by, L. Anne Wooley
“Step right up, and try your hand. Three balls for three dollars. Knock down three bottles and you….” the voice of the carney faded, as Jackie Simmons walked away from the game, pulling the hand of her husband Christopher. She ignored all her favorites. The smell of hotdogs, popcorn, and elephant ears, mixed with the scent of late summer as she walked towards the deep purple tent with a forest green top at the end of the thoroughfare. Christopher tried once more to talk her out of seeing a fortune teller. “They are nothing but a bunch of charlatans.”
“This is the last day of the carnival, I must see her!”
He shook his head but followed anyway, “Might as well be talking to a wall, you obstinate mule!”
Christopher looked at the tent, and saw that the proprietress was standing just inside. The tent had a garish design of a woman with black hair floating around like Medusa. A third eye painted slightly above and between her eyes stared back at them benevolently. The woman inside beckoned them with the crook of her finger. “I don't think this is a good idea....” Christopher resisted. But when Jackie walked inside, he had no choice but to follow.
“Come in my children,” Magenta's voice penetrated the thick fog of incense smoke.. Her husky voice had a slight eastern European accent, Magenta stood aside to allow the couple to enter. The fresh air, which at first had helped Magenta's migraine, was now filled with the scent of carnival food, and was making her stomach roll.
Jackie passed her, followed by Christopher. The smoke from the incense that was sitting on her reading table, quickened as if it were going to blow out. Then Magenta closed the tent flap, and the incense slowed and curled into a ribbon like transparency.
Magenta walked around to the other side of the table. She was a few inches over five feet with long black hair that resembled the picture on the outside of the tent. Her long skirt was of indeterminate color, and her shawl was of equal color. Her gaudy bejeweled fingers indicated the chairs where the couple could sit. Jackie did not hesitate, sitting down immediately. Christopher stood reluctant to sit, until Jackie looked over glaring at him. She then pointed to the chair on her right.
Christopher pulled the chair back, and folded his six foot four inch frame into the metal chair that was too small for him. He leaned forward pulling the chair up to the table. He sat back with his arms crossed.
He noticed everything in the tent. The square table had a purple cloth with an unknown symbol on it. The crystal ball, was on the right side of it, and the tarot cards were in the middle in a stack. He saw the table against the wall with new age paraphernalia.
Magenta intoned, “Do you wish the cards or the ball?” She indicated each in turn, her long nails painted blood red. The rings were Magenta's legacy from her mother. Her mother had run off with another man when Magenta was three. She never knew her mother; therefore, the rings held no sentimental value. Her father, who rarely spoke about his wife, had told her that her mother had the gift. Magenta did not, but she had done this so long, she could fake it well.
“I don't know,” the young woman tugged on the end of her hair, and bit her lip.
“Jackie, I think we should leave,” Christopher reached out his left hand and grabbed her right arm tugging it lightly.
“Please, Christopher...I have got to know!” she implored him, placing her left hand on top of his right one gently. The tears started making paths down her pink rouged cheeks.
“You wish to know if you will conceive a child,” Magenta shuddered for a moment.
“Yes,” Jackie responded with the tiniest whisper.
“How did you know?” Christopher interjected at the same time, his eyes narrowed in speculation.
“You have tried to have children before, but have not succeeded. You want to know if you will succeed this time,” Magenta's eyes went cloudy, though Christopher thought that might be due to the smoke. But that did not explain, how did she know?
Magenta placed her hands on either side of the crystal ball, and peered intently into it's depths. She saw a scene form inside. She frowned as she looked at it closer. Suddenly she felt dizzy and her vision narrowed to a single point of light. Then her vision opened wide just as suddenly, and a barren landscape formed.
She stood among a group of armed men. They didn't see her as she walked forward to a tank. On top of the tank stood a man in a generals uniform. Behind him was a movie screen with a scene of dead people. She saw men, women, and even down to the smallest child were all dead. With growing horror she looked up at the general, and into a younger version of Christopher's... face.
She came back in a rush.
“You said our son would be like Hitler!”
Magenta realized that Christopher's hands were around her neck squeezing. The last sound she heard was Jackie screaming and the shattering glass of her crystal ball.