Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Fortune Tellers

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The latest short story from the award winning writer Gareth Davies

My mother’s headscarf drowned my sister’s head. Its gay colours were at odds with the grey, damp-leafed afternoon. The electric bars burned bright orange and the smell of lunch time’s burnt cheese on toast lingered in the stuffy air. My mother was sleeping, lightly snoring in her chair as she did most afternoons while me and my sister played quietly at her feet.
Fortune tellers was one of my sister’s favourite games. It wasn’t particularly one of mine. I didn’t mind being the customer, it was when I had to don the headscarf and tell my sister’s fortune that I felt a bit uncomfortable.  But my sister was older and unmistakably the boss, so if she said we were playing fortune-tellers, we were damn well playing it.
She climbed on the stool and carefully took down the green glass ball, with its water smoothed surface. Later we’d find out it was a fisherman’s weight, but to our childish minds, it was the perfect crystal ball.  We’d be in for a row if my mother woke up. The ball was out of bounds along with the glass elephant that didn’t look like an elephant. Woe betide us if we broke it, my mum had constantly threatened. But, when my sister wanted to play fortune tellers, she had to have her crystal ball and the threat of woe be tiding us wasn’t going to stand in her way. 
She smiled her crooked smile and told me I should cross her palm with silver. I did as I was told, passing over a smoothed out milk bottle top. She took the ‘money’ and invited me to sit down and then gazed into the ball.
“I see shapes in the fog,” she said dramatically. “Ah your future is clear,” she told me. “You'll meet a tall, dark, beautiful woman.”
“Urgh,” I cried, well I was only five.
 “And have six children.” She continued.
“No!” I said
“And what will your job be?” she asked herself.
A forklift truck driver. Please let it be a forklift truck driver, I thought. That’s all I wanted to do when I grew up.
“The ball says you'll be a writer, a successful writer.”
“Noooo!” I screamed. I stood up and stamped my foot. “I don't want to be a writer, writers are stupid.” I kicked the stool that was acting as her fortune teller’s table. The milk bottle tops flew to all corners of the room and the ball went up in the air.
I looked at my sister, she looked at me. We watched the crystal ball arc across the room. It was going to crash, smash, bash into the mantelpiece.  There was nothing we could do. We were for the high jump. I was already planning how we could run away and never come home or trying to think if we could glue it together before my mother woke up.

Still seemingly asleep, my mum stuck out a hand and snatched the ball from the jaws of oblivion.
“What did I tell you about playing with this?” she said, cwtching the ball to her chest and resuming her snoring.  

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