In a small town, far from the influence of the big cities, the town folk celebrated their centennial anniversary of their home town. The evening skies were illuminated by the bright lights of the carnival, as the sounds of rides and excitement filled the air. The people ran between games and rides, willing to spend their hard earned money for only a brief moment’s pleasure. But they didn’t care, all they wanted was a memorable night.
Walking between stands of carnival games and food stands, a young man weaved and moved past the crowd as he tried to find something to occupy his time. In the distance, he saw a lone tent on the end of the row of concessions. Above the doorway, he saw a simple sign reading ‘Fortunes’. He decided to enter the tent, if only for a laugh.
As he entered the tent, a woman sat at a beaten wooden table as tarot cards laid across the table. No older than fifty, she was dressed in a white blouse as a magenta skirt reached down the lengths of her long legs. Her long black hair was tied back into a single ponytail, reaching the back of her shoulder blades. She glanced upwards to the young man, and gestured to come in and sit down in front of her.
“Please, sit down. I was expecting you.” She said in a soft tone. He smirked at the statement, thinking it was part of the gimmick. “Were you?” He responded quickly and sarcastically.
“Don’t act wise, it is unbecoming of a young man. You are here for a fortune. Open your palms on the table please.” She instructed. He did as she asked and rested his arms on the table with his palms facing up. She gently gripped his hands, rubbing her slender fingers against his flesh. He could hear her muttering to herself before she focused her attention on the young man.
“I see…I see…a girl, a young woman. Her beauty has caught your eye, but she doesn’t know. You are going to try to ask her out for a date tomorrow after school, but she is going to refuse. She already has a boyfriend, though he is not too bright.” She told him. He leaned back, surprised at what she told him. He had plans to ask one of the girls from his class on a date, but he did not tell anyone about it. He felt compelled to ask her.
“How do you know this?”
“Do you think that this is a sham? A cheap attempt at fortune telling? I can see the future, and every path it can and will lead. It is my gift and my curse.” She explained to him, her eyes saddened as she said this. The young man looked at her with awe and confusion at her statement.
“You can see the future, how is that a ‘curse’? You could control the stock markets. You could see how every lottery in the world plays out.” As he said this, the fortune teller’s eyes were soon filled with anger at his words.
“Foolish boy. Do you think that money can buy happiness? Greed begets greed, it is a vicious and unending cycle that has destroyed men and women alike. Do you think that you could control the world around you?” She asked him.
“With that kind of gift, someone could live like a king.” He stated sternly. She sighed at his statement, as a tear ran down her face.
“I was hoping it would not go down this path. If you think that way, let us see how you handle this ‘gift’.” She said, gripping his hands tightly. Soon, the young man felt a burning sensation flowing through his hands as it soon spread throughout his body. Closing his eyes, he groaned in agony at the unknown pain. Sweat ran down his face and dripped down onto the table. After a few minutes, the warmth in his hands ceased and the pain ended.
He opened his eyes and his vision became distorted. He raised himself from the table and stumbled as he made his way to the carnival outside. Looking around him, he was overwhelmed with what he saw. Multiple visions of the people around him moved with each of them walking in different directions. He was unable to determine what was real and what was not. He collapsed to the ground, his head felt like nails were being driven through his brain. People passed by him, looking down at the young man. But they left him alone, presuming he was intoxicated. From behind him, he heard the fortune teller’s voice.
“What you are seeing is what I see every single day. Every single path that mankind can walk in front of you, different perspectives of what the future could hold. Ever conflicting, they walk side by side. Each day, you will watch the people around you live and die before your very eyes. Friends. Family. It doesn’t matter.” She explained to him. He looked up to her, his eyes clenched shut as tears flowed down his face.
“Please, make the pain stop! Make it all stop!” He begged her. She looked down at him with disappointment and sorrow.
“There is no end to the piercing pain. You will feel it with every waking moment until you leave this earth. There is nothing you can do to dull this pain, you can only live with it. I hope you enjoy my ‘gift’.”