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Fairy Tales


Diana Keeton

Twenty years ago people assumed you a bit strange if you admitted interest in unexplainable things. Today it's vogue. But neither is a valid rationalization as to why I followed her into that room, but I went and I'll never be quite the same.

Sitting in a restaurant across the street, I saw the old woman putting a sign in the window of what appeared to be a new business. "Fairy Tales" was all the sign said. I was intrigued.

After lunch, I walked over and peered into a magnificent little shop full of crystals, sand castles, books and tapes. Never been able to resist a crystal or a good sand castle so I entered and was immediately embraced by the sweet smell of jasmine along with the musical flow of flutes, waterfalls and nature sounds blending gracefully together to set a tranquil tone. Books lined two walls and a centre shelf unit. Music tapes and a plentiful exhibition of multicoloured precious stones lavished the third wall. The entire place held an affectionate allure.

I felt her presence even though I hadn't heard her enter the room. I knew she was behind me so attention was expected, but not the words she spoke.

"Good, you came. I'm getting old and was afraid maybe I sent the wrong message."

It wasn't just the words that surprised me; I had immediately conjured up an image of long hair, black silk dress and an adornment of jewelry but as I turned to face this voice, the words were projecting from a tall slender elderly woman in a simple tunic with matching pants in blue and teal stripes. Polyester no less. The mystical ambiance diluted.

"Message?" I queried, still somewhat surprised and confused. "I'm sorry, but I don't understand."

"You will. Come in the back." She disappeared behind a tie-dyed purple silk curtain. Void of rationalization, I followed her beyond the veil like a mouse captivated behind the Pied Piper.

She was already seated at a card table in a corner of what appeared to be a small storage area. A tape recorder was placed between us. As she fumbled to turn it on, I couldn't help but notice the extreme deformity of her hands. Her fingers were curled and distorted yet she managed the recorder with little effort.

"I will tape our conversation; it will provide you with an accurate memory of our discussion." Her voice did not match her semblance. Gentle and soft-spoken, I kept waiting for the high pitched squeak that should have come from the gangly body and lack of refinement one supposed from her poor choice of wardrobe. But the notes she filtered were rhythmic, subtle, almost romantic and were as elegant and cultivated as anyone I have ever heard speak.

If I closed my eyes I envisioned beauty, purity and love. Reality provided shell white hair clipped short, like a man with enough natural wave to assume a feminine border around her tired oval face. Heavy deep lines crisscrossed in the sunken hollow beneath her cheek bones and joined with squinted lines that fanned from the edge of her green eyes disappearing beneath her crop of hair. Her skin, tan and weathered was rough, and dark age spots speckled her arms and face.

I wanted to close my eyes and concentrate only on her hypnotic voice but she demanded attention. "Tell me your full name, including maiden and date of birth."

I answered so quickly and willingly I surprised myself. I didn't know this woman, I didn't ask to be here and I certainly had no idea why I crossed the veiled line.

"Yes, yes, you are one of the strong soul mates. Thank the heavens, I will be able to rest now!" She took a moment, her body held rigid and still. She took a deep breath and held it in silence, closing her heavy eye lids; she reminded me of a lizard basking in the desert heat. Still curious and mesmerized, I remained in my seat, but I was not ready to accept anything this woman was going to tell me. 

I listened intently for an hour while she explained 'soul mates' and how the cycle of their spirits evolve. I was completely absorbed by the emotion and detail with which she portrayed this philosophy but I was still not impressed by any authenticity of its actuality. When she finished the sequence of 'soul mates,' she stood and asked me to do the same. She approached me and embraced my whole body with hers. Her voice was not that of an old woman, her movements were not that of an old woman, her mind was not slow, and the strength with which she held me was astounding.

"Now we can get down to the good stuff," she remarked as she returned to her seat, "You must be curious as to what your past and future destiny has been and will be."

She had my complete attention. For the next hour our eyes were locked into the past and future events she drew from my soul. Her twisted fingers touched my heart, my mind and her penetrating eyes and voice dove deep into the furrows of my entity. She knew things no one could know, she explained things I had questioned about myself, she knew about health problems, my family and my secrets. She presented me with God's expectations of my future and reminded me I would not be happy unless I fulfilled my commitment.

Her revelation was another story in itself. She stated I would write about crystals and how they will help us deal with the next millennium, but at that moment, I still was not compelled to be taken in by a lizard. But I did have a fascination with crystals. I owned several which were quite impressive and she knew it. She described every crystal down to the size and flaw and told me why I had them. She said I was a teacher in my previous life and now I would use those skills to become a writer and teach again in this lifetime.

I was astounded but not convinced. She was right, I had collected books on crystals and had an impressive collection of crystal balls. But it was a passion for their beauty, not their power that drew me to their collection.

I did leave the shop with a heavier burden than when I went in. I was sure she had me confused with someone else. I was no one special, why did she pick on me. It had to be some sort of gimmick to get me back in to buy something. Or possibly the ranting of a poor lost woman who picked on the first person to enter her store. But her words lingered. They ran through my mind and twisted and turned in every direction. After a few days of ingesting this enigmatic event, I decided to return to the store and see if she even remembered me.

As I approached the door I could see the store was being emptied. Everything was boxed and a hand written "closed" sign hung on the door. A young girl who had been packing boxes saw me approach through the window. She quickly opened the door and handed me a package without questioning who I was. She said the owner left it for me the day she died. It was a set of books on crystals and soul mates. The image of the lizard I had imagined on her face was painted on the cover of each book in complete detail. As I walked away carrying the heavy books, I knew they were not as heavy as the burden that had just been placed on my shoulders.

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