Standing alone Maddie watched the myriad of faces in the crowd hoping to spot her friends. Maddie sighed and looked at her phone and began to text. Where are you guys? I’m here at the Ferris wheel. Maddie had agreed with her friends, Angie and Liz, to meet at the Solstice Fair next to the ferris wheel at 9.00 pm and it was now 20 past. Maddie could feel a headache starting, her neck ached and she was getting tired of waiting. “Five more minutes then I’m leaving,” she whispered to herself. When she looked towards the crowd of people passing by yet again, she noticed a woman standing in the doorway of an old tattered tent beckoning to her only a few feet away.
“Come, I have something to tell you. The spirits have a message,” the woman called in a thick European accent. Maddie frowned; she couldn’t recall seeing the woman or her fortune teller’s tent a moment ago. With a mix of intrigue and trepidation Maddie walked towards the tent. She’d never been to a fortune teller before and wasn’t even sure if she believed in any of that psychic stuff. The fortune teller was probably going to tell her she’ll get married, have 2 kids and live happily ever after. But she was curious; anyway why waste the night waiting around for friends that hadn’t shown up.
“Welcome, I am Madame Delamort,” the fortune teller held open the flap of the tent and Maddie entered. In the middle of the tent she could see a small round wooden table, and two simple wooden chairs. A crystal ball sat on the table. Maddie rolled her eyes. “Of course, what is a fortune teller without a crystal ball,” she thought to herself. Lamps of coloured glass illuminated the inside of the tent. The smell of incense and candle wax filled her nostrils. Madam Delamort indicated for Maddie to take a seat. Maddie sat down and began rummaging through her handbag for her purse, “Um how much? I’ve never done this before,” she said a little flustered. Madam Delamort smiled and sat down. “Nothing,” she responded, “The spirits seek to speak to you, and I am but their servant and messenger.”
“Okay,” Maddie responded slowly wondering what she’d gotten herself into. “This Madame Delamort really takes this stuff seriously,” she thought to herself as she rubbed the ache in her neck. A tiny cabinet sat just to the right of Madame Delamort and on it was a small burner and kettle. “First, let’s have some tea to relax, Madeleine.”
“How did…?” surprised Maddie could barely finish the sentence
“The spirits, my dear. They talk and I listen.”
Maddie sat in silence wondering if what the woman had said was the truth. Madam Delamort produced two cups and saucers from the cabinet and placed them on the table, followed by a blue rectangular tin and a teapot that matched the cups. She placed two heaped spoonfuls of dried leaves from the tin into the teapot then grabbed the kettle. A rich aroma of spice and flowers arose from the teapot as Madam Delamort poured the boiling water.
“What sort of tea is it?” asked Maddie.
“Just a blend of my own. Herbs, some lavender, all homegrown of course. Completely natural.”
With the warmth of the tent and the wonderful smelling tea, Maddie found herself relaxing, quite content to enjoy the experience of seeing a fortune teller. She felt like any stress or worries she had were vanishing. Although, she just wished the darn pain in her neck would go away.
Maddie studied Madame Delamort’s face. She was neither young nor old but somewhere in between. Long dark lashes framed her deep brown eyes. Brown eyes that seemed so sad despite the warm and inviting smile that danced on Madam Delamort’s lips. Embarrassed, Maddie turned her gaze to her cup and rubbed her neck, noticing that Madam Delamort was also staring back at her. The cup Madam Delamort had given her was almost identical to the ones her grandmother used when Maddie was little. Thin bone china with delicate flowers of red and pink trimming the outer-rim, and a thin curled handle that Maddie was always fearful would break when touched. Delicately, she picked up the cup and took a small sip of tea. It was surprisingly good, and Maddie took a larger mouthful.
“Doris Madeleine Shaw,” announced Madam Delamort.
Taken aback coughing and spluttering her mouthful of tea, “My grandmother.”
“She’s here with us tonight.”
“What? How?” Maddie was shocked and confused. She looked around the room. It was not possible. Doris Madeleine Shaw, her maternal grandmother. The woman who raised her because her own mother’s career came before anything else; the sweet and loving Doris whom she was named after, was here?
