The door opened so easily and although Emma was reluctant to enter, something pulled on her to do it anyway. She looked down the alley that she just walked down. An occasional car would pass by but it seemed so far away. She stood before the partially open door and hesitated before going in.
Her eyes couldn’t adjust until she was completely inside. “Hello?” The door closed quietly behind her with no effort on her part. She should be frightened, at least some…but she was not. As she became accustomed to the dark room, she began to make out her surroundings. She didn’t see tarot cards or strings of lights on the walls. There were no beads hanging from door ways or candles lit for appearances. The far wall had a few old shelves housing voodoo dolls and indian arrow heads. She walked along the side toward the wall. Everything was dusty.
“This place is like something out of an ancient history book.” She shook her head in disbelief as she explored. Skeletons of animal heads and artwork of abstract people in tall hats marching in streets toward fires that seemed out of control. As she got closer to the walls and was completely saturating herself with its content she passed a doorway and jumped back when she realized that doorway was not empty.
An old woman stood before her. Emma could not tell if she was pleased she was there or angry she was trespassing. This woman’s face was that of a hundred year old indian. Her face so weathered, like the card Emma had in her pocket. Emma wanted to touch her but she kept her distance.
“Miss Cleo? I didn’t see a way to call to make an appointment….” Was the woman listening to her? She wasn’t even looking at her. Emma looked behind her and then back at the woman. “Am I at the right place?” She held out the card. The woman still did not respond. Emma just stood there for a moment, looked around the room again and walked toward the door. “I”m sorry, I must have gotten lost.” She turned and slowly walked to the front door. Before she reached the door the woman spoke.
“Āpa ēka kāraṇa kē li’ē yahām̐ haiṁ.”
“I’m sorry? I…I don’t under….”
“Sit. I am Miss. Cleo.”
Emma was more curious than she was scared. She had been to many psychics and although she believed in something deeper, most of the psychics were very good at reading body language and giving good advice. This, however, was different. There was a reason she was there and even though it didn’t seem she belonged there she felt she needed to be. She sat down at the large table. A few small candles were lit and Emma could see the dust spark as the flame danced. The room illuminated a bit more and Emma felt she was in a different world.
The woman took Emma’s hands and touched her palms. Her eyes closed and she hummed a light hum that soon turned into a chant.
“Miss Sophia told me you would ….” The woman stopped and opened her eyes. The glare she gave sent a shiver up Emma’s spine. Emma just nodded and stared back until the woman closed her eyes again and continued with the chant. A few minutes passed and the woman dropped her head. She didn’t move. Was she asleep? Emma slid her hands from the woman’s grasp and sat there waiting patiently. She leaned down to try to get a better look at her weathered face. She didn’t move. “Excuse me? Are you ok?” Still nothing. Emma didn’t know if she should just get up and leave, call someone, or just wait. This was all so odd to her.
Without warning, without moving, the woman spoke. “You have veered from your path. A path laid out for you. Safe. Secure. Trustworthy. One with high fences on both sides and a bright light with every step you were to take.” She looked up and although her expression didn’t change, she was causing a horrible uncertainty in Emma that she perhaps didn’t think this whole thing through. “You dare break that fence down and wander into the thick and dark jungle of this world you know nothing of. This is not like a Virgo to do.”
The woman stood and slowly walked around the table toward Emma. She stood behind her and Emma felt the woman’s hands wrap around her neck. Her fingers fed up into her long dark hair. “Do you think you make the right choice?” Emma nodded a yes. She had to stand firm and be strong in what she believed in. “Your loved ones grieve for you. They say you made terrible mistake. Do you feel it in your heart it is ok they cry for you?” Emma nodded again, but this time she hesitated. The woman flung her fingers through her hair and very slowly walked back to her chair.
Emma waited agonizingly long for the woman to do so, and sit, and stare at her with the same express she began with. “You will find strength in your fight through this jungle. You will find a longer life as well.”
“A… longer life?”
The woman nodded. “The cleared and well lit path was a clear path to a short end for you. Depressing, self destructive and unfulfilling. You chose to break through and it was good.” Emma smiled and wanted to get up and twirl around. The woman made Emma doubt herself at first. She felt bad enough leaving all that she knew behind, but she knew deep down in her heart if she didn’t break away then she’d be truly unhappy.
“Thank you. I was beginning to wonder if I was doing the right thing….” The woman put her hand up to silence her and then she spoke very slowly as if she needed to concentrate on pronouncing each word she said.
“This is not a party. Not a game. You must keep your eyes wide open and your senses cleared. There will be signs along your new path but you need to look to find. You will discover what you seek and you will find who you are. Strength, submission, passion and love. You will find strength on your way to what you seek. Submission in the man who captures your soul, passion in all things because you want them and love will be deep within.”
The old woman pushed herself up from the table with some effort and scuffled off to the doorway. Emma was in ecstasy. She was doing the right thing. As difficult as it was to leave the plans that were made for her, she knew, deep inside that it was what she needed to do.
Before disappearing the woman turned and looked again. With one crooked finger pointed to her, she gave a warning. “Find the signs. Follow your heart. Beware the mirror of the love you seek.” And she was gone.
She was confused. She was never good with riddles. “Beware the mirror of the love you seek? What the hell does that mean?” She called out for the woman. Emma had questions but she doubted she would see the woman again. As she began to leave she realized the woman never asked for payment. Emma called for her again but she did not respond. She fished into her pocket and found her last twenty and a few ones. She put it on the table and left quietly.
Walking back down that dark alleyway Emma was more aware of her surroundings. She didn’t think she was at Miss Cleo’s for very long but the sun had set and the darkness seemed to take over. She reached into her pocket for something, anything that would even remotely come in handy if Emma needed to defend herself against whoever was lurking around each corner. She grabbed everything in her pockets and pulled it out to examine the contents. Nothing she had would help her in a battle of the streets. What she did have was a twenty dollar bill and some ones. She furrowed her eyebrows in a confusion that made no sense.
“I gave this to….” She turned around and walked back down the alleyway. “I swore I did.” She shook her head. “This place is going to take some getting used to.” She knocked on the door knowing the woman wouldn’t answer. She turned the door knob but the lock held it tight. The money wouldn’t slide underneath the doorway and it wouldn’t slide into the cracks of the door either. She didn’t dare leave it in the alleyway. As she turned away she made a mental note that she would return to compensate Miss Cleo for her time and wisdom.
Emma’s walk back to her apartment didn’t take as much time as she thought it took her to originally get there. Perhaps it was because her mind was full of the things Miss. Cleo told her. Emma had so much to look forward to. She felt she was on the right path and she was ready to explore her life the way she needed to.