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"Enough" is a Flash Fiction story based on TAROCCHI DELL’OLIMPO: XIII Death


Not yet lunchtime and the bullying was already in full swing. Cassie’s cheeks burned and hot tears stung her eyes. She had gotten the answer wrong, and the class had burst into a collective guffaw at her mistake. To her credit, Mrs. Nash scolded the laughing class. But Mrs. Nash knew nothing of what went on behind her back, by the lockers, in the bathroom, behind the gym.

“Say something and you’re dead meat!” The threat boomed in Cassie’s mind like a broken record.

Cassie shrank in her chair and begged the earth to swallow her. She grasped Ethur, dangling from his chain around her neck, and pushed the hot tears back. She recalled the time the strange young man had turned all the bullies into chickens. The bullying had died down, and it was a welcome respite. But the weird incident seemed forgotten now, and little by little, the bullies were regaining confidence and increasing their viciousness.

Cassie dared not talk to Mrs. Nash or her father because she knew the consequences: more bullying. She squeezed Ethur tight and wished for Adrian to swagger into the classroom and sit by her. But Adrian was in school himself, and deep inside Cassie understood she should not expect Adrian to always be her knight in shining armor. He has his own life, his own problems, she reasoned.

The laughter subsided, and Mrs. Nash continued with the lesson, but Cassie could not focus. Mean stares bore into her back, and nasty giggles reached her ears. A quick glance around the room showed many leers directed in her direction.

“Cassie,” Mrs. Nash called on her again, “can you repeat what I just said?”

Cassie shook her head, fearful her voice would squeak and break with embarrassment. Mrs. Nash scowled at her, sighed, and then, to Cassie’s relief, proceeded with the lecture. Cassie now wished for that strange man that could turn bullies into chickens. She closed her eyes and felt Ethur awakening in her fisted palm. She loosened her grip as the tiny obsidian horse stirred and stretched his legs.

“They bully you out of fear,” a soft voice whispered in her ear.

Fear of what? Cassie thought.

“You, they fear you,” the soft voice replied, now booming in her head.

But I am nobody, Cassie answered in her mind.

“You’re different,” The voice stated.

And Cassie’s heart skipped. She gazed down at the little obsidian figurine, rearing up on his hind legs, his stone hooves tapping on her palm.

“You’re a witch.”

A sudden and unspeakable rage erupted from her feet and bubbled into her eyes when a spitball hit her on the cheek. Sniggers pricked her skin. Another spitball landed on her forehead, and Cassie shook with wrath.

The classroom darkened; thunder and lightning clapped. Heavy rainfall slid down the windows and drowned out the sneers. The classroom quieted, astonished at the sudden cloudburst on an otherwise sunny and cloudless day.

Cassie’s eyes fixed on Becky, the spitball culprit and her eternal arch nemesis. Their gazes locked; Becky’s lip curled into a smirk, but Cassie fixed her hot and flashing pupils on the girl. Becky’s smirk faded; she wanted to rip her gaze away from Cassie’s icy stare, but an unexpected fear paralyzed her. Thunder boomed and lightning flashed so near the walls creaked and the windows warped. All gasped in surprise. All except Cassie and Becky locked in their glaring duel.

“Becky!” Mrs. Nash’s anguished cry broke the spell. 

The storm stopped, and all heads turned towards Becky, who sat in a swelling puddle trickling from the seat of her jeans onto the floor in a yellowish pool. 

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MINCHIATE: Nine of Cups

"Nonna's Minestrone" is a flash fiction story based on MINCHIATE: Nine of Cups

Nonna’s Minestrone

Marcella gazed at the antique tureen sitting in the middle of the empty china cabinet and a little tear snaked down her cheek. She wiped it away with the tips of her fingers as she reminisced the wonderful sunny afternoons spent in this old house. The family would all sit around the long table, chatting and laughing, while waiting for Nonna to enter the dining room carrying that big tureen and setting it down on its place of honor in the middle of the table. The aroma of Nonna’s minestrone would float over the party as warm sunlight streamed through the windows, enveloping the dining room and its inhabitants in its soft and golden glow.

