Magic in America: Fatebysweetnpetite©
The day was unremarkable. There was sunshine, and warmth, a slight breeze and a few clouds. Brown and orange leaves littered the sidewalk. Loud music emanated from a parked car around the corner, and accented voices worked there way into the street.
A long gray building with concrete stairs in a lower income section of town. There were a few small crab-apple trees planted in regular increments along the sidewalk served as landscaping. Ripened and damaged fruit rolled along under the woman's feet as she stepped out of SUV and approached the building.
The woman who climbed the stairs seemed, not unremarkable but quite out of place. Her stylish, conservative dress betrayed a suburban origin. She had straight blonde hair that fell to the middle of her back and was clasped in a long gold colored barrette. She certainly stood out in this run down neglected neighborhood. Without a single resident having decorated for Halloween, the visitor felt an eerie chill run down her spine. She strode purposely to the third floor and knocked.
The door had not been closed properly and swung upon to reveal a converted apartment. Behind a folding table, face to the open door, a brown skinned woman sat in flowing silky robes the color of peacock feathers . "Come on in," the woman said with no trace of an accent of any kind.
The seated woman was called Nina. That much was known to the visitor. That much and little more.
The blonde haired woman shut the door behind her. The room smelled like a combination of apples and roses, a soothing and welcoming scent. Not quite what she had expected. She was, however, not surprised to see that the room was softly lit with many candles placed around the room, or that the windows where drawn over with thick velvety curtains in the deepest shade of purple you could imagine. There seemed very little in the room that resembled an actual residence, but that wasn't really her concern.
"My name is Antonia," she said nervously..
The seated woman nodded. "Yes. They call you Toni." The blonde woman cringed at this. It was true, her family called her Toni, a nickname that she was not fond of. There was nothing really remarkable about the woman knowing this, anyone could have guessed it. Nor was there anything remarkable about what she quickly added, which was, "A name that you do not prefer." Antonia had obviously reacted with distaste but she nodded with agreement anyway.
"Pull up a seat, Antonia," the woman told her in a voice that she found soothing, even a bit hypnotic. She started to wonder if this had been a good idea, but she seated herself across from the woman and waited. She found herself at a loss for words, nearly forgetting why she had even went there. She found herself unable to look away from Nina to clear her head. The woman she beheld was an ageless beauty, seeming somehow ancient and young at the same time. It was easy to believe that she had the gift, as many who had seen her had been convinced.
"No, you do not like being addressed as Toni. Those who call you that- they do not see you for who you really are, but only for who they want you to be. Who they expect you to be. You are tired of living up to others expectations of you. But you do not know your own expectations of yourself. You do not know who you are."
Antonia took a sharp breath in. The words sent cold shivers through her body and then a strange prickly heat. The woman had looked through her as if she were made of glass. "Can you tell me who I am?" Antonia asked in an awed whisper.
"No one can see who you are, until you can see yourself. You must become what you want to be."
"But I don't know who I want to be," the blonde woman pleaded.
"For that, you will need a mirror," the medium told her. She reached out a long slender hand to a deck of cards that lay stacked on her table. As she shuffled them, Antonia noticed that she wore a large turquoise ring on the middle finger of her left hand. It was set in silver. Her nails where long and filed to a rounded tip and painted a neutral taupe color. It was the only jewelry or decoration on her hands. Antonia was unsure why, but she had expected red nails and many rings on hands lined with age.
The cards where not what she had imagined either. The woman shuffled them and then laid them out in a pattern she did not understand or recognize. There was no hanged man, no death card, no page of cups, no fool, no magician. Instead what she saw was unlettered cards showing patterns of shells, stones, feathers and sticks.
Nina reached into a small drawer beneath her table and procured a glass bowl and a long slender cigarette. She lit the cigarette without asking if Antonia minded the smoke and studied the cards.
"A change is coming for you. There will be three events that will take place. They are tests. Through them you will answer the question you seek. The question of who you are."
