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“A Marriage Made in Heaven” by Eric Green

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


“Holy smokes. Look at this, hon. It’s all over the news,” Daniel (Danny) Workman informed his wife, Angie.

He handed over the newspaper with its gigantic 72-point font size headline about the previous night’s airplane crash that happened near where they lived in upstate New York. All 220 passengers and the flight crew were killed when the jet slammed into a mountain.

“Yes. I watched all about it on TV last night after you went to sleep. I didn’t want to wake you up,” Angie Fowler-Workman acknowledged. She knew where this conversation was headed.

“What a horrible shame for those people on that plane,” Danny continued. “That’s what I call bad karma.”

‘I call it lousy luck. A coincidence they were aboard at the wrong time,” Angie said.

“It’s more than coincidence, dear,” Danny argued. “I checked it out. Mars was in retrograde. You know what that means.”

“Please. Let’s not go there,” Angie said. She had heard all she wanted from Danny who attributed everything that happened on Earth to the heavens above. More ad infinitum about astrology from Danny. More than how it affected Earth. It was damaging their marriage. And that was breaking her heart.

This stuff about astrology started as a joke when one day they went to a tarot card reader. That was Angie’s idea for doing something different. How she regretted now doing such a crazy thing. These tarot cards were supposed to help people find answers about love, relationships, their career, money, and just about everything else under the sun.

Angie described the tarot reading as just jokey. Not meant to be taken seriously. Maybe, however, could she subconsciously have wondered if their marriage wasn’t all that it should be and she was searching for answers from far and above?

Originally, Danny too claimed to have laughed off the tarot card reading as for kicks. Something silly to do on a dreary rainy Sunday afternoon.

Except Angie noticed that early the next morning Danny was surfing the Internet about where to buy a deck of tarot cards to do his own reading at home. Along the way, Danny began understanding that with his astrological sign being Aquarius, he was ruled by the planet Uranus.

Aquarius people were forward thinking, communicative, people- oriented, generous and dedicated. Exactly him, Danny agreed. It said also he was stubborn. That he didn’t necessarily abide by. If anything, he was flexible and open-minded to a fault. Live and let live was his operating philosophy. He was always ready to listen to someone else’s opinion, if not agreeing with it. Otherwise, all the rest about him being Aquarius described him to a tee.

Meanwhile, Angie was ruled by Sagittarius, the sign of wisdom. Also, someone who’s argumentative. No matter how much education, facts, or knowledge another person with a particular point of view has on a subject, Sagittarius will go with their own opinions based on what they’ve experienced in life.

Yes, Danny said. All that described Angie. Especially that part about being argumentative.

Even if Angie was questioning how their marriage was going, Danny had no such doubts they were meant for each other. The overall compatibility between Sagittarius and Aquarius was highly favorable, he read in an article, with a rating of 85 out of 100. Both signs, it said, “are of the Air and Fire elements, which naturally complement each other. The air element of Aquarius fuels the fire element of Sagittarius, leading to a dynamic and energetic relationship.”

“See. Who can argue with this? It’s exactly who we are,” Danny said to Angie.

She waved him off. “Would you please do something else more productive? Like go watch golf,” she said, dismissing him and it. Yet, at the same time, knowing she liked to play golf herself.

As they were both 30-somethings, Angie was always trying to get Danny interested in playing golf too as a way for them to have a common interest. He preferred watching it on T.V. Tennis was the game he’d rather play. Angie would smack the tennis ball around with him to be a good sport. But she was better at golf.

Then Danny got fascinated by numerology. Every number was said to have a unique meaning, ranging from your birthday number to the numerical address of where you lived.

Danny read that people interacted with numbers every day. They were symbols that carry energetic vibrations which affect humanity on a cosmic level. Each number’s vibrations affect each person in a different way.

When Danny started to explain numerology to Angie, she sighed in frustration and said, “Please. Enough already.”

