Fantasy Fiction Speculative

I wipe the sweat off my brow with my velvety sleeve. This is the worst time of year to be working, in the unrelenting heat of summer. But royals always seem to need entertainment for birthdays and whatnot, so our carnival must travel and perform all year long.

Sometimes I loathe my job, but find it refreshing and relaxing at the same time. I'm not sure whether to love or hate my life, because it depends on my mental state.

But one thing always stays the same: I'm a fraud.

Everyone knows this; we only put up an act for the money. We're paid for being actors, not for our actual services. Many of us are faking our 'special abilities', like the fire-eaters and psychics.

Everyone knows these things simply aren't possible, except the people we perform for. They just applaud and laugh and drop their money in the tin Felicity holds out at the end of every show.

I'm certainly not complaining about it: we get a lot of money this way. But sometimes I just feel so . . . useless.

I mean, without my fortune-telling skills, I have no point in life. Even my fortune-telling isn't genuine. Nothing about me is, really. I'm just a huge fraud, through and through.

I sigh. It really is hot out here, and I'm wearing the worst clothes for it. I'm in my fortune-telling clothes, or my 'fancy clothes', as Felicity calls them.

They're beautiful really, but so warm. There's at least three layers of shirts, and four skirts.

The top skirt has tiny bells sewn on it and there are little bell anklets, which makes the noise almost unbearable. But I love the feel of the bells tinkling against my bare skin, jingling in the wind.

Everything else is just colourful and plentiful, like normal wear for travelling, fortune-telling gypsies. The skirts are full and open, the bottom shirt fitted but the others loose.

It's amazingly comfortable, just so warm in the summer. In the winter, though, it's a welcome relief from the cold temperatures. Just throw on some gloves and I'm toasty warm.

We're travelling now, but we just left a stop so I haven't taken off my costume yet. It's sweltering outside, though, and our caravans are pretty stuffy, so I quickly change into cooler clothes.

I stuff my outfit into the chest in the corner of the caravan I share with Felicity, folding each item carefully so as not to wrinkle it. I always have to look my best when I'm sitting in my tent reading fortunes.

Felicity is one of the sweetest, genuine people you will ever meet, and the youngest person in our carnival. She talks to birds, but I don't know if they can actually understand them or not. Felicity also collects the money after each show in the beloved tin she got from her parents before they died and she came to us.

Speak of the devil, Felicity floats in like she's flying way up in the clouds.

"Giselle, guess what?" she exclaims, her eyes sparkling. "You'll never be able to guess!"

I laugh, playing along. "Oh yeah? What is it?"

She crosses her arms. "Come on, Giselle. You're not following the rules. You have to guess!"

I tap my chin mockingly. "Hmm. Did Jacques say something flattering about you again?"

Felicity giggles. "Nope, not me. Guess who?"

I sigh. "Felicity, I don't want to play this game. I'm tired, so just spill the tea. What did Jacques say?"

She pouts but gives in. She knows I'm older than her, not to mention much more stubborn. "It was you, Giselle. Jacques said that you were beautiful!"

I laugh. "Felicity, that's nothing new. Everyone calls me beautiful." That isn't boasting or vanity; everyone does call me beautiful.

"Yeah, but this time I think he meant it," Felicity says in a conspiratorial way, leaning in close to me.

"Well, it is hard to tell with Jacques."

When I go to bed, I fall asleep to the sound of Felicity's light snoring. The rain is pattering on the steel roof of the caravan wagon, and there's thunder rumbling overhead.

"Lightning next," I murmur, then drift off to sleep amid the storm.

In the morning, I wake to the sound of birds chattering in the trees. I rise silently so as not to wake Felicity, manoeuvring my way around obstacles in the wagon to get outside.

The rain has passed, leaving the ground damp and grass dewy. I step off the last stair onto the dirt and into the main camp, full of chattering people even at this hour.

Our carnival is quite large, with dancers, elephant trainers and various circus performers. I'm one of the main attractions, but Jacques the sword juggler is a big one too.

When Tarin hands me my breakfast, I walk over to a log by the firepit and sit down to eat.

After my plain fare of eggs and toast, I wash my plate in the grimy dishwater, then change the water since it's looking very dirty. I go back to our wagon to wake Felicity for her breakfast and to get dressed in normal, off-performance clothes.

While I'm washing my face, I suddenly feel very dizzy and feel the floor give out under me. I wonder what's going on, but it's all happening too fast for me to comprehend.

My eyes flick open, glowing a deep, mystical purple. I begin to see flashes of the future, blurring before my eyes. I'm searching for something, but I can't tell what.

The images start to spin faster, turning my head with them. I can't keep up, falling deeper and deeper into the whirling tornado of predictions.

When I come out of my trance, I realise what just happened. I have psychic powers. A real, genuine fortune-telling gift. It's perfect for our carnival, not to mention my mental state.

Finally, I have a purpose. And my purpose is actually a real, true thing, no longer a lie. My life is no longer a lie.

I feel whole. And happy. And truthful.

January 07, 2022 15:30

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Great story! I love the idea.


Serena Johnston
16:58 Jan 07, 2022



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