Marcella closed her eyes and fancied she still smelled the minestrone so many years later. The memory of its delicious flavor flowing like warm silk down her throat fluttered her tastebuds, and, for an instant, she heard the gay chatter and felt the warmth of her long-gone relatives beside her. A sob choked the memory, and Marcella opened her eyes. The tureen, with its red and gold ornamented lid sat on its desolate shelf, the handle of its white ladle resting on the rim, the body hidden inside the bowl. Nonna had packed all her family’s china and brought it on the ship while escaping the war, but the tureen was all that had survived the long and arduous journey.

Gone were the family gatherings and gone were the days of comfort and warmth. Marcella opened the glass doors and held the tureen in her arms. Tears streamed down her cheeks and onto its beloved lid. 

“I’m so sorry, Nonna,” she repeated as sobs shook her shoulders, “but I need to sell it. I need the money, I have nothing to eat.”

Marcella’s knees buckled, and she kneeled down on the dusty floor, setting the tureen in front of her. Through her tears, she saw the rundown house with its scant and shabby furniture; pieces of her childhood she had sold off one by one in tiny bites to her soul. Of value, only the tureen remained, and she caressed it as an image of Nonna bloomed in her mind.

“This tureen,” Nonna’s voice whispered in her ear, “fed us through fascism and through war. It kept our bellies full and warm during hardship, as it will keep yours full and warm now.”

Marcella’s sobs quieted as a golden peace flowed through her body and entered her heart. The warm and comforting aroma of Nonna’s minestrone filled the room, and the soft sound of a rolling boil came from the tureen. She opened the lid and steam wafted out of Nonna’s minestrone, simmering in the bowl.

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"Bed and Breakfast" is a flash fiction story based on UNIVERSAL WAITE TAROT: VII of Pentacles

Bed and Breakfast

Stuart turned off the lamp and listened to the other guests of the quaint bed-and-breakfast shuffling to their rooms. A soft snore beside him signaled Gloria was already fast asleep. She had put her book away minutes before and pulled the covers up to her ears, hinting it was time for Stuart to turn off the lights and sleep.

Stuart closed his weary eyelids and waited for sleep while listening to the soft murmur of darkness. A gentle breeze swooshed through the open window, and crickets and cicadas buzzed their discontent at the sultry night. Guests whispered their goodnights and the thud of closing doors followed their heavy footfalls in the carpeted hallway. The night engulfed Stuart and soon he entered the silent world of deep sleep.

A door slammed, and Stuart jerked awake.

“Stu? What is it?” Gloria grumbled beside him.

“Listen,” he whispered, and Gloria sat up, rubbing her sleep-laden eyes.

Silvery moonlight streamed through the window, and the world outside rested in utter silence. But inside, sound reigned. High-heels clacked in the attic room above them; muttering voices trickled from the ceiling and down the walls. 

Gloria squeezed Stuart’s fingers, and the moonlight shone on her stiffened body and ashen face. Stuart’s skin crawled; the noises roused in him a profound and sinister fear. He dreaded what was to come, yet sensed the worst had already happened.

“Isn’t the attic room supposed to be closed?” Gloria whispered.

Stuart nodded, “the hostess said it’s been unused for half a century,”

“So who’s up there?”

“I don’t know, Glo,” he pulled the quilted bedspread off and set his feet on the floor.

Gloria mimicked him on her side of the bed.

“Where are you going?” He asked.

“To see what’s going on,” she replied, “you?”

“Me too,” he said.

“Suits me.”

Holding hands, they opened the door and peeked into the dim hallway. Tiny night lights guided the way towards the attic door.

Stuart placed his hand on the attic door knob and turned it. 


He gazed at Gloria with a puzzled expression. 

She shrugged.

Silence hovered in the hallway, and Stuart wondered if the owners slept up there as they crept back to their room. Gloria was closing the door when a gunshot shook their bedroom. Clacking high heels hurried down the hallway. Blonde hair in a white gown and shimmering diamond necklace gusted past their half-opened door. Stuart darted into the silent and empty hallway and hurried down the stairs, never gaining sight of the fleeting figure.

