I will never forget that summer. It was August of 2011. My friend informed me that her aunt had a gift. I didn’t know it then, but that woman’s gift would end up changing my life.
You see, I’d never had my cards read before. I always believed in the paranormal, and I think it was that very belief that had kept me away from Tarot Cards for so long. However, this summer was different. I was desperate. I needed answers, and I didn’t really care who gave them to me or where they came from, so long as I could find an inkling of truth to help alleviate the nightmares that had been haunting me for far too long.
A year prior, I’d had a falling out with a friend. I missed her, and worried about her often. Her personality seemed to have shifted after a traumatic loss within her family, and I just needed to know if she was alright, because it wasn’t my place to ask her anymore. I had tried reaching out to her once at school after we had stopped talking, but she ignored my efforts. Consequently, I had been dreaming of her suicide for months. I just needed to be sure that the dreams were purely symbolic in nature, and not intuitive or foreshadowing an actual tragedy that might happen.
So, there I was. 17 years old, the summer before my senior year of high school, in my friend’s basement, sitting across from the woman who would change my life forever.
I never gave her any details about my situation or my concerns, and that was the way she liked it. She handed me her deck of cards, told me to shuffle them however I pleased, and then to break the deck in half and hand it back to her. That’s exactly what I did.
She laid out seven cards. The symbols and pictures on them meant nothing to me, but they told her everything that I didn’t.
“You’re missing someone? A sister?” She asked, placing a cigarette between her lips.
“Yes,” I sighed, “She wasn’t exactly my sister, but she may as well have been.”
“She misses you, too,” The woman said, flicking her lighter and holding the flame to the end of her cigarette, “But not for the same reasons you miss her.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, shifting uncomfortably in my seat. I knew exactly what she meant.
“She was using you. But you already know that, don’t you?” The woman smiled sympathetically, exhaling a cloud of smoke into the space between us. “She misses all of the things she could take from you.” She pointed to a card on the table. “You were also her scapegoat. She could blame you for her own shortcomings and faults. That’s why her mother didn’t like you. That girl blamed her own mishaps and bad ideas on you.”
“I know,” I said, looking at the floor, “but I really cared about her.”
“I can see that,” The woman said, pointing to another one of the cards, “You cared so much, that you’re suffering from nightmares about leaving her behind. Is that right?”
“Yes,” I admitted, “I keep dreaming that she is going to kill herself.”
The woman shook her head, “She won’t. That is just your subconscious trying to process the trauma of losing her and what you thought was a friendship. She removed herself from your life. And now, to you, it feels as though she is dead. It feels like she may as well have killed herself, because of the way she departed your life so suddenly. Does that make sense?”
“Yes,” I whispered.
“She will be fine.”
I let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you. That was my main concern.”
“However,” She picked up the card closest to me, “Death is in your cards. I don’t think it means anything though, probably just a manifestation of your own anxieties about your friend and the nightmares you’ve been having.”
She examined the cards more closely. She picked a couple of them up and rearranged them.
“Hmm. I’m sorry Darlin’, I’m not really seeing much else here. There might be something here symbolizing a changing of the seasons, but that might just mean the transition going on in your heart, as you move on to the next phase in your life and let your friend go.”
I smiled politely, and reached out my hand to shake hers and thank her. When she took my hand, the expression on her face shifted, and the energy in the room intensified. She narrowed her eyes and stared at me through the cigarette smoke lingering between us.
“I see needles,” She said, “Did you recently get a tattoo or a piercing done?”
“Do you or someone close to you have Diabetes?”
“I mean, my grandma-”
“No,” She interrupted, then held her other hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. “Do you know someone who is into heavy drugs? Heroin, maybe?”
My eyes widened. “Y-yes, actually. One of my other friends, Hannah. But she said-”
“She’s clean.” The woman finished my sentence for me, still holding my hand. “I’m sorry Darlin’, but that just isn’t the truth.”
“What do you mean?” I asked reluctantly.
“I don’t want to startle you. Nothing is set in stone, and my interpretation could be off, but I feel like something is going to happen to your friend Hannah. With the shift of the seasons, when the leaves begin to change.”
“Okay…” I shifted uncomfortably under the weight of the woman’s stare, “Say this is true, what can I do to prevent it from happening?” I asked, trying to keep my composure.
“Tell her that you know she isn’t clean. Tell her that in the fall, September maybe, she is going to get a really good batch. It will be stronger and purer than anything she is used to. Tell her to take it slow, to divide it in to smaller portions than she normally would. Because she won’t see it coming.”
I shook my head and pulled my hand away. “I don’t know if she will believe me, or listen. If she actually is clean, I don’t want to discourage her progress by making false accusations of her relapsing.”
“I understand,” The woman took one last puff from her cigarette, and snuffed it out on the ashtray beside her. “All you can do is try.”
The next day, I told my sister about the reading I had received while at my friend’s house. I told her that Hannah was lying to us about her recovery and that she might overdose in September. My sister decided to reach out to Hannah in the most logical, sensitive way that she could. Of course, Hannah completely dismissed her efforts.
“I totally believe in that stuff,” Hannah wrote in Facebook Messenger, “But I think that lady was blowing smoke up your ass.”
“I would just rather be safe, sound crazy, and tell you now, instead of being sorry later.” My sister typed.
“I appreciate your concern, Love.” Hannah sent multiple heart emojis, followed by,” But I am clean. I promise you that.”
At the time, that had been enough. Hearing from Hannah had been the confirmation that we needed. She would be fine. She was clean and going back to school in a few weeks to finish her nursing degree. She was engaged, and her life was finally falling in to place. For the first time in a long time, she was happy and healthy. Nothing could get in her way.
Or so we thought.
I will never forget what happened after that. On September 8th, 2011, I had just finished my first week of my senior year of high school. I was walking home after class and catching leaves as they fell from the trees around me. I was so happy to see that the first of the leaves were beginning to fall, and the summer heatwaves would soon return to the depths of Hell where they had come from. I remember turning the corner on to my street and feeling my mood shift as I noticed my sister standing in our driveway, waiting for me.
When my sister noticed me, she started running down the street to meet me.
“What are you doing?” I asked, as she reached her arms out toward me. “Why are you hugging me? We only do this when-”
“When someone dies.” She finished my sentence for me.
“What? What happened?” I asked, pushing her away from me.
“Do you remember what you told me last month?” She wiped her eyes on her shirt.
“Do you remember what that woman said? The one with the Tarot Cards?” Her voice broke.
I stared at her blankly, trying to recall what she might be talking about.
“It’s Hannah,” my sister whispered. “She’s dead.”
I tried to speak, but suddenly, my mouth was dry and my tongue felt like it had grown three times its size. Finally, I managed to choke out one word.
My sister took a deep breath and looked up at the sky before answering.
It has been 8 years since we lost our friend. The foretelling of her death may have been pure coincidence, but even with the warning, none of us saw it coming. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Hannah, or wonder if she is still around us in some unseen way. I feel her presence all of the time, and I often hear her voice in the back of my mind, encouraging me to pick up a pen and write.
So, Hannah, this one’s for you.