Magical Flash Fiction – In the leaves by Sarah Leavesley
Lizzie eyes up the small terrace house where Melissa lives alone with her mom. It looks cramped and she can see a bright dream-catcher twisting in the window; her parents have the embroidered quote “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want” on the hall wall. Lizzie’s about to turn away when Melissa’s mom opens the door.
“Will you read my future, please?” The words rush off Lizzie’s tongue before she’s aware that she’s thought them.
Melissa’s mom stares at her. “What would I do that for, Lizzie?”
“I need to know if I’m going to get Connor back and be happy. Please, Mrs. Devlin.”
“I’ll put the kettle on.” Melissa’s mom opens the door and gestures Lizzie towards the kitchen table with its plain white yet strangely unstained linen tablecloth.
Lizzie sits down, shaking slightly. The past three weeks since she split with Connor have been hell. Nearly two years together. They’d talked about getting a place; he’d mentioned kids more than once. His sudden “I can’t do this…” had come from nowhere.
After the shock of it, Lizzie isn’t sure how to feel now. But Melissa’s mom will know if this is the end, and what to do about it. She knew Lizzie’s sister Kelly was pregnant even before Kelly did.
As Lizzie picks up her cup, the charms on her bracelet from Connor jingle softly. A love-heart, a shamrock and a Celtic cross. The sound is quieter than the clink of her spoon against the china.
Lizzie’s tea is only half drunk when Melissa’s mom tells her to stop drinking.
“It’s still half-full?” Lizzie protests.
“Yes.” Melissa’s mom’s monosyllabic reply isn’t reassuring.
“Don’t you need the dregs?” Lizzie gazes into her cup.
“There’s your answer.”
“You can’t make a future from the dregs.” Melissa’s mom looks at Lizzie, then shakes her head gently.
“He’s got another girlfriend, been seeing her three months.” This time Melissa’s mom avoids Lizzie’s gaze.
“Really?” Lizzie gulps down another mouthful of tea; it’s a strong brew, as hard on her taste-buds as the mixture of anger, guilt and relief flooding her stomach.
“If not Connor…” Lizzie can feel loose tea leaves caught between her teeth, gritty and bitter.
“If your cup’s half-full, your life will never be empty.” Melissa’s mom takes the sugar bowl and adds two spoonfuls to Lizzie’s cup.
“What about Kelly and Tim? You fixed them.” Lizzie asks, slowly stirring the rest of her tea.
“You’re not your sister.”
“No!” Lizzie shakes her head vehemently. She definitely isn’t Kelly – there’s no way she wants babies!
“Give me your hand.” Melissa’s mom holds Lizzie’s outstretched palm in hers then turns it over, playing with the shamrock on Lizzie’s bracelet. “Not all losses are a loss.”
“What…” Lizzie pulls her hand away quickly. Is this just a lucky guess or does Melissa’s mom know about the last charm – a tiny bell that reminds Lizzie of church, and Kelly’s wedding dress? Connor had looked gutted when Lizzie told him she’d lost it. It was still at the back of her drawer wrapped up with the tights she’d ripped as she tried to avoid catching Kelly’s bouquet.
Melissa’s mom smiles. “Drink up – then you can tell me what you really want to see in there.”
Lizzie swigs the last mouthful down, then hands her cup to Melissa’s mom. “I’m not sure. University, a job in publishing, moving away from here, maybe…” Lizzie smiles.
It’s only after Lizzie’s left that Melissa’s mom looks again at the girl’s tea leaves and allows herself a frown. There are some things a young woman’s better not knowing, not until she has to.