Reply Hazy, Try Again

By Susan Conley, author of That Magic Mischief

That Magic MischiefI found myself doing it again, just this past weekend. I swore I was going to stop, that I would resist, and I had. I had resisted! For months, it seemed! Well, okay, there was the odd time that I’d click through to one or two of my many bookmarked pages, but honestly, only the odd time. Then, one recent, rainy Sunday, I found myself doing it again: consulting oracles on the internet.

It had started innocently enough. I was designing my Twitter page, and I needed some pictures of Tarot cards. Annabelle Walsh is the heroine of my debut Crimson Romance Paranormal, That Magic Mischief; an over-the-counter witch, she has a talent for interpreting the mysterious and evocative oracle. Me, I have no such talent, but it’s never stopped me from questioning the cards.

Or the runes. Or the I Ching — actually, I stopped using the I Ching because I feel like it hates me? There’s the Ogham, which is an medieval Irish alphabet that I suspect has been shoehorned into augury duty: in all the years I’ve been living in Ireland, I haven’t come across anyone who uses it as a go-to fortune teller. I love fortune telling in all its forms, from those little plastic fish that twitch in your palm, to the ladies who set up shop at the annual Mind, Body, Spirit Fair in Dublin.

I love it all, but I also feel like it’s maybe not such a good thing? That I am too easily lead, and if I get a bad result, then I won’t stop thinking about it, and worrying about it, and then, because I’ve spent so much time thinking/worrying, it will actually come true? All this angst from a random-content-generating internet soothsayer? Yeah. That’s why I stay away.

Except when I don’t, and I want to know something now, when I want answers to burning questions, when it’s not so much fear but impatience that is inspiring me to click on some virtual angel cards with my query. In the excerpt below, Annabelle has got a bit of both going on. Does her reading come true? Sure, that would be telling.

Annabelle lit the candles and sat down on the floor. She tried deep breathing for a few seconds, and feeling slightly calmer, took the deck out of its wooden box, and began to shuffle the cards. Her mind was far from clear, she was far from centered, but she wanted answers. She wanted results. She wanted guarantees.

She let her breath flow in and out; it lulled her, cleared her head, calmed her down, and the smell of the burning wax soothed her, as she tried to formulate a mature, non-attached-type question. Not: Will Wilson come back to me, please, please?

Her breathing hitched. Yeah, definitely not that. “Okay. The issue is…Wilson. Um. Do we have a future together?”

She turned over a card. The Knight of Pentacles, reversed.

“Damn it.” Reversed, this Knight meant carelessness, a standstill in affairs. “Okay, so if things are at a standstill, that means they can move forward again, right?” She turned another card.

Three of Swords, reversed. Sorrow due to loss. Well, duh, Annabelle thought, and then winced, as if she’d said it out loud. As if the cards could hear…

She turned over the next card warily.

Wheel of Fortune. Not always a good sign, though, as it could mean an unexpected loss rather than a gain, even when in the upright position as it was now. “I don’t know what any of this means,” Annabelle mumbled, knowing full well what it meant. This was all about the now, and she didn’t like the now.

At moments like these, Annabelle found it was usually a good thing to stop pulling cards.
Queen of Cups. She shivered. That was her court card. Good natured, intuitive, a loving female figure, one whose imagination often outweighed her good sense…

Strength. The beautiful woman gently pats the lion on his head, symbolizing serenity, and the power of the human spirit to overcome any obstacle. Yeah, yeah, yeah…

The Sun. “Summertime? Two months from now? I’ll be better in two months?”

Annabelle gathered up the reading and returned the deck to its box. This wasn’t what the cards were for, to be used as replacement for experience and living. Even if she didn’t like what her experience was telling her and the way her life was going, it was time to put the tarot away.

Rising, she left the candles burning and got some incense going as well. Lavender: soothing, healing. She wanted healing. She wanted that fistful of pain to get on out of her chest and dissolve into the ether. She wanted all her lessons learned in a six-week correspondence course, she wanted a whole, strong heart, she wanted Wilson back, she wanted all the sadness to leak out of her pores, she wanted her life back. Her self back. Now.


Susan Conley moved to Dublin for twelve months — fourteen years ago. In that time, she’s gained a Masters from Trinity, changes careers, married, divorced, taken up horseriding, and published two novels in addition to That Magic Mischief. What’s next? Hmmm, maybe the Magic 8 Ball knows… Follow her @SusanEConley.

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