Madam Delamort nodded, “She’s always been with you, Madeleine.”
A vaguely familiar scent wafted through the air, Maddie could no longer smell the incense or the tea. She knew the scent, it was so familiar, so comforting. Elizabeth Arden Red, her grandmother’s perfume. Tears began to well in Maddie’s eyes. Madam Delamort gently patted Maddie’s hand and she looked at the fortune teller.
“I never left your side, Maddie,” Maddie pulled back her hand, the woman’s voice was not her own but the voice of Doris Madeleine Shaw. It wasn’t possible. “Grandmama?” she whispered.
“I was there when your mother dragged you all over Europe for her career. When you ran away in Vienna, I was there.” Maddie felt her head begin to swim; this was not happening. “When you graduated university last summer, I watched you walk the stage and give your speech. I am so proud of you, my sweetheart.”
Tears streamed down Maddie’s face as she listened. “I wish I could see you, Grandmama. I miss you so much.” she whispered. Maddie closed her eyes and could almost feel the warm embrace of Doris holding her like she did when she was little. “That boy with the motorcycle.” Maddie’s eyes sprung open, this time she was sure the voice came from beside her. She stared hard at Madam Delamort sitting across the table with those sad brown eyes looking back. There was something behind her, cloud-like, soft and ethereal. As Maddie continued to stare at it, she was sure she could see a figure, slender, a floral skirt and apron. Her hand flew to her mouth, it couldn’t be that she could see her? There has to be something in this tea.
Maddie’s head began to spin faster and her stomach lurched like a stormy ocean. Her neck was throbbing. What was happening? She looked at Madam Delamort staring at her with her sad brown eyes. “What’s really in this tea?” Maddie demanded. Madam Delamort said nothing. Maddie looked at her cup, it was empty. She couldn’t remember drinking it all. “You’ve drugged …” her words trailed off as she realised the small pile of tea leaves began to form the shape of a motorcycle. She squeezed her eyes shut to fight off the wave of nausea washing over her, “I have to get out of here.”
She pushed herself up and away from the table, her head swimming. Maddie took a deep breath and found her legs were shaky as she stumbled to the tent entrance. Maddie threw open the tent flap, and time seemed to stop. The throbbing in her neck stopped.
She was no longer at the fair. She stared into the night illuminated with red and blue lights. Maddie froze, not comprehending the scene before her. “Maddie. Maddie. That’s Maddie.” A scream came from behind her, awakening her from her stupor. Maddie turned and saw her friend Liz being held back by a police officer. Liz was reaching out past the officer, trying to get to … Maddie looked in that direction. A crumpled and crushed motorcycle laid under a large 4x4 ute. It was Josh’s bike. The wonderful and adventurous Josh who had proposed to her just weeks afters graduation. Panicked, she rushed to the ute, “Oh, my god, where’s Josh? Josh, Josh.” She looked frantically around. Why wasn’t anyone helping her? Maddie stood for a moment and surveyed the scene, it dawned on her that it was like no one saw her. Confused, she couldn’t understand.
Then she saw it. Her own body lay crumpled in the grass, her head sitting at an odd angle. A feeling of dread rose up from her stomach, like a monster reaching out to choke her. It wasn’t possible, she can’t be. Maddie wanted to scream and yell, make someone notice her. She wanted someone to tell her that this was all a horrible joke or a horrible dream that she would wake up from.
Maddie didn’t know how long she stood staring at her own lifeless body, but as suddenly as the denial and fear overtook her, it stopped and was replaced with numbness. She turned to the people gathered at the scene of the accident. Liz and Angie held each other sobbing. Police officers held the onlookers back, one officer was taking a statement from the driver of the vehicle and paramedics were attending to Josh and his injuries. “Thank god,” Maddie thought, “Josh is all right.” She looked once more at her two friends and then back to her body. A single tear rolled down her cheek. There was still so much she had wanted to do. Slowly, Maddie felt a soft-warmth in her hand as if someone was holding it. She turned and there standing beside her was Doris. No words were spoken between the reunited grandmother and granddaughter, but Maddie knew everything was going to be alright.