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JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

October 31, 2017 02:49AM
Last year I waited until the wifi got spotty to try to post, so I'm a little early this year in GMT-4 but I figure it's got to be Halloween somewhere.

I'm afraid this story isn't really funny or scary or even smoochy, but it's the best my brain could come up with and believe me I tried.

Cards with Madame Orliné

Catie stood at the glowing arch that marked the entrance to the fair and got her bearings, her stomach a pit of nervous excitement. She had always loved fairs and amusement parks; the thrill of flying, falling, and spinning having been developed at an early age. If she had to choose between the two, she'd have to side with fairs over amusement parks, their ephemeral nature -- here one weekend, gone the next -- making their pleasures more precious.

“Catie!” called her friend Belle from the group of young women who had walked ahead while Catie was busy marvelling. “Catch-up, little tomato!”

The others laughed at the joke as Catie dashed forward and linked arms with her friend.

She had felt a little foolish when Belle had insisted that they dress in costume for the fair, but it was October and a lot of people were dressed up in varying degrees, and admission was half-off for those in costume which no frugal college student could pass up.

And, Belle had pointed out, there was an invitation-only Halloween party at the Phi house later that night. If they were cute enough and flirted with the right person, they could end up there.

Catie didn't think she wanted to go to the party, but she did want to go to the fair with her friends, so there she was, wearing a white summery dress over a pair of leggings and a white turtleneck to stay warm, with some wings strapped to her back and a halo of tinsel in her hair. She felt silly to be wearing a costume yet still superior in her choice compared to Belle's Sexy Devil get up, Lydia’s Sexy Red Riding Hood outfit, or Mary's … Sexy Hermione uniform. Those costumes might have been designed with flirting in mind, but not in the cool October air.

“So what do we do first?” Mary asked after they had formed a line that forced other pedestrians to divert around them.

Catie’s immediate response was to buy a ride bracelet and find the Drop Tower, but Belle squealed with excitement before the first syllable was past her teeth.

“Fortune Teller!” Belle cried, bubbling with enthusiasm. She dropped Catie’s hand to point to a tent decorated with stars and symbols.

Catie's protests went unheeded as Belle gripped her arm to drag her along while Lydia and Mary walked at a more dignified pace but they followed nonetheless.

The wait for the fortune teller was short and they were soon seated in the cramped tent littered with veils, screens, creepy cabinets, and clouds of incense.

The fortune teller, a woman who called herself Madame Orliné, beckoned them to sit at a round table in the center of the crowded space. A scarf covered her hair except for a few dark wisps escaping. Her eyes were heavily made up, even more so than Lydia or Belle. A sheer veil covered the lower half of her face but the foursome could clearly see the glossy dark lacquer on her lips and a curiously shaped mole on her chin. Her clothes fit every stereotype Catie had ever formed of such a woman with loose, flowing fabrics in a riotous dissonance of pattern and sheen. She spoke with a thick accent that was clearly meant to be Transylvanian.

After sorting out the payment (more than Catie wanted to spend), Madame Orliné looked each of them over carefully. Then she pulled out a well worn deck of cards and shuffled them expertly despite her elbow-length gloves. With a flourish she spread them in one long line across the table.

“For four at once I can read your cards but fewer than if I met with you one at a time,” she explained. “Still, I will show you a demonstration of my power as a show of good faith.”

Madame Orliné’s fingers walked along the cards as she spoke, weaving a spell over her listeners. “Death is the natural progression from life. It awaits for every one of us, regardless of age or beauty. But some people are not prepared when their time comes. They cling to this world out of fear or jealousy or shock rather than crossing over into the next. They try to achieve that which they could not in life, hoping that peace will give them the strength to move on, but they are incorporeal, unseen, unheard, unfelt by the vast majority of the living. However, I am a powerful medium; I can see and understand them. I help them achieve their goal, and in exchange they tether themselves to me in service, giving me the power to know you better than you know yourselves. Join hands to form a chain and think hard on what it is you want to learn. Think hard enough for my spirits to hear you, and they will whisper to me what you wish as well as what will be.”

The gypsy paused and held out her hands. The other girls almost scrambled to hold hands while Belle practically had to wrestle with Catie to clasp her wrist. Having lost, Catie then sheepishly took hold of Madame Orliné’s waiting hand. Once the chain was complete, Madame reminded the young women to concentrate their thoughts on what they wanted to know.

Incense hung heavy in the air as the others bowed their heads in thought. Catie didn't know what she should think about. She had heard enough ghost stories from her older brothers that this was starting to creep her out. She didn't want this to be real. She didn't want to have nightmares of ghosts invading her thoughts. She didn't want to hear bad news and then to wait in dread for it to come true.

Her imagination began to play tricks on her, as she felt a cold gust of air at her neck, causing her skin to break out in goosebumps. The oddities pickled in jars in the cabinet behind the gypsy began to look more actively sinister. Catie cast a nervous glance at her three friends who were sitting with their hands clasped firmly, eyes tightly shut, and brows wrinkled in concentration, eager to participate and learn whatever the fortune teller was to say.

At last, the moment passed and Madame Orliné broke the chain. She teased out four cards from the line and positioned one in front of each young woman.

“You seek answers, three of you --” she said with a glare at Catie. “I am aware of your questions. You --” she looked at Mary as she turned over the nearest card. It was revealed a wizened librarian -- “are worried about your grades.”

Mary gave a small gasp, indicating that the gypsy had indeed correctly read her thoughts.

The medium turned to Lydia and flipped the next card. It displayed a winter scene with gold coins littered about. “You are concerned about money,” she said, earning another gasp of wonder.

In front of Belle, Madame Orliné revealed the third card to be a wedding. “You want to know about love,” the gypsy declared.

