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I HIT a rabbit on the country road as I was driving Jill to her psychic reading just before her wedding. This was 35 years ago. I killed the rabbit. The recoil from the impact was still ricocheting inside me when we pulled up and Sylvanna the Psychic (expensive and highly recommended) strode from her house calling out: “My Dear, that poor animal!” I was so shaken up I stayed cowering in the car, and I did not see Jill’s reaction when Sylvanna told her that Todd, her future husband, was going to drop dead at 60.
I avoided psychics after that, because why would you want that knowledge hanging over you?
Still, I had my palm read by mistake at a multicultural festival. An Indian lady swirled me into her sari, telling me the ticket price included a palm reading. Her name tag said “Volunteer.” A few weeks later I noticed her in the bank wearing a navy pantsuit and her name tag said “Branch Manager,” but there she looked like someone who could see what was coming. She laid out my right hand in hers and dipped her head in contemplation. I concentrated on the red bindi dot between her eyebrows and tried not to breathe curry over her. Tracing my palm indentations with her forefinger, she murmured my future. A horizontal line crossed the vertical lifeline exactly halfway through, which meant; a long life containing a traumatic event at centre point.
Jill and Todd had two kids. Lived their lives. Kept themselves healthy with diet and exercise. Jill never told Todd. She held the future like a sealed letter from a lover, hidden in a secret compartment. Jill and I took it out when we were alone together; turned it over, touched it, speculated. Sometimes I felt like a guilty party. We obsessed over the extent of life, lacking the imagination to understand its contents would change us more than its length. We discussed the psychic’s prediction less the closer Todd got to 60, but worried about it more, at least I did. Todd is 63 now and waiting for a knee replacement, otherwise he’s fine. I couldn’t tell if Jill was disappointed; some things you can’t ask even your closest friend.
This year I turn 60, and I try to think of my life in terms of quality rather than quantity. But I can’t help it, I keep signifying that cryptic dash which crosses the sweep of my lifeline. Every day I open my palm and wonder, was that the trauma? Is that where I folded into the second half? What’s double 47?