The darkened room was only lit by a few shimmering candles that were making shadows on the wall. In the candle-light, a woman could be seen sitting on a sofa across the table. She was middle-aged, wearing a long purple robe over her clothes, and her mysterious black eyes were gazing in the girl’s honey colored who was sitting across her. She was a young girl, around thirteen, dressed in a frock, and was glancing around the room, surprised by it’s darkness.
‘Lisa.’ The woman called in a husky voice.
‘Mum? Why did you bring me here? Is this where you work? Why is the room black?’ The girl answered in an anxious voice, asking a lot of questions at once.
‘Patience, child. This is where I entertain people by telling them their future.’
‘You mean you are a fortune-teller?’ Lisa asked unbelievingly, in a high-pitched voice.
Her mother hesitated before answering in the same voice. ‘Yes, well you see, telling fortunes is cleverness and far-sightedness, and that’s what I do. Show me your hand, girl.’
‘No!’ Lisa shouted, getting up from her chair and backing against the wall, her hands behind her back.
Her mother stared at her, shocked by her resistance.
‘I don’t want to know my future. Besides, who knows if yo- fortune tellers even tell the truth. I mean, they are just crooks and fakes. They don’t really tell. No one knows our future!’ Lisa said, trying hard to make her point.
Her mother stood up, causing Lisa to cower against the wall. Then told Lisa in a strict voice,’ The other people don’t know this, do they? Thy want to know their future, and we tell them. WE take money from them in return and that’s that.’
‘You make a fool out of other people!’ Lisa accused. ‘I don’t want you to ‘predict’ my future, okay? Now let me leave.’
‘No. Do you know that your grandma and your great-grandma and the one even before that used to tell fortunes? It’s been going on for generations and I won’t let it stop here!’
‘You mean the tricks? One woman tells her daughter and she tell hers and that’s how this business is being continued?’ Lisa paused. ‘Mom, if you expect me to continue it, forget it. I won’t be cheating on people! And if it would have been in my control, I would have told other people too, that you are a…… trickster.’
‘Really?’ her mother asked, her voice dangerously soft. ‘And then who wil give you money to live?’
‘Dad.’ Lisa said stubbornly. ‘I’ll tell him what you do and he’ll put a stop to it. He thinks you go to work or something.’
Her mother cackled loudly. ‘your dad? Go ahead. He can’t do anything.’
‘Oh he will.’ Lisa declared confidently.
‘We’ll see. I’m offering you my whole business and you’re turning it down?’
‘Why me?’ Exclaimed Lisa. ‘Why not Emma or Sasha? They’re your daughters too.’
‘Emma and Sasha are not born to tell fortunes. They are born to be beautiful and marry rich men. Since you have no beauty, but you’re clever, you should start assisting me with this at this age. In this way, you’ll learn and if you are able enough, you will continue this job after me.’
‘No way. I refuse. Sorry, but there are more things in life, other than money and fraud.’
‘So if you don’t want to be a fortune teller, what do you want to be?’
‘Me? I’ll……...’ Lisa’s eyes unfocused as she started daydreaming. ‘I’ll be a painter. I’ll paint exotic sceneries and I’ll design a gallery out of my paintings.’
‘And who will you marry? How will you earn?’
‘I won’t marry anyone. I will earn by simply letting people view my paintings.’ Lisa decided as she walked towards the door.
‘Ask Emma, she’s apt and smart too. But it’s better if this generation business ends here. At least I won’t have helped it continue.’
‘Lisa.’ Her mother pleaded. ‘That was the reason I married, so my daughters could continue this business.’
Lisa stopped and turned to gaze at her mother. ‘I’m sorry to disappoint you mum, but I have my own dreams and goals. I’m not a fraud either, okay? I won’t tell other people about what a phony you are yet, but if you asked me again, I will.’
‘Oh, so you won’t put a stop to it?’
‘I’m just thirteen, mum. When I’ll be older and independent, maybe I will. Now please let me go.’
‘Fine, but when no one comes to see your paintings, don’t come crying to me. I’ll ask Emma and I’ll train her to tell fortunes but you don’t deserve this job.’ Her mother decided as she opened the door to leave Lisa to her house.
She entered the gallery after paying the fees and promising the guard outside that she won’t snap any pictures. She was standing on the elegant marble floor of a large hall. There were paintings of Horses and fascinating sceneries and painting of different activities displayed on the walls of the hall. She could see people wandering here and there with awed looks on their faces as they saw the paintings on the walls. On one side, she could see stairs which, she saw, lead up to a room. Before she could ascend the stairs, the room opened and out came a girl. She was around 19 and she wore a trousers and a baggy shirt which was sprayed with different colors of paints. Her brown hair were tied in a bun on one side of her head and a paint brush stuck out of her hair. Her hands were wet with red paint. Her honey-colored eyes glanced around the hall beneath her as she looked for someone. Her eyes paused at a girl who was staring at her. Her moth dropped open as she whispered, ’Sasha?’
Hurriedly, she descended the stairs, wiping her hands on her trousers. She ran towards the girl and asked, ’Sasha? Is that you?’
