Mine is uh… Incredibly lengthy. I had some serious writer’s block and I think I just wanted to pound out what I could before I got hit with it again. Any feedback is great!
Maybe it was because we were kids. Maybe because it was exciting and fun. Maybe we were just bored. Whatever the reason, when I was thirteen, my friends and I found ourselves in a tiny shop nestled in between much larger buildings. It was out of place, seemed cramped and more than likely would be bought and tore down to fix the aesthetic of the nearby businesses.
But for now, it was a small shop called “Petrovna’s,” which, unsurprisingly, was the name of the psychic that ran it.
Inside smelled of incense sticks. There were at least a dozen salt rock lamps. Strange looking books littered the shelves that lined the walls. I had never been inside a shop owned by a psychic, but I had to say that I was disappointed. It seemed too… Normal. Where were the bones? The obvious witchcraft tools?
Petrovna herself was young, maybe in her early thirties. She was slim, pretty, and had an accent that was pleasing to the ears. The most memorable part of her was the bright, cherry red lipstick she wore. It contrasted well with her dark, chestnut hair.
If she was surprised to see a group of middle schoolers in her shop, she didn’t show it. But, I guess, if she were psychic, she would have seen us coming.
At the time, the group was five of us.
Lauren, the ‘ring leader’ of our group. She and I were friends, but it seemed like she didn’t actually like me too much. Everyone thought I was being paranoid, but something about the way she paid attention to me, like she was waiting for something good enough to genuinely dislike me over.
Cabel, my first boyfriend. He asked me out a week prior to this visit, and we were still in our ‘honeymoon’ phase of dating. Of course, thirteen year olds didn’t really date. It was the though that counted, however.
Rebecca, the quiet, mouse like girl that followed Lauren’s every word and whim as if her life depended on it. She was small, and I think Lauren’s bravado and energy was something she envied.
Todd. There wasn’t much to say about Todd. He was the class clown type, and was just here for Lauren, despite her disinterest in him.
And then there was me.
At the time, moments before we stepped foot in Petrovna’s, I was a regular thirteen year old girl. I had my first boyfriend. I had a group of friends, and I was doing pretty well in life.
However, that all changed shortly after visiting Petrovna’s.
“I guess I’ll go first!” Lauren said proudly. We all knew she was going to go first. That was no surprise. Lauren nestled her way into the chair that was pushed up against a small round table with a pretty silk tablecloth covering it. It was navy blue with stars and moons stitched into it’s fabric. This set up was inching closer to what I imagined a psychic reading to be like.
Petrovna studied Lauren a bit before reaching out with open palms. “Give me your hands.” Lauren wiggled her eyebrows at us, but did as she was told.
The psychic took Lauren’s hands and was quiet for a long time. A little too long, we began to wonder if she’d speak at all. But finally she did, opening her mouth to predict the future of Lauren’s life.
“You’re a leader type,” she began, but that much was obvious. Lauren smirked, a not-so-subtle way of telling us she was right about Petrovna being a fake. Anyone could tell she was the leader type. “But this will get you in trouble later in life.” Lauren’s smirk faded, but Petrovna continued uninterrupted.
“When you think you’ve risen to the top, your biggest competitor will come back with a bang. The things you did to get where you were will come back to haunt you. You may be at the top, but you won’t be for long.”
And with that, Petrovna released Lauren’s hands and gestured for the next kid. It was short, but we really only paid ten dollars so what did we expect? We were kids, we couldn’t afford the fancy stuff. Lauren left the seat with a quizzical face and she was quickly replaced by Rebecca, must to her dismay.
Petrovna didn’t ask for Rebecca’s hands— she just took them. She could tell she was nervous and just took the lead herself. “You’re a very shy girl. You dislike confrontation. But there will come a time when you feel it in your gut to intervene.” Rebecca’s eyes widened as she took in the words Petrovna uttered. “You’ll consider ignoring it. It’d be easier that way. But it won’t be right. I hope you make the right decision.”
So quick Petrovna read off the small cluster of ‘futures’ she saw in each of us. She called each of us out on our personalities, and something that will happen in the future. None of them were necessarily good. It was like she chose a pivotal moment in our lives and offered the way around them.
It was when it was my turn that things took a weird twist.
