News that Maisie was coming to Singapore sent a shiver through the whole island.
Well, the whole island except a certain 5-bedroom flat in Ang Mo Kio.
“Who?” Sharyn asked when Amanda rang to tell her the news.
On the other end of the line, Amanda paused. “Maisie! The fortune teller? You’ve been hearing me talk about her for years!”
Amanda sighed. “Seriously, I don’t know why I talk to you at all. She’s based in Manila, but every year she comes to Singapore and she gets totally booked out!”
“She very good, ah?”
“Well, I think she is. She predicted the exact days that The Cockroach would enter my life and when we would break up.”
“Eeee, I forgot about The Cockroach. So long never see him.”
“And the last time I saw Maisie, she said we’re never going to see him again, either! And we’ve had no sightings so far!”
For her part, Saffy said she had no interest in seeing Maisie. “She’s just been so inaccurate with me. The only thing she was spot on about was the fact that I would twist my ankle in the bathroom. But really, the odds of that kind of thing happening eventually in a bathroom are quite high anyway.”
Undaunted, Amanda, never one to have lunch or even go to the ladies by herself, dragged me along for a session with the bribe that she would pay for mine as well.
“But I don’t need to have my fortune told!” I bleated in the taxi ride to Maisie. “I don’t want to know anything!”
“Well, then ask her vague things like what you should avoid!”
I stared out the window at the passing scenery and I suddenly remembered at school, there was a big hulking kid called Charles who was a textbook bully. For some reason, I came into his radar and for months, he made my life miserable. When we passed each other in the corridor, he’d elbow me sharply in the ribs. He jammed my locker and dumped a handful of sand over my sandwich. “Get it? Sand-wich?” he guffawed to his equally huge and stupid friends.
“Why don’t you just avoid him?” my mother asked when I came home one day moaning about how I was starving because I’d not had anything to eat.
“We’re in the same year in a confined environment! How am I supposed to avoid him?”
“Walk the other way when you see him coming! Do you want me to come to school and sort this out?” Mother offered.
“No, please, don’t!” I said hurriedly. “That’ll only make things worse!”
Mother calmly adjusted her pearl necklace. “Well, okay, but if things don’t improve by the end of the month, I’m going to have a word with the principal. After all, your daddy practically paid for the new library, so we have leverage!”
“Honestly, Mother,” my sister complained, “sometimes you talk like you’re a drug lord!”
For a few weeks after, every time I saw Charles lumbering towards me, I did a U-turn which then made me consistently late for a whole bunch of classes while earning myself some detention. The problem was solved eventually when Charles’ father was transferred to Melbourne and that was the last we saw of him.
“So, you see,” Amanda said as we waited for Maisie, “your mother was right. You avoided Charles and you saved yourself a whole lot of grief!”
As it turned out, my session was really brief. Maisie flipped a few tarot cards and said ‘Hmm’ a lot. Eventually she said something about Jupiter ascendant and something else about Mars retrograde. “You should avoid funerals, weddings and baby showers!” she said firmly.
“Why?” I asked, intrigued in spite of myself.
She shrugged. “Just avoid them. You’re not going to die or anything like that if you go, but it’s just best not to.”
“Not much happening in your future,” Maisie said, a reading that Saffy later said was both encouraging and depressing.
“How so?” I asked.
“Imagine if she’d predicted Charles was going to come back into your life! That would be depressing! But the fact that she didn’t is encouraging!”
“You’re so wise,” I told Saffy.
A few weeks later, after I’d declined an invitation to my friend Meredith’s baby shower, we heard that one of the babies at the event had chicken pox and had given it to everyone.
“All the guests have the pox!” Amanda reported. “My God, that Maisie is good!”
And so, when an invitation arrived in the post this morning to Albert and Camilla’s wedding, it really was a no-brainer. “I bet everyone gets food poisoning!” Amanda said.
Saffy says if that actually happens, she’s going to see Maisie the next time she’s in town.
Photo: TPG News/Click Photos