“Goodness!” The middle-aged fortune teller, Madame Poinciana, dashed to Adam’s side. She crouched slightly and offered him a ring-adorned, wrinkled hand to help him up from the dust. “I see you’ve visited the beer tent,” she said with a sly smile, then winked. “I’d recommend waiting the extra year you need to make it legal.” Adam was stunned; not just from the fall.
“How’d you know?” Adam asked as he accepted her hand. Once he was on his feet he started dusting the legs of his blue jeans. “I mean, my age. I wasn’t drinking, but you knew how old I was before I said anything,” he looked at the dirt by the tent’s entrance. “It felt like I tripped on something.”
“I’m hardly qualified for the job if I can’t at least read your age,” she said. Madame Poinciana’s gaze followed his to the floor; then, she gasped. She fell to her knees; her flowing red-orange gown kicked up a cloud of dust around her and she grabbed something from the ground. “IMPOSSIBLE!” She shouted the loudest whisper Adam ever heard and held up a length of red string. At first glance, Adam thought it was plain string, but as she twisted it, it twinkled in the tent lights.
“What is it?” Adam asked. Madame Poinciana rolled her eyes.
“It’s always the clueless ones,” she mumbled under her breath. She returned to the small round table in the middle of her tent. She gestured to the other seat. “Sit,” she said curtly. Her light brown eyes felt colder and her personable smile was nowhere to be seen.
“Uh..,” Adam took a step back. Getting his fortune read sounded like fun. He didn’t put too much stock in superstition, but he was willing to spend five dollars on entertainment. However, her change in demeanor no longer promised fun. “Sorry I tripped,” he shrugged. “But, I just remembered I’m out of cash,” he chuckled nervously. “The fall jogged my memory.”
“This isn’t about money,” Madame Poinciana held up the red string. “Sit, please. This is impossibly important.” Again, her mood changed in an instant, Adam sensed deep concern from her; enough for him to sit down.
“Do you know what this is?” she asked about the string.
“A thread?” Adam asked.
“Not just a thread,” she took it between both hands and held a 6-inch section taught in front of him. “This is the red thread of fate. Specifically, yours.” Adam chuckled.
“Then how am I alive?” he asked. “The myth says I’m supposed to keel over when it’s cut.”
“Sure. If fate cuts the string, your time’s up. The difference here is you cut it yourself. That’s a very different situation; it’s not supposed to happen.”
“Uh.., are you sure it’s mine?” Adam asked. He leaned forward on the table. On top of knowing his age, each word she said was filled with confidence and a sort of practiced, understated awe. In the back of his mind, Adam began to believe she had experience with the secrets of the universe. She gave a gentle nod.
“No doubt about it. You and this thread share the same energy, I can feel it.”
“Wow. So… what happens now?” Madame Poinciana’s mouth grew into a broad, toothy smile.
“That’s up to you,” she said.
“How do you mean? What are my options?” Adam reached for the red string and fidgeted with it while he waited for the answer.
“Now?” she giggled. “Now, you don’t matter.”
“Wait. That’s not good,” Adam stopped fidgeting.
“No,” Madame Poinciana folded an edge of the fringed tablecloth onto the table and tugged a golden strand free. “It’s fantastic.”
“This tablecloth…,” she wiggled the fringes, then dropped the edge over the side again. “…is still a tablecloth. It still serves its purpose even without this single strand,” She winked and held up the golden string.
“But this…,” Madame Poinciana took the red string from Adam’s hands. “This can become anything it wants,” her fingers quickly manipulated the pair of strings together. “It can become its own tablecloth, or anything else it wants to be. It just has to find a friend to help it grow.”
Madame Poinciana opened her hands to show Adam . Both strings were entwined into a quarter-sized red and gold loop that reminded Adam of ‘friendship bracelets’ from his jr. high days.
“I can’t tell you what to do, but I can show you a path that’s open to you now,” she offered him the loop and he accepted it. “As a friend,” she added with a smile.
“Please!” Adam nodded as he slipped the loop onto his thumb for good luck. Madame Poinciana produced a small white box from somewhere under the table; it had a red logo that resembled a pair of scissors. She slid it across the table to Adam.
“What’s this?” Adam asked as he tugged at the top of the box.
“NO!” she stopped him. “Don’t open that here! Only at home, alone. The magic in there is for your eyes only,” she shook her head. “Even I don’t know; but, I know you’ll find answers.”
“Okay!” Adam stood up in a hurry with the box in hand. “Thank you Madame Poinciana!” He shouted and waved on his way out. As grateful as he was, his gratitude didn’t compare to his desire to get home at that moment.” He dashed out of the tent with a goofy grin on his face.
“Crap!” Madame Poinciana cursed once she was alone again. She reached into the cubby under the table and pulled out her node. After a couple of taps, she held it up to her ear.
“Hey, sorry. It happened again,” she said to the person on the other end. “Yeah, just now. I’m sure it won’t be long until he shows up. Yeah. 20 years old, short dark hair, athletic. WHAT!?” she whined. Then, she listened with a sour look on her face. After several moments she started nodding.
“Fine, fine. You’re right, it’s my mistake, but a 20% processing fee feels high. No, you’re right, 80 thousand dollars is still a lot. Yes, I understand the paperwork is a nightmare to begin with, I don’t mean to make it harder. I’m sorry, I’ll get the name of the next one for sure.”