Belle squealed and clapped her hands. Of the cards revealed thus far, Belle had the happiest-looking scene.

Now it was Catie's turn and she felt the old woman's eyes upon her. She kept her own eyes down, fixed on the card in front of her.

Madame Orliné flipped it over. The picture was of a youth walking confidently toward a cliff, too distracted to realize the danger.

Catie reluctantly lifted her gaze when the silence stretched too long.

“You will never find what you seek if you cannot admit even to yourself that you want it,” the gypsy chided her with a click of her tongue.

Catie squirmed in her seat as she felt her cheeks burn. Madame Orliné did not let Catie stew in the spotlight for long. She soon turned to Lydia and instructed her to draw two cards and to turn first one then the other face up.

Lydia obeyed then looked expectantly at the gypsy. “What do you see?” she asked.

The older woman tapped the cards. “If you had spent as much effort watching what you buy as you spend watching what you eat, you would not be in this mess,” she announced.

Lydia's jaw dropped slightly. “How do you know that?” she breathed. It wasn't a denial.

“Take back the clothes you cannot afford and go on a spending diet. You have willpower enough to do what needs to be done if you apply yourself,” Madame instructed. “You, draw your two cards,” she barked at Mary impatiently.

Mary hesitantly separated two cards from the line then flipped them over.

“Do not let the boy distract you,” cautioned the medium. “He thinks not of you but of his own pleasure. He will be gone before he has to deal with the consequences.”

Mary chewed her lip. “How does this affect my grades?” she asked.

“Think back to your last study session,” Madame reminded her. “You failed that quiz.”

Mary's eyes went wide and Catie thought she could detect tears forming but Madame Orliné had already moved on.

“You --” she barked at Catie but Belle interrupted.

“Me next!” the devil cried, pulling two cards from the table and turning them over, revealing “The Lovers” and “The Tower.” Belle again squealed with delight at seeing the first card. She couldn't have asked for better cards if she had stacked the deck!

Madame Orliné glared at Belle, unimpressed. “You have no patience,” she observed scornfully. “You already have a lover but you do not honor him. You are already planning on his replacement. Foolish girl, you will lose them both, and more besides.”

There was no corrective advice like she had offered to Mary and Lydia.

“That's not true!” Belle exclaimed in denial after a heartbeat of shock. She turned to Catie and said it again, “That's not true. You know I love James. You know I'd never hurt him.”

Catie said nothing. She had watched her brother pursue her friend for a few months now while Belle ran hot and cold with him, teasing him and pulling him closer only to push him away so she could flirt with someone else. It had been frustrating to watch, almost painful at times, but now that they were together, Catie had expected to be able to breathe a sigh of relief. But Belle returned to her old patterns of behavior when James wasn't around, smiling and laughing and saying one thing that just bordered on something else to whatever cute guys caught her attention. It had hurt Catie to watch, because she knew it would crush James if (when) he found out. She had tried talking to Belle about how an attached woman shouldn't behave like that but Belle just chided her for being old fashioned. Yet Catie still thought that Belle’s actions bordered on cruelty at times, with her plans to win an invitation to the Phi House Halloween party basically centered on finding a guy who could get her in and flirting with him until she got what she wanted.

When Catie said nothing, Belle turned back to the gypsy. “What do I need to do? You told Lydia and Mary what to do. Tell me.”

“Why should I tell you?” the old woman countered. “You have no intention of heeding my advice.”

Belle's face contorted in a mask of rage. She swept her arm across the tabletop, scattering cards and knocking some to the floor.

“This is stupid,” she snarled. “You don't even know how to do your job right. You're not a real psychic. You can't read our minds. You don't know what's best for us. You just sit there and try to sound wise and say, “Boys, boys, boys!” like you know some big secret. Of course we're thinking about boys, it's not rocket science! You're just a fraud. This is stupid,” she repeated, rising abruptly. “Come on, girls. Let's go.”

She turned and walked out before her three friends head a chance to react, leaving the tent flags gaping and flapping open.

“Um, excuse us,” Mary sheepishly apologized to the fortune teller for their friend and stood up. Lydia joined her, and the two also left.

Catie sat rooted to the spot. She didn't want to go to the party later, and she didn't want to deal with Belle's pleading and persuasion in trying to change Catie's mind about it. But right now, most of all, she didn't want to listen to Belle defend herself against the fortune teller, claiming how much she loved James while giving proof to the contrary by explaining how flirting with a guy didn't mean she liked him.

Catching up with Belle would make her head hurt and ruin the fun she ought to be having, and it would keep her up later than she wanted anyway. If Catie just stayed behind now, the problem would sort of go away. Sure, her brother would still be dating Belle, but Catie wouldn't witness anything that troubled her conscious.

She stayed put. Belle waited for Lydia and Mary to catch up, then stalked off. Catie watched them go with increasing disinterest, already planning out the rest of her evening -- the ride bracelet, the Drop Tower, the funnel cake, the Uber to get her back to the apartment.

“I still can read your fortune if you like,” said Madame Orliné, making Catie jump. She had forgotten momentarily that the gypsy was there.

“Thanks, but I think...” Catie glanced through the tent opening at her friends walking away. “I think I already know what’s going to happen.”


JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

NN SOctober 31, 2017 02:49AM

Re: JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

Joe78751November 09, 2017 03:55AM

Re: JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

Maria VNovember 01, 2017 12:22AM

Re: JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

NN SNovember 01, 2017 12:50AM

Re: JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

Bloody MariOctober 31, 2017 08:52PM

Re: JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

UlrikeOctober 31, 2017 08:11PM

Re: JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

KEvelynOctober 31, 2017 12:17PM

Re: JAOCTGOHONO -- Cards with Madame Orliné

Shannon KOctober 31, 2017 04:50AM


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