“And what is your name, madam?”
The girl sits on the wooden stool - the only seat available - within the small, mystical room. Incense sticks burn as the girl turns her nose up at the exotic-smelling aroma, finding it a tad too strong for her liking. The psychic gypsy across her has her head tilted up expectantly; her wild, black hair cascading around her shoulders as her striking deep blue eyes stare back at the girl, still awaiting the reply.
“Liz,” replies the girl.
“Ah…” the psychic says. “Wait a minute.” She stares at the crystal ball in front of her, waving her arms around it and her glare penetrates into it. “I do see something... yes…”
Liz licks her lips, “What's that?”
“Terrible! Something truly terrible.”
Liz raises an eyebrow in bemusement, half believing the vision the psychic has just seen. “What is it?”
“Give me your palms too, my dear,” she says. “We must be sure.”
Liz thrusts her hands forward, her eyes darting back and forth between her palms and the psychic concentrating.
“Terrible! Just terrible” Cries the gypsy. She shakes her head, making her hooped earrings dart back and forth. “However,” she says staring into Liz's slightly frightened eyes, “something can be done about this. Don't worry too much, I will do my best to protect you from this happening.”
“What's happening?” asks Liz.
The gypsy taps her nose, “I'm sorry,” she says, “I cannot tell you, but you must have faith in my vision. This is what you must do…” She waves her palm over the crystal ball which suddenly opens up from the top and a gust of fresh smoke rises out of it. The gypsy puts her hand into it and takes out a scrap of paper. “This…” she says, “This is what will protect you!”
“Listen dear, heed carefully these instructions. It is your only chance for safety. Now, I give you this scrap of paper and you keep it somewhere safe. Never lose it. But you must not open and read it until 4pm tomorrow afternoon. Do you understand? 4pm tomorrow afternoon.”
“Sure,” Liz says. “I'll try not to.” She takes the paper from the gypsy's hand.
Until 4pm tomorrow afternoon.
“Ok, thank you... for... um... whatever this is.”
The psychic waves her hand. “Sure, no problem. Next please!”
Liz leaves the room as another two girls enter the psychic's abode.
“Hello, my dears. We only have one stool so the one who wants their reading done may take a seat.” A girl with chestnut coloured hair sits down and rolls her eyes at her friend.
“And your name is, madam?”
“Beth,” says the girl.
“And that is short for Elizabeth?”
The gypsy gasps. “Oh no…” she says.
“Is there a problem?” asks Beth. The room is silent. Beth's friend rolls her eyes.
“Listen carefully,” says the gypsy. “Something awful will happen to you today. You must follow these instructions in order to be safe.” The gypsy's crystal ball opens up letting out a puff of fresh smoke. She takes a paper out of it and gives it to Beth. “You must not read the contents of this paper until precisely 4pm tomorrow afternoon, understand? Keep the paper safe until then. Now I'm done.” With a commanding hand, she waves off the two girls, and they realise they are being instructed out of the room.
“Is that it?” asks Beth, putting the paper into her handbag. The gypsy responds with silence and the girls both reluctantly leave the woman and her strange little room.
Liz strolls out onto the city roads taking gulping breaths of air, glad to be rid of the aromatic incense smells that confined her to the psychic's room, very conscious of the crumpled piece of paper in her trouser pocket and curious of its contents. She taps her pocket. Gazing at the dresses by the window of the shops on the high street, she thinks about the psychic's instructions, battling her curiosity to stop her from opening the piece of paper before tomorrow at 4pm. She wants so much to pick out the piece of paper, forget about the orders and read it. Yet the psychic said it's supposed to protect her. Everything about it just didn't make sense. Was it something to do with her palms? The crystal ball? Or a reading of her name? Liz taps the paper in her pocket.
As Beth and her friend come out of the psychic's room, Mel rolls her eyes about the hundredth time.
“You don't seriously believe what she said, do you?”
“She said something awful's gonna happen. This scrap of paper's supposed to protect me.”
“She probably sells that shit to everyone.”
“There's something about it.”
The girls come across the kerb and wait for the oncoming cars to pass the street so that they can cross. The lights take a while to turn.
“Oh, come on, don't you want to know what the paper says?” There's a challenging twinkle in Mel's eyes.
Beth digs into her bag and pulls out the paper. She unfolds the paper and reads:
As she reads the paper she notices the traffic lights change color and she subconsciously steps onto the road, failing to hear Mel call, “Car!”
Beth is still too distracted to hear the loud hooting of the car speeding at 70mph, which drives into her suddenly, killing her instantly.
Liz makes her way out of the city park, her curiosity still getting the better of her as she feels the crumpled paper that resides in her pocket.
Until 4pm tomorrow.
Liz waits at a kerb to cross the road. The lights turn color and Liz thinks it's her queue to cross. However, someone from behind her shouts, “Car!” Only then does Liz notice the car that has just crossed the light at red. Liz turns around hoping to thank the person.
“Don't worry about it,” he says. “Keep safe.”
Liz takes a leisurely stroll toward home and forgets about it all. It's been a long day. She makes herself a cup of coffee and turns on the television. There's been a road accident not far from where she lives. Oh, how awful! She thinks about the crash she could have been a victim of and sighs. Phew.
Liz gets ready for a shower and a good long soak in the tub. She lights the scented candles around the bath and inhales. After a satisfying soak she gets ready for bed. She awakens late in the afternoon the next day. She wears a new sweater and the same trousers she wore the day before, forgetting about the crumpled paper until after 4pm. She takes it out carefully. This was supposed to protect me, she thinks, and reads:
“What a lot of bullshit!” She throws the useless scrap of paper into the trash.