Contest #152 winner 🏆

Foretold in Smoke

Submitted into Contest #152 in response to: Set your story in an oracle or a fortune teller’s parlor.... view prompt

138 comments

Drama Fiction Urban Fantasy

Content Warning: Mild foul language


Marie S. 5/5 Stars

Vivienne is incredible! My life has completely changed since my visit. It’s like a light came on and she’s somehow unlocked all this hidden potential. She’s the best, seriously just go. Call today!

Bradley J. 5/5

Worth every penny. Highly recommend.

Kevin R. 5/5 Stars

I never thought I’d come to a place like this, but when I was at an all-time low, I just needed someone to tell me if life was worth sticking around for. I wanted to know if it ever got better. Vivienne made me believe that it would. She told me true love was right in front of me, and now I’m dating my best friend and am the happiest I’ve ever been. She’s the real deal.

Linda K. 5/5

Vivienne showed me the most beautiful future and now I am not afraid to go after my passions. Life changing.


I know your type. You’re all the same. You come to me, seeking something you believe life has withheld from you. Desperation hangs on you like a garment; you wear insecurity like a second skin. You shift and fidget in my doorway, hoping no one will recognize your car in the street and spread the word that you’re seeking wisdom from a godless heathen and her crystal ball. Yet, here you are.

My polished greeting pulls you a few steps closer into the dimly lit room, where you stare at the artwork on the wall, trying to decipher its abstraction. You fumble over a compliment when I admit I painted it myself. Your nose twitches at the cloud of earthy smoke hanging in the stagnant air, and your ear tilts toward the sharp plucking of unfamiliar instruments—music trilling softly from a hidden speaker. The sound is heady, exotic, and makes the hair on your arms rise. The caricaturistic experience you expected is something different—its alive, sacred, and it smells like singed aloeswood.

I sense the conflict within you—to stay or to flee, to grasp hold of your future and drag it into today, or to return to life as normal and submit to the natural process of discovery. You twist and wring your hands, afraid you’re damning yourself, or cursing your bloodline by setting foot in this den of witchcraft, or whatever it is they’re calling it these days. But I am no one to fear; I am a respectable businesswoman. But you must make your own choice, so I remain silent, waiting for you to remember whatever it is that brought you here.

At last, you move. You approach me like I am an oasis in the desert, doubting what you see, but desperately wanting it to be real. You are afraid to ask, afraid of the answers. I sense your struggle; I see your soft heart, your goodness and warmth, your suppressed potential suffocating under self-doubt. You are afraid to know what lies ahead because you have grown comfortable letting life rush by you. It is a river, coursing where it wills, and you are a leaf at its mercy. What I tell you will alter the course of your life, not because the words on my lips drip with inherent power, but because you will believe them. 

You are the river. You are the force that cuts a path through the unknown, that courses where it wills. You are a rush of life, pure and sweet, with the power to shape and form and forge your own future.

My gift to you is no parlor trick, my predictions are not conjecture; I simply tell you what you are, and what to look for, and you will find it every time.

I do not spin the threads of fate, but occasionally, I give the threads a gentle pluck.


***


Jim B. 1/5 Stars

Filing a police report. This woman is a scam artist.


Maurice W. 1/5 Stars

Waste of time and money. Basically told me my life was going to shit. Real downer. And the incense smelled like burnt hair.


Bryson D. 1/5 Stars

This is why I don’t trust hippy-dippy, twinkle-dust, voo-doo garbage. Creepy art, obnoxious music, and some old hag just getting off on telling people how terrible their life is going to be. And no refund policy? Well, f*** you.



I know your type. You’re all the same. You come to me, seeking something you believe life has withheld from you. Arrogance hangs on you like a garment; you wear disdain like a second skin. You burst through my doorway, ignoring the closed sign in the window, insisting you just need a few minutes from this crazy lady and her crystal ball.

Your eyes adjust to the dimly lit room, and you squint at the artwork on the wall. You recoil, unsettled by its abstraction: its unorthodoxy disgusts you, makes you squirm. You cover your nose and cough against the cloud of bitter smoke hanging in the air, swishing your arms like an aggravated primate. The twanging of unfamiliar instruments rises above the silence, warbling from a hidden speaker. The sound is eerie, foreign, and makes goose-flesh ripple across your arms. The stock-image experience you anticipated is something altogether different—it’s alive, sinister, and it smells like fire.