The seer paused and Antonia wondered, Is that it? But she once again was at a loss for words. Nina gazed at the cards as if looking for something more, so Antonia waited quietly.
"It is true, you are not who others think you are. But the answer is not a simple one. For who you really are is hidden deep within. Part of who you are is a seeker, and you must begin with yourself. There are no easy answers, but there are answers if you are willing to look. You must look past the difficulty to the meaning behind it. The meaning for you. It will tell you who you are, and also, who you are not. Each trial will present you with a choice. The road you take will both show you who you are and create the person you will become. But you must be prepared, for it will not be easy."
"How- how can I prepare myself?," Antonia asked hesitantly.
"You are lonely, but not alone. Only when you are alone will your loneliness be cured."
"I don't understand."
"There will come a time, my dear Antonia, when you will feel as if you can't go on. That life has been too unfair and unbearable. You must not give in to that dark feeling. It is then that you will be on the verge of your first breakthrough."
Now Antonia's eyes threatened to fill with tears. "But I already feel like that! Are you telling me that it is going to get worse!"
"It is always darkest before the dawn. You must remember that. You must hang on. There is sunshine coming for you. It is here, in the cards, and here-" Nina grabbed her hand and turned it palm up, "on your hand." Nina's nail traced a line that bisected Antonia's palm.
"After that, there will be two other tests. But they will not be as difficult as the first. Because the first will give you the strength to confront what is coming. I must light a candle for you."
The woman released Antonia's hand and reached into her drawer again. She pulled out a plain white taper candle, a simple candle holder and a book of matches. She lit the candle and said some words that Antonia did not understand. She held out her own hand and let the candle wax drip onto her open palm, until it was the size if a quarter. Then she blew out the candle and put it back into the drawer along with its accessories. She blew into her palm, cooling the wax and when it was cold, she peeled it out of her hand and pressed it into Antonia's. "Until the light returns, keep this to remind you."
"What are the other two tests?"
"You are not ready to hear of them yet. You must return to me in 1 months time. Do not pay me today. Do not even give me a gift. Simply return in thirty days."
"I don't know..." Antonia was starting to wonder if perhaps this had all been a mistake. What was the joke, or the punch line here? Things just didn't seem to add up.
"You must decide for yourself, of course. But I think I shall see you again."
"Yes, I'm sure you will," Antonia said, rising to leave. She doubted that she would stay true to her words, but she felt more comfortable saying what the woman wanted to hear so she could leave quickly.
Quick as a flash, Nina's hand reached out and grabbed her arm. "Antonia," the woman said, pushing back her sleeve to reveal the carefully concealed purple marks left there, "he will never hit you again. It is destined."
Antonia had no idea how the woman had known. Perhaps she had simply guessed somehow from the way she held herself. But everything changed in an instant. The woman, Nina looked old and not so wise. Lines she had not seen before became apparent on her face; they had been hidden perhaps by the soft candle light. Her eyes looked sharp, but not intelligent, rather crazy. There was no way she knew what she was talking about. He had made Antonia that same promise a hundred times. The words were lies. Antonia's hair stood up over her head. Suddenly she couldn't leave this woman's presence fast enough. She fled from the apartment without looking back. Long dark shadows nipped at her heals and a cold wind whipped her face, but she didn't notice, the words of the seer rang in her ears like the devil's laughter, on this his night October 30th.
She just couldn't listen to any more empty promises.
That night when he came home two hours late, he was enraged that his dinner was cold. He overturned the table, smashing the dishes that they had received on their wedding day. As he raised his hand to punch her yet again, she knew that the crazy old woman's words were lies. She was disappointed in herself that she had allowed the tiniest bit of hope to creep into her necessarily hardened heart. She had known better.
His clenched fist never found her soft cheek. Instead, his eyes widened in shock and fear then pain. Clutching his chest he fell to the ground breathless, lifeless. It was over in moments and she knew immediately that he was dead.
As she went to dial 9-1-1 she let the final realization hit her. The last number was barely punched in before the world turned black around her and she fainted. She was alone.