Chapter 5 – Entry #6

Nadia chewed a piece of chicken, swallowed and said, “No, I’m not kidding. And before you ask, why you never knew, or how could this be, or whatever other question is swimming around in your head, Zizi swore me to secrecy years ago, when we were still children.”

“Who else knows?” Ilona glanced away, concentrating. “Gran had to know. And, of course, Uncle Vidor would know. Obviously, Aunt Magda doesn’t know. Does Dominic know? “

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Chapter 5 – Entry #5

Looking down and cutting a piece of chicken, Nadia answered. “Your Aunt Zizi can see into the future.”

Ilona dropped the fork onto her plate. “What? You’re kidding, right?”

Chapter 5 – Entry #4

[Narrator Note: Nadia is not ready to reveal Zizi’s secret to Ilona, yet. So, we’ll follow them upstairs.

Although Nadia conducts her card readings in the front room on the first floor, she and Ilona live in a large two-bedroom apartment upstairs.

The room on the first floor is furnished in stereotypical gypsy fashion.

The apartment upstairs would surprise most of her clients. It’s cozy. The living room is a mixture of taupe, beige, peach and green with vases, in all shapes and sizes, scattered about the room. The rest of the apartment is, likewise, decorated with restful colors.]

A half hour later, as Nadia and Ilona sat together at the kitchen table eating dumplings and chicken paprikas, Ilona brought the subject up again. “So, are you ready to spill the beans, yet, Mom?”

Chapter 5 – Entry #3

“Well?” Ilona coaxed.

Nadia pointed to the steps that led to the second floor living area. “C’mon upstairs. We’ll talk over dinner.”

Chapter 5 – Entry #2

When Zizi’s car pulled away, Ilona put her arm around her mother as they walked back into the house. Shaking her head, Ilona said, “Do those two ever stop bickering? What are they always arguing about, do you know?”

“Yes.”

Ilona

Ilona

Zizi

Zizi

[Narrator]

[Several weeks after Meggie’s reading, Ilona, coming home from work,  meets Zizi and Aunt Magda on the front porch. They have been visiting Nadia and are now on their way home.

After kissing both of them, Ilona joins her mother at the front door.  Together they overhear part of a curious conversation, as the two women make their way down the steps.]

Chapter 5 – Entry #1

Zizi grabbed Magda’s arm to help guide her down the stairs. “Tell me again about this ghost you saw last week, Aunt.”

“Well, I think it might have been a ghost; one can never be certain.” Aunt Magda said. “But stop trying to get me off the subject, you sly devil. I insist you tell me how you knew I would be here today. You always say Nadia called you, but she didn’t know I was stopping by today.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #67

“I think not.” Nadia smiled at Meggie. “It’s for you to look into his soul and recognize him.”

Standing, Meggie said, “It’s all so mysterious, but at least you’ve helped me  move forward and become my own boss. Thanks for encouraging me, Miss N. I’ll work hard at it and I’ll be a success. You’ll see.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Nadia said, walking Meggie to the door.

[This reading is over. A new chapter will begin Sunday.]

Chapter 4 – Entry #66

“You will undoubtedly recognize him as the one the next time you see him,” Nadia said, “or maybe not. Sometimes it takes a certain look, or a conversation that hits you. Whatever it is, it will make you tingle.”

“Oh, brother,” Meggie said, running her fingers through her hair. “I don’t believe this. Will you know him the next time you see him?”

Chapter 4 – Entry#65

Nadia gathered up the cards, wrapped them again in their red silk covering and returned them to the mantle where they always rested between readings. “Ah, yes, well. It is what it is.”

“But what about this guy we both know. Who is he? How will I know him?” Meggie protested.

Chapter 4 – Entry #64

Still standing beside her mother, Ilona said, “Gosh, Mom, that’s deep.”

“And unhelpful,” complained Meggie.

Chapter 4 – Entry #63

Meggie placed her elbows on the table and rested her chin in her hands. She stared down at the remaining card. “Well, she looks pleasant enough, Miss N.  Let’s hear it.”

“The High Priestess is wise and cautious. You see the moon at her feet and the full moon on her head? They symbolize hidden matters. The High Priestess reveals nothing about the future. She depends upon your instincts to guide you through the maze you are about to enter. She commands you to use common sense, but also to listen to your intuitive inner voice. It is all she is willing to tell.”

high-priestess

Chapter 4 – Entry #62

“Oh, that was real helpful, Miss N,” Meggie said, with a good deal of sarcasm. She looked at the last card on the table. “I hope this last card will shed more information on my mystery man.”

