I don’t remember how I got ready for work. I don’t even remember the bus ride. My autopilot must have kicked in, as I managed to get there somehow. Standing in front of the huge building, I was wondering if I still had a job. So much happened in only twenty-four hours. Unbelievable. First my boss giving me this new assignment, and asking me (without saying the actual words obviously, but giving me a strong indication) not to mess it up, and then Him (Lorian, as I understand) turning up and turning my world upside down. And then Lyn and her approaching nuptials. Wow. If I told anyone, they wouldn’t believe me. Honestly, I don’t believe it either. What if it was all a dream? What if I only imagined this handsome stranger? What if I go in today and realize that Claire never had that meeting scheduled in, or she did indeed, but it turned out that this Lorian was an ugly old man? Then I would still have my job and my peace of mind. I’m not too sure if I have either at the moment.
I still have a little time till Claire is due in. I decide to head to our canteen to get a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, they don’t serve anything stronger. It’s not that I am a heavy drinker. I never liked alcohol that much, I only touched it on rare occasions and after a lot of convincing. I knew it wouldn’t solve anything anyway. It would make things seem easier, but then the effect would fade away too soon and you would have to face reality. You wouldn’t escape it, just delay the process, and then it would come crashing over you with multiplied force, making you realize how forsaken you are. You become disappointed then, as you thought that oblivious bliss alcohol can give you erases the problems you are so desperate to avoid. Now, let me tell you a secret: it only hides them and creates even more. After some time you realize, that what put you in that oblivious state at first doesn’t work any more. So you dive in deeper and deeper, until you can’t turn back. You are craving more, you want to get there, where you don’t feel pain. But it is not that easy any more. You become cynical, an outsider, looking at your own life as an observer, rather than being the heroine of it. If you are honest with yourself, you don’t think your life is worthy to include a heroine at all. Maybe a marionette, or a servant, but not a heroine. You don’t feel that you are worthy of the title. Because of your problems and because of the way you try to deal with them. After some time all you can feel is emptiness. It separates you from the pain, but then it separates you from all the good things, too. You won’t feel anything, and that might be one of the most tempting states – although we know it’s not real. And yes, the temptation is always there. Like now. I want to give in, I want to forget, even if it is only for a very brief time and even if it means I will suffer twice as much later. You know, sometimes I feel jealous of those, who can give in to temptation so easily. I can’t. Maybe that is why I have so strong feelings against it and say so intensely that "no-no, I’m not that person, I don’t want to be that person”. I don’t know how to be. I never let myself give in to temptation. Never. I was scared of the consequences, what others would think of me, and more importantly what I would think of myself if I went against all my beliefs. But I was dying to try. Only once. It could be anything that is "forbidden”. Anything "bad”, anything that my mind warns me about. Just for a little bit, to know what it’s like to completely let go. I might try. Later. After I finish work. That is if I still have a job… For now, coffee will have to do.
Alcohol, or no alcohol, I can’t deal with this right now. I still have some time and I came to the canteen to relax and try to distract my mind from the possible consequences of my stupidity. Now you most probably know that if you try not to think about something, it will keep appearing at the back of your mind, not letting you concentrate on anything else, let it be a book, a conversation, movie, anything. Nothing seems as interesting as the thought you want to push away. I absent-mindedly flip through the local newspaper. Somehow I was never really interested in reading the news. I didn’t want to know how bad the situation was out there. I thought if I ignore it, it is not happening at all. Talking about escaping reality. But this time something catches my attention. It is an advert (which, you can imagine is something I read even less often). I do believe in signs though, and this might be what I am looking for to give me the answer to my biggest question: What the hell is happening to me? Here it goes:
'Are you in search of an answer?
Do you want to know what is happening to you?
Are you getting signs, but you don’t know what they mean?
Do you want to get to the next stage, but don’t know how?
Do you want to get a glimpse of your future?
Then look no further! Madame M. is the person who can help.'
