The Parlour was just as I had imagined it would be, walls busy with fifty-year-old, overly decorative wallpaper, heavy velvet curtains, the smell of incense and old tobacco. Beneath the sandalwood; dampness and rot. A round table dominated the room, large but scared, scraped and pitted where you could see it through the holes of the ornate fake Belgian, linen. In the middle of the table sat, as expected, a crystal ball. It looked authentic. Glass, of course, but it was clear and of a fine quality, the stand it sat upon looked authentic, dark wood, perhaps aged oak, perhaps a light mahogany. Out of place with the cheap or second-hand furniture, this piece looked real. Authentic. I ran my fingers over the wooden base before the medium appeared.
Dressed for the part, she wore clothes that would have been considered dowdy in my grandmother’s day. A dirty brown, button up the front, dress that had faded to the colour of shit after a good curry. Hair, grey and wild as though she had just had wild sex or more likely had styled it that way to look like a beige Miss Havisham. I nodded to her as she entered though a curtain of Crystal beads that looked more likely to be glass or even plastic. she lowered herself into a wooden seat across the table from me and said in an undecipherable accent that sounded faintly Eastern European “cross my palm with silver, my dear and you will know you’re future”.
I was trying my best to look a little nervous which in fact I was, but not for the expected reasons, I had waited for this moment for so long and I could not wait for the silliness this “modern witch or soothsayer” would pronounce. I really did not mind what she said, I do not believe a word of these things. I was here for the experience.
I grew up in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, far from a town, quite a distance from the nearest village and so had few friends, my sister, the dogs and cats and books. The library van visited us once a month and I would use my full allowance to read whatever caught my fancy. Developing a fascination for gothic literature, I loved tales of the supernatural, the underworld. The darkness of it appealed to me. It was always dark on the farm, the candlelight, dusk and madness fuelled my girlish passions and idea’s. The romances of Shelley, MR James and the passions of the elders filled me more. I wished to laugh as the old Witch, gypsy or necromancer sat down across from me and casually, as a lover would, sensually stroked the crystal ball with one long nailed forefinger.
I knew that all she had to offer was stupidity but I did not care, long had I entertained the thought of attending a medium to feel the ambience, to know what it was like for those that lived before this scientific age. To feel how it felt for those that went to this charlatan witch and believed.
I smiled at her as her heavily made up (in the Egyptian style) eyes fluttered shut. Her long fingered, long nailed hands on the ball now, covering most of it. I was neither naive nor unintelligent, I watched the woman rather than the glass sphere until her eyes opened and she smiled at me, her eyes dark but clear. Her teeth were surprisingly white.
Her hand shot out and grasped mine by the wrist. Her long bony fingers strong. I tried pulling away but failed, she held tightly to me in silence. I thought of striking her but decided to avoid such things until they became absolutely necessary.
“I see your future”, she said, eyes rolling up until only the whites showed. “I see everything. You will marry the boy you came in here with. You will have two children, a boy and a girl, you will love him and he will love another. You will come to wish that you never knew me or my truth. You will live a grey life; your son and daughter will leave and you will die alone”. Her bony hand left mine. I walked from the parlour smiling, “just so much rubbish”
I wondered again when my husband left me, twice more as my son and daughter left and my world became empty and beige.