Fortune Telling

August 1, 2007

Alexei hated going to fortune tellers, because they always said the same exact thing: “On Friday, August 13, 2021, at 4:48 pm, a tunesian wedge-faced calico cat will cross your path.”

That was it. They would say no more – indeed, they often seem surprised at the words that came out of their mouth. It was infuriating – quite possibly, at least according to Alexei, the stupidest prophecy ever spoken. He had heard it dozens of times, so he was confident in its veracity – but what did it mean?

He had tried avoiding circuses and street-side fortune tellers at the age of fifteen, after having told of his future encounter with a cat for the fourth time. That was when he discovered every single girl he liked had a strange fascination with the circus, and they all insisted he get his fortune told. Six years and twenty-three girlfriends later, and he still hadn’t found one that liked just going to the movies.

At twenty-five, with the prophesied day still seventeen years away, he moved to New York – where, mind you, fortune telling is actually illegal. He liked the sound of that.

He liked it less when he learned it was only illegal if done in exchange for money, and that all the gypsies and wise women who couldn’t sell their skills were all too eager to wander up to his door and dispense some divinations free of charge.

At thirty – still unable to find a girl who wasn’t turned on by auguries – he went back to school despite a successful career in advertising. There wasn’t a specific major for feline studies, but he found every course on the topic nonetheless, and by thirty-seven was the pre-eminent expert in the world on matters regarding the tunesian wedge-faced calico.

But he still hadn’t figured out anything special about them – and his studies had driven him even more into isolation. Not that that had stopped electronic charms and virtual oracles from spamming him every time he connected to the net.

With five years to go, he decided to just wait it out and get it over with. He gritted his teeth and let the fortunes continue to plague him. On a whim, he found himself as the proud owner of an Siberian Husky, and made sure to train the dog to discourage any stray cats that decided to approach within, say, a country mile of his house.

On Friday, August 13, 2021, against his better judgement, he left his house to go for a walk. The minutes grew closer to his moment of destiny, and his anticipation grew. He was, after all, about to learn whatever secret had claimed the better part of his life – had driven him mad with its influence, had driven him from his family, and had driven him here, to this hour, this place, this moment.

He had the strangest sense that it would be perfectly meaningless – a vision of a moment where a cat crossed his path and then left his sight forever, rendering all the years of build-up utterly insignificant. But at least it would be over – at least he would be able to get on with his life!

Just as he dismissed the worry from his mind, the minute hand on his watch passed the point of no return, his dog barked a single, melancholy bark, and he saw her.

She was walking down the street across from him. Her eyes were dark, and had been focused on the ground until she heard the bark echoing through the air. She wore a long, well-made coat, and she hugged it tight to her – though as she drew closer, he could see that a small ball of fur huddled within the folds of her coat.

She looked up, and met his eyes, and her step faltered. Slowly, she changed her path, until eventually coming to a stop in front of him.

“Th… that’s a very nice tunesian wedge-faced calico,” said Alexei, wincing as he heard himself stutter.

She smiled shyly. “And that’s a very nice sable, split-eyed siberian husky.”

“You’re not obsessed with prophecies or anything, are you?”

“Can’t stand ’em… though they’re starting to grow on me, just a little.”

Alexei smiled back.

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