Danny was now absolutely convinced about a correlation of the New York airplane crash to Mars being in retrograde 2024, that said the planet is particularly dangerous because it aligned with a Mars-liked fixed star associated with violence. Meaning that Mars retrograde must have caused that plane to crash. When you factored in all the elements, numerology and astrology, that particular flight was pre-destined to hit the mountain, explained Danny.

“You’ve lost your mind,” said Angie.

Danny offered a knowing smile. “That’s what I would expect you to argue as a Sagittarius.”

“Let’s not argue about it anymore.”

“You’re right. See how easy I am to get along with,” Danny replied.

He knew about former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s belief in astrology. She went so far as to use an astrologist to determine the daily schedule of her husband, President Ronald Reagan. The astrologist had said she was responsible for the timing of President Reagan’s press conferences, the timing of his speeches, the takeoff and landings of Air Force One, and when to go or not go on trips both domestic and abroad.

He finished off his argument with Angie by saying, “If Nancy Reagan believed in astrology, I can too. She may have had her faults. But she was one smart cookie. After all, she more or less ran the country after Reagan got shot.”

Later that day, Danny asked a professional astrologist he had contacted over the phone how he should read his birth chart. He told the woman, “Sure, I know my wife thinks I’ve gone mad because I believe in this stuff. She always wants to argue about it. Let her. She’s a Sagittarius.”

The astrologist gave him the short course on reading his birth chart. It included identifying his ascendant or rising sign, his Sun and Moon signs, looking at the planets in his chart and noting their zodiac signs and astrological houses. The astrologist said he was welcome to come in to her office to delve more deeply into the subject. The first consultation was free, she said.

Danny got her address and made an appointment for the following week. He would have come sooner except she was totally booked with other customers seeking wisdom about how the planetary alignment was affecting their lives.

Celebrities like Shirley MacLaine, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Albert Einstein, and Madonna, were said to believe in astrology. He wasn’t the only one out there on a ledge, Danny rationalized.

For instance, Lady Gaga was reported to have a team of spiritual advisers who planned her concert tours. When the planet Mercury retrogrades, Lady Gaga, with her zodiac sign Aries, has to be extra cautious about travel. This is because, Danny read on the Internet, when Mercury goes retrograde in the sign of Aries, someone like Lady Gaga experiences heightened impulsiveness, and “should refrain from making significant decisions during this transit.”


The differences between Danny and Angie concerning astrology had manifested itself on one gorgeous Fall afternoon when they bet on a college football game between #1 ranked Ohio State and #2 ranked Michigan. Danny said all the astrological signs pointed to Ohio State winning the game. Angie asked how would Danny explain it if that team lost? If it did, would Danny agree to stop believing in this astrology scam? Danny promised he would if he lost. He didn’t sound convinced or very convincing about that.

From what all the signs read, Danny said Ohio State had the game in the bag. They bet $20 each on who would win. For the sake of the argument, and because she followed college football to some degree on TV, Angie picked Michigan. Danny said he was sorry he would have to take Angie’s money since Ohio State was a sure bet. As it turned out, Michigan won easily.

Forget the money, Angie said. Didn’t the results of the game prove astrology was a crock? No, Danny said, other factors had influenced the result, reversing what had been working in Ohio State’s favor right up until the kick-off. Those factors included a sudden change in the house of Jupiter, and Uranus going into retrograde. That’s why Ohio State ended up losing, he maintained. All those influences further reinforced his view that astrology not only was for real. It also meant humankind was not in total control of its own destiny. That’s how the real world worked.

Being the nice honest man-of-his-word guy Danny was, he’d still give her the $20 from losing even though after all was said and done, the change in the astrological alignment meant that Michigan was destined to win the game after all. Therefore, he didn’t really lose the bet.


Angie said he didn’t need to bother paying. She pointed out that Danny claimed to be an agnostic, borderline atheist. He didn’t believe in a higher power. Therefore, it went against his (dis) beliefs that a higher power could be controlling him.

