a short story of fate

So I made some kind of promise to write something daily a few weeks/months/years? ago, and yeah, that didn’t happen. I’ve had a few ideas stewing though, so I thought I’d finally try to put one in concrete form. As usual, I expect no one to actually read this, but no worries. Enjoy!

Breathe. Slowly, deliberately. In through the mouth, out through the nose. In, out. Deep breath… and expel.

“All right… can you please repeat what you said, again?”

“This is clearly a sign from the Heavenly Custodian that my child is fated to become the kingdom’s next ruler! What other way can it be interpreted? Oh dear, we need to send a letter to the king, it would be best to start planning a marriage as early as possible, then we need to see about finding tutors…”

I let out another deep sigh, shook my head, then swallowed my emotions yet again while performing my breathing exercises. The parchment in my hand crinkled softly as I lifted it up to skim again.

Heavensday, month of the hawk. Puddem Pollson, age 8. North side butcher’s shop, Poll’s Meats. Fate dream, unverified.

Running through forest, sun shining. Forest ends, castle town in view. Unsheathe sword, shout loudly, “the demon emperor is dead.” People come outside, cheer loudly. King awards medal. Dream ends.

Asked Puddem. No animals present in dream. Sun did not move or change. Cannot remember shape of clouds. No people glowing. Does not remember any other person’s actions.

Putting on a smile, I go through my list of questions again.

“Puddem, are you sure you do not remember any animals in your dream? Was there anything strange about the sun or the clouds that stuck out to you? Were any of the people in your dream odd, or did they do anything that you remember? What about the king, did he do anything other than give you the medal?”

Across from the short table sat a plump, severe-looking woman, and her equally plump son in a stretched button shirt with a stained bow tie. He was loudly sucking on a large stick of chocolate, his fourth one during this session. As he took the chocolate out of his mouth, his eyes vaguely focused on me as he shrugged grandly.

“…I dun ‘member.”

With a slurp, the chocolate returned to the young boy’s mouth.

“I apologize, professor, my Puddy needs his morning chocolate or he gets very testy. Ha-ha! You wouldn’t believe how he’s acted at school before… why, one of the other children accused him of stealing his pocket money! The absurdity! I’m sure Puddems just picked it up off the ground and was going to return it to him, but the bast-I mean, the sweet child got confused!”

“Yes… that sounds like quite an ordeal.” I blink a few times and start to shake my head, but catch myself and cough instead.

“Didi, I know you want what’s best for your child, but I’m afraid I cannot validate this as a fate dream without at least some of the typical signs. Sometimes a dream is just a dream, and not a fate reading.”

“But he had this dream on Heavensday of the hawk! Ther-”

“People can have normal dreams on any day of any month,” I interrupt loudly. “Plus, you yourself admitted that you do not know during which part of the night he had the dream. If it was last night instead, Mirrorsday, then that could completely reverse the interpretation of the fate. But again, without the signs, I highly doubt this is a fate at all.”

Didi slowly frowns, then sniffs. “My Puddy is so young, he cannot be expected to remember every part of the dream. You’re asking him all these questions, he’s just flustered!”

“Fate dreams are not typically puzzles to be pieced together. The dreamer needs to remember the details, so the key signs are prominent, not hidden behind metaphor or off to the side.” I sigh again. “Of course, you are free to consult with any of the other temples, but I doubt you will get a much different answer. They also require a donation just to be seen.”

“Hmph. I appreciate your frankness, professor. I shall still bring this up with the king and see what his soothsayer thinks. As I’ve said, royal marriages do need to be planned early. But… I’ll hold off on the tutors for now. My thanks.”

I smile warmly as I wave them off. At least I saved her fees for tutor interviews, I suppose. However, it’s common knowledge that fate dreams have at least one or more major signs to interpret, and the dreamer always remembers these details. Didi must have too much time on her hands if she’s willing to spend her morning getting a mundane dream read. Perhaps Puddem just wanted to skip school.

As I amble back to my study, I recall my own fate dream, so clear, even after all these decades. I am returning home, the sun is setting as I open the door to the cottage of my childhood. Instead of my parents greeting me, the cottage is empty, no furniture, no decorations. The walls are completely solid, the doors to the back rooms erased. On the floor sits a thick grimoire. I bend over to pick up the book and see the stylized sun and moon, the symbol of fate, on the cover. However, when I open the book, it’s blank. Every page is blank. Then I wake up.

The village soothsayer had told us that there was nothing to worry about; since I saw the dream on Mirrorsday, the empty book meant that I was meant to read fates, and the empty room meant I would help many, many people. As I began my fate reading studies, I was both fascinated and a natural at it, so I never questioned the interpretation.

However, after finishing Puddem’s session, I begin to wonder. Were my parents absolutely sure I had woken up on Mirrorsday? I was just trying to think of excuses to make Didi give up on her delusions, but, now that I think about my dream, the day does change the interpretation. If I had instead woken up on Flamesday…

I shake my head. It’s never good to dwell on the interpretations too much. In the end, the gods’ will takes each person on the path they are meant to take. Fate reading just helps to prepare a bit, and there are countries and peoples out there who do not get readings at all. If my fate is different from what I imagined, I will still get to experience it, I just may not know what is coming.

I put away my books and notes, filing Puddem’s reading away with all the town’s readings. I leave a note for myself to archive the older readings tomorrow. As always, the only thing remaining on the table when I finish is my grimoire of fate dream interpretations, with the large, stylized sun and moon embossed on the cover. My hands fondly run over the fine leatherwork, each piece dyed separately and attached by hand.

I close the curtains and lock the door, checking that I have enough coin on hand to purchase my lunch. Blinking suddenly, I seem to recall the window being left open a crack in the study, but, since I’ll be back shortly anyway, it shouldn’t be a problem. Shrugging, I slowly make my way down to the market, wondering what to eat.

A sudden breeze blows the window open a bit more. The fingers of air gently stroke the grimoire, teasing open the heavy cover and causing the pages to wildly cascade to the end. As each page passes, a careful observer might notice that the text is being quickly erased, leaving only blank pages. However, there is no one there, in the shop Question, atelier of the independent soothsayer Illian Foresought, to bear witness.

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