The Fortune Teller by Janet Shell Anderson

May 27, 2013 Comments Off on The Fortune Teller by Janet Shell Anderson

People here in the Arctic, in Frostviken, used to worship the old gods. Freya. Njord. Gods who knew the future. So do I.

One car passes down the gravel road. The fells rise to the west, steep mountains, bare of trees. Pools of water at sunset are like red eyes, staring.

Strangers like Jamtland: the air is so pure, the water so clean near the Arctic Circle. They don’t know it.

I sit on my dapple pony, with my jamthund following. A huntress. My people hunted here a thousand years. I ride toward a sky that burns, torch behind the mountains.

Lundgard is dead. I googled it. The pony keeps a steady pace; the dog follows. Lundgard’s brothers will hunt for me.

I see otters in the river and ride closer; they plunge in and disappear. Brown bear, moose, cross the forest; wolves come down sometimes. I hunt. Do what I want. I’m Jamtish. Independent.

I had nothing to do with Lundgard’s death.

The midnight sun will set but only for an hour, then it will rise again. I push the pony west, toward the fells, toward the stone house by the river.

I was unfaithful. That was all. I am unfaithful. What is faithfulness? I am not owned.

The river winds like a knot toward a stone house that the man I love lies in, and I am drawn there, even in this midnight sunset, even with this cloud of red fog coming down, covering field and forest.

Lundgard owned a farthing, a holding here in the north, a great tract, was a handsome man in his way, with stone blue eyes, rich as a god. I almost married him.

In the twilight, in the summer murklight, I can spin the future.

His brothers blame me. They say I poisoned him. They will hunt me. The pony shifts as I turn toward stone walls and a road pale as ice. Lundgard owned a town, a factory, owned an iron mine, died underground in that mine alone, a suicide. I may be safe near Storsjon or Froa; I may be safe in Oslo or Stockholm, New York, L.A., or Rome. Or nowhere.

The fells rise black in the twilight, wall between Jamtland and Norway. The otters dip in the river, and the forest fades. The man I love lies behind the stone walls of his house, laid out by his brothers in a narrow parlor with white candles at his head and feet.

His name is Lundgard. He is dead. His brothers will hunt me.

So I am hunting them.

I’ve come to say hello to the brothers, newly rich, come to say look out, I am the fortune teller.

© 2013 Janet Shell Anderson

Janet Shell Anderson has been published by Larks Fiction, Vestal Review, decomP, Grey Sparrow, Convergence and others, and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Micro Prize.  She is an attorney.

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