I watch the rich red curtains fall gently behind my next visitor. A soft-spoken lady with a face like a mouse, sharp and shifty-eyed, she steps forward hesitantly.
I wait, drawing the sense of the mystical around me, important, this is, for both her and for me, we wouldn’t want to ruin the performance, would we?
She takes a sharp breath to begin stammering whichever variation on “what do I do now?” they all seem to ask, and I interrupt, my voice soft but clear.
“Take a seat.”
The sound rings out in the tent, but does not echo. I gaze at her as she jumps slightly and then does as I have suggested.
I pause, waiting for the right moment.
A moment that comes slightly later than it would in a normal conversation.
A moment that becomes heavy with importance.
A moment that brings itself forth from the thick, red-tinged incense smoke.
“You have come with a question.” The moment states. I am not asking, but she nods in reply.
“Then we shall begin.”
The question is spoken hesitantly into the gloom and the cards turn inevitably over. They speak of people and places, of limitations she has placed upon herself, dreams she has given up. The story is old, very few come to me with a story that is vastly different, for those that follow their dreams need not ask me what they are.
Her face clouds with uncertainty, how can I know with such clarity things she barely understands about herself? It is easy, but I do not tell her this. The cards, they speak to me, they have spoken to me so long I can barely remember a time when I struggled to understand them. They open my mind to the web of dreams and destinies that entwine us all, and show me, through a raft of images, where to look for this particular story, this particular fate.
She leaves, her dream revealed, a door recognised, a key received. I do not expect her to truly walk through it, although that is not unknown. Often it is enough for people to know that their dreams are still there.
After she is gone I gently blow the candles out with a kiss, return my friends to their cotton cloth – a gift from a friend and more valuable than any silk recommended by a well-meaning author – and I wrap my shawl around my shoulders to leave.
I slip out the back of my tent and walk home smiling, the cool night air coming in on the tail of the day and gracing my lungs with fresh clarity.
As I walk I remember my dreams and sing to the slowly revealed stars, rehearsing for the gig coming that night.