Written in 2001, age 18.
Chapter One: Building a Mystery
The crowd is dense and loud, and the lights blare and white out the stars I walk the closed-off streets at the Cougarville County Faire. There isn’t a sight within a hundred yards that isn’t colorful and commercial and corny. It is just the way it has been year after year for six years at this celebration. Loud tacky music chimes on the wind. The carousel is a few feet away, screaming children riding the plastic animals as if they were wild horses. A Ferris wheel is off in the distance—a looming giant with caged-in seats—the mere sight of it makes me dizzy, since I am afraid of heights. People are everywhere, and yet I feel totally alone.
I decide to separate myself from the vacant faces of the crowd and begin my journey out toward the darker, emptier part of the carnival. The stars sparkle overhead in the clear night sky as I get further away from the light pollution. A ways ahead of me on the black asphalt lies a dark tent, with a glimpse of sparkling candles peeking through the flap opening. Mystery has always attracted me, so I go in.
I am surrounded by bright candles that drown out the darkness of the tent along the edges. Most of the candles are red and black. The floor is covered in red and black crushed velvet. Small, ancient-looking bells and scarves frame the ceiling and walls of the tent.
I assume this is the tent for a fortuneteller. I hope so, because I would like to know what lies ahead of me this year—I begin the eighth grade at a new middle school tomorrow. Further into the tent sits a woman, old by the wrinkled skin, yet her skin also shines with a youthful radiance. She sits with closed eyes on a royal purple, crushed-velvet pillow with tassels, and in front of her is a glowing crystal ball, which soaks up some of the candlelight. She opens her eyes and smiles, the wrinkles around her eyes creasing, and her face is gentle with wisdom.
“Hello, my child,” she says, in a deep, cigarette-scratched voice. “I suppose you are here to have your fortune told.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” I say hesitantly. I have no idea how much this is going to cost, and I only have ten dollars for the rest of the night. But I’ve never had my fortune read before, and I am curious to see if she knows something about me that I don’t.
“Are you psychic?” I ask, studying her flowing clothing; long, frizzy black hair; and olive complexion. I wonder if she is a Gypsy.
She gives out a hoarse chuckle. “Some have said that I am. I am from a line of fortune tellers.” She studies me. “Do you believe a person can be psychic?”
“Yeah, I suppose,” I say, though I’m skeptical about the existence of anything possibly supernatural.
“You guess? You suppose? Is there anything else you’d like to add to that wide vocabulary of yours?” she teases.
I smile. “I’m gonna be going to a new school for the eighth grade. Maybe you could tell me if I’ll have any friends?”
She smiles and doesn’t once look at her crystal ball. “Some very unique friends. Friends you will hold on to for live.”
I am happy to hear some positive news. Even if it isn’t real.
She narrows her eyes at me, searching. “I have a feeling that’s not all you were seeking?”
I wonder how much money each question costs me.
She chuckles. “And don’t worry about the money, dear. It’ll cost you five dollars whether it’s one minute or one hour.”
“Well, I was wondering if there was anything you could tell me about myself, something I don’t already know?”
She nods. “Yes.” She gently takes my hands and brings them to the crystal ball. Then she touches her own hands to the crystal ball. “Your aura gives off great strength. It is more unique than any other that I’ve seen, including my own.” She closes her eyes, and takes a deep breath. “You are a protectress, the guardian of the people of this Earth. You have a great love for all that has a soul.”
“What do you mean protect?”
“You protect the innocent from the cruel. You must be gentle to all that lives, but turn a hard hand upon those who are cruel.”
“You mean like good versus evil?” I ask.
“No, Vanessa. The world is not as black and white as you see it in your young age. The living are very complicated. But there is a darker force at work here. It is your job to destroy it.”
I contemplate her words. It sounds like a fairy tale to me.
She studies the crystal ball some more. “Oh.” Her face turns sad. “Your past is filled with such sorrow. Though your life is happy, your other lives have not been. You will face the sorrow from your past again.” She pauses. “And this time you must confront it.”
I look at my watch. It’s ten o’clock. “Thank you…” I say.
“Venira. It was my pleasure, Vanessa. Remember, you are the protectress of this generation. You destroy evil and guide souls on their short journeys on Earth.”
“Thanks,” I say, highly confused, and I walk out of the tent in a daze, wishing my life would ever be that exciting.
I don’t remember giving her my name.