Beatriz and the Divinationist
“Gah, thanks so much for meeting with me, Nia,” Bee said as she crashed through the almost shutting door of Nia’s office. A client had just left her office moments before. She set her wicker basket down and took her hat off, as well; tucking it away into the basket’s abyss. Nia was sitting at her desk in her powerful looking suit, behind her was a large glass window with a nice view. On one corner of her desk was a small block that had five perfectly round rocks above it floating in mid-air. The inner three balls stood perfectly still as the two outer rocks took turns hitting themselves against the middle rocks. Without strings, they would float straight out from the group and then magically be pulled back in.
The other corner of her desk contained a pen that floated and slowly twirled about in the air. It looked heavy; powerful. Nia liked that about it. It made her feel like she had more money than she did.
Bee liked it because of the pattern on its feather.
“Anything for you, Bee. After all the times that you’ve watched Scott, it’s the least I could do,” Nia replied. She was referring to all of the times that Beatriz had babysat her son, sometimes for free. Nia didn’t feel great about taking advantage of her from time to time. In truth, she was quite guilty about it, but her practice wasn’t going as well as she wished. Saving money on a babysitter is saving my practice, Nia would justify it to herself.
Bee was poking at the five-rock statue and said, “I love these things. It makes you look so businessy! How do they work anyway?”
“Oh. I guess I thought it was gonna be something cooler than that.”
“That’s how it goes. Now, what seems to be the problem anyway?”
“Right,” Bee affirmed and leaned in toward the business woman’s desk. “Well, I don’t know. I guess I’m here because my brother is in rehab and -”
“That can be pretty hard for people.”
“Yeah, well, that’s not exactly why I’m here. And I mean, I guess it’s kind of a big deal. But either way, I went to visit him the other day and -”
“Was it tough to see him in that place?”
“I mean, yeah, but what really got me was the fact that he said that I’m a complainer like our mom! Well, he didn’t say complainer but I think it was something more about how much I need to offload on people. Or how stressed I get from helping people out and, I don’t know, I just like helping, does that make me weird?...” Bee continued attempting to explain why she was there to Nia. Bee was never good at being succinct. While she rambled about helping others, Nia's guilt grew.
At the end of the filibuster, Nia asked, “so what is it exactly that you want divined?”
“Am I going to become a complainer like my mom?”
“Ah. Gotcha.” Nia reached into the second drawer down and pulled out a tidy and aesthetically pleasing folder. It had light blue trim and there were pictures of smiling people. “This is an action plan to help you divine whether or not you’re going to end up like a family member or not. Here.” She flipped it open and showed Bee a few of the handouts contained within it. "There are, of course, a thousand options and companies that we could go with, but I've found that this one works great."
Bee tried to read the information as if she was an advocatus. It highlighted many of the main benefits of getting your future told. And in a capitalistic fashion, it explained why to choose this program over others: For one, it was less invasive than it needed to be; its guesses about the future had a high accuracy rate; in addition to the main question, it tended to both find - and answer - a lot of other helpful questions that the client might have; it didn’t over-answer questions - which was a general thing to watch out for when getting your future told - and lastly, the fees were pretty low.
What Nia failed to mention, however, was that this plan, in particular, had the highest commission rate for her, as well. It's a good plan, Nia would always think. Good for both of us. Win-win.
After they reviewed those and some other resources together, Nia pulled out another sheet of paper. She turned it on the desk to almost face Bee and said, “okay, so this is just a standard questionnaire. We use it to figure out what input that we’ll need in order for me to tell your future. Let’s just go through it together.”
Angling the paper more toward herself, the Divinationist scanned the opening paragraph. Hovering her pen over each line, Nia thought, okay, how does this go again? As she read, she nodded and mumbled little remembering sounds. “Okay, the first few are just going to be yes or no.”
Bee gave a nod.
“Are you employed?”
“Yep, I work at the cafe right down on -”
“Yes or no is fine. Do you like your job?”
“Kind of. I mean, it’s sort -”
“Bee, the point is to make,” Nia paused and glanced at the opening paragraph to make sure she wasn’t misspeaking. She saw the words hard truths and continued. “The point is to make sure that you are sticking with your gut and answering in hard truths. Okay?”
“Okay,” she said, still looking a bit puzzled.
Nia eyed here for a second to make sure she could go on, then started again, “are you in a romantic relationship?”
“Yes,” Bee said confidently.
“Are you in love?”
“Yes.” She mulled her thoughts and said, “I do wish that he was -" She stopped herself when she noticed Nia’s glare.
“Do you have any passions?”
An image of her standing in her garden taking a deep breath popped into her head. “Yes.”
