Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
Practical Magic
  by Sara Ellis
October 2005

Taste the Future

There are times where seeing what the future holds gives us an advantage in life, or at least lends the illusion of an upper hand.

Removing the element of surprise, while possibly boring, also gives a sense of security. For thousands of years mankind has tried to divine the future and bribe the Fates through every means imaginable: plotting the slow procession of heavenly bodies; gazing into crystals; or multiplying your birthday by the sum of letters in your mother's maiden name divided by your weight in English stones. For the arithmetic shy it can be as simple as tossing a coin - straight up, or into a fountain.

Not so very long ago, a roommate and I found ourselves in need of just such a metaphysical leg up on the future. My roommate, Rupert, was feeling extremely anxious about his upcoming date with an ex-girlfriend, Flora. He wanted to know what would happen on the date, and what repercussions it might have.

Up until this time I had exhibited quasi psychic powers, like dreaming about people's wives and a dead horse. Knowing this, Rupert designated me as Seer and Interpreter. All I needed now was some sort of medium or device with which to sift the sands of Space and Time.

Everyone knows that ouija boards are tools of the devil and scary as hell. Right out of the question. There isn't much point in reading someone's palm more than once, and sometimes you don't have six dollars for a magic eight ball and even more importantly sometimes you don't have time to ask again later no matter how hazy the reply.

I had a vision.

Okay, my stomach growled, but it got me thinking. There was a vending machine a mere twenty feet from our apartment door, and inspiration struck. I've seen girls wish on green M&Ms before tossing them into the air and catching them with their mouths. It usually involved adolescent crushes or unicorns, perhaps both.

The wishes may be silly and shortsighted, but I think they were onto something. Could I not perhaps divine the future from a confection? Skittles, even? Why not give it a go when the only danger is failing to see the future and tasting the rainbow instead?

Rupert and I sat across from each other, wide-eyed and anxious.

"What will you ask the Skittles," I said.

"I want to know what's going to happen on my date with Flora."

We then proceeded to improvise the most effective system of fortune telling this side of Panda Garden. First you account for what each skittle signifies; this significance is entirely up to the Seer and Interpreter, as is the manner of it's conception. I simply pick up each skittle between my fingers and gently roll it around as I concentrate upon Ultimate and Inevitable Destiny.

Fortunes can be very specific or generalized.. For example, I had silently conversed with the cosmos and dubbed each color thusly:

Red is empty passion. Things may heat up, but it won't last.

Orange is a shocking discovery.

Purple is a new but platonic bond.

Green is electrocution.

Rupert paled but reverently conceded to the Fates - I certainly wasn't making up this crap.

You may have noticed, just as Rupert had, that yellow had not as yet been mentioned. This brings us to a very important rule.

Yellow is the only skittle that never changes from person to person, or future to future. Yellow is always the worst possible outcome. And I mean worst. Worse than even electrocution or death by savage gnomes. There are some fates worse than death, and yes, even gnomes.

After naming the fortunes, the Seer and Interpreter puts them all in his/her mouth and shakes vigorously. Some people choose to allow the Fortunate, or recipient as it were, to blow on them beforehand, not unlike dice. After adequate shaking and swishing a single skittle is spit into the hand, and there you have it.

Luckily Rupert got off with measly electrocution, and he chose to accept his fate. I say chose because though the threads of time are strong, there are some knots that may be loosened, should we be brave enough to try.

The only way to reverse a skittle fortune after it has been told is for the recipient to ingest the remaining fortunes and therefore accept the Evitable and Possible. And yes, they are all half chewed and covered in spit. Sometimes minty fresh spit, but spit all the same.

Taking hold of your own destiny can be a truly nasty business.


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