pub. 2-29-24 - 1,681 words

“Place both palms on the object. Let the psychic current flow through you. Focus on deciphering the signal, and nothing else,”she said. My hands, spread like a butterfly, cradled a potted plant.

“Close your eyes,”Ms. Renard instructed, and I followed.

I said, “Dark.”


I tried to focus on any schema that entered my mind, emptied myself of any other thoughts. For a few minutes, I sat in colorless void, waiting for the plant’s fortune. Ms. Renard was silent. I was beginning to lose my sense of time, when I envisioned:

“Something!”I blurted.

“Very good. What can you see?”replied Ms. Renard.

“It’s blurry, but I think it says—sun.”

“Very, very good. What do you make of it?”

“Well, this plant—this plant has sun in its future. I guess it will grow big.”

I opened my eyes. Ms. Renard was grinning at the other end of the wooden table. Around her house, ferns, philodendron, and fiddle-leaf figs grew healthily.

“I’d say you’re right,”my tutor said.

From there I visited Ms. Renard every Saturday evening. Abundant practice in-between. It was a hefty portion of my monthly paycheck, but she was an incomparable teacher.

“Everything has a past embedded deep within. The key to the future is knowing the past. Go ahead, pick something,”Ms. Renard said. I got up from the dining table and meandered around her living room. I fell upon the couch, both hands planted on a cushion. It was stiff; it made a crunching sound. On my knees, I shut my eyes.

I expanded my mind. It felt bloated, something exerting pressure on the inside of my cranium. Like a massage, a mix of pain and pleasure. Eventually it deflated, leaving behind the light of a word.

Money, I see,”I told Ms. Renard.

Then I looked at her. She stared at me, looking vaguely surprised, her mouth ajar just enough for a nickel.

Money?”she said at last. “That’s peculiar.”

I tried again. Still I received the same—money. I was about to lift the cushion, see what underneath was providing such a word, but Ms. Renard jumped hastily.

“Excuse me, dear,”she interjected, “let me try.”

She assumed the same position as I did, closing her eyes, crunching the couch in the same way. In ten seconds’time she told me, “No, I only see buttocks. But fret not. It’s undeniably difficult to correctly figure out what the current is trying to tell you.”

“Okay,”I said.

I was on my knees all night, in front of my dinky couch, in my poignantly bare apartment. I pushed my hands deep into the cushions. I squeezed my eyelids together. I flushed the external world down the drain, focusing solely on the meaning of the ΨI (psychic current) traversing through my body.

I kept receiving buttocks, thankfully. Each time, I opened my eyes, took a lap around the room, did it again. Each time was gradually less blurry. I practiced until four in the morning. I sighed in relief, fell backwards onto the floor, fell asleep instantaneously. All the while the moon chuckled at me.

Ms. Renard’s tuxedo cat glared at me from his tower, liquid emerald in his eyes, pupils thin as film. A scare.

“Why don’t you apply yourself to Bouleau? I think you have the skill. But be patient. An animal has a complex past, rich and interweaving—especially Bouleau. All of those thick, sticky memories have to trickle through your being.”Ms. Renard patted her lap. “Pss-pss-pss, Bouleau!”

The cat hesitantly rose, descended his castle—his unwavering glance stuck on me as he sauntered towards us. He sat delicately on the rug, by Ms. Renard’s leg. I leaned down to his level, and I placed my palms on his cheeks. He blinked, slowly, like he had received this treatment before.


Bouleau’s ΨI seeped into my mind like water scales a paper towel. Mental images of his life pre-adoption jaywalked across my consciousness. A kitty’s life in the forest with his siblings, I imagined, and dump trucks and concrete mixers. And—while laying famished amidst wooden skeletons of houses—a woman with shaggy, red hair and deep, gray bags underneath her eyes reaches out her arms. I forced all of the energy in my body towards the signal. Take past memories, decipher the pattern, and determine the future.

I opened my eyes.

“…You’re grinning,”said Ms. Renard. I had not realized I was grinning.

“Tuna.”And I chuckled. “There’s tuna in his future.”

“Ah! He loves his tuna! Don’t you, sweetie-pie?”


Yes, I practiced clairvoyance every minute I had unoccupied. Late at night in the apartment, I would tell the fortunes of my window, my walls, my lamp. Sometime in the future the walls will be painted liquid emerald.