“Do you feel comfortable?”
“What do you mean? Like right now? This chair is nice, I guess.”
“No, in life? Are you comfortable in life?”
“I mean, yeah. Maybe? I don’t know, I guess I think I’m com - “
“It’s a gut yes or no. Quick!"
Bee took a breath, “No,” then Nia checked the box. Beatriz was surprised by her own answer.
“Do you have any deep-seated resentment toward your father?”
Refraining from any unnecessary words, she opened her mouth early and then settled on saying, “yes.”
“And your mother?”
“No?” she said, surprised by her own answer again. Nia consulted the opening paragraph once more. She checked the no box while Beatriz sat and wondered more about her unexpected lack of resentment. It felt nice.
Nia said, "okay this is the last of the yes or no questions." She looked at Bee very seriously and asked, “have you eaten dairy in the last six months?”
“Great, let’s move on to some of the easier questions." She was holding the paper fully in front of her by now. "What do you want to do with your life?”
She blew through her cheeks and said, “easy? Well, I mean, it would be pretty good to get a promotion at the cafe.”
The detached Divinationist began writing down her answer. As she did, Bee’s heart began ripping with every stroke of her pen. She didn't want a promotion at all. All Bee could picture was her standing in her garden. And with every word that Nia documented, Bee felt that her peaceful picture was getting erased.
Just as Nia was about to ask another question, Bee cut her off and said, “actually, I want to work with flowers!"
Nia looked at her apathetically and nodded.
Bee started to ramble again. "You know, it’s just that -” she took a quick breath. “It’s my passion. And I think that, maybe, if I can get enough people interested in the flowers that I could, I don’t know, get some sort of business going.” She began to feel interrogated even though Nia had already stopped listening. “People in town already buy them and I help, that’s right! I help people with their garden! Maybe I could be like some sort of garden-landscape-consulting-wizard-helper thing! It could work. I just think it’s so helpful to get into my garden and, I mean, it’s like a little zen zone. The stressful stuff is out there and I’m, well, I’m there. Not out there, but you know what I mean. Right?”
Bee was breathing hard. It was a liberating rant.
Nia looked at her for a moment and then back down at the opening paragraph of the form. After crossing out her previous writing, she wrote in the margins and said in an elongated way, “Gardening.”
They continued filling out the form together. Every now and then, Bee would look over at the five floating rocks that clicked together on Nia’s desk. It made a relaxing sound that helped with the stressful questions like: “Where do you think you went wrong, if anywhere?” or “where do you see yourself in ten years?”
Sometimes they were even more difficult to fully answer without someone else weighing in. How am I supposed to know what my biggest problem is? Bee thought. And why does there have to be so many problems? Things are great, sure I’m a little stressed and, sure, I really don’t want to be like my mom. I don’t think that’ll happen, anyway. I hope... Gah, I really hope not.
After a few more difficult questions and panicked answers, Bee and Nia finished the questionnaire. It was a stressful process and Bee was glad it was over.
Nia scanned it one final time and made sure nothing went unanswered. Then, she slipped it into the fancy folder along with the other documents in question.
“Almost done,” Nia said. She turned to her computer to input some final notes into the various open pages that she had pulled up to accompany the meeting. Why do I have so many pages open, Nia thought. When she finished, she hit the enter button with a rather heavy finger and then made a few clicks of the mouse.
At the last click, ink and paper made shuffling and working sounds as they sprung to action. The quill pen that floated in the corner of Nia’s desk dipped itself in the inkwell nearby. At the same time, a piece of paper floated in - from where, Bee hadn’t seen - and landed on the desk. The pen began writing things down on the paper in a precise and quicker-than-human manner. It scribbled out both words, and the colorful branding surrounding them.
After a few seconds, the printing process was complete and Nia said, “here you go! This is just a list of the things you need to bring to our next meeting. Bring these in and we'll throw them into the spell and then I can tell you if you’re going to end up like your mother. Easy!”
With a sigh of relief, Bee said, “oh that’ll be nice to know. And I know you said that you’d do a discount but I know that you work really hard and, I mean, I already feel a little less stressed! If you need me to, I can totally pay full price.”
Nia had a quick flashback to the dozens of times that Bee knocked on her door saying, "I'm here to watch Scott!" Her guilt grew again and her stomach hardened. She said, “no, no, of course you don’t have to pay full price. It’s the least I could do. Really.”
“Okay, if you say so!" She popped up and almost tripped over the chair. Grabbing her fancy folder, she said, "thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ll see you next Tuesday right?”
"Yep, next Tuesday. Make sure you have everything and we'll see what the future holds for you!"