stars 81148Roxy clicks on the left mouse button dragging the ‘Table’ option to 3×13. She lets go and a chart appears before her. In the first row she types ‘Months’, ‘Signs’ and ‘Scenarios’. In the left column she slots in ‘January’ to ‘December’, then in the middle she types the names of the symbols sitting on the die in front of her, just as she sees them, thrown at random: moon, shooting star, torch, clock, arrow (pointing south west), magnifying glass, eye, castle, fish, flower, bat and sheep.

Pausing at June, her month, she laughs and types ‘magnifying glass’. “Time to buy new glasses,” she says squinting at the screen.

With the second column full, she starts on the third, looks at the empty space next to ‘January’ and ‘moon’, then closes her eyes. Tilting back her head, she waits for inspiration. “Moon… circle.” Then it comes to her. ‘One aspect of your life will come full circle. Rather than thinking you’re working backwards, embrace it.’

February’s shooting star prompts her to type, ‘With determination you can achieve a lot. Grasp every opportunity with both hands however small it may seem at the time.’

Someone born in March could expect to ‘be a shining light in the life of someone who’s feeling low and needs their spirits lifted’. “ Grasp, embrace, spirits lifting,” she says out loud then laughs, “I could do with someone to grasp and embrace me; that would definitely lift my spirits.”

April’s clock prompt advises its recipients to ‘use their time more wisely’ whereas May’s arrow suggests that he or she should ‘consider taking an alternate path if they were unhappy with the choices they were making’. At June’s ‘new glasses’ she types ‘You will start to see things more clearly’ then settles on ‘keep an eye on your finances’ for July followed by ‘home improvements’ for August and ‘an exotic holiday perhaps travelling by sea’ for September. ‘Flower’ she finds quite easy, steering the October-born reader to ‘surprise a loved one with an impromptu gift such as flowers or chocolates’. ‘Bat’ and ‘sheep’ are initially more difficult, but she finally settles on ‘try a new sport’ and ‘resist the temptation to follow the flock today, break away and do something daring’.

She copies and pastes the details into an email then doesn’t think anything more of it after she presses ‘send’ and imagines it winging its way across the ether to the magazine’s editor.

Remembering June’s prompt she rings her local opticians and is given a cancellation slot for the next morning. She reads through the horoscope document again and emails it to her editor.

 *

As she walks to the town centre the next day, she thinks about the descriptions and wonders, feeling like a fortune teller, whether she should have been a bit more upbeat, telling people what they want to hear.

“Oh well, too late,” she says, pulling the heavy glass doors of the opticians.

“Oh dear,” a voice says behind her and Roxy turns round.

“Sorry?” she says, to the tall man looming over her.

“You say you’re late? They don’t like you being late here.”

“No, not late. I was referring to…” It’s then that Roxy spots his dog collar. She’s not sure what it is about vicars but they make her feel a little uneasy. Ever since she’d watched the Omen movies, churches had never felt the same.

They report their names to the reception and are pointed towards two green chairs.

“Sorry, my mistake,” he says to Roxy. “I shouldn’t eavesdrop. Dreadful habit. Got me into trouble before. You think I’d learn my lesson but listening is… well, hazard of the job I suppose.”

Roxy laughs then wonders if she should. He’s not God himself, she thinks. He’s human too. Then she notices that he’s fiddling with the collar as if it’s too tight. She raises her eyebrows and he looks down at his hand.

“I’ve been doing that for days. Like it doesn’t fit anymore.”

“It looks alright to me,” she lies, but then feels guilty. She’s never understood the relevance of the white strip of material but then no-one’s taken the time to explain it to her. He, on the other hand, looks the patient type; sitting next to an ill parishioner for hours on end, waiting for a confessioner to work through a list.

“I don’t normally,” he interrupts her thoughts, “but I read my stars today. December. It said I should ‘leave the flock, break away and do something daring’ and I don’t normally believe them but…”

That’s funny, she thinks, nor do I, but something tells me that maybe I should.

***

This story was taken from my Story A Day May 2011 collection. Photograph above courtesy of morguefile.com.

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