Hmm. Now, I don’t normally believe in this stuff. I do believe that everything has a reason and each and every opportunity means something and leads to another. I read my horoscope every day, but just so I can realize (yet again) how general they are and how they fit everyone and no one at the same time. I think everyone is always looking for an answer, the answer to all of these questions, and we try to find it, wherever we think it could be (in the Bible, in meditation, buddhism, etc). But then we realize that we cannot get these answers without any help. Why? Because when we read the Bible (or any other religious book), or when we meditate or turn to God, we basically use our own knowledge as well as the help of those books to get the answer. We will get to access additional information through them, but still we will interpret them in our own way. And that is exactly why we won’t get an answer other than the one we already know. Because we don’t trust ourselves enough to accept the interpretation we came up with. If we did, we wouldn’t be looking at different ways to solve the puzzle, would we? We wouldn’t be looking for help – we would say "oh yeah, I know why I got this sign” or "I know what this part of the Bible says”. But we trust others. More easily than we trust ourselves. So we go and ask them. Priests, witches, fortune tellers, psychologists, even our friends. And for some reason we believe them. Sometimes they know better, sometimes the don’t. But usually we don’t even seem to care. We just need that other person to tell us that we were completely wrong (or the opposite, to confirm what we already knew). We basically need a second opinion. And because I believe in signs, and need someone to tell me exactly what to do (maybe if no one told me, then I would be blaming myself if it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to??) I am going to call Madame M. But first I have to deal with Claire.
"What the hell happened yesterday?”
Claire asks as soon as she enters the office.
Oh crap…Why do I have to work Saturdays as well? Why do I have to work at all??
"Uhm, I don’t really know, I was just…”
She doesn’t let me finish.
"He wants me to give you the contract like right now. What have you done to him?”
He wants what?
"Now that surprises me as much as you. We just talked a little, he introduced himself and I made him a cup of tea. I think that was it. He said he just popped in for a few minutes anyway…”
I don’t have the slightest clue how I manage to speak.
"Oh, it must have been the tea then, or… Well, never mind”
She smiles at me.
"I always knew you were the person for the job. And as he is one of our biggest clients, you will have to make sure you give him everything he wants and give him special attention whenever he calls or visits, do you understand?”
Oh God, how much did he tell her? Everything he wants? Err…
"Lia, are you ok? We can go over the details of his contract and your duties later, don’t you worry”
I guess I blush again as I can feel my cheeks burn. How will I get out of this?
"No, Claire, I’m fine, honestly. And thank you. I really appreciate your help and leaving me in charge.”
"I know you can do it. And I don’t have too much time for Lorian anyway. He can be a little… demanding sometimes.”
What does that supposed to mean?
"I’m sure that’s why you needed an assistant in the first place. But don’t worry, I will try to handle him. I mean his contract.”
Crap, crap, crap…
"I bet you will love.”
Pff, why don’t I like her smile? That smile again, which makes me uncomfortable… As if she knew something I didn’t.
"Ok dear, I will have to go to my next meeting and I won’t be back after that. Have a nice weekend and see you on Monday. Take some rest, you deserve it!”
"Thanks Claire, will do, and you do the same.”
After she left, I felt like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, I still have a job. But what she told me today just added to my confusion. I thought I messed everything up yesterday, I thought Lorian was just playing with me, and yet here she is today telling me that he will only work with me, and me only from now on. Wow, that is unexpected. Or can it be that this is part of his seduction plan as well? Could it be, that he is laughing at me? Oh no, he must have noticed how much I was drooling over him! Did I stare at him too long or too often? I don’t recall anything like that. I tried not to, and I did it with so much force, I don’t think he noticed. Or at least I didn’t think so… till now. Maybe. I don’t know. And this new „promotion” will mean that I will have to meet him regularly and talk to him on a daily basis. Oh my… How am I supposed to cope with that? How long till I give in? Will I be able to act professionally? I doubt it. But I will have to try, otherwise I will risk loosing everything – yet again. I can’t let that happen. I can’t let him take advantage of my vulnerability, of me wanting him so much, and then just leaving me as I’m sure he did with all the other girls. I wouldn’t be able to survive that, and I would have to leave my job. So I would be left with nothing. I have to keep it together. It won’t be too bad hopefully. He will only come to us once a week, when he has a new property to rent or when he is coming to collect his money, otherwise I would only meet his tenants. I don’t know too much about his contract as I didn’t have the chance of reading it properly, but as I skimmed through it, it seems like I will be in charge of collecting rent and managing all his properties. If I remember correctly, he has five flats and two houses with us so far. I will also have to make sure that he is happy with the service we provide, that everything is on time and there are no complaints. And I will have to give him special attention. Huh, I don’t know what he told her, and what he expects, but I’m sure about one thing: he is so not going to get that special attention from me. It’s time to call Madame M. Let’s see what she thinks about it all.
