have been no hope for any of us. Eventually sirens blasted through the night accompanied by blue flashing lights and a policeman shouted at me to stand back. Soon the couple was taken to hospital.
The following day I went to the hospital to see how they were getting on. I was looking through the window in the ward where the girl lay and her mother was sitting by her bed. If I hadn’t known better I would have sworn that the mother was Catrina. She glanced my way and our eyes met. They were intense blue eyes and it seemed a flash of recognition passed between us. Obviously it was just a coincidence.
Mark was very surprised when I told him that I wouldn’t be seeing him anymore or investing my Gran’s money in his business. I never did explain why. Let him work it out. At least it will dent his ego.
Now I sit in my little newly bought cottage and think over the events on that night, it occurs to me how Catrina’s words rang true. Within you there is the ability to see the way. Sometimes as I curl up on the sofa I shudder at the thought of what my life might have been like if I hadn’t gone to the fair? I don’t dwell on it for long though. Thanks to Catrina, the future calls.
This is one of my older stories (which I wasn’t too happy with) but I’ve re-editted. Does it work now? Let me know.