The coffee from the Galaxy Plaza drive-through window was — in a word — terrible.
Specifically, it was terrible every morning at exactly 7:37am.
But, it was conveniently located and nothing could beat that.
The drive-through window was next-door to Julie’s business enterprise, a little strip mall store called Sarah’s Psychic Space: Tarot Readings and Crystals.
No one ever blinked an eye at Julie waiting in line, still wearing her pyjamas, in a drive-through without a car.
She didn’t even have to say her order, because it was always the same. Just a casual, “Hey! It’s Julie from next-door!” into the intercom was enough.
She accepted a medium-black-4-sugars through what she called the “prison window” and by 7:39 am she was back at her store — which coincidentally, was also where she lived.
It was an “easy enough” life, and — as it turned out — “easy enough” tasted liked burnt coffee.
This particular morning, at 7:40 am, just as she was re-entering Sarah’s Psychic Space, an unfamiliar car pulled up to the Galaxy Plaza.
The car seemed in violation of strip mall etiquette, somehow. It didn’t seem to belong.
A man wearing driving gloves emerged from the driver’s seat with great precision. He opened the back door to reveal a mysterious visitor.
First, a red-soled stiletto appeared and made first contact on the asphalt. Then an expensive-looking woman wearing very large sunglasses followed.
A Visitor had landed.
Julie cowered to the back of her shop. It was a cramped space, just a table and folding chairs, and bookshelves filled with Tarot cards, crystals, and books on all things esoteric. In the back, behind a heavy velvet curtain, was Julie’s bed and personal belongings. She drew the curtain closed and hid from the alien visitor.
No sign of life here. Go back to your mother planet please, strange lady.
But the Visitor did not retreat.She approached. And she spoke.
“Are you sure this is the right place?” the Visitor asked her Driver.
“Positive. To be honest, I’d be surprised if they stuck around here. I mean, you didn’t, after all.”
The Visitor politely knocked on the glass door.
Crap, thought Julie. Please go away. I’m wearing pyjamas.
The Visitor knocked again and walked in.
“Hellooooo? Anyone here? Are you open? I thought I saw someone.”
Julie bashfully emerged from behind the curtain. The Visitor was delighted. She had found life!
“Hi! Are you Sarah?”
“No. No, I’m Julie,” Julie said weakly.
“Oh! The sign. It says, Sarah’s Psychic Space… so I thought you were Sarah.”
“No, I just didn’t change the sign when I bought this place.”
“I see. That’s a good story!” The Visitor glanced around. “Am I wrong, or did this used to be a pie place? A lady named Florence would bake peach pies every Tuesday morning when they were in season. Really amazing ones. Do you know Florence?”
“Oh her.” Surprisingly, Julie did remember. “Florence moved back to Taiwan. I think her mom got sick. Or maybe it was her sister.”
“Oh. How sad. I wonder how she’s doing.” The Visitor took a moment. “I really wanted that peach pie.” She spoke wistfully. “Guess I’m too late.”
The Visitor’s mood dropped. Julie suddenly felt bad for her and felt she should say something but didn’t know what.
“My mom used to bring me here when it was the pie place. But then the lady left, and it was a video store for a bunch of years. Then, it was a skate-sharpening place for a while. And then the rink closed, so they closed too. Anyway, then Sarah moved in. She read palms and Tarot cards for a few years. Then she joined a band and went west and sold the place to me. Julie.”
The Driver abruptly entered the shop.
“Alright! All caught up? Shall we go, then?”
“Yes. In a minute,” the Visitor held her ground. “Why don’t you go back to the car and listen to your podcast for a while? I’ll be okay.” The Driver was hesitant but retreated to the car.
“Since I’m here, would you do a reading for me, Julie?”
“Sure. It’s 80 dollars.” It was actually 40 dollars.
“Perfect!” She flung her name-brand purse over the back of one of the folding chairs and made herself comfortable.
“I think it must be a sign,” chirped the Visitor. “I came here looking for a piece of my past but I found you instead.”
Julie selected a Tarot card deck, sat down, and began shuffling. “Must be fate.”
Julie caught her reflection in the big sunglasses, just as the Visitor was taking them off. There was a surprising absence of lines in the woman’s face.
“You’re wondering if I had work done,” grinned the Visitor. Julie blushed and returned her gaze to the cards she was shuffling.
“Don’t be sorry. You, see I’m a bit of a Reader too. It’s a good quality to have. It will get you far. It got me far.”
“Far from this place.”
“Exactly!” They both laughed diplomatically.
An unexplainable breeze wafted through the room, ruffling the curtain that hid Julie’s private life. Julie prayed the Visitor wouldn’t ask to use the washroom — her toothbrush was in there.
“Do you have any questions for Spirit, or shall we see what comes out?” Julie asked in her best Reader voice.
“Let’s see what comes out.”
Julie shuffled. The Queen of Swords flew out.
“Queen!” The Visitor rejoiced, like she had just won at roulette. “Queens are good, aren’t they?”
“Sometimes. The Queen of Swords is a great thinker, but she can get lost in her head sometimes.”
“I get that,” laughed the Visitor. “You’re very good.”
“Shall we see what the Oracle cards say?” Julie reached for another deck. In the parking lot, she could see the Driver was side-eyeing her. His earbuds were in, but he wasn’t listening to any podcast.
The card that revealed itself had an illustration of an old tree, its branches reaching for the limitless sky above. The text scrawled across the bottom of the card read ANCESTRY.
“Your ancestors wish to speak to you. They have guidance to offer,” pronounced Julie. “They want you to know…”
“You know what? That’s okay.” The Visitor interrupted. “Why don’t you pick another card?”
“You don’t want to hear what they have to say?”
“I’ve been trying not to hear them all my life,” said the Visitor. “Since leaving this place.”
“It’s just that, you came here looking for the past…”
“I came looking for nostalgia.” The Visitor laughed at herself. “I guess that’s like a cleaned up version of the past, isn’t it?”
“Your understand your ancestors only wish to help you.”
“Maybe. But I don’t think they’d like me very much.” She put her big sunglasses back on. “Sometimes it’s easier to move forward when you don’t have a past.”
She left cash on the table and said thank you. Julie’s coffee had gone cold.
The Driver suddenly jumped out of his earbuds and opened the rear car door.
“How was your podcast?” asked the Visitor, as she glided back into the familiar leather seats.
“Very good! You would never believe what recipe they covered this episode.”
“I haven’t the foggiest.”
“Hand on my heart.” He started the engine.
“Any chance you can make it tonight?”
“Of course. That was the plan all along.”
Follow Nishi on Instagram here.
Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski from Pixabay