Eva readjusted the beret that refused to sit right on her head. That’s what she got when she went for style over function, and she was notorious for that. Just ask my girlfriend.
No, not Kathryn, who had the position of best friend instead. It was Kathryn’s idea that they come to the weekend farmer’s market, because she wanted to oversee the booths two of her charities were manning for the entire month of October. Specifically, she was obsessed with making sure everyone was positioned perfectly and offering the games she single-handedly came up with. Not with Eva’s help at all. Nope.
Eva had never been to a “farmer’s market” before. She assumed it meant those roadside stands she saw in movies – but never in real life. That implied she ever looked out the window when her family’s driver had to take a shortcut down a rural highway. By that point, young Ms. Warren was either curled up asleep or engrossed in a film.
Turned out that these markets were mostly an excuse for the lower classes to assemble rickety tents and sell their humble wares. There was more than farm produce and grass-fed beef, though. Craftsmen sold birdhouses and beaded jewelry. Talented artists offered portraits on the spot and pieces of their own artwork that was way underpriced. Kids had their faces painted on the northside of the lot and were fed sugary cotton candy and caramel apples on the southside. Since it was October, the Halloween harvest theme was driven into the freezing ground. If Eva saw one more cheap costume stall or a jack-o-lantern carving station, she would keel over in boredom.
It didn’t help that the sun was always in her blasted eyes. Could she readjust her beret even more? Why weren’t her Gucci sunglasses doing jack-o-lantern-shit to keep her from being blinded?
“Good! Excellent!” Kathryn’s praise cut through the chilly air and smacked Eva on the cheek. She turned her head to see her best friend, in a pair of faded jeans and a worn-out sweatshirt, give a nod of approval to the volunteers manning the table for Greener Pastures, the no-kill pet sanctuary Kathryn started a year ago. Next to them was the table for New Hope: The Pregnancy Center For Young Teenage Women. It was no accident that cat-lover Jasmine Bliss was peddling pet stories while young, teenage-looking debutante Daphne DeMarco implored people to volunteer at and donate to the counseling and medical center dedicated to young women in trouble. Does everyone walking by think she’s one of the pregnant teens? Eva hoped so. She needed a good laugh, especially if it had to do with DeMarco’s little (if a girl in her early twenties could be called little) girl.
When Kathryn was finally satisfied with how things were, she rejoined Eva by the water station.
“Can we go now?” Eva muttered. “This place is giving me the creeps.” She wanted a spa day, if there was still time for it. “You dressed like that isn’t helping.”
“And you look like you walked straight out of Vogue’s winter collection, but whatever.” Kathryn picked lint off her sweatshirt. A simple passerby would never guess that she was one of the richest heiresses in New England. Compared to her, Eva looked richer in her fitted white sweater, studded leather belt, and designer jeans that barely had a crease in them. Her trendy velvet boots were handmade. In Italy. Because why wouldn’t they be?
“Let’s grab some caramel corn and…” Eva didn’t take one step forward before she saw it. The most beautiful stall to cross her path at the weekend farmer’s market. “Holy shit. We gotta do it.”
Kathryn groaned. “You wanna talk about a waste of money? There it is.”
But Eva was already engrossed in what the local fortune teller had to offer. “Come on, Kat! The point isn’t to get an accurate reading! It’s pure entertainment!”
Nobody sighed like Kathryn Alison did whenever exasperated with her best friend. “I don’t get you. Are you sure you don’t just wanna torture me?”
“You did drag me here. You owe me one.”
“Oh, boy. Can’t wait for this.”
The middle-aged woman in her Esmerelda costume shoved her half-cold yakisoba from the nearby food truck beneath her table when such two finely dressed – well, at least Eva was – young women approached. Kathryn muttered that a full-service reading at twenty bucks was still a ripoff, but got out her wallet anyway.
“Greetings! I’m Lady Jane.” Cheap bangles clanked against the card table between the fortune teller and Eva, who sat down in one of the metal folding chairs with gusto. Kathryn was slow to follow. “Who are you two lovely young ladies, and what can I do for you?”
“Shouldn’t you already know our names?” Kathryn mumbled.
“I’m a fortune teller, miss, not a psychic. Different skillset.”
Eva saw the stack of tarot cards and said, “We both want a quick reading, if you can spare the time for us. My friend is especially excited. You can’t tell, because she’s usually such a sourpuss, but she’s dying to go first.”
Kathryn relented a twenty-dollar bill. The fortune teller placed it in her box and asked for Kathryn’s hand. She went for a simple palm reading, while Eva couldn’t wait to see what the tarot deck thought about her life.
Nobody was less impressed than Kathryn, who glared at her best friend while Lady Jane pored over the four prominent lines criss-crossing her client’s palm.
“A very excellent long life awaits you!” Lady Jane grinned as if Kathryn were so lucky. Inside, Eva’s friend was probably thinking, “Of course I’ll live a long time! I have a billion dollars and no debilitating illnesses on either side of my family. Why wouldn’t I live long?” “Your life line indicates that you can expect to live to at least eighty, barring any freak accidents.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“You’re a strong-willed woman who likes to work hard, aren’t you?” Lady Jane didn’t bother to catch Kathryn’s reaction. “You will probably live so long because you are the type to always keep your mind occupied and your days filled with purpose. Those are two very important ingredients to a long and healthy life.”