Gloria stood by the window that overlooked the cobblestone driveway, expecting the woman to burst through the front door. Only Stuart’s bewildered frame walked into the moonlight. He scanned the empty and quiet premises, then disappeared under the doorway. His footsteps sounded through the hall, and soon he entered the bedroom.

“That was weird,” he said, “did you see where she went?”

Gloria shook her head and pointed out the window, “I saw nothing and no one, but I heard her climb into a loud car and speed down that driveway.”

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"Elsa" is a Flash Fiction story based on GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: Queen of Pentacles


She sits clutching the medal to her chest; the rocking chair creaks a steady tattoo. I watch her cracked tongue peek out from her puckered and parched lips to wet them. She stares straight ahead, oblivious to the slow movement of the sun and the soft wind whispering through the open window and tousling her wispy white hair.

Only her scrawny and shriveled body shows the passage of time, her mind anchored to a lost youth. A soft smile creeps up her lips and cracks open her wrinkled face. Her cloudy irises sparkle with the inner world she inhabits, and the tiny embers of erstwhile beauty glow on the craggy skin around her sunken eyes.

I smile at the radiant young bride framed on the bedside table. Her long white dress is a brilliant flame in the monochromatic picture. Her husband stands beside her, strong and regal in his army uniform. ‘Elsa and Robert, April 1944’, scribbled in ink on the back of the photograph. Only I know those words are there, only I remember Elsa and Robert.

Another faint inscription written in soft pencil with a shaky hand snakes along Robert’s uniform sleeve: Killed in action, June 6, 1944.

The rocking chair stops and the creaking ceases. Her lips break into a wide smile as her head droops onto her shoulder. A haunting sigh escapes and her eyes close…

Beaming, I welcome my young and beautiful bride as she releases her mortal, withered shell and joins me in eternity.

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"Lost in the Fog" is Flash Fiction story based on BRUEGEL TAROT: XVIII The Moon

Lost in the Fog

Stuart’s fingers grip the steering wheel; his knuckles are as white as the mist descending upon them. His shoulders hunch forward, and Gloria can almost hear his grinding teeth from the passenger seat. She strains her eyes, trying to pierce the dense white-out surrounding them. The windshield wipers thud and scrape against the glass; it is the only sound, and it unnerves her.

Gloria glances at Stuart and bites back the scolding “I told you so” that springs to her lips. She wanted to stop, but he insisted on pressing on, assuring her the nearest city was only a short drive. Tension and weariness are now weighing on the silent couple as the car crawls through the dense mist.

Stuart passes a hand over his tired eyes. Thick wisps hover and meander in a spectral white dance, now revealing, now enveloping the blurry skeletons of the scraggly forest.

Gloria breathes a sigh of relief when the fog thins and bony trees line the way as the car crunches on an unpaved road.

“Shut up,” Stuart states when Gloria opens her mouth, “I don’t know where we are, or when we turned off the highway. And yeah, you told me so.”

He gives Gloria an annoyed sideways glance, but his lips curl upward, lightening the mood. Gloria snickers, and Stuart bursts into laughter, but the mist and disturbing silence swallow the sound. They inch forward. Mingled between the towering and haggard tree trunks, Gloria now spies squat walls and low ceilings. 

“Houses!” She exclaims, “maybe we can ask for directions.”

Stuart grins, “Sure, like the last time. Remember that dark old house?”

But Gloria says nothing as a shiver creeps up her spine. No light shines in the small wooden houses; no car sits parked on the streets. She senses the deep abandonment and oblivion here. Unlike the ruined City of Gold that breathes constant destruction, this ghostly colony seems lost and forgotten in time, intact and removed from this earthly plane. 

Stuart keeps driving and Gloria glances at him. He is nervous, his cheeks ashen, and he exudes fear. It grips her too, and she gazes toward the sky as her lips form a silent prayer.

Please let us leave, she thinks, repeating the words in her mind.

The fog slithers away, and a palisade appears ahead. Stuart speeds up and the car’s rumble breaks the moody silence. As he zooms under the crossbeam, Gloria catches the word ‘CROATOAN’ inscribed into the wood.

