Exercising the craft—November 3, 2014

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: Crystal Clear—Entering the “Oracles Den” at the fair with your significant other seemed novel at first. When the oracle had you gaze in her crystal ball, though, and you see yourself five years down the road with someone you’ve never met, well, things just got interesting. The real problem: Your significant other knows who the person is. Write this scene.



Ginny looped her arm through her boyfriend’s and ignored his eye roll. She turned in the opposite direction to hide her grin. Lewis, she knew, hated stuff like this, but he’d agreed to enter the Oracles Den anyway. Maybe she had hope to turn him away from geek-dom yet.

“You know, all of this is just designed to lure in gullible people who believe that a bunch of vague statements will order their lives,” Lewis said, pulling his arm away to put it around her waist.

“Maybe I like being gullible,” Ginny quipped. She put her arm around his shoulders and approached the woman taking tickets. “Two, please.”

“Madame Orinski will be with you shortly,” the woman said, her heavily lined eyes solemn. The bangles on her arms clacked and jangled as she took the tickets and put them into a wooden box.

“She’s definitely dressed like a cliché,” Lewis whispered, but Ginny shushed him. She knew that he was probably right. In the last eight months she and Lewis had dated, he’d taught her to use her common sense. To think through the everyday occurrences of her life. To question events and her own thoughts a little bit.

Not that she’d ever admit that to him. So what if she didn’t have any steady acting jobs? She could always practice on Lewis and convince him that she enjoyed her role as the slightly clueless blonde.

A bell tinkled from behind a curtain, and the woman with the dozens of bangles went around it. After a moment she came back out. “Madame Orinski will see you now.”

Ginny felt a little thrill. She would never admit it to Lewis, but when she first moved to Pasadena she used to visit mediums at least once a week to ask whether she’d ever make a place in Hollywood as a successful actress. All of them had assured her she would. In the last seven years, though, she’d spent more time perfecting the way she carried plates to tables than she had an appropriate British accent.

“Please, sit down,” Madame Orinski said, gesturing to the chairs in front of her with a flourish. Her Russian accent sounded overdone, but Ginny ignored it. If her acting career really did tank, maybe she could become a medium.

“What questions do you have?” Madame Orinski. She sat back in the chair, relaxed, but Ginny couldn’t help staring at the large crystal ball on the small round table between them.

“You want to see your future?” she asked.

Ginny looked at her. How did she know what Ginny wanted?

“Do you really expect us to believe that we can look inside a piece of glass and see our future?” Lewis scoffed. “Are you buying into this, Ginny?

She shrugged, trying to hide her interest. “I don’t know.”

“Please,” Madame Orinski said, using her flourish to take in the crystal ball. “Look here. See your future. My instrument will take you five years into the future and is never wrong.”

Ginny leaned forward. Within a few moments the crystal ball got cloudy, making her jump back in her chair.

“What happened?” Lewis asked, pushing his glasses up his nose. He came to the edge of his chair and looked into the ball. His eyes got wide, magnified by his lenses and he looked at Ginny.

She scooted forward in her chair again and looked into the ball. This time the cloudiness swirled at a furious rate and then receded. She saw an image of herself in a wedding dress, grinning at the groom next to her.

Her palms got clammy—she could barely plan into next week, forget about her entire future—but she also couldn’t believe that this crystal ball stuff really worked.

“Lewis, look!” she said.

He leaned into the ball and then started back. Lewis stared at the ball for a moment, then pushed his chair back. He stood up, his eyebrows pushing into one another in anger.

“I’ll wait for you outside.”

“But, wait, what’s wrong? Lewis!”

He strode out of the tent, leaving Ginny exchanging confused looks with Madame Orinski. Ginny’s heart began to beat faster, and she leaned forward. Once again she saw herself in the wedding dress and a goofy newlywed grin. The groom turned and looked at her wedding self, and then turned his head in another direction as if someone had called for his attention. His tan enhanced his good looks, and even though he wore a tux she could see his biceps pressing against the sleeves of his jacket.

The real Ginny frowned. Who was this guy? And what about him had made Lewis so mad?

“May I help with something?” Madame Orinski asked.

Ginny shook her head. “No, thank you. You’ve been very helpful. Thanks.”

She got up and hurried through the tent and out the doorway flap, prepared to make her way throughout all of the people at the fair if need be to look for Lewis. She stopped short when she saw him standing against a lamppost.

“Lewis, what happened in there?” Ginny asked. “What’s going on? Why did that guy make you so mad?”

“Look, let’s just forget it, okay?” he said, trying to grab her hand. “You wanted to go to the movies anyway, right? Let’s just go.”

“No,” Ginny said, jerking her hand away. “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on.”

He put his hands on his hips and looked away from her. Heaving a huge sigh, he let it out and dropped his head. After several minutes he looked at her.

“That guy in the crystal ball,” he said finally. “That guy was my first roommate in college. We lived together for about a semester until he got housing in the athletes’ dorm.”

Ginny crossed her arms. “So?”

So,” Lewis repeated, “he was a jerk. I brought a girl back to our room once, and she ended up in bed with him.”

“So that was that girl. Maybe she was a slut and he deserved her. But that has nothing to do with us.”

“Yeah, Ginny, but Madame Orinski said she’s never wrong and—”

She crossed her arms, and this time she couldn’t fight her smile. “And I thought you said that this stuff was for gullible people looking for answers when they couldn’t figure out their own.”

He stared at her for a moment, his eyes searching hers. She’d seen that look so many times before. It always amazed Ginny that someone so smart would find it so easy to doubt himself.

Finally he smiled. “You’re right. You’re right. I’m getting crazy about nothing. I love you,” he added, his relief palpable.

She stepped forward and put her arms around him. “I love you too,” she said, the words still tingling in her mouth.

They kissed and left the fairgrounds. As they made their way to the car, though, Ginny couldn’t help wondering about the guy from the crystal ball. What would her life have been like if she’d stuck in that dating regimen of muscle heads?

“Hey, how about we go home and see what game is on and order a pizza?” Lewis said, smiling at her and reaching for her hand.

She smiled back and squeezed his fingers with hers. Her hypothetical boyfriend may have looked better and had a better body, but he definitely wouldn’t have cared about her like Lewis did. She nodded.

“Sounds good.”

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