"Go on then."
"We going to get married within six months, have three children and
a house, a cottage in the country. You're going to get promoted and I'm
going to see somebody I haven't seen in ages."
They moved forward, a sceptic and an unbeliever, pushed the flap aside
and walked into the gloomy interior. A dark motionless figure sat in front
of them, resting both arms on the round table, a black shawl covering
her head, a delicate lace veil reaching down to the table cloth.
"Sit down, my dears," she whispered and the tones were soft,
dulcet, not the dry sounds of an aging woman.
They obeyed almost silently, the sigh almost noticeable from Marianne's
"I see the future in your hands," she said softly. "Young
lady, offer me your left hand."
Marianne rested her arm on the green baize cloth, her palm held stiffly
"I can see you do not believe," came the voice from beneath
the veil. "Yet I can see perhaps more than you wish to know. You
will get married, perhaps at the end of next year."
"But there is much turmoil to endure before that time. I see anger,
guilt, dangerous secrets and a child you despise. Take care my love, envy
is a dangerous passion."
Marianne snatched her hand away, looking at it closely, curiously. Then
she rubbed it on her thigh, as if trying to remove the pictures the other
woman had seen.
Tom put his hand out casually and the woman took it carefully, flattening
out the tips of his fingers with a knuckle. Something made him shudder,
as though a finger of ice had run down his spine, as his hand shook the
woman held it more firmly. A strange warmth seemed to flow through his
The mysterious female looked up, momentarily gazing deep into his eyes.
Before him was no aging crone, no haggard old woman, but a vision of beauty.
Where the elaborate lace veil joined the shawl a slender band of dark
straight, or well held back hair was visible, the patterned material masked
her complexion but her skin was perfectly smooth, cheeks looking slightly
rosy though in a natural way. Tom could not help but stare and his eyes
fell to what seemed like a perfect mouth and as he looked the full lips
parted and her tongue moistened them sensuously. Then she looked down
and ran her other hand over his moistening palm.
"I see change, there is doubt and fear in your thoughts."
Tom felt suddenly afraid and gingerly tried to pull away, but the seemingly
delicate grip was too firm.
"You are troubled by a dark secret, but there are many pathways,
it is possible nothing will come of it. I see two women in your life,
you will be torn between them. I see also a child, a girl, a playful child
with jet black hair. Though much of what I see is good you must be careful,
there are low points in your future when you will not know which way to
turn, you may even think life is not worth living, but remember there
is happiness to be found at the end of each pathway."
The voice was soft, almost hypnotic, compelling. Not that she needed to
speak, Tom still held the vision of her face firmly in his mind.
"You lead an exciting life, but your spirit is not as free as you
believe, it is tied invisibly to others who will become very close. Your
lifeline is long and you will be happy in your old age. You have... No
that is the other side of the break. You will soon have your own business
and you will happily pass it on to your children and no doubt eventually
A deep sigh left her lips, almost as though revealing so much of his future
had been an effort.
"I can say no more. What is in your future depends too much on how
you react to the events that will soon follow."
Opening her fingers she let Tom draw his hand away and glanced up once
more into his face, holding his eyes with her stare.
Marianne got up, pulling at her companion, almost dragging him to his
The gypsy held out her hand and Tom dropped several golden coins into
her palm. Inflation meant silver was no longer enough.
Pure silver maybe.
The moment they were outside Marianne began to boil.
"The bloody cheek!"
"What do you mean?"
"Come off it, you can't say you didn't notice. The bitch had the
hots for you."
"Don't be daft."
"You mean you didn't realise? Even when she had you drooling over
her. I saw you turning scarlet, you fell into those cow eyes she gave
"Now you're being ridiculous."
"Then what was all that trash she was spouting. Two women in your
life, some deep dark secret only she's knows about?" Marianne sneered.
"A load of crap!"
Tom paled, but in the strange light of the fair it was hardly noticeable,
the moment passed without incident. Maybe it would be more accurate to
say without discovery. Refreshing Tom's memory had already elevated the
brief encounter from trivial to almost soul destroying. Still, a moment
of time that none would ever discover.
At least if Tom could cross enough fingers through the ensuing days.
"Come on, buy me a candy floss before I get worked into a real mood."
As they moved into the swirling eddy of figures neither noticed the light
above the tent die and a tall slender figure slip into the shadows behind
them. Throughout the rest of the evening a dark pair of eyes followed
every move and as they walked back to the car a young woman dressed in
black approached one of the scruffy fairground men and pointed at the
departing couple. Two relaxed people that did not notice as they drove
home that a elderly motorcycle followed at a discreet distance.