A woman runs away from her life to become a fortune-teller on an island in the Caribbean. However, her miraculous success has unFORESEEN consequences.
You may think that this is trivial, and I assure you, it is. But my life is a big fat lie. There's honestly no other way to make a living in this business though. I tried to be explicit, at first, about the realities of fortune-telling. It's impossible to know specific details about your future, I would tell them, but you're missing the point! The point is that you, yourself, spend the time to think about the future now. I'm just here to guide you through the murk. To help you embrace the unknown, so you can feel that rush you get when you're so uncomfortable in your own mind that you can't stand it! You have to consider the things you don't know about yourself. Look back at your past with a new kind of skepticism. Look at your future with your eyes closed. You're the one seeing the future, not me…
Those folks never payed for a second glance, and in the end I abandoned the righteous strategy. It was dull anyway.
I abandoned quite a few of my old ways, actually. When I first started my gig on St. Croix I looked like any other white lady on an unfamiliar island, skooting around in flip-flops and capris pants and a flimsy tank top. My eyes were always protected by the biggest, darkest sunglasses I had, and my skin by the same SPF 80 I used for my infant son. But the clientele, I soon discovered, didn't want their fortune-tellers looking anything like themselves, and invariably took their business to one of the other seers on the strip instead of me… despite the fact that those weirdos were obviously just making stuff up. But if I was going to do this, I told myself, I would have to do it right; and thus I began the slow evolution into my later, more effective appearance.
Both my skin and Daniel's had acclimatized a long time ago, so that by this point we both sported awesome permanent tans that could have rivaled those of the sexy beach bums on the tanning oil bottles. I wasn't a black lady, but this was the best I could do. My usual garb included a colorful, draping shawl/skirt combo; pounds of beads dangling from my neck, wrists, waist, hair, and ears; thick eye makeup in elaborate swirls and dots that combined bright colors with black; contacts that made my eyes orange– a gift from a particularly zany cruise ship captain I'd taken to flirting with– and, of course, eleven of the gaudiest rings on the island– one on each finger and two on one. I was the seer to see. The one tourists had heard of before they'd stepped off the boat. The one kids couldn't help pointing fingers at. The one who told people the truth.
Though, as I've said, truth is a fishy topic. But as far as I knew, everything I'd ever told someone would happen had happened. Whether it would have happened, had I not predicted that it would, well, we'd need some sort of alternate-reality-teller to know that. In any case, I was happy to use lies to get the truth out of people, and I'm pretty sure that's what they were looking for.
It was Daniel who had a problem with it.
“When am I gonna be able to kayak by myself if I can't now?” He whined, wringing out an argument that we had finished earlier that morning.
“I don't know,” I said patiently. “Probably when you're big enough to stick the paddle down on both sides of the boat without leaning over.”
“Well when's that gonna be?”
“I don't know, we'll just have to wait and see.”
“I thought you could see the future!”
“We've been over this, Daniel,” I sighed. I didn't like having to explain the nuances of my trade to anyone. Obviously Daniel is different, and I would never dream of presenting the facade to my own son, but it still felt annoying to have to say it out loud. I wished he would have just understood it the first time, and lost interest after that. Kids.
“I can't see the future, you know that.”
“But you tell people stuff about their future, right?”
“Yes, but I get to pick what I tell them, and it's usually a bunch of vague stuff they should already know.”
“But sometimes they have specific questions, don't they?”
“Yes, and I answer because they pay me to, but I'm just guessing, kiddo.”
“But everyone says you're always right!”
Annnd right back to this. This was where the conversation stalled every time we had it. And it was, of course, the most interesting bit. Because I really am just guessing. There's no trick to it, there's no magic. The cards, the palms, the runes, all that stuff is just guidelines… paths my brain can follow, if it wants to, that tend to leave a semi-intelligible trail behind so that I can explain to my client where my brain went. But when it comes down to it? I just guess the details. Sometimes I feel pretty certain about them; sometimes it's like 60/40. If you had asked me six years ago, when we first got here, to predict whether I'd have earned a reputation for being right every time I predicted something, I would have said not a chance.
It follows then that I would be completely stumped as to explain my success to Daniel, and so it was that morning.
“Mama's just lucky I guess.” I ruffled his hair. “Now get outta here, I'll see you this afternoon.”
He grimaced a little at my touch but didn't try to dodge it. “And have fun on your kayaking trip!” I added encouragingly.
“I'll try,” he said, holding back a grin. I knew I could get it out, if I thought of something quick.
“Tell Jay not to go too fast, or the dumb tourists won't be able to keep up with you two!”
There it was.
“Kay bye,” he said, bouncing off before I could see the whole smile.
Laughing, I closed the door behind him and considered, not for the first time, whether there might be some sort of actual god. And whether that god might, to some extent, be using me as a tool to communicate the truth to the world. Or, perhaps for some other purpose. Could it really be just coincidence that every single tiny thing I ever told a client about their future ended up being true? It didn't *feel* like magic, but it sure didn't look like chance either. Maybe there was, in fact, someone or something behind it. Whatever it was, if it was, was none of my business anyway, right? And I should just keep doing my thing? Without thinking about it too much?
That's what I thought at the time, and it's what I still thought, later on that day, when my beaded curtain parted to reveal a man wearing a business suit and followed by a two-person camera crew and a family of intrigued tourists.
“Hi,” said the man. “Are you Florence the Fortune-teller?”
“Ew,” I said. “Is that what they call me?”