Nadia took a deep breath and said, “That’s the High Priestess.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #61

“I’ve never known her to kid about a reading,” Ilona said. “And by the look on her face, I’d say she’s as baffled as you are.” Standing up, Ilona moved closer to her mother and looked over her shoulder at the remaining cards on the table. “What do you make of it, Mom?”

“Well, even though Meggie and I both would recognize this mystery man, we don’t know if he’s a mutual acquaintance. I mean, he could be a co-worker of Meggie’s, while being a close friend of mine–or vice versa. Or he could be a client of mine, and a school chum of Meggie’s. Any combination is possible.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #60

“It means this person is right under our noses and we have no way to pinpoint who he is.”

“You’re kidding, right?” Meggie turned to Ilona for help. “She’s joking, right? Tell me she’s kidding.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #59

Nadia shook her head from side to side, a baffled expression on her face. “I evidently know him, too.”

Meggie’s eyes widened. “What does that mean?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #58

Nadia rubbed her chin and looked at Meggie. “There’s another odd thing about him, too.”

“What? Tell me.”

Chapter 4 – #57

“He’s someone you’re already acquainted with.”

“He is?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #56

Nadia took a deep breath. She knew the time had come to tell Meggie about the rest of her reading. “You are going to meet someone special…eventually.”

Meggie’s eyes brightened. “And?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #55

Purposely keeping Meggie in suspense, Nadia wagged her index finger at her and made some tsk sounds. “Remember, you’re going to be starting a new business. There’s not going to be a whole lot of time for pleasure.”

“But?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #54

“Oh, it gets a whole lot more exciting,” Nadia said.

Meggie rubbed her hands together. “Okay, spill it!

Chapter 4 – Entry #53

Nadia held her laugh in, her face never betraying her mirth. “What I meant was, enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and spend time doing things you like to do.”

“So,” Meggie said, her eyes now downcast, “no meteoric relationships are going to drop into my lap. Not exactly exciting news, Miss N,” she said, looking up again at Nadia. “I hope this gets better.”


Chapter 4 – Entry #52

“Then let’s proceed with your reading. You’re going to have a few men walk in and out of your life in the next couple of years. The final breakups won’t be particularly devastating for either party.”

Meggie smiled from ear to ear. “Good grief, meaningless sex!”

Chapter 4 – Entry #51

“So,” Nadia continued, “you shouldn’t be breaking your neck to dive into another serious relationship anytime soon. Okay?”

“Yes.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #50

“You must allow yourself time to heal,” Nadia said, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms in front of her. “The debris left behind after a divorce is devastating to the psyche. The weenie,” she chuckled because she used Meggie’s nickname for her ex-husband, but she immediately became serious again. “He was once the love of your life. I remember, because I met you a few months after your marriage.”

“I know,” Meggie said.


Chapter 4 – Entry #49

Nadia laughed and shook her head. It was always a treat being around Meggie. She was bubbly and fun. Her spirit hadn’t been stifled by the divorce. She was bitter–yes–but she’d regained her sense of humor. “I’ll tell you about your love life in a minute, Meggie. Part of it is strange. But first, I want to give you some advice.”

“Strange?” Meggie pondered out loud.

Chapter 4 – Entry #48

The three of them sat silently for a few minutes. Meggie calculating the money she’d been able to save and the money she would have to borrow. Ilona was thinking how great it would be to have Meggie working right next door. Nadia was looking at the next six or seven cards wondering  what, or how, should she tell Meggie.

“I’m goi ng to do it,” Meggie shouted. “Now give me some good news about my love life, Miss N. That will make my day complete. C’mon. I see you eyeing those last few cards.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #47

“So you’re saying, try it? Do the cards say I’ll be successful?”

“What the Three of Pentacles shows is that your perseverance and effort in your chosen field will be rewarded. I’m sure that refers to this offer Mrs. Radcliffe has made to you. It also means that it will take a great deal of time and energy on your part to gain some degree of success. How much succes–that is uncertain. However, it is within your grasp.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #46

“I’ll be cleaned out, but I think I can manage. It’s a risk. Even with Mrs. Radcliffe’s generous offer, it’s still really scary.”