Ms. Renard was teaching me connections with animals. I couldn’t afford a pet. I didn’t like Bouleau near me anymore. So I ventured into the alleys and grabbed rats by the neck. With most of them I saw:

But with one saucy fellow I saw:

I think he started to asphyxiate, and he bit my thumb. Sorry, I let him scurry off. I couldn’t afford a hospital visit. I used a Band-Aid.

No pain, no gain! I heard that on TV. I can’t get enough of petite, juicy aphorisms. I was in pain, but indeed I was gaining. Visions becoming clearer.

“Try me,”she said.


“On my temples. A whole year—you’re nearly a master.”

I laid my hands on Ms. Renard’s temples. The first attempt on a Homo sapiens. I entered the darkness.

For three hours—as I estimate, anyway—my head gradually warmed, like an active wire. The ΨI feeding into my brain developed overexposed photographs of Ms. Renard’s past. She appeared as a coagulation of plasma in the formation of the universe, perambulating around, having nice conversations with other coagulations of plasma. Her human emotions were too intricate to fit fully through the bandwidth of my palms, and I received the strands of cheese shoved through the grater.

My head did not stop warming. Eventually it stung. It stung, when all of the light snapped into a grid. All of the data organized itself, and the future became clear:


I sprung from my chair. Ms. Renard snorted awake.

She breathed, half-conscious, “What… Where are you going?”

I sprinted across the room, sliding the carpet along the floor, nearly falling, and burst through the front door. I ran, then walked, all the way from Ms. Renard’s house in the metropolitan suburbs to my apartment in the city. All the while the moon laughed uproariously.

I wallowed in bed for a very protracted period of time. Nature called and I got up.

Lights blinding in the bathroom. I wanted to become catatonic. No senses and no thoughts. So I closed my eyes.

I stopped peeing.

I left my apartment. In the hall, my neighbor was unlocking her door. I needed more practice. I tried to tell her fortune.

“Get your hands off me! What is wrong with you?!”she yelled.

I ran off, down the stairs. Dawn drew streaks of sunlight on the lobby floor. Ten people ate breakfast in the communal area. At each table I tried to garner ΨI. The most I got was:

Ten times I was scolded for trying to practice my craft. I was near perfection, I thought. If lonely is in my future then so be it. Interpersonal relationships disintegrate like the uneducated mind. I am achieving nirvana.

I ran out of the building. I tried many passersby. I tried everyone at the patio restaurant. Many foreheads were greasy. Anyway, all failures; not one considerate person around. Outside of the department store, a woman talked to someone. She was not looking at her baby. I put my hands on the infant’s head. They did not resist.

Good job. Before anyone could oppress me, I blended with the crowd, heading towards the office district. I was burning hot, spent. I rubbed the sweat off of my eyelids with both palms.


I looked at my thumb. Since the saucy rat a few months ago, the scar had progressed through the rainbow. The little guy must have given me AIDS.

Fate is a curious thing. An applicable aphorism. Most people deal with fate on a need-to-know basis, but I—I had improved my skills enough that I could tell my own fate.

I figured I should try to preserve myself. At the end of the district was the hospital. I avoided all eye contact until I checked in at the ER.

I sat, lit by fluorescence. In my pocket, I had the wad of cash that I was going to give Ms. Renard—before I figured out she’d been exploiting me. I could use it to pay for any treatment.

I wondered why her couch communicated money to me.

Waiting, I came up with my own aphorism:

In general, people do not like having their foreheads grasped by strangers—with the exception of babies, who have not yet had their compassion killed by society. You must practice clairvoyance persistently, until you have reached perfection; worrying about the thoughts of heartless normies is only a distraction. The past and future are both infinitely large, while the present is only a byte. The present is too fleeting to ignore its bookends. To care at all about current sensations and feelings is unhealthy gambling—all of it is gone in an instant! The only solution is to know the past and future so intimately that you practically live in them. Then all issues of the present vanish. You can live the rest of your life in blissful apathy. Do not trust Bouleau.

Petite and juicy, I thought.

I waited in the meager present for my future to arrive. It was a long time in the waiting room.

I wanted to practice on the others around me, but I was exhausted. Unconsciously I bent over, sighing, putting my hands over my eyes.

I started peeing again.