I sense no hesitation within you—you have come to grab the future by its horns and demand it bend and submit to your desires. You are impatient with life’s natural process of discovery and want to know what obstacles lie ahead on the path on which you’re blindly running. There is no fear of the consequences of knowing, no regard for how it will change the now. You want answers, and you will have them. You claim a chair and wait, twisting and wringing your hands impatiently until I join you across the small table.

You watch me like a stray dog you think might bite, your jaw set in defiance against anything you’re prepared to reject. Because you don’t want the truth. You want to be immersed in shimmering nonsense, to stretch out your palm and receive a shiny token of fabricated tales, to be placated by promises of a glowing future. I sense your coldness, your heart of stone, your resentment of everything that stands in your way. What I will tell you is the truth, and the truth will unfold as I tell it—not because I have cursed you, not because I am a she-devil hiding under beads and bangles, but because you are a curse to yourself. And you know it.

You are rot—an infection that will spread across all your days. Everything you touch will wither and die, and you can only blame yourself.

My words are not a hex on your soul, I don’t speak out of malice; I simply show you what you already know.

I do not spin the threads of fate. I have no blade to sever their fibers.

But occasionally, I test the threads and hold a flame beneath the strands to watch and see what burns.

July 02, 2022 02:43

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

138 comments

Athena Reyes
20:47 Jul 22, 2022

This is perfection! Was a thrill to read. First read a while ago. But had to come back and re-read again.

Reply

Aeris Walker
10:30 Jul 23, 2022

Aw, well thank you for giving it a second read through-what a huge compliment ☺️

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Andi Hyland
00:30 Jul 20, 2022

Such an intriguing piece skillfully put together. Congrats on the win.

Reply

Aeris Walker
12:33 Jul 21, 2022

Hi Andi, thank you so much!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kayada Cloud
16:17 Jul 18, 2022

This is beautiful. It's beautifully written. It is gorgeous.

Reply

Aeris Walker
12:33 Jul 21, 2022

Thank you so much!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Avery Mossop
01:50 Jul 18, 2022

I love your writing! I am blown away by the way your words, sentences, paragraphs all flow so seamlessly. The split perspectives from the same narrator is such a unique idea! A steady guiding hand for the right clients in the first half, and then just a tiny bit venomous with the bad eggs in the second. What a pleasure this was to read! Thanks for sharing!

Reply

Aeris Walker
21:59 Jul 18, 2022

Hi Avery! “tiny bit venomous” —love how you described that. I so appreciate you reading and am glad you received it exactly the way it was intended. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sheri Dusseault
21:39 Jul 17, 2022

So very well done! How original and poignant.

Reply

Aeris Walker
21:54 Jul 18, 2022

Thank you so much, Sheri :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Amanda Lieser
04:13 Jul 16, 2022

Hello! Of course I could repeat some of the things that the other commenters have said that I loved, too: the addition of the reviews, the two different characters, and the way you used 2nd person point of view. Although I loved all of those details, my favorite part was that your main character remained neither the antagonist nor the protagonist. It reminded me of Anna Delvey, a con artist in New York City because she wasn’t someone that could be put into one box. It was clear that your main character simply gave back the energy she receive...

Reply

Aeris Walker
12:12 Jul 17, 2022

Hi Amanda! Thank you so much for you comment! That’s what I wanted for this character, someone who is complex and deeply discerning of the human condition—someone you don’t quite know what to think of them. I so appreciate you reading and sharing your kind words. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Tommy Goround
04:14 Jul 15, 2022

Congratulations. I love your avatar.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Diana Glenn
15:21 Jul 14, 2022

Absolutely amazing! Your use of parallelism and imagery are an inspiration!

Reply

Aeris Walker
12:06 Aug 01, 2022

Thank you, Diana! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Adeel Khan
15:35 Jul 13, 2022

Amazing! Every word is purposeful. You're incredibly talented, love the rhythm of your writing and the contrast.