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GOLDEN TAROT: King of Cups

"Dashed Dreams" is a flash fiction story based on GOLDEN TAROT: King of Cups

Dashed Dreams

He watches as they load their car and the rented U-Haul. Fat tears blot the wooden floor and flare out like ink splashes. She grabs the cat, who has been moaning and rubbing itself on the wall all morning. It struggles, yowls, hisses and refuses to enter its carrier. Frightened by the water droplets, she scans the old parlor with its creaky floor leading up the majestic, yet shabby staircase. Tears prick her eyes, but she blinks them away. The cat is still rubbing itself against the wall. 

“I know, I know,” she coos and kneeling, strokes its oozing spine, “I wanted to love this house so much, but it’s uninhabitable. We tried to make a go of it, I swear we did.”

They dreamed of renovating the old baroque banister and the peeling gold leaf that decorated the cornices in the spacious dining room. They fixed and polished the original hardwood floor, but they could never make this ramshackle old house a home.

The whispers, the moans, the swinging doors and flickering lights were too much for her. She feared she was losing her mind, but then Rob spoke of misplaced things, cold spots and mysterious water stains.

Her dream of renovating, and then inhabiting a centuries-old house crashed down the moment they acknowledged the indelible presence that meandered out of every nook and cranny. Only the cat loves this house, and as it mewls and purrs, she considers leaving it in its beloved and bedeviled home, but she wrangles it into its carrier and shuts the door. 

The car rounds the corner and more water stains appear on the floor. Wanting company for so long he tried to welcome them as best he could. He opened and shut doors for them, switched the lights on and off as they needed, put their things away and at night, unburdened himself of his woes, of the loneliness and the tragic events that left him in a state of permanent limbo. He spoke about his sincere wish for company, love and family again, but only the cat listened, only the cat understood.

Phantom tears roll down his cheeks and splatter on the floor. The walls shake with his soulful laments as he contemplates yet another century of loneliness.

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OLD ENGLISH TAROT: Seven of Swords

"Maxwell" is a Flash Fiction story based on OLD ENGLISH TAROT: Seven of Swords


The frozen earth crunched under Maxwell’s heavy boots as he traipsed toward the old and ruined chapel on Uncle Clayton’s estate.

The first Christmas in the trenches, and the following years of war had left a permanent chill in his bones. Coming home, Maxwell had wished only for a long, hot bath and a warm chat by the blazing fire with Uncle Clayton. Instead, he found a darkened house in disrepair and disarray, and a new grave on the ancient family plot.

The chill in Maxwell’s bones deepened upon learning his cousins had inherited Uncle Clayton’s fortune and plundered the house of its riches. The icy wind brought tears to Maxwell’s eyes as he pulled his collar up and trudged towards the ruined chapel. He willed himself not to glance back at the old house, now dark and cold in the short wintry day. 

His cousins did not want the house—too much upkeep, Maxwell surmised—and left the unpleasant surprise and financial burden on him. How had he offended them? His cousins’ loathing of him was palpable in the state they had left his beloved uncle’s house. Perhaps that was the great insult, the sincere and respectful love that existed between him and Uncle Clayton, and the fear that the old and heirless widower would leave everything to Maxwell.

No one had informed him of Uncle Clayton’s death that first Christmas in the trenches, when they had all warmed themselves around a weak fire sparked by a tenuous truce. Maxwell’s eyes watered from the biting wind and the bitter intuition as he roamed over the sprawling frozen grounds. Although unable to prove it, he realized that by leaving only the house in his name they had left him in debt and impoverished.

“They told him I died,” Maxwell’s teeth gnashed with rage, and his frame rattled with certainty. 

In his mind’s eye, he saw the lie whispered by the old man’s sickbed while their lawyer waited with a new will and testament in hand. Cold tears spilled from Maxwell’s stinging eyes and that permanent chill gnawed at his bones. 

Enraged, Maxwell kicked a stone and watched it roll away. The memory of a warm summer’s day welled up from the bottom of his mind; Uncle Clayton strode beside a ten-year-old Maxwell. Uncle Clayton chatted while the boy kicked and played with the stones and pebbles littering the grass-lined path. 

