Posted by: fictionopia | February 2, 2009

“An emphatic, two armed, you-are-so-my-hero-hug.”

“Did you get the paper, Sare-Bear?”

“Yes mom.” Sarah was sure that when most mothers asked ‘Did you get the paper?’ they were referring to a national newspaper, or at least a daily metro. But not Melody Neel. She wanted to know if Sarah had picked up the free weekly indie paper with the clairvoyant columnist.

Sarah had not actually gotten the paper. She had instead printed her horoscope from the NY Weekly website. For her mother, that would suffice.

“Well read it to me,” Melody said. Melody sat at the kitchen table where Sarah was eating breakfast. “I only have a few minutes before Alex gets here.”

Sarah continued eating her cereal as she slid the single sheet of paper across the table to her mother. Melody read:

You have a lot to learn. Asking questions is a great place to start but follow through to reach the finish. A person from your past has your best interests at heart. Take an interest in what that person has to say. Have you learned your lesson yet? You make the call.

“Sarah, I think I like this Astrid woman.”

“Yeah, well, all you guru types stick together,” Sarah joked.

“Astrid’s really more of an oracle than a guru,” Melody replied sweetly.

Touché mom, Sarah thought as Melody left to answer the doorbell. Melody was leaving for California to promote her new book and Alex Belkin had come by to finalize the itinerary.  Alex had been Melody’s manager for just over 15 years and had long ago become like family. After helping herself to a second cup of coffee, Sarah joined her mother and Alex in the living room.

“Third cup?” Alex asked Sarah, pointing to her coffee mug.

Sarah greeted Alex with a one-armed, careful-not-to-spill-her-coffee hug. “Only my second,” she defended herself.

“How’s the new job?” Alex asked.

“It’s okay. I like my boss.”

“Ah, yes. The Augured One.”

To Alex Melody said, “Instead of appreciating what’s happening, my daughter acts like Astrid is some kind of…I don’t know…”

“Magic 8-ball with a byline?” Alex offered, giving Sarah a friendly wink.

“Don’t encourage her, Alex.”

“Alex, my mother expects me to trust some anonymous –”

“Would you trust her if she wasn’t anonymous?” Melody interrupted.

“Maybe.”

“What paper is she with?” asked Alex.

“NY Weekly.”

“You know,” Alex began slowly, “I might be able to put you in touch with Astrid, or at least her editor. I have contacts at most of the local papers.”

“You want me to start stalking Astrid?”

“No but maybe if you talk to her and she turns out to be, say, a hopeful features writer just paying her dues…”

Both women saw where Alex was going.

“Okay, Sarah,” said Melody, “If you call Astrid and she’s not an astrologer…I’ll let go of the horoscope. But if she has credentials, you agree to give this a chance.”

“Agreed.” Before leaving the room, Sarah put down her coffee cup to give Alex an emphatic, two-armed, you-are-so-my-hero hug.

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