Welcome to the Attic!

Card Challenge: Day 10

Card Day 10: An abacus with various planets as the beads on the rails.

“Cheryl! That’s great news. I didn’t even know you were psychic!” exclaimed Marian, her face alight with excitement.

“I’m not psychic. Like I told you, it’s all one big racket.”

“Oh, I understand,” Marian responded with an exaggerated wink. “So since you’re ‘not psychic,’ how will you go about writing all those horoscopes?”

Cheryl sighed, taking a long sip from her wine glass before continuing. Marian was a great friend, she reminded herself, even if she was not always the pinnacle of intellect. “They said to use some vague, feel good statements, sprinkled through with a couple of dire warnings. The things practically write themselves once you know the script.”

“I’m sure they do, the words just come to you, huh?” She chuckled at her own joke. “Well, I’m glad you finally found a job. We can toast to that!” She raised her glass, and Cheryl smiled at the gesture. “To new opportunities and the development of all our hidden talents.”

Cheryl took another drink, noticing how low her glass suddenly was. It had been a long day, and she still was uncertain she could stomach the reality of shilling such snake oil for a living, even if it was necessary to keep the lights on in her ratty apartment. The wine did not necessarily help with that decision, but it did serve to push it just a bit farther away.

“I just can’t believe you never told me about your gift. But I’m sure that can be scary. Most people probably think you’re crazy!”

“Mar, seriously, I’m not psychic. I just slap some words onto paper. You read them and plan your life around it. Then I get paid. No psychic abilities required.”

Marian looked slightly off put, her face twisting briefly into a irritated smirk. “Well, fine, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want. I’m just trying to be a good friend and support you in this. I’m sure it’s not the way most psychics want to make a living, but you are providing an important service to lots of people. Not everyone can afford a fancy private psychic, so some of us have to get by on the weekly paper. That’s your job now, and I think you should be proud of yourself.”

Cheryl realized it was a losing battle, one Marian could not afford to lose to reason. “You’re right, Marian. It’s just hard getting used to this job.” Marian reached out and touched her hand.

“I’m sure it is. Just know, I’m here for you, and I support you.” Her face beamed with pride in her friend and her own magnanimity.

_______

“Your kindness to those you meet will reap great rewards. Be patient, and watch for your return.”

“This week holds many opportunities for fun. Enjoy yourself, but don’t forget to take time to recharge!”

“Remember that problem that just won’t leave you alone? Expect news to clarify your path.”

“An unexpected inconvenience may bring unexpected rewards. Look for—”

Cheryl tapped a pencil on the edge of her laptop slowly, her eyes distant as she tried to find a new and creative way to end Capricorn’s latest memo. After only a couple months, she felt she was doing nothing but rehashing the same, empty promises week after week. Nonetheless, it was keeping food and lights on in her fridge, so it was hard to complain. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and all that.

Her phone buzzed on the coffee shop table. Marian had been giddy at seeing the weekly horoscopes since learning about her friends new job, and she never failed to try to get a sneak peek into the future.

“Coffee, Cheryl?” she asked, skipping routine greetings.

“I’m already at the coffee shop, so why not?” sighed Cheryl, glancing around the sparsely populated bistro.

“And you say you aren’t psychic! I’ll be there around three? Maybe you can see if the stars have anything to say about me in the meantime!”

Cheryl glanced at the clock. Forty-five minutes would, likely, give her enough time to finish writing and fleshing out the next edition’s worth of swill. “Will do, Mar. See you then. Half caf mocha, as usual?”

Marian gasped. “Well, look at you, Ms. Cleo! I’ll be there on the dot.”

Cheryl knew that meant Marian would be about fifteen minutes late, and so mentally gave herself the chance to relax. What would Marian’s upcoming horoscope say? Cheryl smiled to herself, thinking of all the ridiculous lies she could put into print if she so desired, knowing no one would notice or care.

“Marian: You will come into an unexpected sum of money,” she typed lazily, smirking at the cliché. “But be wary of unknown strangers. While he may appear to be Prince Charming, you may be courting the Beast instead! A great tragedy awaits you at the end of your week. I hope you chose good life insurance!” Cheryl chuckled to herself in the coffee shop, laughing at the morbid horoscope. She would love to see Marian’s face if she actually read that in the final edition. She would certainly get fired, but it was almost worth it just to shake her friend’s conviction in the poppycock.

Cheryl stretched, went up for a refill of the house roast, and settled in to finish explaining fate for a few thousand loyal readers. Her next line came to her in a burst of inspiration.

“Look for chances to stretch and grow in the next week. Don’t let your cynicism get the best of you!”

_______

“Cheryl, you won’t believe my week!”

Cheryl was groggy on the phone, having slept well past her normal wake time this Saturday morning. She had needed to be up early to start her work, begin looking for more freelance opportunities, but that plan had fallen prey to a late night bottle of wine and sappy rom-com marathon.

“What won’t I believe. I’m psychic, remember?” She was snarky this morning, she noted, massaging her temples as she tried to force alertness into her consciousness.

“That’s true! So you knew about the money, huh?”

“Money?”

“Yeah. My bank realized I had been incorrectly charged some upkeep fees for years! I got a few hundred dollars back.”

“Oh, that’s great!” Something about that coincidence made a chill creep up Marian’s spine, but she could not identify it.

“And that’s not all! On Thursday, I met this great guy at lunch. Total Prince Charming. I mean, swept me right off my feet!”

“Uh, Marian, I don’t know if—”

“You know, I thought, maybe we’re moving too fast, but I think I’m old enough to know what I want. Besides, he’s a total beast in bed,” she whispered, her voice dropping into a conspiratorial whisper.

“Do you even know who—”

“I know, I know. I shouldn’t rush things but—Oh, I think he’s up. I’m going to have to let you go. He says we’re going hiking today. See you tomorrow for coffee?”

“I really don’t think you should—”

“Great! See you then!” The line went dead in Cheryl’s hand as the feeling of impending dread and tragedy welled up around her.


Creative Commons License
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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