Prose Writing Prompt of the Week: A character went to get his/her fortune read six years ago. Today, that fortune is coming true in the most unexpected way. Tell us about it…
by Jamie DeBree
In six years exactly, love will find you.
Mandy looked out at the sunrise reflected in the still lake as she sipped her coffee, remembering the words of the woman who’d read their fortunes so long ago. She and Jeremy had laughed it off at the time, making note of the date so they could be together and make the fortune come true.
That was before the accident. Before he’d died and left her all alone. It had been two of the hardest years of her life since, and she’d come out here and rented a cabin far away from civilization in the hopes of finding herself again.
She’d made a certain peace with his death, as people do when they loose the person they love most in the world. The hole in her heart was still there, and would always be there, but this morning, as a gentle breeze rustled through the aspens and small animals skittered through the underbrush, she could almost stomach the thought of letting someone else in. Not someone to fill the hole, but someone to talk to, to laugh with, to keep her company on lonely nights.
A gentle smile played across her lips as she took another sip off her cooling cup. Love was going to have to work awfully hard to find her up here.
Sliding off the boulder she’d been using as a seat, she drained the last of her mug and headed back to the cabin. Some breakfast, maybe, and then a hike to the berry patch she’d spotted yesterday on the other side of the lake. A bear and her cubs had been feeding then, so she’d left quietly, but perhaps if she beat them today, she could help herself to some fruit for dinner. If not, maybe some good pictures of that furry little family instead.
She’d just finished a bowl of oatmeal when she heard a noise on the front porch. Moving carefully to avoid making noise, she went to the door and peeked out the side window, expecting to see something fuzzy, four-footed and hopefully not too big.
Instead, she saw a six-foot-not-so-hairy biped complete with hiking pack and fishing cap who looked oddly familiar, despite the tribalish tattoo on the side of his lower left leg.
Who knew Ray Ellis had a tattoo? Or anything other than expensive tailored suits in his closet?
More importantly, what the hell was he doing here? He knocked on the door, the sound making her jump and the fortune teller’s words flitted through her mind.
“No, no, no,” she mumbled as she straightened and reached for the door. “So not him. Anyone on earth but him.”
Pulling the door open, she didn’t bother smiling. He knew she wasn’t fond of him, and the way he treated her at work, she figured he felt the same.
“Oh good – you are here. Allison said you would be. Can I come in?”
It was the same serious expression he always wore, the same intense stare. But there was something odd about his voice – softer than she remembered. If she didn’t know better, she’d describe it as vulnerable, but Ray didn’t do vulnerable. Ever.
“Uh, sure, I guess.” Mandy moved aside, making a mental note to have a very serious talk with her best friend about sharing sensitive information. “Why are you here?”
He put his pack on the floor, and stood again, looking more uncomfortable than she’d ever seen him look.
“I wanted to talk to you – away from work. I know you don’t like me, and I promise I’ll leave as soon as I’m done, but I need you to know something.”
She took a deep breath, let it out slow. “Okay. Let’s sit down. I’ll listen.” She gestured to the worn green paisley couch and waited for him to take a seat before situating herself in the matching armchair. Neither were comfortable, but hopefully this wouldn’t take long.
“I know I keep you at arm’s length at work, but it’s only because I have to. I…have always been attracted to you, Mandy. The way you deal with people and keep your department running without alienating your co-workers is pretty amazing, and your creative problem-solving skills are the reason our company is where it is today.”
She gave him a sideways look. “So are you attracted to me, or to my work ethic?”
He gave a nervous chuckle. “I…uh…think you’re beautiful too. I just thought it would be better to lead with the intelligent stuff.”
Mandy smiled, surprising herself. “Definitely a good plan.” She wasn’t sure what else to say, but she had noticed how good-looking Ray was. He filled out a suit very nicely, though she had to say, this casual look was definitely working for him too.
She tried to remember why she didn’t like him, other than his standoffish, professional-to-the-point-of-boring persona. It’s not like she even worked very closely with him. He always seemed so dismissive though. Like he was “above” interacting with her.
“You know it’s juvenile to treat someone badly because you like them, right? Not to mention un-PC.” As soon as she said it, she knew it wasn’t really fair. He hadn’t done anything to her, really, aside from not exactly being friendly. This was quite possibly the strangest conversation she’d ever had. “I guess not being friendly isn’t the same as treating someone badly though.”
“I knew you were married, and I didn’t want to be…more attracted to you, I guess. I was protecting myself, at the expense of your feelings, and I want to apologize for that.” He looked down at the floor, over at the window, down at his hands. Everywhere but at her, and she felt herself softening. So many things made sense now – so many little actions, little withdrawals, unexpected bits of help that she wouldn’t expect to come from him, but did over the years.
She thought about what this meant. About him trekking all the way up to this cabin in the middle of nowhere, just to explain himself. About how long it had been since her husband’s death, and how he might have wanted to say something sooner, but didn’t.
There was no way he could have known about the fortune teller – she hadn’t told a soul, not even Allison. Hell, she didn’t even really believe in fortune tellers. Surely this was just a coincidence. Right?
“…coffee sometime. Mandy?”
She looked up, realizing he’d been talking while she was thinking. “I’m sorry, what was that?”
