I Can See Your Future: Six Stories About Psychics

I can see your future / there’s nobody around. 

It was a typically brutal Maryland summer, and I worked for a small music publishing company. I was often alone, collating or alphabetizing or organizing something, armed only with my iPod.  I alternated between Belle & Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit and Keane’s first two albums. When my workday was over I’d walk the half-mile to the church on Main Street where my mom was a secretary. Or I’d go to the local library, its silence so different from the tense quiet of the publishing office. With my soundtrack, these walks became existential adventures. Even now, as I hit play on “Another Sunny Day,” I am still walking down the sidewalk, my sternum swollen with something adjacent to love.

I like thinking about this time in my life. I think I am still looking for something that feels like those walks. They felt endlessly, stupidly romantic. I didn’t need anything except a charged battery. It’s unrealistic that my entire life should feel like a two-mile radius in the town where I had a dissatisfying part-time summer job. I think what I miss is a path with a destination. Then, I could take as long as I wanted on my walk or try a different route, but I knew where I was going. I don’t know where I’m going anymore. That’s what this part of my twenties is about, and that’s okay, but it’s deeply unsettling. I’m too anxious to take in the view or to consider an alternate path. I am desperate for news of the future.

1. “The Cat Psychic.” (Rachel Monroe, Hazlitt, May 2016)

When she returned from a month-long trip, Rachel Monroe’s cat, Musa, didn’t want to be near her anymore. He avoided their apartment and stayed outdoors for long stretches of time. Distraught, Monroe did something she never thought she’d do—she called a pet psychic to see if she could repair their relationship.

2. “Artisanal Futures.” (Claire Carusillo, Racked, January 2016)

Etsy is a boon to psychics with an internet connection. Interspersed with the results of her Etsy-produced readings, Claire Carusillo explores the legal ramifications of doing metaphysical business.

3. “Psychic in Reykjavik.” (Fatima Bhutto, Catapult, September 2015)

Everyone in Iceland has a medium. Fatima Bhutto spent her childhood entertaining charlatans. Water, meet oil.

4. “Fortunate One.” (Jaclyn Einis, Narratively, November 2012)

Janet Horton shucked her corporate life in favor of writing a novel. Then, as fate would have it, she became her main character.

5. “The Magnetic North.” (Courtney Stephens, The New Inquiry, May 2014)

An interview with Shane McCorristine, an expert in “occult geographies,”about the 19th century phenomenon of young, uneducated women traveling psychically to foreign countries, particularly on Arctic expeditions. One of my favorite quotes:

When “official” channels fail, people no longer recognize the barriers that exist between, say, the Admiralty and a psychic. This is not to say that families of the missing who use psychics are irrational, but to argue that the important thing is information, clues, hope. People will seek these things anywhere; it just so happens we decide that seeking them from “legitimate” authorities is normative.

6. “My Love Life According to Three (and a Half) New York Psychics.” (Chiara Atik, Refinery29, February 2015)

For all you skeptics, Chiara Atik is right there with you. Her tale of three psychics is hilarious:

“I feel like you’re four years behind in life — in EVERY respect,” she says, looking me unblinkingly in the eye. “Work, money, and relationships.”

At this point, I actually laugh out loud. It was such a startlingly terrible thing to say to a complete stranger. This woman doesn’t know my life. Would a woman who was four years behind romantically be moving in with her boyfriend?  Would a woman four years behind financially have gone to SoulCycle twice in the past month? I think not! Psychics are bullshit, I decide.

“You’re a writer, aren’t you.” she accuses, with enraging accuracy.