Ruby waited by the railings, her heart a bobbing balloon inflated with the scent of sizzling onions and candy floss, beating to the fairground music. She had been looking forward to meeting her friends at the fair. There would be no holding back from the big rides. She was going to try them all.
Ruby had been waiting fifteen minutes and felt like an outsider, watching the rest of the world fly by screaming and laughing. A couple of shaven-headed operators eyed her up as she hugged the fence.
She spotted a sign for a fortune teller outside a dingy caravan opposite the Waltzer. Ruby glanced around for her friends and then approached the open door, where a raven-haired woman sat. She wore dangling gold hoops, a glittering ring on every finger, and a stereotypical long skirt and fringed shawl. But her voice was unusual, with no accent, speaking rather precise, well-educated Standard English, reminding Ruby of her drama teacher.
“Cross my palm with silver for a simple secret.”
“How long will a quick reading take?” Ruby asked.
“It depends on what you want to know. The fastest I can do is tell you that your friends won’t be coming. It’ll take a couple of minutes to show you why.”
Ruby’s heart deflated. She didn’t feel like exploring the fair on her own.
“Come on in,” the fortune teller whispered.
Inside, the caravan smelled of burning incense. There were silk and velvet floor cushions, and flickering candles. To one side was a round table covered with a burgundy cloth on which stood a magnificent, sparkling crystal ball. Ruby had never seen a real one before, only in stories or on the television.
“As it’s your first time, this reading is on me. Sit down and look into the crystal.”
Ruby stared. She expected a swirling mist, not the colour that filled the globe like red ink.
“It’s my heart,” she said.
“Yes,” said the fortune teller. “It stopped beating. You were so excited about the fair that when you saw your friends on the other side of the road you forgot to look before crossing. Now you must stay here forever.”
Kim M. Russell, 11th November 2020
Magaly is back with a ginormous smile and a visual prompt for new poetry or prose. Our inspiration is one (or all) of paintings, with additional quotations to help us along. Magaly would like us to indicate which painting(s) and/or quote(s) inspired our contributions. I chose ‘Carnival Dreams’ by Shelle Kennedy and the quotation from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”