Pushing the Oracle

When Cally was in junior high school, she believed in the supernatural — or at least she tried. Having a belief in spirits and fate could simplify a lot of things, she decided — boys, especially. Her best friend Robin had a ouija board which they used to contact the spirits and ask them questions about which boy liked them. These questions were most often answered by Zoby, the spirit of a girl who died during the Salem witch trials. Perhaps because she had died so young, before boys even became an issue, she liked providing answers to these questions.

Robin insisted that they ‘sweep’ the board before asking a question. With their fingers on the gnomon they made several quick circles of the board, stopping in the center of the board, on the ‘T.’  Then they composed their minds and summoned Zoby. It was hard to tell when they had gotten her attention, so they would just ask the question, “Who does Will Hammond like?”

After that, they waited. Zoby took her time figuring this out. Perhaps she had to fly over to Will Hammond’s house and see if he was using a ouija board or something. He didn’t seem like the type of person who believed in such things, but Robin said that it was not prudent to question the ways of the spirits, so they just waited.

The directions said it could take anywhere from one to five minutes before anything happened. That is a long time to sit with your fingers poised lightly on a gnomon. Eventually, it would move, slowly at first, then more quickly, as if Zoby had to peddle hard to get the gnomon moving.

C… A…. (at this point, Cally jerked a little bit) R… O… L…

Cally already knew that he liked Caroline Townsend. Zoby finished the name but continued spelling:

H… E… I… S… A… N… E… R… D…

Robin said that you should never have an answer in your mind when asking, since you might accidentally influence the spirits. Still, Zoby’s observations always seemed to confirm Robin’s opinions.

Ouija sessions went on throughout junior high. Robin moved to the next town and went to a different high school. They saw each other on Wednesday nights during confirmation class, but on the weekends it was hard to get together.

Several years later Cally saw Robin at church and asked her, “It was you, wasn’t it? You were moving the gnomon.”

Greatly affronted, Robin denied this. “It was you,” she said. “You were moving it.”

The oracle at Delphi never answered inquiries directly. What is asked is never the real question, so knowing the answer doesn’t help. The real question: “What is my question?”

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