“This is different,’ Danny responded. “It has nothing to do with religion or God.”

“So Mars and the stars are controlling our marriage?” Angie asked.

Danny smiled. “I’ll have to consult my zodiac reading on that.”

Angie shook her head. “Forget that,” she said. “You might not like what it says.”

“Whatever it says, I’ll still always love you,” Danny said. He meant it.


It was love-at-first-sight for Danny the moment he met her 10 years ago at a mutual friend’s birthday party. She was smart, good-looking in a cultured but not snooty way, and vivacious. If he had to describe her, Danny would say she resembled in looks the actress, Jennifer Lawrence. What was there not to love about that?

Angie had grown to have affection for him too, after thinking first they could be more like brother and sister than man and wife. She had overcome her initial doubts and fears that perhaps he was still working through divorce issues from his first wife. Her first impression of him, besides resembling the actor Tom Hanks when he was in his 30s, was that he seemed the emotionally crippled needy type looking to find love again. Now she thought he was looking for something extraordinary to believe in. That’s where his sudden and startling change in personality for astrology derived.

“Someday maybe you’ll understand that this astrology isn’t so weird after all and you might start believing in too,” Danny said. “If anything, it might make our marriage stronger.”

“Whatever you say, darling,” Angie said sarcastically.

She immediately regretted saying that. Maybe she was being too hard on him. As a clinical psychologist, she had been trained to understand that people become trapped into types of behavior that makes it exceedingly hard to undo. She should take to heart a recent cartoon strip, of all places, drawn by Gary Trudeau that wisely pointed out that millions of Americans believe in ghosts, alien abductions, and satanic pedophile cannibals. None of these beliefs are supported by facts or evidence, explained Trudeau, but myths serve an emotional purpose helping people “make sense of a world that frightens them.

“People crave certainty and hope,” Trudeau wrote.

Though her husband never expressed any outlandish beliefs in occults or satanic rituals, she should realize that his falling for astrology meant he was subconsciously unsettled, even frightened specifically by her, their marriage, and his place in society. Because of their emotional makeup, even the smartest and wisest people can believe in false gods. That included her husband, a brilliant tenured college professor at the local university with a doctorate in political science who had always been looking, in his words, for that higher truth. That things don’t just happen for no reason. Maybe his conversion to astrology was just an extension from that.

The best way for them to get along and keep their marriage intact, Angie figured, was, if at all possible, to avoid this taboo subject. Other than astrology, they were simpatico on many things such as politics, the importance of showing kindness and compassion to those in need, and the value of education. They both agreed, at least for now, they didn’t want to have children. Inevitably, however, astrology always seemed to rear its head back into the conversation.


In her practice of psychology, Angie counseled numerous patients in troubled relationships, especially those whose spouse or partner seemed to have lost interest in them or had changed radically from the person they had first met when trying to make a good first impression. That seemed to sum up her own marriage. Angie saw her job as a therapist helping her patients repair their loss of self-confidence and to value their own self-worth even if the relationship with their significant other couldn’t or shouldn’t be saved.


The following Monday afternoon, after finishing teaching his last political science class that day, Danny drove over to the astrologist’s office in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York. Her office was actually a two-bedroom townhouse on a hilly residential side street. The sign on the door read, “Please ring the bell.”


A buzzer sounded to unlock the door. On his way in, a client was just walking out. He entered a living space that smelled vaguely of a combination of incense and Lysol spray.

He was greeted by a white-haired woman sitting at a front desk who asked to see i.d. Then she handed him a clipboard with a series of questions having to do with his medical history. At the bottom, he was asked to sign his name to a statement that said the astrologist was offering general advice about how to read a horoscope of the 12 astrological signs. She was not, however, a trained professional therapist. It was understood that neither he nor the astrologist were obligated to do further sessions following today’s consultation. If he did choose to continue, there would be 10 sessions, with the last one free of charge.