6 THE FORTUNE TELLER
I really think this time I made the right choice. Madame M. can see me later that afternoon. As I make my way towards the little cottage in the middle of nowhere (yes, I already checked, this is the address she gave me) I start to shiver. Now, I am not a girl who gets scared easily, but whenever I sense something I can’t explain, I get goose bumps. I like to know what is happening, I want to have an explanation. But lately, I am having problems with that. Clearly it’s not time yet for me to understand what is going on. Or is it? Was this really a sign and she will be able to tell me exactly what to expect, what my future brings? Do I really want to know? Lia, this is not the time or place to change your mind…But still, this is freaking me out now. I feel like I was lured into a typical horror story, where the innocent young girl goes to the middle of the forest, gets lost, then finds a forsaken house, thinking someone will help her in there find her way back home, but the next minute you see either a man with a huge axe and an unnatural grin, revealing rotten teeth starting to chase after her, or a sweet looking granny welcoming her in, only to poison her later. Or a ghost. Well, the latter wouldn’t be as scary as the first two. If there is anything that scared me more than the supernatural, is human madness. You might be able to find explanation for the first. An explanation that makes it all right. Even a little exciting. But the latter, now that is pure horror. Either way, I hope none of that will happen to me. Famous last sentence?
Before I could loose my mind, the door suddenly opens, and a sweet looking, old lady appears behind it. Oh crap…
"Lia I presume”
She says smiling at me. I’m more and more convinced that I shouldn’t go in, although she opens the door widely and her smile seems to be genuine.
"Don’t be afraid. I know what you are thinking, but rest assured, nothing harmful will happen to you.”
She said, and went inside, giving me the chance to escape, if I wanted to. But how did she know what I was thinking? Maybe she just met a lot of people who watched too many horror stories.. Well, there is no point in turning back now, and I came here to face my biggest fears and get an answer to my questions. People say that when you want something, but are also afraid of it, you will reach out to grab it only when your desire to have it becomes stronger than your fear. I guess I am at that stage now. So I walk in.
The cottage (surprisingly) seems much bigger than from outside. A huge fireplace occupies one wall, with a small table in front of it above a green carpet. This is a good sign, at least I can’t see anything black or satanic-looking, she doesn’t seem to have a black cat either (or a long, pointed nose for that matter). I relax a little bit. But it still fits the charming-serial-killer-granny theory. Madame M. is sitting at one end of the table, and motions for me to sit down opposite her. I do as I am told. She doesn’t stop smiling. As much as this is creepy, I start to relax. I keep telling myself that I have an overactive imagination and my feelings are not justified, I am just overreacting.
"We are a little skeptical, aren’t we?”
She asks, but instead of waiting for my answer she continues
"Well, well. I hope this will change by the end of today’s session. Now, I want you to concentrate on your main question and shuffle these cards. My apologies, they are a bit old.”
A bit? I’m scared to touch them in case they break, they are so crispy and thin. As parchment. Don’t have a clue what they mean or since when does she have them. Do I want to know? I shuffle them anyway.
"Good. Now divide them into two piles.”
Ok, it has been easy so far.
She starts humming, and spreads the cards out in front of us, one by one. I thought she is going to use Tarot, which I understand a little bit (well, at least I can differentiate between the cards), but I have never seen anything like these cards before. Not only don’t I understand them, but I can’t even see a picture on them. How is she going to see anything at all? She sets twelve cards on the table, so that they form a circle, each card facing upwards.
"These twelve cards will tell me your future year. I will use the help of additional cards as well to see details about the upcoming events in your life, and to get a better understanding of your destiny. If you have any questions, please let me know, but I will have to concentrate, so do so after I finished. You can take notes, as I’m sure there will be loads of information, and not all of it will make sense just yet.”
I nod quickly. I still don’t think this is going to work, but we will see.
"The first card is telling me that you have been facing difficulties lately. But don’t worry dear, something will soon find you. Something that you wanted since your childhood. And then everything is going to change, for good.”
Oh well, I am a bit disappointed, this is only general rubbish. But then she continues:
"Oh, I can see it now. It won’t be a „thing”. It will be a cat. A white Persian cat. Is that what you wanted?”
Now it’s getting interesting.
"Yes, how did you know? When I was really small, we had lots of cats, but never a white one, and my parents didn’t let me buy one, telling me we have so many.”
I know I shouldn’t give her too much information, but I decided to play along.
"I see. But here is something else that you want. A man. But not any man, this one is really special. You met him by accident, right?”
"And then after a long time you met again.”
This can’t possibly be in those cards!!
"You work together. Well, sort of. This part is not perfectly clear, but it seems that you will spend lot of time with him in the next year. But you are worried and scared. You don’t know how he feels about you, if he is interested.”
Again the general stuff.
"And do you know?”
"Hmm, let’s see. I would say nothing will happen until spring next year. You will be facing difficulties till then. Something or someone will stand in between you two. Maybe your own fear. There are some things you don’t know yet, and today is not the day to find out. But you will, soon. And when you do, you mustn’t loose faith. You have to believe that everything will work out in the end as it should. There is something else here.”
As she says that, she spreads more cards out. I still can’t see any pictures, but it doesn’t seem to bother her.
"Oh, hmm. Interesting. Dear, have you had any strange dreams lately?”
Now she has my full attention.
"Well, it could have been anything you don’t normally have, but…”
"Never mind dear, again it isn’t the right time yet. You will find out pretty soon. You will get more dreams later. Pay attention, you will find all the answers you are looking for in those dreams.”
"I had one dream so far, but it only made me more confused”
"As I said, it isn’t the right time yet. You will understand. Soon. There is something else. I have to warn you.”
"Yes. Your suffering, although it will end soon, it is not completely over yet. You have to be strong and no matter what happens, pay attention to your dreams and the signs you get when awake. The path you chose won’t be easy, but if you really want this man to be by your side, you have to hold on. Now this will be enough for today, come back in a couple of months’ time to see how your destiny has progressed.”
I am disappointed. I wanted to get answers, and she got me more confused. More dreams? A cat? And what does that have to do with Him? I don’t understand. As I thought, it was only general rubbish. She just wanted me to come back later and pay some more money. For nothing. I am so angry with myself. I should have known. I don’t even know what I expected. I don’t even know this person, and yet I trusted her, as if my life depended on it. Oh well. I thank her (I don’t want her to know that I can see through her manipulation) and head back home. Still, she sensed my issues with Lorian. Or was it so obvious? Does everyone go to her because of a forbidden love? Forbidden? Where did this thought come from? She is just messing with my head. She might have some powers after all. As I am busy with my thoughts, I am not that busy looking at the road. I try to keep my balance, but I can’t. Pain shoots through me as my left knee hits the pavement. Perfect, just what I needed. Since when do they forget to turn on the lights at night? Well, I guess since I am not paying attention… As I try to find a way of getting up, I accidentally touch something. Something soft. I thought I won’t be able to stand due to the pain, but this nearly makes me jump and run. Jeez.
Says the "thing” I just touched.
I still can’t see, but I can feel as the cat starts licking my fingers. I can also hear her purr. I remember that I have my phone with me. I used it as a torch before. I look around in my bag without success. The cat doesn’t help, although I’m sure she can see more than me. I manage to climb to my feet. The sky is still pitch black, so I can’t see the damage. But I can feel it. My trousers seem to be torn as well, which is not a good sign. I try to take a few steps, but I decide that’s not the best idea, considering the circumstances and the cat under my feet. I look for my phone again, blindly. When I finally find it and turn it on, my legs freeze to the ground.
Says the white Persian cat as I stare into her emerald eyes…
To be continued...
Copyright © 2017 Sorseress. All rights reserved.