Reply

Aeris Walker
08:21 Jul 14, 2022

Aw, thank you so much Abdeel, I really appreciate that! 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
L. E. Scott
14:06 Jul 13, 2022

Pretty good. I like the second person perspective and how the ones who gave bad reviews were just there to hear what they wanted. It feels like this fortune teller gives bad readings to the arrogant people just to mess with them.

Reply

Aeris Walker
08:22 Jul 14, 2022

Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts! 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Megan Edge
21:04 Jul 12, 2022

Beautifully written, and I loved the harsh flip in the second half. Congrats on the win!! Well deserved.

Reply

Aeris Walker
23:50 Jul 12, 2022

Thank you so much, Megan 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Glenn Holt
17:21 Jul 12, 2022

Very haunting. Love the first person POV. The part where you suggested should they even want to know the future and what danger knowing your fate may cause- that was thought provoking.

Reply

Aeris Walker
23:51 Jul 12, 2022

Hi Glenn! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your feedback, much appreciated :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kevin Broccoli
16:13 Jul 12, 2022

Great job, Aeris! I loved "You watch me like a stray dog you think might bite, your jaw set in defiance against anything you’re prepared to reject." The beginning really grabbed me and the shift that occurs felt like such a wonderful surprise. Congratulations.

Reply

Aeris Walker
23:52 Jul 12, 2022

Hi Kevin! Thank you so much for reading and leaving your thoughts. I greatly appreciate it 🙂

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Henrietta Summer
10:35 Jul 12, 2022

I enjoyed the first half as much I did the second. I could feel the mystic presence and I had goosebumps as the description was surreal and undeniable . I could clearly pinpoint that we are the architect of our own misfortune. All in all, this was a good read ,Aeris. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Reply

Aeris Walker
11:58 Jul 12, 2022

Hi Henrietta! Thank you very much for reading and leaving your kind feedback. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Emily Wright
17:05 Jul 11, 2022

Brilliant. I couldn't stop reading. I love the flip.

Reply

Aeris Walker
19:46 Jul 11, 2022

Thank you, Emily! 😄

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Ophelia Baker
15:01 Jul 11, 2022

I barely have the words--just, damn.

Reply

Aeris Walker
16:58 Jul 11, 2022

That says it all! Thank you 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kanika G
07:40 Jul 11, 2022

This is a wonderful piece of writing and I enjoyed it very much. When I reached the mid point and started reading the second half of the story, I realized that now we get to read the other side and I devoured it. :) Brilliant idea and nicely pulled off. I've never tried writing in the second person, but I enjoyed this so much I might give it a try. A very well deserved win, Aeris!

Reply

Aeris Walker
17:22 Jul 11, 2022

Thank you very much, Kanika! I really appreciate your uplifting feedback 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rama Shaar
02:47 Jul 11, 2022

Absolutely fabulous! The kind of writing that makes me want to become a better writer. The kind of writing that just flows like water, rendering it easy to read, especially for a slow reader like me. It also made me wonder what kind of a customer I would be. Hopefully not the arrogant type ;-)

Reply

Aeris Walker
21:18 Jul 12, 2022

Thank you Rama for that lovely compliment, I really appreciate it! Arrogant type? Nah, I don’t see it 😉

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sharon Hancock
01:18 Jul 11, 2022

This is wonderful! Such an interesting format, so engaging. I’ve always thought of fortune tellers/palm readers/tarot cards etc as a sort of projective test…a psychological test where you read into it your own personality and gain insight into yourself that way and this story reflects those thoughts. Very interesting and mysterious voice that I truly enjoyed. Congratulations! Nice job!😻

Reply

Aeris Walker
21:14 Jul 12, 2022

Hi Sharon! Thanks so much!! I look forward to getting a chance to catch up on some of your latest stories too, there’s just so many to read and so little time lol!

Reply

Sharon Hancock
01:10 Jul 13, 2022

No hurry I totally understand! 😻

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Marie Mckenzie
16:38 Jul 10, 2022

I like how you incorporated the reviews, it was a nice touch. Also, I enjoyed the analogies and strong language.

Reply

Aeris Walker
18:52 Jul 10, 2022

Hi Maria! Thank you so much 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply