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Archive for August, 2011

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let me tell you a story. It is a true story and it happened to me shortly after I moved back to my hometown after a year working away.

Many years ago a woman knocked on my door. She was careworn and faded in appearance, apart from her eyes which were shrewd and alert. Her mouth was bracketed by bitter lines and her forehead furrowed. As soon as I opened my door she started her spiel. “I am a poor woman with nobody to care for me and my children. Would you have such a thing as some old clothes to spare for me?” As it happened I had just moved in and had decided it was time to clear my wardrobe and make a fresh start all round, so I had some clothes already bundled up to go to a charity shop. I told her to wait at my door, which I carefully shut, and went to the back of the house to fetch them.

When I turned round she was right behind me. I still have no idea how she got there. My dog was barking his head off in the kitchen where I shut him before I answered the door, but she was unfazed as she looked around. I persuaded her back towards the living room, and handed her the clothes. I told her it was all I had and she turned to leave. Then she stopped, turned to me and said “I’ll tell you your future for £5”. I said I had no wish to know what was coming and opened the door (I knew I had closed it!) and said “Goodbye, I hope the clothes help”. She stood like a rock in the middle of the room. She stared at me for what seemed a long time, but wasn’t really. Then she took a pillowcase (new) from her bag and said “I won’t take anything from you without giving something in return”. She held out the case and said “Keep this and you will have good luck”. Slightly disconcerted, I took it from her and she took the bag of clothes and stepped outside. I watched as she began to walk over my garden.

Suddenly she stopped, turned around and walked back to me. She looked me straight in the eye and she said “You have had much pain and sadness, and it is all you can see ahead. Everything you have now you have worked for, everything you ever have you will work for. You think you will always be sad but I want you to know that soon you will meet again someone you once knew, who will make you happy. Make sure you recognise them. I am very glad to have met you, you are a special person”. And she turned and left.

To say I was unsettled by what she said would be an understatement. The tone of her voice and the way she looked me in the eye had been so convincing but how could she know what had happened to me in the last couple of years and don’t all fortune tellers say you are about to meet the “perfect” partner.

I told my brother what happened and he scoffed and said she was a flim-flam artist, skilled at reading people and interpreting the objects in my home to come up with a plausible story. I thought he was probably right, but in that case why had she only taken the clothes and not asked for more?

A few weeks later a friend got in touch, his marriage had broken down and he was catching up with friends he had lost touch with. He asked if I would like to meet up. That would have probably happened anyway, but did the Fortune Teller’s comments give me the subconscious push to go for that first drink?  Who knows. We celebrated 20 years of marriage a month ago (well, to be honest we both forgot but when I spotted the date we opened a bottle of wine).

I moved out of the area again shortly after her visit. I think about her occasionally. I am glad I didn’t shut my door in her face, because she reminded me that change and opportunity happen when you least expect them and aren’t looking for them. Some risks are worth taking. It’s up to us to recognise them when they appear, sometimes we just need a push in the right direction.

I still don’t believe in fortune telling though.

(But I do still have the pillowcase, still unused, in the linen cupboard).

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