I was eight years old when I discovered I was basically the equivalent of a Greek witch. No, I don’t wear a pointy hat or ride a broomstick. I read flitzania. I can see into your past, uncover secrets from your present, and give insight into your future all from the grounds you leave behind after drinking a small cup of bitter Greek coffee.
I was visiting one of my aunts who lived in the village of Profitis Ilias. I didn’t know much about her other than that she was a widow. She asked me if I had my mother’s talent for reading flitzania. Wanting to seem as impressive as my accomplished older siblings, I lied. She finished drinking her coffee and swirled around the wet grounds at the bottom of her antique porcelain cup. She turned it over onto a plate and said, “Let’s let it settle for a moment.”
I started to panic. When my mother agreed to read flitzania at parties, she was the most captivating person in the room. She confidently made predictions as if reporting on facts. What had I gotten myself into? I didn’t know the first thing about fortune-telling. I had never even had my flitzani read before. Children were rarely allowed since they would have to drink the strong coffee for the fortune to be accurate.
My aunt turned over her flitzani and handed it to me. I began to carefully examine the symbols on the inside of the cup. I knew what was coming to me didn’t make sense based on the warm climate in Crete and my aunt’s single status, but I decided to say the words anxiously trying to escape my lips.
“I see you dancing with a handsome man under the stars. You’re wearing a long blue dress. You’re very happy. You return to this spot often to dance.”
I looked up from the flitzani to gauge my aunt’s expression and was surprised to find tears in her eyes. “How could you have known?” she said and left the room.
She returned with a black and white photograph of her dancing outside with my late uncle. She was wearing a long dress. “This is the last rendezvous we went on before he died. An outdoor festival in the village square. I wore a blue dress and he said it made my eyes sparkle. I do go here often. Every night before I fall asleep. I never want to forget the way he looked at me while we danced.” My aunt began to cry. “You do have your mother’s gift.”
I’ve read hundreds of flitzania since that sunny day I thought I was lying in the village of Profitis Ilias. I’m amazed by the things left to discover about people I’ve known for the better part of my life. There’s only one drawback to my gift. A diviner can never have their flitzani read.
So my future is always left unwritten.
Sofia Martimianakis is a writer and photographer based in Toronto. She was raised by two talented storytellers who immigrated to Canada from Crete. Sofia’s nonfiction work draws on her Greek heritage and summers spent abroad. She aims to bring locations rarely visited by tourists to life through her writing. Sofia completed her undergraduate degree in English at the University of Toronto and her MA in Literary Studies at the University of Waterloo. She is currently continuing her education with creative writing classes and is working on a fantasy novel for young adults.