By John Thomas Tuft

The little cozy house sits off the main road through town, right before it heads south into the mountains and just beyond the Speedway Motor Racetrack, officially sanctioned by NASCAR. The large sign in the front yard says it all: Palm Reading and Fortunes. Two rocking chairs from Walmart grace the front porch and the shutters on the windows show just a touch of fade and some peeling. When the eyes make it back to the sign, one might notice it says in much smaller hand lettering: also Taylor’s Tattoos.  Madame Matricia opens the door promptly at 1 in the afternoon and closes it precisely at 9:30 in the evening. The front parlor is her domain for addressing the anguish and anxieties of all seekers, while the small den in the rear is set up so her husband, Taylor, can do the occasional inking of those wishing to display the announcement of their seeking.

Chirology, or palmistry, has been around for as long as palms have been stretched out into the light seeking direction, seeking hope, seeking fortune or simply seeking connection. And Madame Matricia divines as much from the lines around the eyes, or at the corner of the mouth, as the ones across the palm. Matty, as her friends call her, greets a visitor at the door with the usual, “What would you like to ask me to do for you today?” And in that gentle invitation is the call across the ages to all those hoping to see their scars as triumphs, their tears as treasures, and their wrinkles as silky threads to pull you to me. “Is the future mine?” asks each supplicant, one way or another, as we all hope to bewitch what may come in the connection between our bodies and the march of time. “Why should your hand care about what is to come?” Matty always asks. “And if it knew, why should it tell you, or reveal it to me?” Madame Matricia is not for the faint of heart seeking easy answers.

A young couple arrived late one evening as Matty prepared to close for the night. She had removed her brightly colored babushka and loosened the belt of her flowing skirt so she could breathe easier. It made her look more like Matty and less like the exotic Madame. She opened the door and the man said, “We need to talk to you right away. We’ll pay extra. But we have to know.” Matty looked them over before asking quietly, “What would you like to ask me to do for you today?” The woman said, “Everybody says you’re the best. We want to know if we are special. If we have what it takes to be happy together.” Matty gave them her beginning question: “Why should your hand care about what is to come? And if it knows, why should it tell me?” “Please,” said the man, “we must know. Is it right? Will it last? Will we have beautiful children? Will we have success? Or will we fail? Will there be great pain, or great fortune?”

Matty calls for Taylor to put on a pot of coffee. She checks herself in the mirror, noticing the tired lines around her own eyes before ushering the couple into the parlor and seating them at the table. Matty takes a palm, considers it carefully. “What if I had to tell your lies?” she begins. She traces a line. “What if you had to forgive my hurts?” The seekers are left speechless. “What if you had to heal my pain and I had to look through your eyes?” The room grows still. “What if my heart broke every time your tongue spoke in anger to make another person smaller? What if your ears heard all those asking me for hope when they feel helpless?” Matty sighs. “What will you two add to the world? What will you and me do together that could not be done before?”

“You and me?” asks the woman. Taylor brings in the coffee and pours Matty a mug. She sips. “Yes, you and me. What if it’s you and me? Show me your hand again.” They both extend their hands. Matty abruptly puts them together, takes Taylor’s hand and puts it on theirs then lays her own on top. “What if your hands are as good as mine? What if your hand is screaming, ‘Hey, hold me. Help me. Heal me. What if my hand looked like yours and yours looked like mine? All saying the same thing? All wanting the same thing?” She shrugged and chewed thoughtfully on a corner of her babushka. “What if the lines on our palms are reading us? What would we want them to tell us? What would we want them to see? Or feel?” The young couple jumped up and whispered to each other, then took Taylor by the hand and went into his shop. When they came out, they both had brand new tattoos, as young people will do. In big, bold letters. “It’s you and me.” Emblazoned on their foreheads.

Which is why, to this day, that every nation’s constitution, and every single law, every declaration of independence, every written speech, every promise, every vow, every marriage license, and even every prayer begins with these words: It’s you and me.

Words are magic and writers are wizards.