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10:15 on a Tuesday

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The following is an excerpt from 10:15 on a Tuesday. At the bottom, you can suggest that I complete this novel next by sending me an email!

It was a rare moment on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning that Katherine decided it was an appropriate time to find a reliable psychic. The moment was rare for two reasons: Katherine rarely walked through the back hallway on the first floor of their home anymore – rarely did she dare pass the back office without a real purpose and rarely did she consider this route without convincing herself to walk some other more roundabout route. Second, she had always considered herself a logical individual – at the very least 80 percent logical, 20 percent emotional or some share of that. Katherine was not the sort who saw things that weren’t there, oh no; she saw things that were there and there only. She had been the voice of reason in her marriage; she studied mathematics at Smith College; she was President of the PTA of the Mount Pleasant central school district for eight years.

Certainly not the sort who would seek out a psychic.

But now, as she walked through the back hallway, she thought she saw the slightest shadow over her right shoulder as she glanced at herself in the mirror. It was just the slightest little shadow and Katherine couldn’t be sure what it was – maybe the light hit her at a random angle against the wall, she considered. Or, perhaps her eye simply caught the darker section of the painting on the wall too quickly to register in her mind. The feeling was unsettling, like the moments before a jostled vase falls from its place to the floor.

But, she countered, in the twenty-five years she lived in the old Victorian home on Spruce Street, the light never produced that sort of shadow – could it be what she hoped it was, in the deepest part of her heart; the part of her that sank each night as she slipped into the extreme left side of the oversized King bed in the master bedroom. Over the past year, she had only felt his presence in sort of a half sleep, at some interface between dreaming and waking life. Never while fully conscious; never while walking through a hallway. The moment always brushed over her skin like a warm summer breeze on her cheek, and left her feeling as unsure as the moments before.

She lowered herself to the hardwood floor to calm her nerves and in the chaos of trying to convince herself that she had not seen what she was sure she had seen, missed her 10:15 phone call, the same 10:15 phone call she had every day without ceremony.

The telephone rang once, but Katherine was still asserting thoughts to herself like, It could not possibly be him and Hold yourself together Kate. The telephone rang a second time and pushed itself into her raging, roaming thoughts.

After three rings, Katherine managed to make her way from the back hallway to the kitchen and answer. She was out of breath as she lifted the receiver.

Jaime, whose regular Tuesday had become rare by her mother’s delay in answering, seemed anxious. “What’s wrong mom?” Jaime’s concern matched the reaction of any eighteen year-old who was used to a far more mature set of worries; an eighteen year-old whose flight from the nest was mostly forced — as a rite of passage, rather than choice – to the Western edge of the country to study literature and geology and art history, among other things.

The slightest change in her Tuesday routine seemed to shake both their worlds beyond comfort. “Nothing’s wrong.” Katherine took a seat at the kitchen table and rested her head in her hand.

“Did you forget I was calling?” Jaime asked.

Katherine’s daughters – all out of the house and established in adult routines of their own – had found comfort after the previous year’s chaos in their scheduled phone calls with their mother. They worried, but mostly they worried from across telephone wires and emails and, in many ways, this distance was comforting to Katherine, as if she were shielding them from something a mother should. “I lost track of the time.” She rubbed her temples with the tips of her fingers. “What time is it?”

“10:15.”

“Already?”

“Yup, already. Were you in the middle of something. You’re always free at 10:15…”

It never used to be like this; so routine. At one time, you could have referred to the Blake family as spontaneous. Unstructured, even. “I know. I wasn’t in the middle of something. I just got…distracted. Anyway, how was class this morning?”

Jaime, unable to shake her worry, sounded slightly skeptical. “Fine…”

Their conversation continued in a typical fashion; Jaime, discussing her early morning Women’s History class and her visit to the campus museum the afternoon prior with a male friend named Tyler, or Kyle, she could not recall exactly. Katherine listened nearly as intently as usual, though flashes of the shadow in the back hallway continued to infiltrate each and every word that buzzed through their conversation until she had no choice but to investigate the issue further.

As she whispered a “bye bye, dear” into the receiver and stood to hang up the phone, her head turned toward the back hallway once and did not turn back again.

————————

Celeste peaked out from behind the red velvet curtain as the hum of a SUV engine bounced around the underbelly of the Manhattan Bridge and through the glass windows of her shop on Division Street. The street consisted only of her shop and the dimly-lit bodega the shop was cozied-up to; these two lonely brick buildings sat completely dwarfed by the towering bridge overhead.

It was the kind of place you could miss if you weren’t looking for it, though it was the kind of place for which people rarely looked.

Some weeks, her only visitors were lost drivers looking for the entrance to the bridge or wary pedestrians en route to some bar on the Lower East Side without a sign on the window or a bouncer out front. Very rarely were they looking for their fortunes to be told, although there were times when a rowdy group of party-goers or a wary traveler would enter looking for directions and exit with their futures told and their pasts revealed.

Celeste knew exactly which ones were speeding down the street seeking their fortunes or something else entirely; and knew even more accurately which would leave with their fortunes, or which would simply leave. In her fifteen years as the owner of the Carrier of the Crystal Ball, she had become somewhat of a predictor of her own shop’s outcomes nearly as well as the outcomes of others.

So, when the tall, slender white woman stepped out of a glistening black Mercedes Benz, Celeste took one look at her as she slowly walked through the door and asked with confidence, as her Enya CD began rolling on the surround sound system, “Are you lost, child?”

 

 

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