The other girl broke into a smile as she answered, ‘Hi Lisa?’
‘Sasha? What are you doing here? How did you find me?’
‘Lisa, I’ve got so much to tell you- ‘
‘Come on up. That room is where I spend my time when the art gallery is open. I was painting there today.’ Lisa told Sasha as they climbed up the stairs to the room.
Lisa opened the door and Sasha followed her inside.
It was a big room. Few paintings were presented on the wall here too. Sasha’s eyes stopped on one. It was darkness in that picture except for an old woman who was sitting on a sofa in it. She wore a purple cloak and her black eyes stared back at Sasha. Lisa followed Sasha’s eyes that were looking at that painting.
‘Oh that……. well, never mind. I just drew that for ummm……. fun. Sit down.’
Sasha withdrew her gaze for the painting and looked around. On one side of the room, there were art supplies present with an unfinished painting beside it. On the other side, there were a table with two chairs on either side of it.
As Sasha went to sit on one, she said, ‘Lisa, these paintings are Fantastic! I mean where did you learn to paint like that.’
Lisa smiled dryly as she took her seat opposite Sasha after washing her hands from the sink from one corner of the room. ‘I’ll tell you everything. First, you tell me everything.’
Sasha began, ‘Well, you see Lisa, after you refused mum from being a fortune teller, mum started training Emma. And then when you finally ran away, after, how many years?’ Sasha asked.
‘Five.’ Lisa told her impatiently. Then added, ‘You see, I had to be old enough to take care of myself.’
‘So where did you get the money to start all this?’ Sasha asked, indicating the paintings from her hand.
Lisa sighed. ‘When I was thirteen, I told mum I would start a gallery where I would exhibit my paintings, I started saving up. I know that sounds peculiar that a young girl would save up for her future because as a child, I never thought of my future. But since I had refused mum on being a fortune-teller, I asked dad to buy me art supplies and I started practicing to paint.’
‘So that was what you had been doing when you were always locked up in your room every day and you tried to have less and less contact with people.’ Sasha exhaled.
‘Yeah. Anyways, enough ‘bout me. I achieved my goals and that’s that. How’s mum? And how did you find me?’
‘After you ran away, mum wasn’t surprised. She told us you would never come back. So I waited till I was old enough and I set out to search for you.’
Lisa raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything.
‘Mum had told us that you wanted to be a painter, with an art gallery. It wasn’t difficult to find you as we knew that you couldn’t have left the city as you didn’t have enough money.’
‘So is Emma still Fortune-telling.’
‘Yeah, and it’s her money we are living on. Mum and dad and me and her. Only you changed Lisa, no one else did.’
‘But why? Why don’t you earn yourself?’
‘Well, I had an accident, and um…. I was no longer beautiful. Mum predicted wrong. No one would marry me. I have no goals now. Emma is a fortune-teller so people thinks she’s creepy. Literally, we have no option right now but to keep telling fortunes.’
‘Sasha! I am speechless. I had a goal and I achieved it. How am I supposed to help you?’
Sasha squirmed in her seat.
‘I thought if you would lend me some money.’ She stated. Then added hastily, ‘We are your family, after all.’ Then said, ‘I would do plastic surgery and I’ll marry someone.’
‘And how will you earn if you don’t have enough money to marry?’
‘I was hoping I could start a business of fortune-telling. Mom taught me tricks too. And then, I’ll teach my daughter tricks too, so she will continue after me. What do you think?’ Sasha asked eagerly.
Lisa sighed in exasperation as she realized that even as she had tried to finish this swindler-business, it would till continue through the generations.
It was a darkened room with a few candles shining through the darkness. A beautiful woman sat on a chair, looking at a young girl who was sitting across her. When the girl had been born, the woman had noticed that her eye color matched with her aunt’s, a soft honey-color.
‘Mary?’ the woman called.
‘Yes mom?’ The girl said, her big eyes still looking at the other woman who was standing in the shadows with her arms crossed.
‘What have you decided?’
‘The same, mum. I love drawing I want to be an artist. I really don’t like cheating on people. Please….’
‘Fine! Go and build your future just like your aunt.’ The woman sitting on the chair said angrily.
‘Enough, Sasha.’ The woman who was standing in the shadows stepped forward. ‘Let Mary come with me. I will share my art gallery with her and display the pictures she draw with my paintings. Let her come, let me be her guardian.’
‘Lisa……’ Sasha whimpered. ‘Who will continue this, fortune telling? I have no other daughter.’
‘No one. Let this end here. No children of ours will be a fraud.’
Sasha looked at Mary and back at Lisa. ‘You both are talented. Go ahead Mary.’
Lisa looked at Sasha, ‘You will meet, I promise. I will buy a bigger home and you would come live with me.’
‘What about Emma?’ Sasha asked.
‘I’m sure Emma would want to continue her business rather than coming with us. Let her be.’ Lisa said.
Sasha looked at floor, then nodded.
Lisa sighed happily and looked at her niece who was looking at her and smiling too.