“What do you mean ‘We won the lottery’? What are you talking about – 1 million dollars?”, Stevie recoiled in horror. This couldn’t be true. It was the worst news her excited husband could have had for her, just returned from her business trip in New Orleans. Their darling son Brandon, at 2 years old in his father’s arms, reached for his mama.
Stevie couldn’t catch her breath. It was a nightmare. Fate, you cruel bitch, she thought, I’m not falling for this trick. She took her son in her arms and hugged him tight. To her confused husband she said, “It’s ok honey, I’ll explain”.
Later at home, Brandon tucked into bed in his own room in their cozy mortgaged bungalow, glass of Merlot in hand, Stevie started:
“I was playing hookey from the conference. It was a beautiful warm day – so wonderful to amble Bourbon street without a coat, not like November here in Winnipeg. Besides, I needed time to think; I didn’t tell you this yet, Bryan, but I had a fantastic job offer while at a workshop meeting. I wasn’t going to consider it at all, not really, because it was in the States and I knew we couldn’t move there with your career here, and us thinking about having another baby. But the offer was real: great salary plus commission and tons of perks. Not to mention how high profile it would be – it could have been the road to stardom for me. But I decided I wouldn’t take it and wasn’t even going to tell you about it.
While daydreaming and enjoying the sights, I stopped in front of an old-fashioned store with a hand- painted sign in the bay window: ‘Tarot Card Reading. Fate Wants to Talk to YOU’. Well, you know my mom used to read cards, right? She didn’t really believe in it, she said, but she could tell a lot from a shuffled deck of ordinary playing cards. She predicted my first job and our move to Winnipeg, remember?”
Bryan interjected, “But she stopped doing that and refuses all requests now. Why did she quit?”
“I don’t really know, but I think she saw something unpleasant or worse about someone close to her. She won’t say. Anyway, I decided, what the hell, I’m in New Orleans, it’s even All Saints Day for extra luck, so why not? Maybe Fate has a message for me.” Stevie laughed uncomfortably. “Can I have another glass of wine, Bryan? Thanks.”
Settled again, Stevie continued,
“The room inside was dim and plain: a narrow counter with a desk bell, a soft upholstered chair in the little waiting area. There was a richly patterned curtain behind the counter, and before I could change my mind, a woman about mom’s age stepped out from behind it. She had a beautiful manicure and reached her creamy latte-coloured hand across the counter for me to shake; well, more like she grabbed my hand and held it while she fixed me with her glittery green eyes and introduced herself as Madame. Just Madame. She had one of those New Orleans accents, saying “MAdam”, like Americans do.
I was starting to feel foolish, but she briskly said that Fate was expecting me, or something equally ridiculous, and that she accepted credit or debit, no cash, and back this way please. So I followed her behind the heavy velvet and sat at a small kitchen table setup. Madame took a deep breath. She asked me why I was there and told me to shuffle the large worn Tarot cards sitting on the table. I told her about the job offer – she nodded and didn’t say much. I shuffled and cut the deck where and when as directed, while she laid them out in a spread that I recognized from my mother’s readings.
‘Fate definitely wants you to know something, something very important.’ Madame said. ‘Fate knows you won’t believe. Fate says you are arrogant, and that you will learn that you can’t have everything. Choose what is the most important, but know that you won’t get it all.’
This was getting a little creepy. I shuffled again, and Madame laid them out again, turning the top card in each pile. ‘I see great amounts of each of these : Fortune, Family, Fame. But you can’t have them all. What is most important?’ she was continuing, ‘Choose wisely or..’, or something, because I was exclaiming, ‘Of course, Family!’, but she continued, ‘Fate says you will find out the hard way’.
It was over and I paid on the way out, Madame already smiling and greeting another woman coming in the door.
Back in the sunshine I decided how right I was to reject the job offer – I wanted Family, not Fortune and Fame. Then I shook my head – I didn’t believe in this stuff.
So now I get home and you say we’ve won a million dollars! It’s Fate playing with me, Bryan, I know it now. We can’t keep the money and risk Family for Fortune!”
But Bryan was laughing now and hugging Stevie, “No problem, babes, we can enjoy the cash – what about Fame? You can always give that up, right?”, he teased.
Stevie knew Bryan wasn’t a believer. She downed the rest of her glass of wine. Of course, she wasn’t a believer either; she was being silly. She relaxed, smiled, “Of course, you’re right. The money is great. Let’s go to bed. Time to plan more family!”
Later, the next year, in their beautiful larger new home, putting her babies to bed, exhausted, Stevie reflected that yes, she’d defied Fate. And Fate had paid her back : A million dollars didn’t go very far raising 4 kids, including new baby triplets.