I looked out the window, enjoying the mixed feelings of awe – at the beautiful view thousands of feet below the plane – and an acute fear of heights. I love to travel but can’t sleep for months before I have to get on a plane. Irrationally, I’m more scared of flying over large bodies of water than I am flying over land. And Geneva is a long way from where I live, much of it over water. I’m looking forward to the familiar view of the mountains appearing through the clouds, before we begin our descent. But that is hours away.
Breathing in deeply to calm myself, I relax back against the seat, conscious of the person next to me. There is nothing particularly striking about her, nothing offensive that would make me uncomfortably conscious of her, I simply notice that she is there. I’m pretty straightforward in my beliefs; I am highly introspective but I take a scientific approach to my world and my universe. So it is with some surprise that I think I can feel, emanating from this woman, an energy. An aura, maybe, if I believed in that type of thing. Which I don’t.
Surreptitiously, I turn my head to sneak a look at her. She is about my age, late 30s, with blonde, softly waving, shoulder-length hair. She wears no makeup and her face looks natural, clean, clear of strain. A silver bangle peaks out at her wrist from under her flowing, white shirt sleeve. She wears faded jeans and a pair of brown leather sandals, her toes equally natural and devoid of polish or adornment.
“We have a ways to go yet,” she says, without turning to look at me. I must have been staring, inviting conversation.
I assume she is referring to the flight. “Yes,” I reply politely, turning to look out the window again, silently chastising myself for invading her space, inviting her to invade mine.
I can feel her eyes on me now. She tells me how beautiful the countryside around Geneva is, shares with me that she is travelling by herself, returning home to her house in the Swiss countryside. She lives alone, she says. We talk of the peace of nature, the pace of cities – without delving too deeply into either of our lives.
As I reach out with my left hand to pick up my glass of whiskey (I did mention that I’m not fond of flying, didn’t I?), I have the curious sensation that she is looking at my hand. Perhaps she is wondering whether I am married, I think.
“Forgive me, but I couldn’t help noticing…” she begins, trailing off for a moment. “You really should try to take time away from work on this trip to escape to the countryside.”
Strange. I never mentioned I was travelling for work. Perhaps it is obvious. I review our earlier conversation, wondering if I had said anything that would suggest this, but I don’t think I did. My clothes are casual as the meetings don’t start until tomorrow and I don’t have any work related items with me at my seat, only a book and my purse.
“May I see your left hand for a moment?” She asks, gently, quietly.
I’m not sure why, but I automatically show her my left hand, offering it palm up. From a somewhat out-of-body perspective I wonder at this uncharacteristic behaviour of mine.
“Perhaps we do not have so far to go after all,” she muses to herself. “Have you been questioning your path in life lately? Your career? You are about ready to switch paths, though you may not realize this yet.”
I tentatively take my hand back, not wanting to offend her, but feeling uncomfortable, no longer self-possessed. My skin is warm where she had been peering at it and I rub my hands together to dissipate the sensation.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t disturb you during your flight, you looked as though you were enjoying the quiet and calm. It’s just…this may sound bizarre but I’m a palm reader and I noticed something intriguing about you the moment I saw you. When you reached for your glass just now, I happened to see your lifeline and that’s when I realized what it was, what was so intriguing. You are on the verge, the precipice, of a complete and utter transformation in your life. I can see it on your face, and it is clear in your palm. But, maybe you are not even aware of its approach, of how close you stand to the edge. When you take that step, when you leap free, only then will you realize.”
She pauses. “I would very much like to take another look at your palm if I may, and I will tell you all I see. You may not believe me at all, but at least it will pass the time. What do you say?”
I’m not sure what to say. A palm reader? Really? I know they exist, but at carnivals, or in dim alleyways, maybe on busy downtown streets in particular areas. Not on a plane, next to me, travelling home to Switzerland. Nevertheless, she has piqued my curiosity. Perhaps I am simply vain. In any case, I silently move my hand over towards her again, palm up.
She begins to trace a line through the middle of my palm. “This is your life line. You see here, mid-palm, it fades then breaks completely and starts anew a bit lower? This break is a bit before your mid-life. That is where you are now. The break signifies a complete change of path. Your life then continues on its new path for a very long time, gets stronger, practically runs right around to the other side of your hand. You will become strengthened, in spirit you understand, once you make this change in your life. You will no longer allow yourself to be manipulated by others.”
“Go on,” I prod, now more curious. “What do I do now, and what will I be changing to do you think?”
“Now you have an office job, you are seated much of the time, you work on a computer. Sometimes you go to meetings in places like Geneva,” she continues, winking at me with a smile. Ok, I guess it was obvious that I was travelling for work, I realize.
“But,” she elaborates, “you should be somewhere you can breathe deeply, outside, and also doing something that will help others. Not something you feel is futile. You see this other line here? This is your head line. See how it is separate from your lifeline? This signifies someone who craves adventure, who approaches life with enthusiasm. Someone with that description who works in your line of work would be somewhat unhappy, don’t you think? And it has crosses all over this part of it, here, which represents momentous decisions.”
She closes her eyes for a moment, then opens them again. “I can see you working outside, among the trees, in a forest maybe. And also, I can see you doing something else, something that has you working with people, using your hands. I think it is some sort of healing. I’m not sure if this seems strange to you, but that is what I see when I close my eyes.”
It does seem strange. Very strange. All of it. But for some reason I don’t move. Instead, I ask her the first question that comes to my mind.
“What about my love life? What does my hand tell you about that?”
“Ah, this is your heart line. It is long, it curves slowly. That means you share your feelings, you can be emotional but in an approachable way, you love deeply. Not just in romance but in all forms of love. Does that sound about right?”
I think of my husband, of how open and receptive I used to be, of how focused on work I have become. I think also of our daughter, of how we used to lie on our backs in the garden, holding hands, and watch the clouds go by.
Yes, that sounds about right.
I clear my throat and somehow, just like that, the spell is broken. I pull my hand back, peer at its lines, then make a fist, clench it tight until my knuckles crack, and shake it out. I look back at my travelling companion and smile wanly.
“Thank you, this has been enlightening” I manage, hoping to convey appreciation, without the skepticism that has suddenly, characteristically, returned. I wonder if I am supposed to cross her palm with silver or however it is modern-day palm readers ask for payment, but she simply smiles and nods her head slightly before closing her eyes and leaning back in her chair.
Looking out the window I see the snowy peaks in the distance and realize with a start that we are almost at our destination.