Psychic Call

Ann-Marie felt a disturbance in her psychic aura. A moment later, the phone rang. She let it ring through to voicemail as she waited for the electrical waves to clear so that she could continue her reading uninterrupted.

“I did warn you that now was not the best time for your reading,” the psychic told her patron. “I foresaw this disturbance.”

She cleared her throat, trying to regain the raspy voice she used when doing tarot readings. She turned over the next card, reading the meaning out to her rapt audience. It was the usual reading full of promises of small losses that opened the way for greater gains. She pocketed the girl’s tip after she left.

She checked her calendar, she had a quarter of an hour until her next appointment barring any unforeseen walk-ins. She dialed into her voicemail. “We need you again.” The line went dead.

Well that was vague. Who needed her? She could think back on any number of patrons who might require her services again. Except her patrons knew to leave a call-back number.

She hovered over the call back button. What if this was a test? A true psychic would at least know who called if not why.

She checked the ostentatious gilded clock hanging on the wall—thirteen minutes until her next appointment. She pulled out her cell phone and typed the phone number into her search bar, hoping that it would be a publicly recorded number.

No such luck.

She scrolled through the pages of advertisements offering to tell her the number for a small fee. Why spend ten dollars when she could go down to the pay phone at the corner station and call for a quarter? If she hurried she could be back by the time her appointment arrived. She scribbled a note and stuck it to the door. I sensed you would be early, but I was unexpectedly called away. I shall return in time for your appointment. Ann-Marie, Psychic

She locked the door behind her and hurried down the street. The phone rang and rang and rang without picking up. She slotted in another quarter and tried again. No answer.

She checked her watch and tried a final time. If they did not pick up, she would have time to make it back before the appointment time.

“Hello?” The voice on the other end was harsh and foreign.

“Hi, I’m looking for Susie, may I speak with her?” She forced every ounce of bubbly cheer to come through in her tone.

“Wrong number.”

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry to bother you. I must have copied the numbers down wrong. Who did I end up calling?”

There was a muffled thump and then someone else took the phone. “You don’t know who this is?”

Ann-Marie let out a nervous titter and shifted on her feet. “You’re not Susie, that’s for sure.”

“Calling from a pay phone. Oldest trick in the book. Fraud.” It was the voice from earlier.

She slammed the phone back into the cradle, looked at her watch and cursed. She was going to be late to her next appointment.

She ran all the way, plastic gems clattering against each other at every step. The person was going to be late and find her note predicting their early arrival. Everyone—not just the person on the phone—would know that she wasn’t a real psychic.

She slowed as she approached her practice. A woman sat on the stoop, the note in her hand.

“You’re the psychic?” The woman stood up, brushing invisible dirt off of her designer jeans. “How did you know I was going to be early?”

Ann-Marie pulled the trappings of her psychic persona about her and summoned a mysterious smile. “A psychic always knows. Now, shall we do your reading? I can tell you have the weight of many decisions weighing heavily upon you.”

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

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