Conversation With an Angel

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt

5 comments

Fantasy

Jennifer and I circled the park on our daily walk. Under the shade of a tree sat a table with a built-in bench. It sat on a pad of concrete. An elderly gentleman sat dead center. Off to his left was a sign that read “Free Tarot Card Readings.”

“We walk this park every day,” Jennifer said, “I’ve never noticed that guy before. He’s probably some homeless guy looking to make a few bucks for a bottle of wine. I’m going to call the cops. He could be dangerous.”

“You always assume the worse,” I said. “What if he legitimately wants to help people?”

“You don’t see anyone taking him up on his offer, do you? That’s because people have a gut instinct that tells them this guy is bad news.”

“Well, I think I might just get a reading from him. Besides, he doesn’t look homeless, and what harm can come from this?”

“He’s a fake,” Jen said,” and when he’s done, he’s going to ask you for money. For all, you know he could be carrying a knife or a gun.”

“I’m wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt. He’s got to know I don’t have any money on me, and if he has a gun, why not just shoot us now?” I said.

“You’re a real comfort,” Jen said, “So, what are you going to ask him?”

“I’m going to ask him about my love life.” I peeled away from Jennifer, who continued on her walk. She told me she would pick me up on her next pass around. I walked the twenty yards it took to get to the stranger. “Hi, I said, “My name is Nicole. Can I get a free reading?”

He indicated the empty seat across the table. He wore clean corduroy pants, a black, Bob Dylan t-shirt, loafers, and a khaki-colored boating cap. His beard was a few days old, and I detected a subtle scent of cologne. “How can I help you today?” he asked.

“I was hoping to find out about my love life.”

“What about your love life?” he asked

“Am I going to meet someone who will love me for who I am?”

“I don’t do yes or no questions.” He said. “I’m not a fortune-teller; I’m a tarot card reader.”

“What’s the difference?”

“I can’t see the future, but I can give you advice that will help you in the here and now. Are you in a current relationship?” he asked.

“Yes, I am.”

“Do you want to stay in this relationship?”

“Yes, I do,” I said.

“Then let’s rephrase your question to – ‘what do you need to do to make this relationship work’?”

“Sounds good,” I said.

He closed his eyes and muttered a brief prayer. His voice was tender and calm; I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but it appeared as if he was asking someone for help. He shuffled the deck several times before offering it to me. He never spoke during the shuffles, and I was beginning to think Jennifer might have been right. He asked me to cut the deck and complete the cut. It was the only time I touched the cards. He laid out a series of ten cards in a strange pattern. I watched him to see if his face would betray a secret.

“You are a very guarded young woman.” It was more of a statement than a question. I nodded my head. “The young man in your life is rather loud and boisterous, is he not?” Again, it was more of a statement than a question.

“You nailed him. He is very loud, and that bothers me. It’s embarrassing when we are in public. Why is he like that?” He ignored my question and continued looking at the spread. The few seconds seemed like hours. I looked around the park to see if I could spot Jennifer. At long last, he spoke.

“You withhold compliments when he does something praiseworthy. What do you hope to accomplish by this?”

I was momentarily shell shocked at the insightful comment. Albert was a decent man with good looks. He worked from home and provided a good living for us. He was a college graduate and a smart businessman. There were several times I felt like thanking him for being such a good provider, and telling him how proud I was of him. But I never did it. “I don’t know,” I said.

“You do know. Please tell me.”

The question forced me to face the ugly side of my character. I don’t know why, but I felt compelled to tell this man what was really going on inside me. It was something I wouldn’t confess to my best friend. “I don’t want to encourage him in any way. Part of me hopes he will get fed up and break it off with me.”

“But earlier you told me you wanted to stay in the relationship. Now you’re telling me you’re trying to break it up. This is a complicated and conflicting thought process. What’s the reason?”

I felt a compulsion to answer every question he asked. Had I killed someone, I think I would have told him about it. “I’ve known Albert since we were sweethearts in high school. I had a beautiful figure back then, but I got comfortable in the relationship, and I let myself go. I know he wants to be with that pretty seventeen-year-old instead of who I am today.”

“And how do you know this?”

“That’s what men want, isn’t it?”

Again, he ignored my question. His eyes turned skyward. It wasn’t a look of disappointment or confusion. For the second time in our brief encounter, I felt he was asking for guidance. “He shows you a lot of love and is looking for intimacy. Do you have sex often?”

“No. I don’t want him to see me naked.” What was wrong with me. Did this man have hypnotic control of me? I couldn’t believe I shared that with him. It was a dirty secret I felt I had buried so deep no one would ever find it.  “That’s why I walk every morning,” I continued, “I’m trying to lose weight.”

“So, you have a man who loves you and who wants intimacy, and you’re withholding sex and compliments of any kind. But you’re hoping to stay in this relationship. Is that about, right?”

“It sounds insane when you put it that way.” I lowered my head, unable to look him in the eyes.