“You know, your ancestors hid money here. A great big hoard of looted treasure,” Uncle Clayton said with a playful glint in his eye and mischief quivering from the corner of his mouth. 

“Uh-huh,” Maxwell replied and rolled his eyes.

Even then, he had known of Uncle Clayton’s penchant for telling tall tales. Maxwell himself had been the butt of many a fantastic prank.

Uncle Clayton continued, “your great-great-grandfather was a privateer, and he buried the loot captured from a Spanish vessel somewhere on this estate.”

“Oh, Uncle,” Maxwell sighed, “if we already owned this place, why would my ancestor need to be a privateer? We can trace our family’s wealth back to William the Conqueror, you said.”

Uncle Clayton sniggered and patted the boy on the head.

Maxwell reached the old medieval chapel. His cousins had not touched this building, no doubt they deemed it useless. It was chilly and dank, and he shivered from that inner freeze that never subsided. Ancient pictures with dark and faded images hung on the walls in rotting frames. It smelled of moss-covered stone and damp incense. A ray of silver sunshine shone through the tarnished stained-glass windows and illumined an image of Saint George and the Dragon, and another boyhood memory crawled out of its abyss. 

Maxwell smiled, enraptured by the painting, his eyes drinking in every color and every stroke. Uncle Clayton sat beside him, and a peaceful silence settled over the ruined chapel and its leaky roof, while outside, summer life buzzed, chirped and bubbled. The sun dipped on the horizon; the chapel glimmered with the pinks and blues and purples of the stained-glass, and Uncle Clayton announced it was time to leave.

“You know,” Uncle Clayton spoke as they walked in the gleaming sunset.

Maxwell hid a smirk from him; Uncle Clayton’s cock-and-bull stories always started with “you know,”.

“Dragons always protect their treasure,” Uncle Clayton began, but Maxwell sprinted ahead, challenging his uncle to a race.

Now, the young man stood before the painting, longing for his uncle’s fanciful yarns. Cool sunlight shimmered on the wall, and Maxwell caught sight of a small golden glint just beneath the crooked frame. Maxwell tried to pry the painting off the wall, but it was well-fastened. Yet, just beneath the frame, right where the mossy stone had eroded, he glimpsed a tiny nook from which glimmered flashes of gold, silver, emerald and ruby.

Maxwell beamed, “Dragons always protect their treasure.”

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MINCHIATE: Six of Swords

"Swords" is a Flash Fiction story based on MINCHIATE: Six of Swords


Again, I dreamed it. 

A door opens and I walk into a fire-lit room; shadows dance to the crackling flames while the grandfather clock ticks a steady tattoo. Six crossed swords hang on the wall and their blades glint in the firelight. A deathly wail blasts through the room and snuffs out the fire.

I jolt awake; perspiration drips down my forehead, and my heart beats so fast I fear it will jump out of my chest. 

I first dreamed this scene when I was a young child. I awakened crying, and my parents rushed to comfort me. Even now, tears spring to my eyes as I recall their loving faces and soothing words. The next night, my grandmother died, and I forgot the dream. 

Until my fifteenth birthday, when I once again entered the fire-lit room. Five swords glimmered on the wall. The same hollow lament gusted through the room and plunged it into darkness. This time, I lay in silence with a pounding chest. We received a telegram soon afterwards; my brother perished in battle.

The third time, I cried upon awakening, for only three swords hung on the wall. I froze at the news of my parents’ bloody deaths in an awful accident on the road. I cried bitter tears and raged about the dream warning me of an imminent death I could not stop. 

My wife died giving birth to a stillborn baby, and the sorrow burdens me even after all these decades; the prior night, only one sword hung on the wall. 

My family has left this earthy plane, and though I have lived a lonely life, I regret nothing. I write this letter because again; I dreamed it. 

The door opens and shadows dance to the flickering fire and the tic-tock of the grandfather clock. No sword hangs on the wall. 

