The deck of tarot cards tumbled from her hands and exploded as they hit the table. Casandra let out a resigned sigh. The shaking of her hands seemed to get worse every week. She rubbed her wrinkled hands together trying to massage out the arthritis, remembering how her grandmother had been stricken by it. The thought that there was another thing she had in common with her grandmother made Casandra smile.
Leaving the mess behind, Casandra moved toward her frosted living room window. The meager income she earned as a psychic was enough to support her, but provided few luxuries. Her house was perhaps the most visible example. It would be small even if it was a trailer, but there was excellent light through her one living room window. Unfortunately the view was of the neighbor’s driveway, perpetually featuring a partly disassembled car on a pedestal of jacks. The frosting fixed that problem and created a nice ambiance for her clientele, plus the window was the perfect frame for her grandmother’s cross. Casandra remembered making the cross with her grandmother as a little girl; it seemed like forever ago. Maybe it was, that cross had to be at least fifty years old. She remembered weaving through the woods. Grandmother had walked with her eyes closes, “feeling” for the right branches with her mind. She vividly remembered getting the pieces home and wet-bending them into the encircled cross, all in time to smudge it on Hallows Eve. Grandmother’s neighbors used to mock her constantly. “Old witch Mary Frasier” they’d call her. “Out on Halloween with her robe and incense, stinking up the town like the Devil.”
Grandmother told her that The Power ran in their family, that she could already tell Casandra had it, and that she would be very strong with it someday. She was right. Casandra shuddered to think what it would have been like if she hadn’t had her grandmother to teach her how to handle The Power. How overwhelmed she had been when she started absorbing other people’s emotions, taking on their stress and hate just by being near them. Grandmother was there when she’d wake up screaming in the night dreaming of murders and disasters, events that she later learned were happening or were about to happen.
Staring at the cross, Casandra’s mind drifted to the news report she’d seen in the lobby at the doctor’s office that morning. Having spent her life as an aloof outcast it was hard for her to wrap her head around what she’d seen. She had never doubted the existence of The Power, but to see that Harvard scientist on the morning news saying that “psychic phenomena was now a verifiable scientific fact”… well, Casandra never thought she’d live to see that. Every day more and more people were coming forward reporting abilities they’d kept hidden for years, the news had said. People were getting tested at universities around the world, duplicating the Harvard experiments. Sure there were frauds, people just wanting attention, but for the most part people that were getting tested were coming up positive. “There is a definite trend in psychic phenomena in the general population, and it seems to have a hereditary component,” the Harvard man had said.
People were starting to get scared, the news emphasized that. It always emphasized that. Casandra had been called names all her life. “Crackpot”, “weirdo”, “delusional”, “gullible idiot”, you got used to it after a while. She took it all in stride as her grandmother had taught her. “If they knew what we were capable of than they would truly fear us. Ridicule is better, darling. Just ask the women of Salem if you don’t believe me.” In this as in so many things, grandmother had been right. It’s one thing to think your neighbor is a crackpot, it’s quite another to know that she can read your mind.
Casandra returned to the table and began cleaning up the spilled tarot deck. She stopped with the job half finished and turned toward her front door, wondering if her client would come today. Casandra’s own emotions were too chaotic to see the answer clearly, but logic told her she would likely be spending the day alone.
A dark time was coming for Casandra and others like her. Remembering the witches of Salem, she wondered how her people would survive it.