Thanks, a lot, lady. Celia shifted uncomfortably on the upholstered cushion. She adjusted her tight gray skirt. Seating the patrons on floor cushions was the Marrakesh Cafe’s attempt to make the patrons feel like they were in Berber tent. It added a wonderful ambiance to the establishment at night or on the weekends, but in the middle of a work day, it was problematic, especially to Celia in her pumps, pantyhose and a tight suit.
Also, having her fortune read at the insistence of her office-mates, Phebe and Audrey, was also awkward. The cafe had a professional tarot card reader to lend an even more exotic feel to the experience. Actually, according to the reader’s business card tactfully placed on the table, her name was Rosalind LaBeau, a counseling intern specializing in life coaching.
Despite Rosalind’s credentials, Celia did not believe that tarot card reader could foretell one’s future. However, the fact that her office-mates would believe any nonsense put forth by Rosalind made her anxious. There’s no telling what Rosalind would come up with that her co-workers would immediately parlay into office gossip.
Celia grunted an acknowledgement, and Rosalind, in her wildly colorful gypsy-esque costume, flipped over the next card.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Celia grumbled. She gave a sidelong glance at her co-workers. I’m a fool to let those two drag me here.
“Indeed. The Fool represents the common man or woman on a journey towards self-fulfillment.”
“Yes, the Fool needs to be careful though. He is oblivious to the precipice that he is about to step over.”
With one hand Celia started to fiddle with the plain silver necklace she wore everyday to work. With the other she picked a glass of hot mint tea. “And what cliff am I about to step over?” She sipped from her glass.
“The card does not say.”
“Of course it doesn’t.” Celia set her tea down.
“Don’t assume, ma’am, that the cliff is necessarily a bad thing.” Rosalind tapped the image of the motley dressed figure on the card. “Sometimes it represents stepping out into something new and different. Sometimes it means that we need to get outside our comfort zone.”
“I quite like it in my ‘comfort zone,'” said Celia.
“Yeah,” said Phebe. “You would never, ever see Celia step out on a limb for anything.” Audrey laughed.
“So what if I don’t take risks. At least I am not worried about where my life is headed.”
“Headed towards of life of boredom and obscurity,” countered Audrey.
“If you don’t take any risks, how can you ever get anywhere? ” added Phebe.
Celia sighed. Phebe and Audrey were the Oprahs of the fourteenth floor, dispensing advice, mostly unsolicited and usually spurious, whenever they had the opportunity.
“What is the next card?” Phebe eagerly said to Rosalind.
Rosalind flipped over the next card. Phebe and Audrey gasped. Celia’s spine straightened.
Staring back at them from the red-clothed table top was a sickly yellow skeleton, suited in black medieval armor, riding a pale horse.
“The Death Card,” whispered Audrey.
“That’s it. We’re done here.” Celia fished in her purse for her wallet as she picked up the check. “I’ll take care of this” and motioned for the waiter to come over.
“It’s not what you think, ma’am.”
“And what do I think,” Celia said as she struggled to rise from the floor cushion. She handed the check and some cash to the waiter and waved him off.
“The Death Card does not mean physical death. It means transformation and change. My take on this is that you are about to encounter a life changing event. You need to be ready for it.” explained Rosalind.
“Thank you. I’ll take that under advisement.” Celia turned to Phebe and Audrey. “Ladies, I’ll see you back at the office.”
Celia briskly walked out of the cafe, shaking her head.
Why did I let them talk me into having my fortune told?
She did not like the idea forming in her mind.
Because I am not happy with my life and I really wish someone would tell me that it will change.
She frowned. Jeez, I’ve been hanging out too much with Phebe and Audrey. I’m starting to believe their psycho-babble.
Suddenly, she heard someone shout. “Lady, watch out!”
Instinct kicked in and Celia threw herself against the wall of the building next to the sidewalk just in time to see a heavy plastic bucket crash to the ground next to her. Water splattered in all directions and the bucket bounced and rolled down the sidewalk.
Celia looked up and saw a window washer about four stories above her. “Lady, are you okay?!” he shouted down. Celia just stared at him and then at the empty bucket. She came just inches from getting hit in the head with a full bucket of water. “Um, yeah, I’m good.”
The window washer looked relieved. “Sorry, then.”
Celia steadied herself and continued walking down the street. That was close. Too close. That’s just it, isn’t it. It could all end for me at any time. So why am I wasting my life then doing the same old work day after day? Why? Because I’m afraid, that’s why.
Celia felt her eyes start to tear up. How did I get so afraid of living?
She took a deep breath and she picked up her stride. I’m done with this. I’m going to do it. I’m actually going to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’m going to take all my accumulated vacation time and go on a real vacation. A long one to somewhere I’ve never been. But… But I really hate to travel alone….
Suddenly, she heard the sound of tires screeching to a halt. Like the classic dear-in-the-headlights, she gave a long, disbelieving stare at the yellow cab that was emerging from the driveway of an underground parking garage. Celia had unthinkingly stepped in front of the vehicle. The cab driver leaned on the horn giving her a long, rude blast.
“Hey, Sleeping Beauty. Wake up!” He pointed to a sign on the wall next to the garage exit that said Pedestrians Must Yield to Traffic. “Sweetie, are you trying to get yourself killed? I have the right-of-way.”
“I’m sorry. You’re right.” Celia quickly scuttled out of the taxi’s way. The driver glared at her and muttered something that she could not hear.
Two close calls in less than five minutes? Celia’s thoughts paused on the death card that Rosalind had laid in front of them.
Could it be that? No, no, no. I don’t believe in that stuff. Besides, she said the card had to do with change, with transformation, not real death. Maybe these are all signs. Signs telling me to get moving.
I want to travel. I want to go to Morocco, not just eat in Moroccan restaurants. I want to go to Spain, and France, and Italy… oooo, and Greece too. And I’ll go alone if I have to. Lots of people travel alone….
Celia began to smile. It had been a long time since she felt excited about anything.
Yes, I’m going to go back to office and fill out a vacation request. I’ve got six weeks accumulated so no one is going to object. Then I’m going to start looking at travel packages. Maybe there’s a singles tour I can take and maybe meet some new people. Life is too short to waste on dreaming. I am going to do this!
Celia was almost giddy with delight when she reached the corner across from her building. As she waited for the light to turn change, she felt herself getting happier and more excited. She looked down at the steep curb.
It’s just like the precipice in the Fool card. But stepping off a cliff is not always a bad thing the woman said.
The light turned green and “Walk” sign came on. It’s a sign. Another sign. I’ve got the green light to do this.
Celia carefully looked both ways just to make sure there was no on-coming traffic. Her new found enthusiasm had made her more alert.
I do not need to get run over by a truck just now. She chuckled at her own foolish thoughts.
She made it across the street in one piece. She opened the large glass door of her office building and confidently walked through. As she approached the Security Desk, she pulled her company badge out of her purse. She noticed the person manning the Security Desk.
There’s someone new here today. I wonder what happened to Henry?
The guard was a tall man dressed in a black uniform and wearing an officer’s hat. His attention was set on some papers at the desk. Celia could not see his face.
Celia stepped up to the desk. “Hi, you must be new. Welcome to the building.” She thrust her badge out for him to examine.
Then the man looked up and Celia’s face blanched.
A yellow skeleton face looked back at her and smiled.
ljg © 2013