It all seemed rather odd, especially the part about needing his medical history. But Danny signed at the bottom.

“Have a seat, sir,” the woman said. “She’ll be right with you.”

Five minutes later, he was shown into an inner office with an astrological chart on the wall situated next to a bookshelf and candles lit on an adjoining table.

A back door opened and a 30-something woman with short dirty-blond hair and a placid noncommittal expression entered. She was dressed in a pants suit and sensible heels. He found her attractive but not overly so. She wasn’t exactly what he had expected she would look like. He had expected more flash, more jewelry and pearls, more ostentation. This was more like what you might see at a Wall Street firm or in a business suite for a major multinational corporation.

She nodded at Danny and got right down to brass tacks, scanning through his medical history and then his astrological chart that she had prepared for him. Very efficient. Danny was immediately struck by her professionalism, although slightly uneasy that she dispensed with introductory niceties such as greeting him with a “good to meet you” even if it didn’t sound sincere.

The consultation was to last only 15 minutes, she said. He wasn’t being charged. That was understood. Right?

Her name, which sounded made up, was Loretta Lyons. That’s what the nameplate said on the desk so he assumed this was the same woman he had talked to on the phone even if her voice sounded different in person. She asked him what had interested him about astrology. Anything particular that had piqued his wanting to know more about it?

Danny relayed that he had read all about the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after a cargo ship crashed into it. Watched it on the TV news. He had done a chart of one of those poor souls who had been killed in the tragedy. It showed that the man’s astrological sign portended a dangerous mission ahead that he should avoid at all costs. Too late now.

It was like another bridge collapse, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2007. The same situation, Danny explained, when he charted one of those killed as facing peril. No doubt about it. How did it happen that the 13 people who died had been on that bridge just as it was falling down? Astrology foretold the disaster.

Same thing for all those people trapped in the Twin Towers and at the Pentagon, and on that airplane that was doomed from the start when it crashed in Pennsylvania during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Or like in that novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, when five people died in the collapse of an Inca rope bridge in Peru. The Franciscan friar in the book, with the odd name of Brother Jupiter, sounding celestial itself, seeks a cosmic answer to how each one of those killed happened to be on that bridge at the moment it fell into a deep gorge below.

Loretta Lyons seemed impatient listening to this. “That last one you mention is a book of fiction. Didn’t happen. Let’s make this about you, Mr. Workman. How exactly can I help you interpret your chart?”

Danny smiled. This woman didn’t beat around the bush. Didn’t play games. “I want to know how it involves my marriage. My wife thinks I’ve gone mad.”

For the first time, Ms. Lyons cracked a tiny smile. “Where have I heard that before? Sir, I can do certain things to help you. I’ve written it all down. Look at it and see which ones you want to pursue.” She glanced at her watch. Not a good sign. She seemed anxious to get this over with. Maybe because she wasn’t getting paid for the session.

Her list included self-exploration, love, friendship, and business relationships, overcoming obstacles, and determining your life path.  Danny knew exactly which one applied to him.

“I want my wife to understand that astrology offers answers to why things are the way they are. If I can get her to believe, at least a little bit, in why astrology helps me, maybe we’ll get along better.”

“In other words,” said Lyons, “she doesn’t understand you. You think that’s the problem?”

“Absolutely,” replied Danny.

“You want her to believe in astrology like you do.”

“If at all possible.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. She might become resentful of you coming on too strong. You can only control what you can control. This is mostly about you, not her.”

Danny shrugged. “You’re probably right.” At heart, he realized that what had driven him to an astrologist was the need for his wife to not think he was crazy. To win her respect. He sought her approval. She didn’t love him as much he loved her, he felt. This consultation had at least brought that out into the open. To realize what he was thinking subconsciously before but didn’t want to openly admit to himself. Maybe astrology filled a hole in his heart.

Lyons asked if Danny had ever had superstitions as a kid.

Yes, Danny answered, wondering why that was relevant to this discussion.

Tell me more about it, Lyons asked him.

He revealed that when he played outfield in Little League baseball, he’d always make sure to step on one of the bases in the infield when heading for the dugout after an inning was over. He noticed when watching major league baseball on TV. some of the players out of superstition did just as he had as a child.

Anything else he’d like to add? she asked. Any superstitions now as an adult?

He said that when walking to teach his political science class at the university, he always made sure to step on a crack in the street pavement before heading into the building. He knew why he did that. For luck. Lots of people did that, Danny said. What was her point?

Loretta Lyons looked squarely at him. “I just want you to understand the correlation between astrology and superstition. Astrology is not something that suddenly just started with you out of nowhere. You already had a fascination with it. Astrology and superstition are very related. People practice superstition when they want something good to happen. Like who you want to win the football game. They have a need to explain things and want control over the situation.”

“Good point,” Danny acknowledged.

She glanced at her watch again. “I see our time is up. Please decide whether to come back for more sessions. They last 55 minutes. I charge a standard rate of $150.”

Holy Toledo! That wasn’t cheap. It spooked him. “Let me think about it,” said Danny.

Lyons stood up. It was the signal for him to leave.


How was it? Angie asked when he arrived home from the session.

Danny shrugged. “It had its moments.”

“Are you going back again?”

“I don’t know. It costs a fortune. I’m not sure it’s worth it. What do you think?”

Angie grimaced. “It’s your decision.”

“Can’t hurt, I guess.” He knew what Angie thought about it, even if she wouldn’t say so out loud. That it was a waste of time and money. Cheaper to go outside for a long walk, she suggested.

On that last point she was right. Let him give it some thought.


The walk in the Fall chilly weather did him good, as always. It cleared his mind. Made him decide he wouldn’t go back to the astrologist because he could teach himself what he needed to know about how Mars and the stars affected human behavior. Being an autodidact also was cheaper.

Yet, when he awoke the next morning, Danny changed his mind. Maybe because of Mercury going into retrograde.

He called her office. He got the assistant, Barb, who said the astrologist was booked for all that week. Danny made an appointment to come the week after.

He informed Angie of his decision. She sighed.

Seeing her reaction, Danny said, “Maybe I won’t go after all.”

She sighed again.

“I’ll cancel,” he said.


Yet he didn’t do that. Probably because, in his mind, Jupiter was in conjunction with Saturn, which meant that the two planets had formed an overdose of blending their energies and that finding a balance amidst the chaos became crucial. In other words, as it applied to him, Danny thought, he had to stop being wishy washy. Make a decision and stick to it.

While this was happening to Danny, Angie was debating whether to call Dr. Drake Winston, an old psychologist colleague from the local institute of psychological sciences where they both worked seeing patients. She needed somebody to talk to about Danny. Whether they needed couples therapy? Or something else along those lines?

Danny’s obsession with astrology was becoming a psychosis, she thought. He seemed not to realize it himself. If she had been a believer in zodiac signs, she could blame it on Mars being in retrograde which was affecting his actions and ruining their marriage.

She held off from calling. She was a trained clinical psychologist. She should be able to figure this out on her own. Drake was a smart, intelligent guy. She’d hold him in reserve if things continued to slide downhill.


By the end of that week, Angie couldn’t take any more of it. Danny’s astrology fixation was like a drug addiction. He couldn’t stop himself if indeed he wanted to. It reminded her of people who join cults. How do you deprogram them?

Dr. Winston suggested she come over, “just to chat one on one. Maybe that would help,” he said.


Drake offered her a cup of coffee as she sat down on a couch in his office. The guy was a mensch. A real decent down-to-earth guy. He didn’t put on airs about being a doctor of psychology who had been honored by institutions far and wide for brilliant academic scholarship.

Angie had come to him before for advice when she was debating whether to marry Danny some eight years ago. Drake had said he couldn’t and shouldn’t tell her what to do. All he advised back then was to not react emotionally. Think it through, he said. Was she prepared to change her life so dramatically after being single and accustomed to living alone?

The answer to that eventually became a yes. Danny seemed normal, well-adjusted, not self-absorbed and insincere like too many of the guys she had dated. What had happened to the man she married?

Drake suggested that as a clinical psychologist herself, she might think about the guidance she’d give to one of her patients facing a similar dilemma. What counsel would she think worked best?

Angie considered it. She sipped some coffee. The coffee settled her jangled nerves, made her feel better. Drake said she didn’t need to give him an answer now. Take some time. Come back tomorrow when they could discuss it again.

“Let me throw this idea out for size,” responded Angie. “I’d tell my patient: ‘you need to accept the other person for who they are. If you can’t accept it, you have two choices. You can stay or you can leave. It’s up to you. You’re in control of your own destiny.’ Something like that.”

Drake nodded. He knew all about the fixation of astrology, having dealt with patients himself who believed in it with all their heart. Yet, at the same time these patients had come to him with their significant other because the astrology was wrecking their relationship. Sometimes his advice for these couples worked. Sometimes not.

“My question for you, Drake, why do you think Danny’s so into astrology? What makes him follow it like it’s gospel? Is there any way we can make him quit?”

The doctor stroked his white clipped beard and fiddled with his glasses which definitely made him look like the scholar he was. “That’s the 64- thousand-dollar question, isn’t it? What I’d say might work is the same way we try to get people to stop drinking or cure their drug habit. To try to figure out the underlying causes of what makes people tick. Why they do things that damage themselves. That’s our job. To get at motivation. Yes. It can be done.”

Angie said that sounded hopeful, which is how she desperately wanted to feel. She realized from talking to Drake she had accepted the unacceptable about her marriage to Danny. The least she could do was not give in to despair. If it didn’t work out with Danny, it didn’t work out. She would have to accept that and go from there.


Danny was watching golf on TV in the living room when she walked in. He lowered the sound.

“How’d it go with Doctor Winston?” he asked. He knew all too well she was in distress about his astrology.

She smiled. She hadn’t done that for a while. “It helped.”

He opened his arms. “How about a hug?” he asked. “Can we do that?”

They held each other for a spell.

“I’ve done some soul-searching about myself,” he whispered in her ear.

“I’m all ears,” she said, seeking levity to lessen the tension she felt between them.

They sat down facing each other.

Danny said he’d forgo astrology if it meant saving their marriage. He knew he was prone to extremes and rebellious behavior based on his being an Aquarius. Believe it or not, but astrologists said the recent total eclipse of the sun meant he was to set out on a new path that he hadn’t pictured for himself.

Danny also said the first and last degrees of Uranus in Pisces could explain the magnitude 4.8 earthquake affecting the New Jersey-New York region only several days before the eclipse. None of this was coincidental, he insisted.

“Oops,” exclaimed Danny. “I shouldn’t have mentioned any of that.”

Angie nodded. “I get it. You still believe in astrology. I’m not going to try to change who you are. You’d resent me.”

Danny admitted it. He believed what he believed. Yet, he wanted to figure out how to stop being obsessed with this astrology stuff. He wanted and needed to change.

Angie smiled again. She held out her hand to him. He held it.

This was hardly the storybook marriage that most of the people Angie knew could only dream about. At least, however, it was starting to get a little better than she had any right to imagine.

And to think, if she was so inclined to believe, she could attribute Danny’s accepting he needed to change from the fact he was an Aquarius, without a doubt the most accepting of all the zodiac signs.



Eric Green’s free-lance articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and elsewhere. His short story, “A Disturbing Matter Over Mind,” was chosen as the 2023 winner of the Illumination Prize by the Spire Light Journal in Georgia. Another of his short stories, “A Most Disconcerting Title,” was published in 2023 by Adelaine Literary Magazine. He is a former newspaper reporter, and associate editor for a national magazine in Washington, D.C.