“What about the line that tells you how many kids she’s going to have?”
Kathryn glared at her friend. Yes, this was Eva’s ulterior motive. The last time a fortune teller was invited into her home, Eva’s sister-in-law Monica wanted the whole works. Job, family… and her destiny as a mother. She had been satisfied to hear that she would only have one child, but that daughter would go on to start a great legacy for the Warren family. She never shared what the fortune teller said about her marriage or her career. Too personal, Eva supposed.
Whatever! She just wanted to make Kathryn the childfree wonder squirm!
“Yes, that’s here too.” Lady Jane turned Kathryn’s hand around and peered into the deep crevices of her Swedish-pale skin.
“What’s taking her so long?” Kathryn muttered.
“I must count the number of children in your future.”
“Oh, my God.” Kathryn almost yanked her hand away. “Don’t even.”
“Four… five? Yes, five.” Lady Jane sat back, satisfied. “I see five children in your future. All very healthy!”
Kathryn lost all color in her face. Eva, on the other hand, suppressed the laughter threatening to burst from her gut. Five fucking kids! Oh my God! I can’t even imagine! Kathryn was thirty. She better get to work with her boyfriend if she was going to pump those babies out. Hm. Maybe some twins were in her future?
She couldn’t help it – Eva had to laugh.
“Shut up!” Both of Kathryn’s fists were in her lap while the fortune teller looked on in amusement. “You know I’m not having even one kid, let alone five!”
“Just imagining you with five babies… oh my God! Those poor kids!”
“It could be metaphorical,” the fortune teller sheepishly said. “Perhaps they are very important pets that live a long time and mean a lot to you. You help the charities, don’t you? Maybe there are five that will be your eternal legacy.”
“Just… I’m done.” Kathryn, flushed red in embarrassment, leaped out of her folding chair and walked off the anger boiling up in her face. “I’m not having babies.”
“Right, right.” Eva pulled out her money and offered the amount for a tarot card reading. “My turn! I wanna know how many kids I’m having.”
Unlike Kathryn, Eva was not so averse to parenthood that she refused to entertain the thought. It helped that she wouldn’t be the one carrying and birthing babies. She and girlfriend Nadia had long decided that if they became parents one day, that it would be Nadia doing most of the biological grunt work. Still a few years away, though! Plenty of time to take the piss out of her fortune right now.
“As you shuffle the cards,” Lady Jane instructed once she handed off her deck, “you must focus on one central question you have about your fate. That will help the tarot decide what it must tell you first.”
Eva already knew what she wanted to ask. “What is the future of my family?” That was the biggest wild card in her life. She had money. She had things to occupy her days with. The only thing she wasn’t 100% on was what her relationship looked like in the future. Because Nadia had a wonderful habit of saying warm things about staying together forever one day and then coolly implying that things may fizzle out the next.
Eva supposed every woman had that one thing they were most insecure about.
Five cards appeared on the table. Eva heaved a sigh of relief. No Death cards!
“Oh, yes, a very healthy family life in your future.” Lady Jane tapped against the first card in the spread. “You will always be surrounded by a small but stable family. This does not necessarily only refer to the family you create with your future spouse. It may also mean a family you build for yourself, or extended relatives.”
“Get to the point,” Kathryn said. “How many babies she poppin’ out?”
Eva gave her friend a thumbs up. “You ask the real questions.”
“Two,” the fortune teller was quick to say. “You will have two children close together. It’s impossible to say if they are Irish twins or regular twins.”
“Well, my girlfriend is Irish, so I could see it going either way.” Especially if they had to use IVF. Multiples were more common with that, right? Twins it was.
“Girlfriend?” Lady Jane sat back with a start. “Oh. Oh, no.”
Eva stopped smiling. “What is it?” The fortune teller wasn’t a homophobe, right?
“The cards… they say you will have a husband, not a wife.”
“Uh…” Eva laughed uneasily.
“Ha! Ha!” Kathryn jammed her finger into the back of Eva’s head. “Serves you fucking right.”
“Surely that’s up to interpretation, right?” Eva stared at the ugly card in question. Some douche-looking medieval fucker grinned at her, except he had no teeth. Figured. “Just a generic spouse should suffice in these situations.”
“I’m afraid that the fact the card is upside down is quite specific. Hearing that you would oppose a husband makes sense to me now, too. Because the card says you are against the arrangement and would prefer a partner of different background.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“The cards do not lie.”
Eva got up. “Think that’s enough for me today.” Even so, she shoved a two dollar tip into the fortune teller’s jar. “Let’s go, Kathryn.”
They were both silent as they passed through the crowds and hoped to find a cab to take them back downtown.
Until Eva broke, anyway.
“A husband! Can you fucking believe it?”
Kathryn shuddered. “She told me I would birth five fucking kids!”
At the same time, they said, “What a quack.”
They found a cab within five minutes. Once they decided who would pay, Eva said, “I’ll trade you. How about that?”
“You want five kids?”
“Better than a husband. Gross.”
“And your girlfriend isn’t masculine in the slightest, so it’s not coming from that.”
Eva couldn’t help it. She called her girlfriend, even though Nadia was at her parents’ for the weekend. When she told her what happened, Eva’s girlfriend laughed.
“The day you leave me to marry a man is the day Kathryn has quints!”
From then on, it became the new When pigs fly! between all parties involved on that auspicious day.