“Oh.” She mumbled when she took my hands. She looked me dead in the eye for a moment, really gathering her thoughts. “You… You’re cursed.” I blinked. I’m what? “You’re cursed, or, you will be.” She took my hands and flipped them over, studying them hard. “It’s… A boy.” I didn’t see it, but I felt all the eyes in the room glance quickly at Cabel. His own reading said he’d be the initial spark to someone else’s fire, of their downfall. We all wondered now if it’d be mine.
“All the men in your life will be unreliable.” Petrovna continued. “They’ll all let you down. They’ll hurt you in the same way, over and over. But this one will be worse.” I felt a chill, as if the temperature had dropped significantly. “This one will do exactly as he promised. He has his own agenda.”
I couldn’t even focus on Todd’s reading. I don’t even know what she said. I was too focused on my own future. All of the men will fail me? What the hell was that supposed to mean? Cabel tried to comfort me, whispering that he’d never fail me, and definitely wouldn’t be the spark to my turmoil in the future. And of course I knew I shouldn’t believe what a ten dollar reading psychic would tell me.
But the chills in my bones made me think she was right.
As we gathered our things to leave, the fun mood from before when we had first entered the shop, gone. We were all contemplative on our futures. All the negativity she had spoken.
“Little girl,” Petrovna stated, and three of us turned around. Her eyes, however, were on me. “Be wary of your curse.” She muttered, and it seemed as though her eyes had… pity in them? “Because the men in your life may hurt you… But you will hurt them, too.”
It was a lot to think about. I had gotten home that evening and had dinner with my mom. My dad worked late and was rarely around. Maybe she had picked up on this and assumed that meant I felt let down by it? Did I? Did I feel let down that my dad wasn’t around like everyone else’s dad? I just felt it was normal, I never gave it much thought. I didn’t see how I’d go about hurting him though. Surely she was just a kook. A budget psychic that predicts false futures.
I just couldn’t shake the feeling she was right.
And, in the end, I guess she was.
When I came to school the next Monday, the stories of our visit were circulating all over our class. It had even leaked out into other classes. Everyone was talking about our futures. I suspect Lauren had something to do with it, and my suspicions were confirmed at lunch when I walked up to our table and heard her talking.
“… So weird! She was just talking a lot of nonsense. Look, here’s Emery, she’ll tell you. Wasn’t that lady psycho?”
I nodded as I sat down, grabbing my plasticware and busting it from the wrapping. “She said some weird stuff.” I muttered in agreement, but kept my real opinion to myself.
“Totally! She even said Emery would hurt all of the boys in her life.” Lauren scoffed, and I tried not to take offense to it. “Like she even could. Remember when she accidentally tripped Logan in gym and she cried for twenty minutes?” The table laughed, but their laughter faded as I got consumed in my thoughts.
I don’t know why the psychic’s words were haunting me so bad. I just felt like she brought an ominous omen on me. Like she had crafted this future and given it to me herself.
“… 's Cabel?” I heard, and his name made my ears perk up.
“Where’s Cabel? He wasn’t here earlier.” Rebecca asked. I hadn’t even noticed Cabel was gone. I was so caught up in my thoughts I had completely missed my own boyfriend’s absence.
“Maybe Em hurt him with her curse.” Lauren said, wiggling her fingers. The table laughed again and I smiled, but didn’t really get involved in the conversation. They made jokes like this all day, talking about how I was cursed and all the boys would suffer because of me.
But when Cabel didn’t show up the next day either, all the jokes subsided. “Did he call you last night?” Todd asked me, knowing Cabel and I talked regularly.
I shook my head. “I called his house yesterday but no one answered. I left a voicemail saying we missed him and hoped to see him soon.” Everyone nodded at my answer, but we moved on again.
Cabel came back the third day.
All eyes were on him as he walked down the hall into our classroom. Our group was already huddled together around Lauren’s desk, and she was the first to see him.
“Cabel!” She shouted, startling me into turning around.
All of us gasped, almost simultaneously.
Cabel had a bright blue cast on his arm. He had a semi sheepish grin, I guess embarrassed by the attention.
Lauren rushed to his side first, gingerly touching it. “What happened to YOU?” She asked, looking his arm over well. I quickly joined her, and basically the entire rest of the class around him as he spoke.
“I was riding my bike with my brother and a car hit me. It was pretty cool. Hurt real bad but it was still super badass. I felt like I was in an action movie.”
Knowing he was okay eased everyone’s tension.
Except for mine.
