My OC: A Seasoned Magician’s Wife’s First Encounter With a Psychic

Can you read my doubting mind? Even a seasoned magician’s wife can believe in magic.
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Illustration by Masha Manapov
Illustration by Masha Manapov

I was on my way to see a psychic. First time for everything. I blame my friend Shawn, who was riding shotgun on this adventure. “It’ll make you feel better,” she said. “Less antsy about the future.” Maybe, but so would ice cream. Shawn is a believer. She notes with wondered delight every year the return of a vibrant red dragonfly on the birthday of her beloved, deceased dachshund. I’m willing to go there with her; and whenever I hear a song on the radio surely meant just for me, I can relate. But songs and signs are a far cry from seeing my future. And more to the pulse-pounding point: Do I want to?

Certainly the past has been dramatic enough. No sooner had I beat breast cancer than my husband, Michael, had a heart attack. We both survived, but shadows lingered. Our Western-medicine-trained doctors could only soothe so much. Do this, eat that, and you’ll increase your odds for a long and healthy life. And come see us every six months, just in case.

It was the “just in case” that haunted me.

And Shawn wasn’t the only one suggesting a psychic intervention. My therapist thought it would be beneficial for set-in-my-ways me to try something new—never mind that Michael is a professional magician, so I’ve learned that what appears as real magic is often skillful manipulation.

Still, there was one thing I wanted to know, assuming I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Considering our recent medical close calls, I figured heaven had to be watching over us. Were there angels in our midst? It was a hopeful thought I kept to myself, even after I finally gave in and made the appointment.

“That must be it,” Shawn said, pointing to a tidy, older home stubbornly set between an automotive shop and a 7-Eleven, another classic mix of old and new in and around Old Towne Orange. A final, squinting check of the faded house numbers confirmed we had arrived at our destination: the advertised address of the Orange County Psychic.

Crystal Williams didn’t look anything like I’d imagined. Not that I was expecting Whoopi Goldberg in a gypsy hat, but seeing a young woman in a sundress and sandals surprised me. She greeted us warmly, her candid brown eyes sparkling as if we were old friends, then had me take one of two dainty chairs already facing each other within a small, candle-adorned room. Shawn sat close by.
After a few pleasantries, Williams started right in: “I feel you have a very generous and loving energy.”

Maybe she is legit, I mused.

She said she saw a transition in my future, perhaps in the next year or two. “Does that make sense?”

I considered this. “Well, my husband and I are planning to move to a new house at some point,” I said. “Probably in that time frame.”

Williams nodded, satisfied, then brought forth a well-used deck of cards, wider than a regular deck and decorated with various portraits of angels. I half expected her to say, “Pick a card, any card.” Instead she instructed me to place my palm on the stack and think—not say—“general” or “specific,” depending on how I wanted the reading to go.

Any good magician’s wife will tell you that most folks are going to choose specific, because why pay good money for generalities? This gives the illusionist or clairvoyant the opportunity to wow the audience with a detailed reading and grant their silent wish.

I placed my palm on the deck and thought specific, then silently snuck in: Who’s watching over me? Repeating it a few times for good measure.

Williams sat back in her chair and closed her eyes. The room seemed to heat up, but such is the science of three bodies in a small space with more pillows than ventilation. Finally, she “awoke” and dealt out the angel cards face up in a half-moon pattern.

I waited. Shawn waited. And in a strange way, the hot room waited.

“This doesn’t happen often,” Williams began. “As I mentioned, I’m not a medium. But your parents came to me.”

Wait, what? My parents? Fact: Mom and Dad passed away a few years ago. Fact: I missed them terribly. Fact: I hadn’t said a word to Williams about them.

“They’ve been watching over you.”

Ohmygod … a perfect match to my secret question!

Williams gazed off to the side, then made eye contact again. “One died of cancer, the other of the heart.”

I stared at her. “What did you just say?”

“One died of cancer, the other of the heart.”

I looked over at Shawn, desperate to feel grounded again, but she just smiled back, eyes shining, as if to say welcome to the dragonfly club.

I turned back to Williams, my shields down. “That’s correct,” I said, fumbling for a tissue from my bag. Hard to keep a poker face with mascara running.

For the rest of the reading, Williams touched upon my past (an ogre of an ex-husband, nailed it) and offered a few groovy predictions. I can look forward to a promotion at work, placing me in a leadership role. At home she foresaw an addition to our family—perhaps a new pet, she quickly added when my 50-something eyes widened. Through it all I listened, really listened, to what she had to say. You know, just in case.

The next morning I was getting ready for work, thinking back on the psychic adventures of the previous day. All good stuff for storytelling, but it was the part about my mom and dad that I really wanted to believe.

And then a song came on the radio: Rachel Platten sang, “And hey, if your wings are broken/Please take mine so yours can open, too.”

Wings … angels …

“ ’Cause I’m gonna stand by you.”

My parents watching over me.

I felt a rush of love and security. For once I didn’t try to reason it away. I just believed and was calmed.
Now that’s real magic.

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