Leavings – Amanda Marie Aardse
The door let out a pleasant chirp as they entered, a twirl of giggles and unbrushed hair, swirling together like soft serve. Reaching up with a muffled laugh to detangle her strawberry blonde from Rebecca’s brazen coal, she thought this must be a metaphor for their friendship: messy, beautiful, and undeniably intertwined. She hoped for the last one most of all.
The bell brought a wisp of a woman in loose fitting clothing, brushing back great swooping curls of brown interspersed with grey. She entered through a beaded curtain with practiced sweep of hand, black lacquered nails flashing in the candlelight. Everything about her, from the sweet smell of patchouli, to the way she moved, painted the room with broad strokes of comfort. Despite being well into her twenties, Adelaide suddenly realized this was what she wanted to be when she grew up.
While Rebecca barely cast the stranger more than a small smile, Adelaide couldn’t seem to keep her eyes off of her. Spellbound, she watched as the woman moved easily around the trinket-lined room to set a black cast iron kettle down on the small table in the centre.
“You came for a reading, yes?”
Blinking, Adelaide startled, as if the words broke whatever had held her captive. Had she known?
No, that was silly. What else would they be there for? She nodded once, watching as the woman arranged first one teacup, then another. They held hairline cracks, little lines her future
might take. Rebecca drew herself away from the wall, holding up a single hand.
“Not for me,” she said, a hint of apology on her tongue, “I’d rather not know what my future holds.”
The woman raised her shoulders in a shrug as she collected up the second placement, unbothered. “To each their own,” she conceded while gesturing to the chair before her. Her eyes were for Adelaide only. “Please, sit.”
Rebecca raised both eyebrows at her friend, flashing her a smile before resuming her perusal of the room. The look spoke volumes in the way only long friendships could. She lifted a weighty piece of amethyst, holding it up to her face to examine more closely.
Adelaide gave a nervous upturn of lip as she settled into the offered chair. The woman leaned forward, lifting the heavy pot to pour into the cup. Adelaide wrapped her hands around it instinctually, leaning forward to breathe in the thick cloud of steam that wafted around her like a cloak, enveloping her in warmth.
It smelled like winter nights, like the safety of home, like a gentle embrace. Straightening, she blinked away embarrassment as it rouged its way across her cheeks.
The woman smiled fondly, adjusted her shawl about her shoulders, and poured herself a cup as well. As if she’d seen this all before. She brought it to her lips, blew gently, and took a long sip.
Copying the motions, Adelaide drank the bitterness down with a grimace. The future was a funny thing, something slippery she couldn’t help but want to have between her palms. Having it told to her was more reassuring than forging it herself. Creation was always a frightening experience.
Rebecca was still touching things that didn’t belong to her – she always had to be doing something, a perpetual movement machine. Her fingers would be all over this shop, grazing each
and every object as if that were how she learned, by osmosis. That kinesthetic energy was distracting, engaging. She’d make a terrible criminal, prints found in a hundred different places. The thought brought a smile to her lips that she hid it in her cup, taking another sip.
She wondered what that felt like, to be touched by grazing hands.
The woman finished her tea, and Adelaide hurriedly gulped down her final swallow. She watched as the woman held the teacup handle between forefinger and thumb of her right hand to demonstrate. She caught Adelaide’s eye, swirled the cup three times, then upended it on her saucer.
Adelaide studied the movements and carefully recreated them, letting the remaining liquid dredge out. This was it, there it was: here was her future in so much sludge. Her delicate hands covered the underside of the porcelain like a small child making a cage for a butterfly, knowing it breakable but not quite understanding the devastating results of touch. Her throat felt dry despite the drink.
As she righted the cup, she sensed more than felt as Rebecca bent over her right shoulder. Ebony hair swept into her face, bringing with it the smooth lavender scent of her soap. Breathing in deep, Adelaide closed her eyes as they leaned in, examining the wet tea leaves. Rebecca tilted her head to the side, her lips forming the small twist they made when she was deep in thought.
Adelaide knew her forehead would be creased, tiny lines caught between her brow. It was always so hard not to reach out, to smooth them.
“What do you see?” Rebecca asked, curiosity getting the better of her.
You, thought Adelaide, you, you, you. It was a wish. It was a hope. It was a prayer.
Amanda Marie Aardse lives in Waterloo, Ontario with her husband, toddler, and pleasantly round cat, where she is the third generation in her family’s custom woodworking business. She has spent her days riddled with nail biting anxiety and has nothing but a beautiful life to show for it.