by C.E. Ayr
This piece first appeared in the weekly Unicorn Challenge, produced by C.E. and Jenne Gray.
C.E. Ayr is another Scot who has emigrated to France and is a longtime collaborator with Jenne Gray. His work has appeared in many journals and anthologies. His first full-length novel, Beginning of After is now available on Amazon in paperback and as e-book.
I’m horribly superstitious.
And not just about ladders and salt and black cats and horse shoes and mirrors and things like that.
No, I have an almost obsessive belief in crystal balls, palmistry, Tarot cards, Ouija boards, all that stuff.
I even have my own special good luck charm, a pot-bellied wooden monkey of indeterminate origin who I trust to protect me.
My friends mock me, say all this rubbish is just for women.
Insensitive, unimaginative misogynists.
But if I get a bad reading I fret for ages, and try desperately to re-interpret it.
So I am excited to find a leaflet in the letter-box for a new fortune-teller.
Full of enthusiasm, I show it to my wife, who shrugs.
This stuff will be the death of you, she says.
She is a kind, patient lady but, quite frankly, too stupid to understand.
Ursula the Ultimate sits in gloom, swathed in wraps from which only her nose protrudes.
She studies me through dark glasses for several minutes, saying nothing, then hands me a cup.
Drink, she croaks.
The tea is cold and bitter.
She swirls the leaves, coughs, spits in a most unladylike fashion, and calmly tells me I’m going to die.
I leap to my feet in shock, then collapse, clawing at the savage pain in my stomach.
Looking down at me, she removes her scarves and other coverings.
I did tell you, says my wife.