“I asked if you might want to get a cup of coffee sometime. With me, I mean. No pressure.”
She nodded, slowly. “Yeah. I think that would be a good idea.” He nodded, apparently not really sure what to do next. She looked at the door, and looked back at him. “We can do that later. But I was just getting ready to go pick berries when you got here. Want to hike over to the meadow with me? We’ll have to watch for bears…”
He grinned. “I’d love to. Lead the way.”
All in the Cards
by Carol R. Ward
Now that it’s too late I can remember the day clearly, almost six years ago. Bruno and I had just started dating. He was always trying to come up with something different for our dates and he thought it would be fun to go to the county fair.
From what I can recall of the fair itself it was fun. We went on a few rides and ate cotton candy and greasy fair food while wandering through the crowd. Bruno was amazing at the games and won me a giant pink elephant that sits on the chair in my bedroom.
The fortune teller’s covered booth was sitting between a chip truck and a vendor peddling handmade jewelry. I had actually stopped to have a look at the jewelry. Bruno got bored pretty quickly and moved on, but then called me away.
“Hey Jeanie, look! A fortune teller.”
“Which one do you think I should get?” I asked, holding up two necklaces for his inspection.
“Get ‘em both,” he said impatiently. “We really gotta get our fortunes told.”
“C’mon Bruno, I don’t believe in that stuff.”
“Me either. Who cares, it’ll be fun. Now hurry up.”
I made my purchase and joined Bruno where he was going over the fortune teller’s list of services.
“Look, she’s having a two for one special. Two readings for the price of one.”
“Bruno, I don’t think–”
But he was already turning to the woman standing at the entrance to the booth. “If we get the special, can we split the readings – I can take the palm reading and my girl can have the Tarot reading?”
I clearly remember the flash of pleasure I had at being called his girl. More the fool me.
“Of course,” the woman said smoothly. “Right this way.” She held the flap to the inner part of the booth open and we went in.
To be honest, it felt kind of creepy to me in there. It was dark inside and she had some kind of incense burning. Bruno was so busy looking at all the crap she had hanging up that he missed the start she gave when she took his hand. She almost seemed to go into a trance, she was so still, and for a long time she never spoke a word.
“Well?” Bruno asked impatiently.
She gave herself a little shake. “Forgive me,” she said. “I see that you are a man of strength – strong passions and desires.”
“You got that right,” he chuckled, nudging my knee with his.
She babbled some more generic stuff about life and work and money, and then hesitated before adding, “I must warn you I see darkness in your future, you will be faced with a choice. The darkness calls…” She shivered and let go of his hand again.
Bruno looked startled for a second and then laughed. “That was great. You really had me going for a minute there. Now do her.”
She handed me a deck of brightly coloured cards.”Think of a question you wish answered while you shuffle.”
“I don’t know what to ask.”
“That’s easy enough babe, ask about our future together.”
I smiled at him as I shuffled. When I was done I handed them over and the fortune teller cut them and then laid them out in a pattern. If I hadn’t been paying such close attention I might have missed the quick inhalation she made when she looked at the spread.
“I see that you have not been together long,” she began. “But your relationship is already … intense.”
“Hear that, Jeanie? We’re intense.” Bruno nudged me again.
Again she made several generic predictions before saying, “The many swords in your reading suggest conflict.”
“Is that in the past or in the future?” I asked.
Before she could answer, Bruno jumped it. “Cut to the chase, will we make it as a couple?”
She looked down at the cards, a troubled look on her face, then up again. “I see that you will be together until the end.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear,” Bruno said with a smirk.
After paying her, he lead the way out of the booth. I rose too, but as Bruno cleared the canvas the fortune teller grabbed my arm. “There is a great darkness in that one,” she hissed. “He is not what he seems.”
“What are you talking about?” I tried to pull away but she held me fast.
“He has a dark soul.”
“You’re crazy. Let go of me.” I pulled free and hurried after Bruno.
“If you stay with him you will die,” she called after me. “It is all in cards, they do not lie.”
By the time Bruno and I left the fair I’d forgotten about the fortune teller. And for the next five years Bruno and I were happy together. It wasn’t all hearts and flowers, Bruno did have a bit of a dark side but he never took it out on me.
I read the news reports of the missing girls, of course, but I had no reason to connect them to Bruno. At least not until his birthday when I decided to surprise him at the old warehouse he called home. In all the time we’d been together I’d only been there a handful of times. He was more comfortable at my place.
But I wanted to make his birthday special. His favorite take-out, a Black Forest cake, champagne, and me. It was going to be such a great surprise.
Only I was the one who was surprised when I got there and he wasn’t home. He wasn’t, but there was a girl chained to a metal frame in the center of the space below his loft. She was barely alive, cuts and bruises all over her. I had just about gotten her loose when Bruno arrived.
To give him credit, he was pretty upset at seeing me. But that didn’t stop him from tying me up and leaving me in a corner while he finished off the girl. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize he was behind the girls being mutilated and killed across the city. Dark soul indeed.
I hear him coming. This is it. Guess the psychic was right.
Check back next Sunday for more free flash fiction! And check the writing prompt on Monday’s blog too, in case you might be interested in writing something to submit for this weekly post as well…