“Please, look at me,” he said. “I’m not passing any judgment.”

I struggled to meet his eyes. He could see the moisture that had formed. My life was an irreparable mess. I couldn’t believe what I had done to it. It would not have surprised me to go home to an empty house. Why was Albert still hanging around?

“Young lady,” he said, “you are quite beautiful, and yet you have a distorted self-image. You need to accept yourself for who you are, accept the young man for who he is, and embrace the love you have in your life. The only relationship you need to work on is the relationship with who you are and your former self.”

I sobbed, unable to speak. I saw Jennifer coming, and I waved her away. I indicated she should take another lap. I knew she could see me crying, and I could see the concern on her face. “Why am I doing this?” I asked him.

“It’s a form of self-sabotage,” he said, “You love, Albert so much you want him to have his dream girl and a dream life. What you don’t realize is that Albert has his dream girl and his dream life, and he knows it. No matter how uncomfortable you make his life, I don’t see him going away, so you may as well enjoy what you have. If anyone’s going to leave this relationship, it’s going to have to be you. When it comes to his loud nature, the cards tell me he is looking for approval and love. Stop withholding it, and you’ll see he no longer needs to be so boisterous. He just wants his girl to notice him.”

My throat closed with regret, and I sat there, unable to speak. I felt exposed and naked before this strange, gentle, man.  It hit me that what I wanted so badly for Albert, he already had. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell him how much I loved him. “You don’t know how much I appreciate you,” I said to the stranger. “Let me go to my car and get some money to pay you for this.”

“Don’t you dare,” he said, “This is my superpower. One never charges for his superpower. It’s bad Karma. You have a superpower too. Did you know that?”

“What’s my superpower?” I asked.

“You can turn your life around, make someone very happy, and you have the ability to create a beautiful future. I can’t think of a better superpower than that. Can you?”

“Will you be here tomorrow? I would like you to do a reading for my friend Jennifer.”

“I am here today only, and only for you,” he said.

“But what if I need you? Do you have a business card?”

You won’t need me. In fact, you didn’t need me today. The answers to all your questions you already knew. Sometimes it’s nice to bounce things off others or ask for advice that validates what one is thinking. You took a chance walking over to me today. No one else in this park would even look at me. I must look like a crazy man sitting here all alone. Your bravery was rewarded, and your superpower was revealed to you. All in all, I’d say you’ve had a pretty good morning. Love yourself first, and then you’ll find it easy to love others.

Jen stopped and yelled across the patch of grass. “Who are you talking too? Where’d the homeless guy go?”

My head snapped back to find an empty seat. The sign had disappeared as well. “Did he ditch you?” Jen asked.

“No, I –“

What’s wrong with you?

“I was just talking to him. You saw him, didn’t you?”

“I saw you guys earlier,” Jen said, “But this time around, I just saw you talking to an empty bench. So, what did the guy tell you that made you cry?”

“He told me my life was blessed, and that I was lucky to have a friend like you.”

“All fortune tellers are the same. They give you all kinds of general information, but never anything specific.”

“Jen, I’ve got to hurry home to Albert.”

“You’re not telling me everything, are you?  What did he really say? Why were you really crying? Did he touch you?”

“He did touch me, but not in the way your perverted mind thinks.”

“So, what did he say?”

 “He said, I’ve got a lot of wasted time to make up for.”

July 03, 2020 00:33

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5 comments

Sue M
19:24 Jul 12, 2020

Rudy, this is one of the BEST short stories I have ever read, here or otherwise! You pulled me in right from the start. Well, to be perfectly honest, from paragraph 2. I'm guessing it was the conversation that hooked me, even though it was about the description of the scene. I felt like I was actually there, with the pace moving along perfectly for me. If you're not a real taro card reader or a therapist, you could be. Incredible story! Of course I'll put my two cents in about 3 things that jumped out at me. Maybe it's my tendency to b...

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Rudy Uribe
03:57 Jul 27, 2020

Sue, I just saw your comments. I’m not getting notifications when a comment is made. Coincidental that my next story was about a therapist. Thanks for your comments. They were spot on. Others told me similar things.

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Shawn Bills
13:16 Jul 09, 2020

Hey there, Rudy. Thank you for your feedback. I, too, enjoyed your story. I was commenting to my wife last night as I was reading it that your story was similar to mine as far as setting and POV go. Great minds think alike, eh? I thoroughly enjoyed the idea that we all have "super" powers within each one of us ... sometimes we just need someone else to help us find them, right? Life isn't meant to be lived stagnant. Well done!

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Rudy Uribe
16:20 Jul 09, 2020

Thanks for your comments. I usually submit a story every week. The prompt keeps my brain active. Write something every day if you can. You have a real talent. Be well.

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Rudy Uribe
16:20 Jul 09, 2020

Thanks for your comments. I usually submit a story every week. The prompt keeps my brain active. Write something every day if you can. You have a real talent. Be well.

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