Apology, A Long Time Coming

I want to apologize for a very bad thing I did in the summer of 1970. It’s been preying on my mind, and there is no way to find the person who I injured and apologize directly. Indeed, that person may be dead. I am publishing my apology to the universe or at least to that part of the universe that has Facebook or access to the internet.

In 1970 I was hitchhiking down the coast of California. A bunch of us made a fire on the beach near Fort Orde. Several young soldiers joined us. Somehow we were talking about fortune telling, Tarot, and precognition.

I had been using my Tarot pack for divination for years and I was very proud of the accurate readings I could give strangers. I boasted. One of the soldiers challenged me to predict his future. I turned my head, looked at his face in the firelight, and said, “You are going to die in Vietnam.”

His face froze, his friend yelled at me, and they left. The people I was with weren’t too happy with me either. I tried to defend myself by saying I’d seen it and he had asked, but it wasn’t defensible and I knew it. There was no way to find him and apologize then, assuming I’d been able to bring myself to admit error at the time, so I made a private promise: I would never tell anyone’s fortune again. Ever. And I never have. I read the cards for my own fortune only, and I keep my mouth shut about it.

It was a horrible thing to have done. It was evil. I am so sorry. I have hoped, over the years, that he didn’t have the prediction in the back of his head, that it didn’t cause him to die over there, that he survived and came back whole and uninjured. I will never know, and that’s the correct burden for me to carry. 

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Mary Holland

Mary Holland writes alternative-world fantasy for grown-ups. Her books include Matcher Rules, The Bone Road, and The Dog of Pel. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with three cats and an ever-changing assortment of wildlife.

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