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Drama Fantasy Suspense

TEA READING

There is a shop on main street that sells herbs, oils, crystals, jewelry, and more. A dark-haired beauty rents a small space in back where she reads cards, palms and tea leaves.  I have seen her walking about town, so elegant and graceful she seemed to glide.  I have also heard great compliments about her abilities. Today I am going in for a reading of hope. She will recognize this as soon as I enter. It is her expertise to read the mood of her guests. It is expected of her, the end result. What someone wishes to exit with. She will look into your eyes with her own black lined probing green and sum things up. Is there fire revealed in anticipation, a strong desire for an answer? Perhaps, sorrow casts a mist over downturned lids and comfort should be provided. Sometimes there is simple giddiness projected. Entertainment is all that’s required. A day of window shopping and happenstance lures a customer in. Whatever it may be, she will deliver on expectations. Always in control.

I am early for my appointment. So, I will browse. The golden bells tinkle on the door as I enter and the smell of incense, candles, sprays and earthy sage climb up my nasal passages and into my throat. The young girl at the counter greets me. Her face has a dragon tattooed on the right side. It’s black with red flames coming out of its mouth. The end of a flame touches the corner of her smile. Her left eyebrow has several piercings and as I get closer, I can see her tongue does too. The warmth in her eyes contradicts the permanent ink and accessories attached to her body and I am immediately charmed with her aura of provocativeness.  Never seeing her before, I am curious about her prowess and the choker with the long white snake charm she wears.

“Good morning, let me know if I can help you with anything?” she says

“I have an appointment with Sheila. I’m early.” I reply

“Oh, I adore Sheila! What service is she providing for you today?”

“Tea reading.”

She hands me a small brown paper bag.

“Please pick some leaves from the top shelf. Those are specific for tea readings.”

“Thank you.” I smile back.

I gaze at the jewelry in the case before her and ask about a ring with a simple gold band and a red stone in the middle of it. She says the stone is Jasper. For healing, desire, enchantment and power. I claim I could use that, and she says she’ll put it aside for me to look at later.

Making my way over to the glass jars that hold the tea herbs I stumble over a crystal perhaps spilled from the rotating tubs of stones in the silver turnstile beside me. It has the look of others labeled Devils’ crystals in one of the tubs. Bad luck? Bending over to retrieve the gem, a rush of cool air grazes my cheek. Another guest, a gentleman, has entered the space bringing a scent of metal with him. It smells like magic and in the hollow where I hear my heart stop, if hearts could gasp like a mouth when events stun the heart to stop for a moment; It is here that I pause in time. He has a shock of black hair swept back from his forehead and cropped close to the nape of his neck revealing luscious smooth olive skin. An extreme surge of connection is tingling up my arms, lifting my skin into tiny goose pimples.

I rise from the concrete floor and try to compose myself. Purposely avoiding eye contact as my nerves are splintered with his presence and I proceed to the shelf of teas.  I study the concoctions. He approaches and asks me what I prefer. There is no choice but to answer. His eyes are dominated by dilated pupils bordered with gray-green slivers of iris. Their pull is insistent and as I speak about my ignorance on the teas before me, his gaze shifts from my eyes to my throat. A smile on his lips.

The girl calls out my name, “Annabelle, Sheila is ready for you.” and in haste I grab a scoop of the tea in front of me glad for an escape from this alluring hunk of man. “Annabelle” he whispers. And it sounds like a sensual melody of song coming off his lips. I smile genially. He does a visual sweep of my body and I propel myself shuddering all the way to the back of the store where my leaves will be read. The girl from the counter winks and tosses the jasper ring to me to wear. “To get a feeling for it.” She explains. I glimpse her catch the gentleman’s eye and lick her lips.  The door to the back room is cracked open, I knock anyway, and the sultry voice of Sheila asks me to come in.

Her movements are confident and sure, not rushed and hectic like mine. This immediately calms me, and I am grateful. I can see her scanning my presence and intuit the settling she feels might be necessary for the energy I have brought into the room. I sit in the seat before her across a beautiful, antiquated desk with elegantly carved ebony wood. The room is warm and smells like salt and citron. A small floor lamp is dimly lit in the corner as a candle burns on the table beside me. She has a plain white cup with a saucer and napkin that she pushes towards me. I am asked to put the leaves in it, and she pours seeping water on top. It is quiet while we wait. “I have seen you before, yes?” she says. I nod yes and she smiles with her eyes.” She asks me to sip the tea a few times when it’s ready. “You have chosen Cardamon leaves for love and lust, lovers’ faithfulness?” I tell her I have no knowledge of such things. Moving the cup back to her she looks down into it and pours the remainder of liquid onto the napkin so only the buds remain inside. Turning the cup to the left three times and then right once, she turns it back up to study. The leaves rest near the rim of the cup in a pattern of circles. She explains this to mean events are in the very near future and will mark the end of a cycle, completion of some sort. “You will meet someone today who will change your life.” Something shifts in her when she tells me “The handprint of death is on his face.” She releases a deep visceral breath and then the cup of leaves moves itself back before me without the touch of hands.  She glances at the ring I am wearing and stares at me with a frightened hungry look as if asking me for answers. So, I gaze into the cup now dark and transfixing and start to read the infusion. It is about her now. Her expression is one of horror as I interpret the vision before me in a voice that is unfamiliar to me. I don’t recognize the inflection or tone coming from my own mouth.

After, her stance is sheep like. Those beautiful green eyes are flooded, and the color is drained from her face. She tells me there will be no charge and asks me to leave. I do. Did that just happen? Walking in reverse and opening the door with my hand at my back, the gentleman from before stands in the shadow behind the door. He clasps my hand and pushes the door closed with his foot. I follow him in a trance, hypnotized by some overwhelming power. Behind us the door opens again as Sheila breaths wicked red orange fire that lick at his heels but don’t connect to ignite. She screams his name. “Geoffrey, you betray me!” The girl from the counter signals me to run. Sheila is a lover scorned and I am in danger.

We reach the street, Geoffrey and I.  Still bewitched, I step off the curb into a great hustle of traffic, hands still clasped and numbed with the hex of him. A great gust of black encircles us. I can see strands of glossy hair and green streaks of light in the turbulence surrounding our pairing. Lazars of red strobes stab at our torsos and then it/she takes form. Sheila floats before us, her cheeks purple with rage. I feel a movement between my legs. A white mist weaves through my feet like a serpent out into the street. Sheila now has wings, but despite them she is dashed to the earth as the mist transforms into a bus and slams into her, buckling her body and swallowing her whole. The bus exhilarates into the gray sky whipping into illusion of dragon with a ring of jasper around its ankle. I look down at my hands and see them spotted, knobby like an old woman’s. The ring is gone! I vomit. Geoffrey starts to swirl into gray dust with blinking stars which jets to meet the dragon. As the beast gnashes its teeth and howls, I notice piercings above its black eye and tongue.

I awaken from my slumber in relief as it seems the fever has broken from the day before. Looking over at my pet bearded dragon in its vivarium, my ruby engagement ring on the table beside it glimmers from the cast of light off the cage. I broke it off with Jeff a month ago now.

In the kitchen drinking my breakfast tea, I open my face book page and read about the latest developments in the ongoing tryst between Jeff and my two former friends, Sylvia and Reese.

January 10, 2022 22:05

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