Nadia thought for a minute. Then she replied. “But as Mrs. Radcliffe has pointed out, you’ll still be young enough to recoup, if necessary.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #45

“It sounds like a sweet deal to me. What do you think, Mom?”

“Yes, it seems like a real good opportunity for you, Meggie. Do you have enough money for equipment and stock?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #44

“Yes, she’s absolutely right,” Ilona answered. “That’s why I kept after you to go back to school in the first place, so you could work at something altogether different.”

“Well, Mrs. Radcliffe agrees. I mean, I know I’ll still love working with flowers and all, but if being a self-employed businesswoman isn’t for me, I can go back to working for someone else.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #43

“Mrs. Radcliffe thinks that at the end of three years, I should know if the flower business is for me or not.” Meggie looked away for a second and then cast her eyes downward. “My past record of employment is less than stellar.” Frowning, she continued, “I hate to admit it, but I haven’t stayed very long at any of my jobs. You know it, and Mrs. Radcliffe knows it, too.”

Meggie looked sorrwful, but quickly regained her earlier enthusiasm. “Anyway, Mrs. Radcliffe and I have talked about my lack of staying-power and she’s convinced it’s because I never liked the jobs I had. She’s right, don’t you think, Ilona?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #42

Meggie smacked one of Ilona’s hands and laughed. “Stop being impatient. I’m coming to that part.” She took a deep breath. “Now that the shop is empty, Mrs. Radcliffe made me an offer I don’t think I can refuse. It’s a little scary but…here it is. She likes my work; thinks I can be a successful businesswoman. She offered to rent me the store for next to nothing for the first three years. If I show a decent profit at the end of that time, my rent will fall in line with the rest of the businesses on the avenue.”

Nadia tilted her head, thinking. “Did she say why she was doing this for you?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #41

“She wanted to see if I was any good, if I had talent,” Meggie said. “Each time she called in an order, she requested a different color scheme, or a theme–like Halloween or Valentine’s Day–stuff like that.”

“I still don’t get it,” Ilona said.

Chapter 4 – Entry #40

“You actually got the ball rolling, Ilona, because when you started working fulltime at the shop, Mrs. Radcliffe decided to volunteer a few times a week at the hospital in the pediatrics wing. That gave her an opportunity to see my work without my knowing it.”

“Why all the cloak and dagger stuff?” Nadia asked. “Why not just order the flowers and have them delivered to her home?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #39

“Remember all those anonymous orders that came in to Kempter’s each month asking that I, personally, design the flower arrangements and have them delivered to the Pediatrics Floor at Abington Hospital? Well, all those orders came from Mrs. Radcliffe.” Meggie paused and smiled at Ilona. ” Just think back to all those days the two of us sat and tried to figure out who my secret admirer was. It was her–Mrs. Radcliffe.”

“Really?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #38

Meggie tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Getting back to my choices, I’ve made a decision. As you know, over the years, Mrs. Radcliffe and I have become friends. She knows about my recent divorce and she knows about my apprenticeship over a Kempter’s Florist Shop. She’s actually seen my work, believe it not.”

“How?” Ilona asked.

Chapter 4 – Entry #37

Ilona’s shoulders shook as she finished the story. “Then I saw her. I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it. She was trapped under a half-empty crate of lettuce and heads of lettuce were scattered around her. She couldn’t move. It took me a minute to free her from the lettuce because I was laughing so hard.”

“Yeah, very funny! There I was trying to be helpful and I almost got myself knocked out by killer lettuce heads.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #36

“How could I ever forget all that produce!” Meggie covered her mouth with the tips of her fingers and chuckled. “Remember the day you sent me back to the storeroom to get a box of creamers out of the refrigerator for you?”

“Mom, you should have seen her.” Ilona said. “A crate of lettuce fell off one of those high shelves that run along that back wall. She was screaming my name and as I walked back to the storage room I was thinking, how hard can it be to grab a box of creamers?”

Chapter 4 – Entry #35

Meggie continued. She seemed excited and began to talk a little faster. “Mrs. Radcliffe used to rent the empty shop to a produce store. They went out of business. Do you remember?”

Ilona moaned. “Oh, how I hated that store. Not the people, they were very nice, but they stored so much produce in our shared storeroom. I had to crawl over crates and boxes to get supplies whenever I needed them for the tea shop.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #34

“Well, Nadia,” Meggie said, “You know Mrs. Radcliffe owns those twin stores–the tea shop and the empty shop next to it.”

