Saturday 29th May 2010
Gestation: 35 weeks, 1 day
One year ago.
“Does anyone want a Tarot reading?”
“Yes,” says Suse, her hand going up, without even looking back to see who is asking. “Do you mind, hon?”
I look over her shoulder at the woman asking the question, having appeared from nowhere. She wears an oversized blue jacket, like one you might see on the Avon lady.
“Why would I?”
“Well, it is your birthday. I thought you might want a go.”
“Maybe I will after you.”
Suse gets up from her seat, and follows the woman into the garage.
“Interesting place,” says Joel, my big Italian stud of a friend.
“Mmm,” I say.
The owner appears, her arm in a cast, holding a plate with some more cheese toasties. This is a new café, run out of the back of the owner’s house. A child-friendly café, with play equipment and free babyccinos for the kids.
And unheralded Tarot readings.
“Did you know they did Tarot readings here?”
“Mate, it was your wife’s suggestion to come here,” I say. “I’ve never been here before. I was just trying to find a place to catch up with you guys that had play equipment.”
“Happy birthday,” he says, smiling broadly.
I look for a moment as Suse walks towards the garage.
“So, tell me, Joel, where should Suse and I go for a romantic holiday?”
I watch as the door closes, my wife and the reader inside.
* * * * *
Thirty-five minutes later, I walk into the garage, and close the door behind me. There sitting on a wooden box, is a woman with a broad smile. It’s almost a Cheshire grin. She has yellowed teeth at the front, the teeth of a long-term smoker. Of someone who smokes to cope with the cosmic cards she has ben dealt. As she tells me later: yes, she does see dead people. Her face is round, friendly crows-feet by her eyes. Her tipped hair is held back by a band, the roots growing neatly at the front of her hairline. She wears a blouse and a business suit.
The day just gets more and more incongruous.
“I was just chatting to your wife, Susan,” she begins, “and I’m really excited that you’ve decided to get a reading with me.” Just thirty seconds earlier, as Suse opened the door at the end of her reading, I’d tried to gauge whether I should bother. But I couldn’t read Suse’s face. She came out looking a little dazed, and before I knew it, the Avon lady had me by the arm.
“It’s my birthday, so why the hell not.”
“Why the hell not?” She lets out a cackle; a slightly maniacal laugh. “Sorry,” she says, covering her mouth.
She takes a breath, closing her eyes for a moment. I look around the garage as she does. People keep the weirdest stuff in garages. They’re the final step in disposal of waste.
“Firstly, I just needed to let you know that you’re here to help Suse through.” She holds her hands together, fingers pointing upwards. “To guide her through. You’re surrounded by a lot of love and support, and you’ve got a lot of people looking over you.” She takes a breath. “But there are also a lot of people who are jealous of you too. Does that make sense?”
“Ummm, I’m not sure,” I say.
“That house that you’re in… Your ex-wife left a lot of black energy in it.”
“She wasn’t my wife, we were just…”
“…Doesn’t matter. For the purposes of the spirits, you were married.” She looks at me, daring me to contest. I don’t. “And she isn’t very happy for you. She’s left something behind, a marker, on the yellow skirting boards. Your skirting boards are a yellowy cream right?”
“Yeah, they are,” I say.
“Check them out. There’s something there. It’ll come to you.” I look at her blankly. “Either that, or it needs to be cleansed. With the burning of a white candle, surrounded with salt.”
“Okay,” I say.
She takes another breath.
“When Susan first came in here, I felt pain in my stomach, and I said to her, ‘you’ve had endometriosis, or something that’s stopped you from having your child, right?’ It was then that she told me about the ectopic. There’s a little girl, waiting to come down. Waiting for her time. But before – with the ectopic – it just wasn’t the right time.”
I feel the hairs stand up on my neck, thinking of the moment Suse had shared with Zach, our new nephew, just four days earlier.
“Suse has been pregnant before, hasn’t she?” I nod. “But the time just wasn’t right,” she continues. “And there was a girl and a boy. But she hasn’t let go of them yet. When she lets go, that is when you will be ready.”
“What do you mean she hasn’t let go?” I’m interested. She’s reeled me in.
“The spirits continue to grow, if you don’t let them go.” She holds out both of her hands, each at different heights, as if resting them on the heads of invisible children. At about exactly the heights of those children, had those pregnancies continued.
“What are they waiting for?” I ask.
“For the right father. For you. They were waiting for you.”
A shiver goes all the way up.
“You’ve seen them before, haven’t you?”
I nod my head, almost unconsciously. “You’ve seen these kids haven’t you?”
I nod again.
“Yeah, I have. Whenever I dream about my family, I see a boy and a girl.”
“You’re very intuitive, Michael.”
“Michael, Mark, whatever. Names don’t matter. What matters is that you are what we call ‘a sensitive’.”
I can feel myself frowning deeply. “Don’t worry too much. But just know that you are very intuitive, and you have a lot of love around you. A lot of support. Your grandma is looking over you. Looking down on you. There’s a lot of love around you.”
I feel myself frowning even more.
And then I let go.
I stop trying to understand.
“Okay, okay, then, fine. So what do I do about all of this then? How do I help Suse?”
“Just love her. With the palms of your hands, that is where your healing is. That is why you are a doctor.” The chill goes once again. I haven’t told her that. “You know the body, but you are a healer as well. And you can heal her. With your hands. You’re a sensitive.”
* * * * *
I walk out of the garage forty minutes later, and see Suse sitting there, reading a magazine. She looks up, and smiles as our eyes connect.
We say goodbye, both of us in a bit of a daze.
As we walk to the car, I ask her:
“How much of that stuff did you tell her?”
“None of it.”
“Did you tell her I was a doctor?”
“The skirting boards in the house?”
“What about them?’
“Did you mention them? The colour?”
“Nope. She got it all before I could say anything.”
* * * * *
We light the candles, surrounding them in a ring of salt. I spread salt across the front door step, whispering some words about only allowing goodness and light into the house, and banishing black energy, just like I’d been told. I feel self conscious as I do, hoping there is no one walking past outside.
I close the door, and turn to sit. Suse and I sit by the candles. And then we each say our peace. About our intention for our family. And that this is done in honour of our family, and the love that we have for the creation of that.
It is a ritual, on this, my thirty-fifth birthday. On a day, when – completely out of the blue, without any manipulation by us – we are given a reading, by a woman who knows more about our skirting boards than we do.
Through all of this, through all of the inexplicable shit that has happened in this house, in this past year, I’ve been happy to do whatever it takes to have our family. Shit, we’ll fork out thousands of dollars for IVF, so why wouldn’t we burn a three-dollar candle and sprinkle a pinch of salt? We’ve been looking at saliva and temperature charts for more time than I care to remember. And that’s supposed to be the science?
Science, I think it’s fair to say, has let us down to this point.
I’m open to whatever. If it helps us get pregnant, then shit, I’m wide open.
We leave the house, closing the door gently, so as not to blow out the candle. It sits on the tiles, in the middle of the living area, slowly burning to the base. And then, as the story goes, the negative energy that has been left behind will be gone from our home.
As we walk, Suse and I huddle into each other against the chill of the night as we head around the corner to our local pub, for my birthday dinner.
I just hope the house doesn’t burn down tonight.
That would be really bad energy.
* * * * *