Beep Beep Beep Beep!
Delphie slowly peeled her eyes open despite the incessant noise coming from that spanking new digital alarm clock, her sight adjusted in the near pitch dark room and with a mixture of disgust and pride she glanced at the time: 5:00 am.
This was the sacred time of rising for success she assured herself, any entrepreneur worth their salt or high powered CEO did the same and reaped the rewards and so would Delphie, she would take the business of fortune telling to new heights and make a fortune unlike the rest of her ancestors who had squandered their gifts in Greece, hiding from the world.
As far as she was concerned the people of Greece were too carefree and relaxed to pursue their dreams whilst in America people worked hard to realise their dreams. It is the land of possibility where anything is within reach. She was living her dream. Fire and determination filled her belly as she rose out of bed.
Delphie went about her usual morning routine, first, a tonic of freshly squeezed lemon juice and still water as she read a couple of pages of one of the many self-help books she kept on her shelf, followed by some light yoga and stretching to prime her mind and body for the rigors of the day ahead, then an ice cold shower for improved circulation and immunity followed by a skincare regiment of cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and sunscreen to prevent UV damage and finally her outfit for the day.
Delphie made sure to avoid the usual cliché garb of all her fellow practitioners instead she kept her wardrobe as corporate and business like as possible dominated by greys, whites and blacks that screamed precision and professionalism. She was here to make her name and a shit ton of money as well.
The ‘office’ as she called it was a mere couple blocks away, rent in the area was high but due to her recent clients she was able to afford it. Entering the complex she stopped for a minute and glanced at the list of the names of occupants on a mounted golden plaque, the letters etched in the most elegant font and there it was, her name amongst the list of lawyers, doctors and high earners.
A smile graced her face and as she passed the receptionist, she nodded her greeting and received a gracious smile in return. The response made Delphie want to blush uncontrollably but she kept her composure as she entered the elevator. The idea that someone would show someone like her, ‘a fortune teller’ a sign of respect and recognition made her chest swell up with pride yet after a few seconds of mulling it over,
Delphie thought to herself that she most likely did this with all the occupants of the building, she was most likely paid to do this and that gracious smile was just a routine and manufactured gesture similar to the corporate handshake. She started to feel a little uncomfortable due to some level of self-awareness as she knew she led a similar life.
She reached her floor in a matter of seconds and opened the office, the first area was a standard sized reception area, the receptionist’s desk on the right and four evenly spaced chairs on the left. Her office décor, was quite different from the usual séance parlors you’d usually see. The place was furnished with clinical precision, minimal pieces, effective use of spacing, neutral colors, mainly stark whites and dark grays dominated whilst the word ergonomic came to mind when describing the furniture.
Her secretary, Dalia seemed to blend perfectly with the décor of the room, everything from her posture and choice of wear indicated corporate professionalism that would fit any corporate office.
‘Morning Delphie, I’ve left a list of the clients on your desk inside, the first guy should be here in an hour I think.’
Delphie scanned her memory, ‘Yes, the hedge fund manager, an hour it is then, I wouldn’t expect him sooner or later, he seems like the type to be exactly on time’.
Dalia shrugged her eyebrows upwards in agreement before snatching the line at her desk, ‘Oracle One how may I help you?’
Delphie headed straight into her office.
The office was similar to the waiting area in style and décor except for the huge desk that dominated the middle of the room and a painting of one of her ancestors known famously as the ‘Priestess of Delphi’ wherein the ancient priestess of Apollo, Pythia sits on a tripod with vapor rising from a crack in the earth beneath her. Delphie descended from the same lineage and in fact used the ancient methods though not in the exact same way.
A couple minutes before her first session began, Delphie did the usual as with all her other sessions pulling at the inhaler that lay hidden beneath her desk then taking a pull of the gas, a faint sweet and musky odor filled her nose as a certain level of sight and intuition opened to her. She was ready to work.
The day went by quickly as client after client came and went, their requests were the standard fare, ranging from “will that investment I make pan out?” or “should I go with this stock or that one?”. They got their answers and left no different than they were before.
This never used to bother Delphie initially but now she wondered whether she was really making a difference with her gift. These men in their suits would go on living their lives exactly the same in pursuit of wealth and frivolous things but who was her to judge, she was the same as them. This irked her to some degree but she would always turn her mind to the success she enjoyed now.
