Flash Fiction

A manicured hand slams a bag of colorful crystals onto a glass countertop, stirring the shadow behind the counter. A wrinkly face pokes through the curtain of smoke, writhing from incense sticks, staring back at the face that belongs to those intrusive hands.

“Hello. I’d like a refund,” says the young woman, her dirty blonde hanging limply to her shoulders, the last sparkle of light fading from her grey-blue eyes. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other, crossing her arms, hoping to be taken seriously. She’s tall and willowy, unlike the owner of the shop who stands opposite her, petite and round, like a soft pillow. They both wear chunky stone jewelry — the type you see anthropologists wearing as they hang out in trees, snooping on other cultures — and their outfits have that air of boho glam. Long tunics, a few sequins, neutral colors. As if any minute a primal drum will start beating and they’ll have to follow it into the wildflowers.

“And what seems to be the problem?” the middle-aged woman asks, running a hand through her long, wiry grey-black hair.

“They don’t work. That’s the problem.”

“Are you sure it’s the crystals that don’t work…”

“Eileen.”

“Are you sure it’s the crystals that don’t work, Eileen?”

“Yes,” Eileen says, leaning against the counter.

“And have you purchased from us before?”

“Yes, I’ve been to your Healing Crystal Shop many times. I’ve nearly bought out your entire selection of rose quartz. And all those damn visualization cards. The affirmation cards, too. Not to mention, I bought fourteen pounds of sage last year. None of it’s worked!” Exasperated, Eileen throws her hands in the air.

The shop owner remains Zen, folding her hands together atop the counter. “And what is it you’re seeking to manifest?”

Eileen stares at the shop owner. “Your name’s Indigo, right?”

“No, my name is Skye.”

“Oh, right. That’s it. Well, Skye, you’re the one who sold me all this stuff. Don’t you remember what I’m trying to manifest?” Eileen places a hand on her belly, sending Skye a hint.

Skye combs her memory without changing her peaceful countenance. “I believe I do.”

“Yeah. Well. I still haven’t been able to manifest that thing I want so badly.”

Skye glides from behind the counter to arrive at Eileen’s side. “Come with me,” she says.

Skeptical, and suddenly developing a headache from all that damn incense in the shop, Eileen trails behind Skye as she moves through her cluttered space, full of books on the magic of crystals, psychic powers (which we all have inside of us, the book says), affirmation cards, and a sale on carnelian stones. Skye pushes through strings of beads hanging from a doorway in place of a door, and as they slap together, Eileen follows, not without getting smacked a bit by the plastic beads.

“Ow,” she says, following Skye, who gestures for her to sit across from her on the bright red and orange Moroccan stools. She sits.

Eileen cranes her neck to get a better view of the room: it seems to be a psychic reading room. Tarot Cards are splayed out on a small wooden table, oils and tinctures line shelves against the wall, and in the corner an enormous amethyst stone sparkles under the overhead lights.

“Give me your hands.” Skye looks at Eileen, her eyes steady and serious, reaching out her hands for Eileen, who timidly obeys. Eileen’s hands rest upon Skye’s. Skye smiles at Eileen. “Do you feel that?”

“Cold and clammy?” Eileen asks.

Skye frowns. “No. The energy!”

Um, no. Eileen feels no energy. “I guess,” she lies.

“Close your eyes,” demands Skye. Eileen reluctantly obliges. “Now, I want you to listen. Sweep away your monkey mind if it tries to intrude, and listen for your soul. See that thing you want so badly. Visualize it. Imagine a purple tunnel of light connecting from your head to the sky, uniting you with your ancestors, with the energy of the universe.” Eileen does as she is told. “Now see that thing you want so badly, that precious thing you’ve been hoping for all these years to no avail, now see it float down from the outer realm of the universe through the tunnel, into your mind, and into your body. Do you see it?”

“Yes,” Eileen says, squeezing her eyes shut, visualizing. She’s trying not to get distracted by the bubbles of gas she feels popping inside her abdomen.

“You have the power to manifest this of which you want so badly, Eileen. You have the power,” Skye says, her voice starting to beat in a rhythm, a sort of chant. She’d make a great cult leader.

“But do I, really?” Eileen asks, keeping her eyes closed and her hands upon Skye’s. “I mean, I’m a mere human. Although I’d like to think I do, I don’t really have control do I? I don’t really have the power to manifest what I want through visualization?”

“It’s thoughts like those, Eileen, that keep you from manifesting your dreams! You are giving off the energy into the world that you don’t believe, that you don’t want, that you’re not worthy. It’s not that the crystals or the sage doesn’t work. It’s that you don’t believe.”

Eileen takes a deep breath, as if she is trying to suck in Skye’s energy and release her own negative energy. “I believe now,” Eileen says. “But…” her voice reverts to that old skeptical, inquisitive tone. “I mean, it’s sort of a lot of pressure, don’t you think? To believe you have the power to control the universe. To think that you can get whatever you want, as long as you visualize it the right way? What about all the people living in poverty? Why can’t they get out of poverty? Are they just not visualizing hard enough? And what about all the people with cancer? Did they accidentally visualize that they got cancer?”

“It’s all about your energy, Eileen! If you give off bad energy, you will attract bad energy!” Now Skye’s voice is staring to raise an octave. So much for that Zen.

“So then, they deserve it, don’t they? It’s their fault they’re in containment camps and living in war torn countries? It’s their fault when they get molested and kidnapped? They’re not holding the right crystals when they visualize? Right, Skye?”

Skye opens her eyes, which are glowing angrily. Feeling this energy upon her, Eileen opens her own.

“You have the power. You just have to believe in yourself. Everything you need is inside of you. Just visualize it harder, damn it!”

Eileen pulls her hands away from Skye, alarmed.

“No, no. You’re right. I think you’re right. It was me. It was my fault. I wasn’t believing hard enough. I wasn’t seeing hard enough. I’ll keep the crystals and try to do better next time.”

Satisfied with that answer, Skye smiles. She rises, leading Eileen out of the back room, toward the front of the shop.

“Can you try one more time with me? As my mentor? Help me visualize?” asks Eileen.

Skye happily accepts, taking her hands again. “Imagine a purple tunnel of light connecting you to the universe. See what it is you want so badly. Feel it in your heart that you have it deep inside of you. Know that you can have this thing, that it is coming your way. You are about to receive this gift!”

Eileen tries really hard. She visualizes. She sees this this thing. It’s floating from the universe down to her head, and resting inside her. She feels overwhelmed with joy. She finally has this precious gift she’s always wanted!

She smiles at Skye. “Thank you so much.”

Skye hands Eileen her bag of crystals, then smiles and nods. “Namaste.”

Eileen nods. “Namaste,” she says, as she walks through the door and into the bright sunshine.

And then, magically, as if Eileen manifested it herself, it appears before her. What she’d been trying to manifest all these years. Astonished, she realizes she is powerful. She is in control of her own life. Anything she wants she can have, as long as she truly believes, as long as she truly sees.

She walks right up to the man selling tacos out of a cart and reaches out her arms toward him.

It isn’t much longer until those beautiful precious tacos rest in the pit of her belly, just as she’d always imagined.

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