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I clutched the boarding pass to my chest, watching the first class passengers assemble and board at the gate. They seemed so worldly and confident in their travels, managing documents and passing quickly down the jetbridge. My passport, applied for when Stephanie first moved overseas, was still stiff and unstamped, the photo barely resembling me any longer. It was safe in the travel belt around my waist, along with a few travelers’ cheques. I was told to exchange my money when I landed for better exchange rates. My pulse fluttered with anticipation.

For the twentieth time, I mentally reviewed the items I prepared for Bill. There was the list of dinners posted on the refrigerator that matched the containers in the freezer. The bills were set out on the kitchen counter with checks written and postage paid. The recycling and garbage collection days were circled in bright green on the calendar. Everything was done and I kissed him goodbye, telling him to enjoy his vacation.

Bill, of course, was not pleased I was leaving but after what I learned from my research, I didn’t have a choice. I called the travel agent, dipped into our savings and made the reservations. It was seven years too late to visit Stephanie, but someone somewhere was trying to get a message to me about her and I wanted to find out why.

I settled in my window seat in row 34, next to a college student already absorbed in a movie playing on his iPad. I slipped off my shoes and put on a pair of wool socks before gathering my travel guide, notebook and bottle of water. I settled in for the eight-hour flight where I would read travel information and plan the route for my mission.

When I met with the tarot card reader, she had lovingly examined the cards, cooing over them and declaring she had never seen such a beautiful deck. She said they were extremely unusual and most likely valuable so she handwrote a list of several contacts for me. The third name, an Elisabeth Wagner replied quickly to the email I sent her through her website.

– From the photographs provided, I can assess the renowned Spanish artisan, Francisco De La Rosa made the cards between 1927 and 1940, although this deck is most likely from his later period. De La Rosa was killed during the war, but his cards continue to pass through the hands of serious art collectors. Your set is one of a kind and appears to be in excellent condition, however to provide an appraisal, I will need to inspect and observe the cards directly.
With kind regards,
Elisabeth Wagner

I could have insured the cards and sent them to her, but there was something telling me I should go. The Airbus A330 pushed back from the gate and began to pick up speed on the runway.  I clutched at the armrests, watching the ground fall away. Frau Wagner owned an art gallery in Bad Sazluflen, a little town situated in western Germany. We were scheduled to meet in two days.

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