Nadia nodded.

great-aunt-21

Mrs. Radcliffe

Chapter 4 – Entry #33

“Mrs Radcliffe came into the shop while I was there,” Meggie said, glancing at Ilona. “Do you remember the two of us going off together, Ilona? We sat at that table near the rear of the shop.”

Ilona nodded. “Of course. I was busy, not blind. I meant to ask you what the two of you were talking about. Mrs. Radcliffe was scribbling like crazy on a napkin. But by the time things slowed down, both of you were gone.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #32

Nadia looked at the two cards with approval. “Even though your personal life is up in the air at the moment, it appears you’re doing much better with your professional life. Both of these cards refer to your profession. The Eight of Pentacles signifies how well you’re learning the floral trade and the Three of Pentacles shows that your efforts are about to be rewarded. The choice is yours.”

“I’m glad this came up,” Meggie said. “My professional life is one of the things I want to discuss with you and Ilona. It’s about something that happened last Saturday when I was sitting in the tea shop.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #31

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Nadia continued to turn over more tarot cards. “Well, here are two interesting cards: The Eight of Pentacles followed by the Three of Pentacles.”

Image from

Chapter 4 – Entry #30

[Narrator: The reading has progressed. The cards have revealed that Meggie is an extrovert, who is strong-willed, creative and intelligent. She is artistically talented and has learned to use her talents through her flower arrangements. From her recent failed marriage, she has learned to be more observant and although she is sometimes meloncholy, she swiftly recuperates and finds joy in the little things that life offers. One detail that was made clear through the cards is that she expects complete loyalty from those she calls her friends. She has zero tolerance for disloyalty. Her friends know her to be honest, true and totally in their corner when needed. And so the reading now continues with the question Meggie has about her job.

Chapter 4 – Entry #29

Nadia nodded, finally understanding. “So. that’s why you went in the middle of the winter. When Ilona mentioned you took a trip to Alaska, I wondered why you chose that time of year to go.”

Meggie smiled and raised her eyes toward the ceiling, recalling the ecstacy she felt the first time she saw  those incredible colors splashed across the sky. “When I say that experience was staggering, it’s no exaggeration. I will carry those lights with me for the rest of my life. “

Chapter 4 – Entry #28

“But that never happened,” Ilona said sadly.

“No, it never did,” Meggie agreed, taking a deep breath. “Deep down, I guess I knew it was over. About a month after my attorney filed the divorce papers with the court, I started collecting brochures–travel brochures–to Alaska. I decided as soon as my divorce became final, I would go see something I’ve wanted to witness my entire life–the aurora borealis.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #27

Ilona leaned forward and said to Meggie, “Tell her the rest.”

Meggie smoothed her hair with her hand and looked away from Nadia. She bit the corner of her lip. “I kinda was wishing that before the 90 days were up, the weenie would come to his senses and realize what he was giving up.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #26

“What exactly is a no-fault divorce?” Nadia asked.

“Both parties agree to the divorce. After 90 days, it’s all over–kaput. We didn’t have much money. The weenie was kind enough to leave all our furniture. He certainly didn’t need it. He moved in with his lady love and that was the end of it.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #26

Wishing to move on to a more cheerful subject, Nadia glanced down once again at the Six of Swords. “Tell me how your trip came about?”

“Oh, yes, that’s what started this discussion in the first place, wasn’t it. Well, the trip hinges heavily on the outcome of my divorce. I was too humiliated to file based on the weenie’s extramarital affair. If I had to testify to that in court…I couldn’t bear that.” Meggie twisted the sleeve of her blouse as she spoke. “I’d been married to the guy for five years, for Pete’s sake, and they were happy years as far as I was concerned. So, I told my lawyer I wanted a no-fault divorce.”

Chapter 4 – Entry #25

“Oh, he backpedaled a bit, saying he should’ve told me a long time ago, but he didn’t want to hurt me.  And you know what the worst part was?” Meggie asked, shaking her head. “He looked me straight in the eye and he lied. The weenie was preparing to leave…soon. Even paid off his car with my money so he would have less of a financial burden when he walked out. What a creep!”

It was hard for Nadia to understand how a person could betray another’s love and trust so heedlessly. She knew being on the receiving end of something that horrific is devastating to the spirit. And she could see the remains of the wreckage in Meggie’s eyes.