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"Meant to Be" is a Flash Fiction story based on ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT: Prince of Cups

Meant to Be

Kayla gazes at her watch, and a tear rolls down her cheek. The lone glass of wine sits on the table. She is past fuming; self-doubt and self-consciousness are biting at her self-esteem. Stood up, again. She should have known better than to accept the blind date.

Kayla takes a sip of wine and watches the couple at the next table. They are very much in love; it is clear by how they gaze into one another’s eyes and play with one another’s fingers. A slap in the face. Is there something wrong with her? Is love just not meant to be? Although older, the woman’s striking resemblance to Kayla is another stab to the heart. What does this woman have that Kayla does not, besides a tall, dark, handsome man with her?

Kayla sets her wine glass down on the table and wonders whether to stay for a lonely dinner or whether to leave and have a lonely dinner elsewhere. If you leave, everyone will know he stood you up and that you’re not even worth the guy’s time. If you stay, they’ll know you at least have the guts to face the rejection. With a deep sigh, Kayla picks up the menu and reads it for the tenth time that evening.

Lucas glances at his watch and exhales an exasperated huff. He scans the restaurant with apprehension, his eyes lingering on the door. She is late, and he wonders if she is standing him up again. 

His father’s voice whispers in his brain, “She’s not worth it, son.”

He refused to listen, and now he is in a relationship he himself knows is toxic. It is better than being alone, he always tells himself. Peor es nada, like his mother says, worse is nothing.

Lucas runs his tongue over his teeth and watches the couple at the next table. She is beautiful, with long, blonde hair and pouty lips. Her eyes sparkle as she gazes into the eyes of her partner who only has eyes for her as well.

Lucas grabs his whiskey glass and takes a gulp, his eyes rolling once more over the restaurant. He picks up the menu to order yet another lonely dinner. He refuses to text her. There is nothing left to say. As of now, he is a free man.

The sound of shuffling chairs draws his attention. The lovebirds are leaving, and Lucas notices the man has similar features to him, despite being older. Lucas hopes one day a beautiful woman will gaze into his eyes with so much love and admiration. The woman walks around the table and into the nook of the man’s outstretched arm. She slips her arm around his waist, and embracing, they walk out of the restaurant.

Lucas gazes ahead. A woman sits two tables in front of him, by herself. He glimpses the top of a shining blonde head over the menu she is holding up with her delicate hands. She lowers the menu and stares straight ahead. 

Their eyes meet, and Kayla feels an electric jolt through her body as her eyes fix on the dark and handsome man two tables in front of her.

Lucas’s heart skips a beat when he locks eyes with the beautiful blonde woman gazing at him.

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"La Llorona" is a Flash Fiction story based on GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: 7 of Pentacles

La Llorona

The dense clouds parted, revealing an inky blue night and a brilliant full moon. Twinkling stars speckled the sky and raindrops dripped from the eaves. Pilar sat on the hacienda’s terrace; the fresh scent of wet earth and grass filled her nostrils, while a cool breeze chilled the balmy night.

She draped a blanket across her legs and sipped her steaming cup of tea with the chirping crickets as her only company. Moonlight sparkled on the wet glade and toads croaked in the grass. The night bloomed with life; thunder rumbled in the distance, chasing after the rolling storm.

A bright beam of white caught Pilar’s gaze as it quivered on the meadow like a long and slender tendril of moonlight. An eerie moan in the gloaming sent shivers up Pilar’s spine, and she sat frozen with her teacup midway to her lips.

The white figure meandered through the glade as the chilly breeze carried a mournful dirge over the field. A bloated cloud blocked the moon and plunged the field into darkness; only Pilar’s kerosene lamp flickered on the terrace like a beacon pointing to safety.

In the pitch darkness, the figure’s white-hot radiance swelled as it oscillated into the trees and vanished in the black. A wailing lament quavered through the night and scared the cloud away. The moon illuminated the glade again, and the night relaxed around her. The toads croaked, and the crickets chirped to the merry dance of moon-rays shimmering on the wet grass. Raindrops beat a harmonious tattoo as they trickled from the terrace roof.

Pilar sipped her tea; its warmth seeped down her throat and into her tight stomach, loosening her taut muscles.