It’s been awhile!
We moved into a new house. School let out for the summer. A garden was planted (don’t be too impressed–it’s super small, but I L<3VE it). A kitten was brought home. A bunny has passed away.
It’s been an eventful couple of months!
I’ve been spending time here and there working on story ideas, seeing which ones feel good. Today I’m leaving you with a very unfinished (as in, the roughest of rough drafts) excerpt from a story that’s been churning in my brain for years. I think this might be the summer that Jesse’s story gets written. 🙂
I hope you enjoy.
Loads of love
••• ••• ••• ••• •••
She had bracelets up to her elbows and so many beads and charms around her neck it was a wonder her back didn’t stoop. Her jet-black dreads were wrapped up in a white scarf that Jesse imagined was called something way more exotic than ‘scarf’. Something that required R’s that rolled the tongue and a secret knowledge of awesome hairstyles to use correctly.
She sat on a cushion of purple velvet by the Linstreet Park fountain, tarot cards spread out in a fan before her. A pink crystal ball sat by her side, resting on a perch of brass.
But it was her smile that caught Jesse’s attention. A flash of white in that dark face; a welcoming smile that was every bit mischievous as it was benevolent. Before Jesse knew what she was doing, she was making her way through the crowded farmer’s market to the fortune-teller, smoothing the skirt of her navy-blue and white polka-dotted dress. She was suddenly very aware of just how crisp and white her collar was.
“The lady has come to seek her fortune,” the woman said in such an ordinary voice that it took Jesse by surprise. She’d expected some kind of accent–Jamaican, maybe. Then she wondered if that was somehow racist and maybe she should feel badly for expecting it and–
A warm hand landed on hers, grasping gently.
“The lady is distracted. Perhaps she would like to find her focus?”
“Umm.” Jesse frowned. The fortune-teller smiled. “Yeah. I guess.”
“I am Matilda,” the woman said, letting go of Jessie’s hand and folding her own in her lap.
“Jesse,” Jessie said. “Jesse Townsend.”
“And Jesse is short for Jessica?”
Jesse snorted. “If only. But no. My given name is Jesse.” The story had been told and re-told only about a thousand times in Jesse’s life: Jesse’s dad wanted to name his baby after his favorite outlaw–regardless of whether or not said baby was a boy or a girl. Jesse’s mother hated the name (and still did), but acquiesced on the promise that Jesse’s dad would remodel her bathroom.
Myrtle got her bathroom–claw-foot tub and all–and Frank got a daughter named Jesse. Not Jessica.
“Do you have a middle name?”
Jesse ground her teeth. “Yep.” She did. It was almost worse than her first. As if felt compelled to make sure everybody knew what sex she was, her dad had given her a simple middle name:
Jesse Girl Townsend.
Inevitably, Rick Springfield started singing in her head, just like it had for the past decade and a half since her evil older brother had introduced her to the song. She rubbed her ear on her shoulder, trying to make it go away. It didn’t–it always had to play the whole way through.
Deciding that following the impulse to talk to the fortune teller had been a mistake, Jesse grabbed her purse and started to stand up.
“Where are you going?” Matilda asked.
“This…isn’t exactly what I expected,” Jesse answered.
“Life never is. Stay put and give me your hand.”
“No, I don’t think-,”
“Precisely. Don’t think. Just let me look. Free of charge.” There was that smile again –that flash of mirth and mystery.
Reluctantly, Jessie let Matilda see her hand.
“Mmph,” Matilda said.
“What?” Jessie asked.
Matilda raised her eyes, locking them on Jessie’s. “You have a brother?”
“And you are happy? In this moment?”
“Like, right now?”
“This moment in life. Things going well? Job? Love?”
“Yeah, I am.” She didn’t make a lot of money in the little bookstore she managed, but she loved her job and made enough to live. And she was almost certain that this would be the year that her boyfriend would propose. At least, she hoped it would be this year.
“What would you do, if your world fell apart, right now?”
Jessie leaned forward to look at the palm of her hand. “Why? What do you see there?”
“What would you do? Would you find a way to survive? Or would you be a victim?”
“I don’t–, I don’t know. What do you see?”
Matilda narrowed her eyes, and went back to Jesse’s palm. “You are brave. I think you will survive. No, not just survive. I think you will thrive. Are you an impulsive person, would you say?”
Jesse snorted. “No. Not at all.”
“But you came to see me today–did you plan that?”
“No. I never do things like this.”
“I think perhaps you are going to come into a time of forced impulsivity. Whether or not it will serve you well remains to be seen. You should know by the next new moon.”
“Forced impulsivity? What does that even mean?”
Matilda’s smile grew wide. She pressed Jesse’s hand back into her lap. “Go now. Your path is laid before you.”
Jesse dug into her purse in search of cash.
“No,” Matilda smiled. “This one was on the house. Next one won’t be so cheap.”