Monday, June 13, 2011
Posted by Elizabeth Michels at 7:04 PM
The orange sky darkened into night as they wound their way through the gypsy camp, approaching Madame Nadya’s tent. Sue Greene was sure that four young ladies did not often wander into such a place and at night nonetheless. She shivered as a whisper of nervousness blew through her. Distant music and laughter flowed on the air mingling with the sparks from small camp fires where families were gathered. The dark eyes of the Romany people followed them as they passed, speaking to one another in a language Sue did not recognize. Groups of the travelers sat outside the carriages and tents, making their homes in the tall grass of the roadside field.
“We should not have come here, Evangeline,” Sue murmured close to her sister’s ear.
“How could we not come? Truly Sue. We leave for London in a fortnight. We must know what to expect once we arrive,” Evangeline returned.
“I should think I would know what to expect by now. There will be balls and luncheons and dinners and the same silly chat at every event. Then I will return home with Mama, just as I did the past two years. Why do I need a fortune-teller to tell me what I can see for myself?” Sue grumbled, but pressed forward until she was standing before the tent bearing a small wooden sign that said Chovihani. Beads hung at the opening blocking all view but the flicker of candlelight inside.
“Perhaps you will have luck this season,” Evangeline said with a delicately raised brow and a nod toward the tent, making her blonde ringlets bounce in agreement. “How often are Gypsies camped on the border of our property? This only happens once in a lifetime.”
One of her cousins nudged her in the back to push her forward, closer to the opening in the Gypsy woman’s lair. “Go on Sue! You go first. You’re the oldest and most in need of her advice.”
Sue rounded on Isabelle and Victoria shooting the identical girls, identical glares.
Just then, a dark figure appeared at the tent opening. “Gaje girls. You have come to learn the future, no? I felt you near.” One long finger pointed at Sue. “You, come.” The old woman’s deep set black eyes seemed to be looking into her soul.
Sue swallowed back the fear that held her feet firmly planted in the field with her family and followed her into the tent feeling unable to resist the draw of the unknown or the magic the woman held over her. Inside, she sat at a small table opposite the woman. Scarves and candles adorned every surface and the smell of incense swirled in the warm air, yet Sue noticed none of it. She saw only the life etched face of the slight woman across from her.
“Give me your hand,” Madame Nadya said, her deep voice scratching through the thick air as the band of bracelets on her wrist jingled with her movements.
Sue complied, unable to make a sound. The woman’s finger traced over her palm as she hummed some exotic melody. Suddenly falling silent, she turned her dark gaze on Sue.
“You will hide in crowds and chase after death itself. Your journey will take you to foreign lands. He will find you. He will always find you.”
“Who? Who will find me?”
“The future is not yet written in stone. You must take care and watch your step for your steps will lead you to danger.”
“Danger? Isn’t there anything I can do?” Sue’s voice came out in a squeak.
The woman rummaged in an old trunk at her side before pulling out a small wrapped parcel. “Take this and wear it for protection. “
“Protection from him? What is that?”
“Do not open it here!” She pressed the package into Sue’s open palm. “Watch your step Gaje girl. Danger surrounds your future, of that I am certain.”
Sue nodded and dropped a coin on the table in thanks of her warning. She rose and left the tent without a backwards glance. She wanted as much distance as possible between what she had learned of her future and her present life. Sighing in relief as a fresh breeze cooled her cheeks; she stepped into the moon drenched night outside the tent and gazed into the faces of her two cousins where they stood with her sister. She knew her life would never be the same from this night forward.