I may have just been paranoid, but it felt like Cabel was avoiding me. He’d talk to everyone but never me privately. I’d ask a question and he’d announce his answer out-loud for everyone to hear. Like he was trying to make it seem like it wasn’t just us talking.
My paranoia got the best of me after school and I cornered him alone. “Cabel? Can we talk? Are you okay?”
Cabel shifted uncomfortably. “Yeah, Em, I told you. It was just a little accident.”
“I just meant… You don’t seem to want to talk to me. Did I do something?” I asked, my fingers nervously twiddling.
“I don’t know, did you?” He muttered under his breath, but I heard him. My body stiffened and my blood ran cold.
“What?” I asked.
He raked his good hand’s fingers through his hair. “Nothing, never mind, forget it. I gotta go, Em. I’ll talk to you later.”
But he didn’t.
When I got to school the next morning, there was a note in my locker from him.
I want to break up. This isn’t really working out.
I took it pretty hard despite dating for less than a month. It was my first boyfriend and he broke up with me over a note. I went to class hoping to talk to the girls about it, but it seemed Cabel had beaten me to telling them.
When I walked into the classroom, all conversation came to an abrupt halt.
It was silence and stares that greeted me.
“Uh, morning?” I mumbled, feeling very awkward under such scrutiny. No one replied so I just walked to my desk. When I moved, a few whispers broke out. I couldn’t really understand them, but I could tell it was about me. Cabel must have told them he broke up with me. Kids are so annoying with the rumor mill.
I nudged Rebecca’s desk with my foot to get her attention. She sat across from me in the next isle. “Cabel wastes no time telling people how he dumped me, huh?” I asked, trying to stay joking. Rebecca met my eyes briefly but looked away. “Hey, what’s wrong?” I asked, worried something had happened to her.
She didn’t answer, but Lauren did. “Don’t talk to her,” she stated, standing and walking in front of my desk. Her hands were crossed over her chest. She looked like an angry hall monitor.
“What? Why?” I hadn’t been more confused in my life.
Lauren rolled her eyes. “Look what you did to Cabel.” I glanced over at him, but he wouldn’t meet my eyes either. In fact, no one would. No one but apparently Lauren. “That psychic said you were cursed and you were right. Don’t talk to us again. We don’t want another accident because of you.”
With that, she turned and walked away. I tried several times to talk to them, to talk to anyone. To plea my case or at least get my damn opinion out there. But no one would talk to me. Queen Lauren had spoken. I was cast to the side as a liability.
The days of being ignored and talked about turned into weeks that turned into months. I eventually stopped trying to fix things. It was clear no one wanted to be seen with me, else they’ll face Lauren’s wrath.
I bitterly thought of her reading. Didn’t Petrovna say Lauren would be at the top once her biggest competitor had been taken down? I guess the reading was about me, and I was right about her after all.
We moved up to high school a couple of years later, but nothing had changed. In such a small city, we all knew each other from primary. Everyone in my class had spread the “Emery is cursed” rumor to the other classes and now we all went to high school together. I was still ignored. Even the upperclassmen ignored me, but they generally seemed to ignore the younger students.
The only people that paid attention to me were boys.
At first, I thought my luck was changing. I got called out on my way walking outside to wait for my bus by a boy a year older than me. He explained he saw me in the halls from time to time and wanted to ask me out. I had found it strange that I never saw him, but I was just so excited someone was paying attention to me, I agreed.
It was less than a week later that he came to school with crutches and a sprained ankle. He broke up with me the same day. “Guess the curse was real, huh?” I heard him saying to his friends in the hall as I walked off. I could hear them laugh even as I turned the corner.
The next one didn’t even make it three days before he text me we were through. He caught pneumonia. That was somehow my fault.
Over and over this happened. Random boys would hear about the curse and think it would he fun to see if it was true.
The truth was this: They asked me out to see if I’d be easy and sleep with them. I never did. It took less time each time for them to make up an injury or illness to have a good enough excuse to leave me and further the rumor that Emery was cursed.
I over heard someone talking about it. There were bets going on. I was actively ignored unless some good looking asshole decided he’d be the one to crack me. I don’t know why I agreed every time. I just wanted the reassurance I even existed. I was ignored so often it felt like I was even ignored at home. Even if these guys were just trying to sleep with me for a bet, the attention was so nice it made me think maybe this one will be different.
And every time I was disappointed.
It wasn’t until I met Anthony that the curse really began.