Drawing: A crystal ball, showing a grave, with a headstone that reads: “Agatha Burke 1965-2025.” Caption reads: “She would die on her sixtieth birthday.

Listen to the story as a podcast here.

Foretold short story by Iris Carden

Settle in dear reader, while I tell you the strange tale of Agatha who wanted to know her future, but it didn’t turn out as expected.

Agatha had spent her whole life hating the “old woman” name her parents had given her, but had never taken any action to change it.

At fifty-eight years old, with seven years still ahead before retirement, she was starting to feel like the old lady who should have had her name. She was tired all the time. Her work was a constant grind. There didn’t seem anything worthwhile in her life.

If asked, she wouldn’t have been able to say why she went to the fortune teller.  But once we was sitting in the darkened room, the only question she could think to ask was: “When will I die?”

The fortune teller warned her that this was something people should not know.

Agatha insisted.

Madame Karalita (known in her non-working life as Liz Clark) uncovered a crystal ball, and asked the question: “When will Agatha Bourke die?”

Madame’s voice was different as she answered herself: “She will die on her sixtieth birthday.”

Agatha could see in the ball a grave, with: “Agatha Burke, nineteen sixty-five to  twenty twenty-five,” written on it.

Whoever had written it hadn’t even got her name right!  They’d left out the “o” in her last name. It had been spelled B-u-r-k-e instead of B-o-u-r-k-e.

At home that night, Agatha made a decision. Her house was worth a bit over a million dollars.  Even in twenty twenty-three, that much money could go a long way.  It was a pity her superannuation was locked away until she reached official retirement age.

She made her will, quit her job, and sold her house.

Knowing about her immanent death, gave Agatha a new lease on life. She bought plane tickets and booked hotels, and went on the holiday of a lifetime. Agatha saw all of the many things she’d ever wanted to see. She did all of the things she’d ever wanted to do.

Don’t worry, dear reader, Agatha was careful.  She made sure her money would last exactly to her sixtieth birthday, when she’d be back in her home town, and have a massive party with family and friends.

She did that. After two years of a amazing adventures, and feeling young and free for the first time in her life, Agatha booked into a resort hotel in her home town. She invited practically everyone she knew to a dinner in the resort’s restaurant the night before her birthday. Everyone had a great time at her expense. Friends wanted to know what adventures she had planned.  She shrugged off the questions.

That night, Agatha went to bed in her hotel room, wondering how she would die, whether it would be in her sleep in the early hours of the morning? Would she choke on her breakfast or be hit by a car? Would she drown in the hotel pool?

Morning came and she was still alive. She over-indulged at breakfast, but didn’t care since it was her last day alive anyway.  After a swim in the hotel pool, she lay in the sun for a while.  Who cared about skin cancer now?

Agatha had a very indulgent slow lunch, then went shopping. She would be long gone before the credit card bill was due.

She went to the spa after that, for a massage and a make-over.  She planned to go out looking good, or as good as was possible.

Still alive at dinner time, she ate well, and stayed up late, drinking and dancing, having the time of her life, while waiting for the inevitable.

The next morning, she was surprised to wake up in her hotel bed. Turning on the news, she saw the story of an Agatha Burke, the same age as her, who had died in a freak accident the night before. Shocked, Agatha noticed the victim’s name was spelled the same as the headstone shown in the crystal ball.

Confused, Agatha sought out Madame Karalita.

The fortune teller said her old crystal ball had been defective, but she had warned Agatha about finding out such information. She also suggested Agatha hadn’t been clear about the spelling of her name. 

Agatha demanded to know her true date of death, and this time she was very clear about how to spell her name.

And so, dear reader, we leave Agatha, broke, with no home and with bills coming due, and knowing she’s got another twenty-five years to live.

I invite you, dear reader, to look out for more:

Strange Tales

While you’re here…

Find my Books:  Direct from the publisher
                               From Amazon
                               Or from your favourite online bookshop

Follow Me: Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

Digital Tip Jar: PayPal Me

Everything on this site is the product of human, not artificial, intelligence.


By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: