To See

By H TOMLIN | Published: March 21, 2010

I am a Fortune-teller, a Soothsayer, a Prophet. I discovered this at thirteen.

I stood in the shadow of a large man on a green lawn in Sacramento. He was an Oracle too. Another man stood there, thin, with black curly hair and a mustache. It had been years, my entire life in fact, since these two men had met.

This Seer had been ill. He could not bear to be with people. This is the difficulty with visions, knowing, it makes being with people painful. In this case the pain turned into a crippling fear. The fear grew into constant worry, dread of the futures he could see. Most days it was impossible for him to leave the house. And it was always too difficult for him to look a person in the eye.

The medicine helped. He couldn’t be on the grass now, with another person, if it hadn't been for the pills. They helped soften the fear, numb the visions.

The men stared into the green. They did not look at each other while they spoke. The thin man was answering a question. Said he was doing very well for himself. That he had his most profitable year to date. That his children were growing, doing well in school, accomplishing all that was expected of good children. That his life was wonderful.

I could hear all of this through the large man’s ears. I could feel the tension. The illness that permeated throughout his vascular system, because of what he saw, what he knew. Every bone and muscle screamed out inside of him to run away. But he stood there. Anchored to the lawn, an established Oak. Listening. Making conversation.

In that moment I discovered my ability. I saw the thin man loose everything. His business would fail. His wife would kick him out. His children would change, become angry and lost, that they would hate him. I knew, as though it had already occurred, that his hope, his confidence, everything he was proud of, it would all vanish. He would be very sad and it would be coming soon. There was a storm on the horizon and I could read the signs. I knew what was coming. This was my first oracle.

Soon after that vision I was told that the thin man did loose everything. For a while he was living out of his truck, got pneumonia, it was winter. His oldest son tried to open his wrists and let the life flow out of him. The wife and work and house… gone. The mountain crumbled. Within the year that man stood alone and poor.

I stood in the distance on a hill and watched the disaster fall on the city. The apocalypse. With no power to make it different. It was as immovable as the sun. The turning of days.

At twenty I met another Oracle. She recognized me as soon as she held my shoulder and looked into my eyes. She had been reading palms and telling fortunes in a coffee shop in Chico.

The group I was with was there to pass out hot coco to homeless kids and college students walking home from the bars. The café was a haven after a night full of shivering while listening to strangers. And here was this woman with dark mascara and red lips, a Diviner. She would touch an arm, a hand, a shoulder and read the soul. She could see each person’s present self as well as the destiny.

She spoke out the secret conversations, the whispered fears, the struggles. I could confirm the accuracy of her ability, as I watched, these were people I knew. She laid the present and future across the table like a cloth. Ready to eat.

I waited for her to come to me, eager to know my self. And when, at last, she came to my place in line, she lost her language. She stopped speaking English and began muttering. I could not make sense of it, the desperate look in her face told me neither could she. Water poured out of her eyes and she could not stand, we both shook as though an earthquake moved us. We sat in chairs at a table near the cups of steaming liquid. Rattling of ceramic and metals until the tremors subsided.

“Are you the prophet?” Over and over and over she asked me through the muttering in unknown words. We both cried and shook and did not understand.

It is only now, after many years, that I am beginning to grasp what happened. I was the Harbinger she did not expect. My future shook us both.

I made the mistake of falling in love with another Seer once. An Oracle in Portland. His apartment was on the top floor of a cheap apartment building, smelling of old carpet, Chinese food, and smoke stained surfaces. He was tall and thin and I discovered my beast-self with him.

This is what happens when two Oracles get too close. One becomes mystic and the other carnal. It is the only balance to be had. He drained me of my intelligence and I could never have enough of his body. We were sucking the life out of the other and hardly knew what was happening.

He’d smoke on the roof of the building and look out into the future. He would also hurt me.

And I would pace, hungry, always hungry. I lost my mind being that close to another. It could not last.

Now I know, I understand.

Two Harbingers can never be lovers; the world does not have room. Butterflies would fall to the pavement when we passed, people would fight, wood would ignite and turn to ash, the sun hid behind black clouds.

Eventually it was his sight, his visions, that ended it between us (which is only fair).
He told me I would find another. That he would be happy for me. He saw this, he saw my future and that it did not include him.

I thought it was a lie. I simply did not understand. I thought it was a dark side of him, a side that longed to cause me pain.

But it wasn’t that, he was the moon. He could not control what he reflected. Could not control the image I saw. Sometimes he was fully light, other times a mere sliver, mostly invisible. I had thought it was darkness, but now I realize that we were both dark. Only the sun could choose when to illuminate us.

Two heavenly bodies cannot occupy the same space. We needed more distance between us. Even in different states, always the Soothsayer pulled the ocean inside of me. The gravity was too much. We needed more distance. Always I cried with him, the salt water heaving, a force I could not control, unable to withstand the pull.

I had to get away.

Within the month after his prophesy I met another man, within a year we were married. This man is not a Fortune-teller. I rarely cry. And I am a full self, not the wild beast-self I had become. I changed back. Found my self again.

I do not tell people my visions. I keep the oracles inside. I did not tell the thin man what I saw. I often wonder whether the telling would have saved him.

What I have seen is that the future is not in one person’s hands. Knowing would have little power. If I had told him the vision and he had fought, it still could not have changed what would occur. Other events, other people, the world itself in grand conspiracy had more control than that one thin man ever had over his own life. The vision came when it was already too late.

Only once have I seen my own future.

There was a boy who delivered pizzas and always tried to kiss me, I would wiggle out of his hands and blush. Every month for five years he had me cut his hair with buzz clippers in my parent’s garage. I watched him grow and change. He loved me and I loved him. The vision came when I gave him a hug, after he grabbed some quarters for me out of his car’s ashtray. I was going to a Laundromat and knew he’d have change. I put my arms around his broad shoulders and saw. I lost my breath.

Then the ocean moved and I cried into his t-shirt, whispered in his ear “stay safe”. But I knew.

Two weeks later his heart stopped. His fiancé screamed at him from the passenger seat to wake up. He was already gone.

It is a curse. I know the loss before it is real. I know the sorrow. And it is not a message that is well received. It is the telling of a death, one's own death. I am the reaper who comes and says your life is lost, are you ready? No one is ready. I was not.

I am the Siren who calls to the sailors. They listen, but still their ship finds the rocks, the water overtakes them, the ship is lost. Their women on the land curse me, moan and wail and ask me why. But the men would drown, they will always drown, they must drown. My voice did not drag their ships beneath the sea. But it is me that they blame. The one who could see.

I hated the Oracle who told me my future, the Seer I made the mistake of getting too close to. Anger heated my bones when his words reached my ears. I refused to believe that he too was a Diviner and knew what would come to pass. I mistook him for a boy, merely a scared boy trying to push me away.

But, I am older now. I have seen my own future for myself. I knew I would loose the boy. I saw his heart stop. Felt the inability to make it change. No man could have kept his own heart beating. The inevitability of the vision has changed my understanding.

So, I forgive the Soothsayer. I will never be that brave.

I will also never tell another soul what I see.

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