It was three in the evening and her last appointment was only a couple minutes away but something felt different this time, she could sense a difference or a sort of disturbance approaching. She couldn’t discern whether it was good or bad as such signs could mean great opportunity or disaster but whatever it was she would face it, she was a mighty oracle after all and honestly maybe she was in need of a little bit of excitement. Her secretary knocked and opened the door to let in the day’s final client.
A middle aged man, balding and fairly slim in built entered the room, he was reserved in posture and quite nervous compared to the usual confident, financial types that frequented her office. This was the difference she sensed, the anomaly she picked up on, her senses tingled as she invited him to take a seat,
‘Good evening Mr. Warren, what do you seek’ she announced in an assured manner yet it did nothing to cut the mood he brought in with him, a tangible sense of anxiety and uncertainty. He looked up hesitantly and whispered, ‘I’d like you to tell me the time of my passing’.
Delphie’s back straightened immediately at the request, it was within her power but what of the consequence of granting this man the truth of his demise. She looked at him directly, all will and steel, ‘Why would you request such a terrible thing, knowledge of death leads to problems, anxieties and the constant fear of looking into the abyss, the end of your life itself’.
Delphie detected his sudden resolve as he straightened his spine and exclaimed, ‘I’ve wasted a lot of time and neglected things that mattered, I need to know how much time I have left , my hair is grey and falling and my health is not the best….Please’
His words reverberating in her mind, Delphie took a sharp breath in and focused, the image came to her, hazy as always, but visible enough to discern minor details. The client, Mr. Warren lay on a hospital bed in a blue hospital gown, a ventilator strapped to his mouth, his eyes glossy and staring blank at the ceiling whilst wires and tubes protruded in and out.
There was someone in a white coat, a doctor presumably jotting down notes and like a spirit hoovering at the scene, Delphie was able to see Mr. Warren’s age in the far right corner of the sheet…..darkness and she found herself back in the office, Mr. Warren looking at her in nervous anticipation.
She took a couple seconds to regain her composure and addressed him directly, 'Fifty-five'.
Mr. Warren took the answer in stride and absorbed the finality of the answer. His eyes slowly moved to the floor as his demeanor was dominated by a stoic silence. It was at this moment Delphie reached for a tiny canister of pepper spray just in case Mr. Warren lost all sense of self control and went on a rampage, she readied herself for the worse only to see his face as he looked up to her.
There were tears in his eyes but a peace and acceptance in his expression, his shoulders were more relaxed and all the tension from his body seemed to melt away. He looked Delphie straight in the eyes.
‘I’ve wasted so much time on things that didn’t matter, didn’t matter to me, I chose the safe path did the 9-5 and slowly saw my life, dreams, goals and purpose wither away, I didn’t travel enough, never wrote that book or took that leap of faith…Not anymore, I have some time left and it’s enough. I’ll make do’
He paused for a minute and said, ‘Thank you’.
Delphie didn’t know what to do or feel, there was a flurry of emotions but she knew that irksome feeling from before was gone, something changed as she saw the drastic change brought about from her gift, she realized it was worth more than all the money from all those high powered business execs she saw day after day in pursuit of nothing but money and power.
She saw value in her work and felt renewed purpose that was simply irreplaceable. At that, she loosened her grip on the canister of pepper spray and with a wry yet genuine smile she replied,
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Ah, nicely done. I like the character you've created here and I think you do a good job of making her believable, even pulling us past the point of disbelief that she can really predict the future. I like her uncertainty around whether or not she should actually reveal to someone when they will die. It's a great dilemma of course that I would have loved your story to explore a tad more before Delphi gave in and decided to tell. Not sure Mr. Warren was convincing enough for me. That said, overall I really liked the idea of a young woman moder...
Thank you so much for your feedback. 🙏 I agree that I rushed the climax a bit with Delphie revealing his fate so quickly will definitely flesh out and build more towards these moments in future stories. I’m glad you loved the character so much. I was originally going to do the story from Mr. Warren’s perspective but as I wrote I got so invested in Delphie that I had to make the switch. 👍
Hi Nicholas! I like the modernization of the oracle. Neat to think about what they would be like if they were real today. 🙂
Thanks Jared! 👍 I tried applying modernization beyond aesthetics incorporating aspects of rise and grind culture (popular nowadays) and the struggle of finding fulfillment and purpose in your work that most can relate to.