Contest #19 shortlist ⭐️



“Excuse me, do you have any rose quartz larger than this?” The beady-eyed girl seemed to stare daggers at Emma; not out of being simply a frustrated customer, but more out of deep fear. She needed this rose quartz, badly, and she might die if she didn’t have it. 

Emma forced a smile. During these moments, she wished she wasn’t the sole Moonstone employee working at this witching hour. A woman had to pay her college funds somehow, though. “Let me check the back.” What that really meant was that they didn’t have anything bigger than that monstrosity the girl clutched--but Emma was too concerned to just say no. 

“Thank you,” the girl replied gratefully. She fiddled with the crystal and the crumpled up piece of paper in her hand as Emma pushed back the beaded curtain to go to the store's inventory. 

For a moment, Emma pretended to look at the shelves, even though she knew the customer couldn’t see what she was doing. She liked her lies to be as convincing as possible; it was a habit, even if she couldn’t care less about the lie. 

She looked at the shelves one last time, glancing to the right. For some reason, a singular tarot card, with an illustrated back, was on the floor. Furrowing her eyebrows, Emma picked it up. 

Nine of Swords. 

Emma didn’t know how to read tarot, but the image seemed grim: a woman sitting in bed, hands in her head, nine swords hovering above her, ready to strike. Must be part of Alejandro’s deck. She pocketed it. 

“I can’t find anything, sorry,” Emma said, re-entering the store.

The girl’s lip quivered as she glanced at her piece of paper. “But I need it now. I need it tonight.”

“Oh. Um…” The idea of this poor girl trying to catch the subway and sprinting to 88th before store closing made Emma frown. “...Can I ask what it’s for?”

“Glamor magic. I’m trying to cast a spell tonight, it’s when all the planets have aligned perfectly.” The girl nodded at her list.

Emma swore she’d heard of this magic before, but she didn’t really understand. “Let me see what you need.” 

Hesitantly, the girl put down her rose quartz on the cashier table and handed the paper to Emma. 


  • Rose Quartz  
  • Pine Needles 
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Rose Petals
  • Andy’s Hair...

And it went on. In the whole store, filled to the brim with bits and bobs and cards and crystals, Emma could only find five items for the girl’s list. “You want to get someone to love you?” Emma asked, recalling Alejandro’s long rant on Friday about the crush he had and how difficult it was to get a lock of someone’s hair. 

“He used to love me, would that make the spell more effective?” 

“I…” Emma had no idea. A love spell to her seemed idiotic, desperate. “No,” she lied. “I think a tarot reading might be better than a love spell.” 

The girl’s eyes grew wide. 

“Hold on. I need to… get to know you first to help you. Um, what’s your name?”

“Temperance Eleanor Smith.”

“Temperance?” Emma frowned. Who named their child Temperance?


“Interesting name.” Not a fitting name at all. Emma shook the thought away and turned around to grab Alejandro’s tarot deck from the counter. Without any clue of what she was doing, she flashed them at Temperance and began shuffling. The cards were bulky in her hands, much larger than a normal playing deck. “A tarot reading will help you get your bearings.” Tarot could do that, right? Emma tried to recall anything about what she had overheard from employees and customers. 

Temperance took a seat at the jewelry stool and put her elbows on the table, leaning in closely. She nodded, like she understood exactly what Emma said. 

Emma placed the deck on the table and cut it, before flipping over one card. She hesitated before flipping over another, then another. It seemed more professional to have three laid out. “One more,” she said, taking the one out of her pocket. Temperance audibly gasped. 

Nine of Swords, The Star, Six of Cups, and Temperance.

“Hey, it's your name,” Emma said.

“It’s a sign from the universe,” Temperance said. 

“A good sign. The Nine of Swords looks scary, but I assure you it’s a good card. All of these are wonderful.”

“What do they represent?”

“Temperance, obviously, is one of them. Maybe, um, it’s your name, it’s telling you to think about yourself and have… temperance. And the Star goes with the fact that you wanted to do a spell today when all the stars are aligned, but this woman, she’s um… she’s not focusing on the stars. And the Six of Cups, that’s just…” Emma trailed off. She had no clue how to interpret the child holding six cups in his hands. But, she said, resolutely, “I know what to do.” 

“Are we getting Andy back?”

“No, no. You… the cards are telling you to take a break from him. I think.”

Temperance seemed hurt by that, but she said nothing. Emma took the shopping list out and a pen. 

She crossed out every single item. In her messy handwriting, she replaced all of them with new items: ice cream, bath salts, new books. “Get all these things for yourself. Not for him.” 


“Come back in a few days and update me. Take this as a reminder.” Emma handed the Nine of Swords over. Temperance clutched it. 

They said nothing for a while. It was past closing, but Emma felt obligated to stay with Temperance. The dim lighting around them twinkled in the crystals’ reflections. The wind chimes sang.

 It wasn’t long before Temperance began to cry. Emma frowned.

“Are you...?”

Temperance looked up, straight at Emma, her doe eyes glistening with tears. She flashed a grateful smile. “You’re such a good psychic,” she said through her sobs. 

December 14, 2019 04:36

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