The air was warm, and it was a sunny day but it didn’t make Molly happy. In her heart it felt like it was winter. She felt empty. It had only been a few months since she miscarried their child. At the hospital, they hadn’t let her see the baby, so she never knew if she would have inherited her red hair, or Dan’s dark brown hair. A kind nurse told her it was a girl. A well known saying was that “whatever doesn’t kill you strengthens you.” ‘I didn’t ask to be stronger’ she thought.
After losing the baby Molly lay in bed for two weeks, curled in a ball most of the time. Dan and her parents took turns forcing her to eat and bathe. She became a broken version of herself. Old Molly would have been excited as she and Dan packed the little red Accord for their trip—her camera around her neck, eager to take pictures of autumn scenery.
New Molly wore a permanent frown line etched between her eyebrows. She alternated between sleeping too much and not being able to sleep at all. She had two moods. Sad and irritated.
“I’m so glad you are going with me, Molly.” Dan told her, smiling.
She hadn’t left the house for weeks. A dark pall fell over everyone in the house. Ted Miller, Dan’s editor, gave him the opportunity to cover a big story in Dan’s hometown.
Dan talked Molly into coming with him, playing it up as a fun road trip.
“Let’s visit the carnival tonight.”
“Oh, Dan, I don’t know… all those people.. I’m not ready for that.” Molly sighed and wished he understood. He coped in different ways. Throwing himself into work. Taking care of her. Molly agreed to the road trip out of guilt for being such a burden—not that Dan admitted it, but she suspected.
Recently, He had been out of the house more often. Molly picked up on subtle clues that he was seeing another woman. It made her angry, but she couldn’t confront him without proof.
He enfolded her in a hug and stroked her hair. “If you really don’t want to go, I understand.”
She had been neglecting her relationship with him, maybe she was wrong about him cheating and he was just keeping his distance because he thought that is what she wanted. They could use some time together outside of the house.
“It might be fun.” She mumbled against his shirt.
They drove her parent’s car since they loaded theirs up with luggage. While they were walking around the carnival, eating cotton candy, Dan spotted a fortune teller’s tent. “Hey Mols, check that out. Wanna ask her if we will have a good trip tomorrow?”
“I don’t…no, I don’t believe in that stuff, they just tell you whatever they think you want to hear.”
“Right, it’s not real, so what’s the harm? It’ll be entertaining.”
‘He seems excited about it’
“Yeah, it might be fun. All right.”
They walked up to a young woman sitting in a folding chair next to a green card table, outside the fortune teller’s tent.
“Hello. Five dollars per reading.” She mumbled.
Dan handed her a ten. “Um, I don’t want my fortune read.” Molly said.
Dan shrugged. The young woman gave him five dollars change from her cash box. He tucked it back into his wallet as they walked into the tent.
It was dim inside. They could see an older woman seated at a table. Molly expected to see a crystal ball, but there wasn’t one. The woman seated at the table bore a resemblance to the young woman outside. Molly guessed she was this woman’s granddaughter. The fortune teller had her dark hair braided, and she wasn’t wearing any jewelry.
Dan and Molly sat in the folding chairs opposite her. She reached for Dan’s hand without even needing to be told that he was the one who wanted the reading. Her face paled, and she looked at him with eyes widened. Then her look of alarm vanished, and she straightened and smiled warmly.
“You are planning a trip tomorrow?”
“Yes!” Dan said.
“It will be a profitable one.”
“That’s it? Nothing else?” Dan asked
She nodded. “Yes, that is all that the spirits are telling me,”
Dan looked like he wanted to say more but just then the granddaughter walked in and told them they were closing for dinner.
As Dan and Molly left the tent, she looked back and saw the fortune teller staring at Dan. The woman turned to her granddaughter and whispered “Rougarou.”