Spirit Slips Away

Eva stared at the tattered card. ‘Gypsy Petulengro’ it read. ‘Fortune Teller to the Stars’. Of course, nearly every woman by the name of Petulengro called themselves that. You fell over them on every seaside pier and promenade. She had been the real thing. Both the famous and the ordinary had flocked to her for readings. Until it all went wrong.

She didn’t remember what she had been looking for when she went to the desk. Scrabbling in the drawer, pulling out pens, paper clips – and then the card. She used to have hundreds of these made up. She glared at the picture next to the writing. The woman in the photograph mocked her. The knowing smile. The hooped earrings – how predictable. The auburn mane framing a face that was more striking than pretty. The chin was too pointed, the nose too long. Yet the bright green cat’s eyes, sparkling with mischief, had fooled many an admirer into calling her beautiful.

Eva coiled a strand of grey hair round her finger. A brittle end snapped. Something snapped inside at that moment, too. Why was she hiding here, alone in her flat with only spiders and dust for company? It wasn’t her fault. Nobody except herself had thought so. Most people didn’t even believe in what she did. But she had never seen anything as clearly before. And when it happened…she couldn’t face something like that again.

Where had hiding away got her? Maybe it was time. She searched the drawer again. Yes – there it was! Still in date, thank goodness. The box of hair dye, luxuriant brown. That would be a start. There was something stuck to the box. She tugged the piece of paper away from the cardboard, and unfolded it. Her breath caught.

She remembered it as though it were yesterday. The curly haired young man, a musician, like so many who came to visit her. Laughing and asking: would he make it big? She had answered truthfully: yes, yes he would. His band would be huge, respected throughout the industry. But then she saw what came with the lifestyle: the partying, the indulgence. And after that…

How she had hidden the vision from him she would never know. He was getting ready to leave then, having heard what he wanted. He didn’t notice her face go white, her hands grip the table edge. Her body swaying with horror and pity.

Squeezing her eyes shut for a moment, she steeled herself, then opened them and faced the newspaper clipping. It was a story that had happened before, and since. Except this one was her bright young star. No more laughing. No more singing. No more music.

ROCK STAR, 27, DEAD OF LETHAL COCKTAIL OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL.