By Tam Quinn
This tiny nook sandwiched between two slightly less tiny nooks is all that I have ever known. Grandmother tells me that I was born in a great hall in the land beyond the desert, but I know nothing of that.
I asked Grandmother once what it is that we sell in our shop, and she said, “Ah, now that is a question. I suppose it is different for everyone who comes. Some come for truth; some for lies; others for things they already know. Our job is to give them what they need, regardless of what they come here for. And that is why we eat carrot soup for supper instead of roast pheasant, my love.”
Grandmother’s eyes shine turquoise as the Sight whispers the secrets that our customers would, or would not, choose to tell. People come from all over Lind to see her. Travellers come from all over the empire. Most pay with a bunch of turnips, a loaf of bread or a copper coin or two.
Sometimes, Grandmother is tired. “I am getting old, my love,” she tells me, as if I might not have noticed.
“You see my granddaughter tonight,” she tells the customers when they come. “She is learning to use the Sight. Half price.”
“Grandmother, I can’t…” I whisper. “I don’t see anything.”
“You will learn, my love.” She pats my arm and climbs the ladder to the loft where we sleep. “Just give them what they need.”
The traveller I am asked to see, wears a finely embroidered tunic and rings on his fingers. He will pay with copper or even a silver coin if I please him.
“Um… Good fortune will befall…” As always, I make a show of staring intently at his hand, following its lines with my eyes; travelling its roads with no destination in sight. “You will meet a woman…” I trace the deepest furrow, skirting his thumb with my finger, until it stops. Dead.
As my eyes stare intently at all the things I cannot see, the lines begin to glow turquoise. They lead me to the palm; a tiny amphitheatre in the centre of our tiny nook, and then I am speaking softly, describing what I see before me. “At the far end of this very corridor, your bodyguards await your emergence, plotting to meet your throat with cold steel. They touch the shiny new copper in their pockets and talk of the food and drink and company it will buy.”
He stands slowly, the turquoise glow fading. His hand still lies in mine as our two pairs of wide eyes meet.
“Go to your grandmother,” he whispers as his reclaimed hand reaches for his dagger.
When he returns, there is a fine mist of red across the embroidery of his tunic. He empties his purse on the table; a cascade of silver – enough to buy a fancy house. “Thank you,” he says. His hand touches mine once more, for the briefest moment, and then he is gone.