Madame Budoucnosta

by Michael Sarinsky

Prague’s most particular psychic, Madame Budoucnosta, operates from the back room of a wristwatch repair shop and costs 800 koruna. The bills go face-up into a creaky drawer, flat against the tea bags. Have a seat, she says. Palms up.

Madame Budoucnosta hums and the lights seem to flicker. I close my eyes.

She tells me that I’ll lose an earring onto the hotel floor at breakfast tomorrow morning, and in the harried, all-fours search underneath the table I’ll lose the other. At a jewelry store off Jakubská Street, I’ll purchase a replacement pair priced up for tourists and meet a business traveler shopping for an anniversary gift. “Those look good on you,” he’ll say, though I’ll have yet to try them on. He will ask me, as he pulls out his credit card, whether I’ve seen the Astronomical Clock under moonlight. On the train I’ll write my mother a postcard, but when we arrive at our hotel in Berlin I’ll call her instead. “Mom,” I will say. “I like it here.” The other students will form a line behind me at the payphone. They will look so young.

The air is heavier in Prague. Like there hasn’t been a fire for too long.

Madame Budoucnosta tells me that college will pass by like conveyor-belt sushi. (Her words.) My parents will divorce, months after I’ve moved to California, when my mother discovers my dad’s second family. I will fly home economy-class. I will meet someone on the plane with the initials HN. My bedroom will look exactly like I left it, but it’ll smell like raisins and the heating won’t quite comply with the thermostat. An obstruction keeps her from visualizing my job clearly – something charitable, something buttoned-up? I’ll be promoted on the day I intend to quit. With the extra salary I’ll adopt a shelter dog and name her Sriracha. On the phone from his new apartment, my dad will ask “Did you say Sasha?” and I will say “Yes.”

No two clocks in Madame Budoucnosta’s den agree on the time.

HN will propose on a Sunday. Our kids’ feet will blister on holidays when we dress them in fancy shoes. On a suburban playground they’ll see who can dangle a glob of spit further from their mouth and still be able to suck it back in. She says her visions get hazier further out in time. I will leave my coat in the car and shiver through a funeral. HN will become upset when I refuse to reupholster a chair. We will hang a horseshoe over the front door for good luck, but on the wrong side of the door. The painting we bought in Chile will drop from our hallway wall in the middle of the night. It’ll make two thuds, once when the frame hits the floor, and again when it topples onto its face. I’ll identify the thuds as they wake me up, somehow, instinctively, and they won’t scare me. Our daughter will shriek but then protest my consoling her. On a porch in Louisiana, I’ll watch two buffleheads vanish into a lake. Then the wind will gust and I won’t see whether they return to the surface with fish.

Madame Budoucnosta relaxes into her chair. Her bracelets jingle on the way down. She says I have time for one question before the portal has to close. There are jars of teeth behind me. She is smiling.

Michael Sarinsky is a graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program and an associate editor at Conjunctions, with work appearing in Redivider, SmokeLong Quarterly, and the Jellyfish Review.