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UNIVERSAL WAITE TAROT: X of Cups

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Bootstraps

 

“It’s strange knowing your ship has come home. After all the work and hardship, the sacrifice, everything, you relax, you can breathe. The world is at your feet. I hope that one day you’ll feel that way too.”

I sat across the old man listening to his spiel about how he’d been poor and desperate and how, through hard work and sacrifice he’d pulled himself up by the bootstraps. I tried hard not to roll my eyes nor to avert his gaze. He’d conveniently forgotten to mention something we all knew to be true, that someone had given him a chance and opened the doors of opportunity for him to strut through.

Anger rose and my cheeks flushed. I gritted my teeth and swallowed back the ire about to burst through my clenched fist. The arrogant bastard was laying me off (“the company’s downsizing, the economy” blah, blah, blah), after six years of working for him…

I took a deep breath to keep the almighty fury at bay and Dirk, always misinterpreting, thought his self-aggrandizement bored me.

“Well, I suppose you’ve heard this story before,” he said, oozing snark. He turned grave and shuffled papers on his desk.

“I have,” I said, my voice strong despite the oncoming tears of rage, “and I know it’s bullshit.”

Dirk opened his eyes wide, I held his gaze and continued,

“Everyone knows Mortimer took you under his wing and made you who you are. It was his generosity that helped you up, not your hard work.

“You’ve shown me you care nothing about hard work, but about what others can do for you. My Ivy League scholarship-funded education means nothing to you because my daddy isn’t a Fortune 500 CEO. He was a plumber, and a damn good one. My consistent quality performance is useless because I don’t have uncles in the government.

“But who do you think you are? I know you’re just like me! Your father was a house painter and now you dare look down on us, the common people like yourself, who’ve studied hard for an education and who come here every day and put up with your shit because we are pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps with no help from you. You’ve shut the door on us because you know we’re better than you!”

The old man huffed and a devious smirk crawled across his face. He opened his mouth to speak, but I interrupted him,

“I know why you’ve called me in here, don’t think I’m surprised, but next time, don’t waste your breath on that bullshit story.”

“Fired,” he hissed through gritted teeth.

“Thank you.”

I walked out of his office, out of the building and into the warm sunlight. He was right, though my ship hasn’t come in, I know what he meant about being able to breathe.

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GOLDEN BOTTICELLI TAROT: 7 of Chalices

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Winter

Lara opened her eyes. Something woke her. Moonlight shone through the window in a strange silver-and-gold light. She padded to it in bare feet and flushed cheeks despite the glacial cold; it was winter.

The frost on the window framed the glass, and she gazed out into the snowy meadow. Lara loved the silent snowfalls when they muted all nature’s noises. Through the falling snow she glimpsed a light on the field, just before the copse of trees that lined the edge of the woods, their bare branches now affording a strange, transparent visibility not available the rest of the year.

“Skeletons,” she whispered, “memories of summer.”

The meadow shone gold and, bathed in moon rays, it gave off the silver-and-gold light that entered the window. She beheld a small orb of gold light moving towards the house. The nearer it came, the more it grew and, when it reached the gate, Lara recognized the figure of a man emitting such light. He glanced at the window where Lara stood in her white nightgown and burning cheeks, a ghostly figure in the crisp midwinter’s night. The stranger smiled and unfurled golden wings.

He flew and tapped on the window. Lara shook her head.

“If you are a vampire, I do not invite you.” She said, her throat hoarse.

“Not a vampire,” the winged figure smiled, “and I need no invitation.”

The window flew open with a gesture of his hand and he floated inside, alighting before her.

“Who are you?” She whispered.

“You know who I am.”

“Why are you here?” Her voice quavered, and she held back a cough.

“I’ve come for you,” he extended his hand.

“So soon?”

“Yes.”

“May I say goodbye first?”

He nodded.

Lara didn’t need to wake me, I’d awoken when the silver-and-gold light glistened through the window. As she stood over me, I knew I was gazing into my sister’s lovely eyes for the last time.

“Must you go?” I bleated, my voice meek and muted by the blanket.

“Yes, he says so, and he knows.”

“I love you,” I said, tears brimming and stinging my eyes, a knot in my throat.

“I love you too, I will always be with you.” She bent and kissed my forehead.

Lara turned to the stranger and held his hand; they flew out the window. I jumped out of bed and ran after them. I leaned out calling her name into the silent night, but they’d vanished. My knees buckled, and I slid against the wall sobbing such tears of sorrow they constricted my chest. My heart broke when The Angel of Death took my sister.

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ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT DECK: 5 of Wands

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Strife

The dictionary said the Word of the Day was ‘strife’. Not a word you can really savor, I thought. But an important word. An ominous word. 

Strife: “an angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues; conflict.”

I came home and there was strife, in the shape of a suitcase in the hall. Strife shone through the windows and the evening fire lit the coat, the shoes, the keys by the door. 

I followed the scent of strife up the stairs and into the bedroom. The rumpled bed; clothing strewn on the sheets. Closet doors open wide. Empty. Strife had emptied them. 

Strife burst from the bathroom and slammed the other suitcase shut.  

“Fuck you,” said Strife, pushing passed me. 

Stomps on the stairs shook the house. Bottles in the bathroom clinked. 

“Goodbye!” called Strife. 

The door slammed. 

Silence.

Strife took all my baggage.

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OLD ENGLISH TAROT: Three of Coins

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Dearest friend, 

I write to you from the old tavern on the edge of town. There is a hustle and a bustle around me, but all I see through the window is the old medieval castle, its ruins calling as the wind blows down the long unpaved path. It rests upon a small hill, and an old, forgotten vineyard stretches out beneath its fairy-tale turrets. 

All around me the sound of cars, people, dogs, and the endless hum of generators fill my ears to the point of explosion. I close my eyes and hear only the soft breeze as it winds through the overgrown grapevines, and rustles through the trees that line the path towards the ruins. I hear the soft clop of hooves and I feel as on the threshold of time. 

People here say no one goes up that way anymore. Strange things happen to all those who venture up there. Some say evil lives there, others say it’s an Angel that haunts that place. 

The barman claims his neighbor’s father walked up that path at midnight, in search of the Devil. A short time later, the man and his family bought properties in and around the town. He became the wealthiest man about.

“But what good was all his money,” the barman said, “when all his children died one after another, like dominoes. Only my neighbor, the youngest, survives, and he is ill and childless. The Devil always gets his due.”

He wipes down the bar as if wiping away the whole affair. 

“My grandfather went up that way,” a lady chimes in. She sits at the end of the bar, beer before her, listening.

“He and my grandmother were poor as church mice. They would traipse through the woods in rags and bare feet collecting firewood to sell. One winter night, they found themselves at the edge of the path and saw a light in the tower. The place was deserted since time began. Grandfather said the light flickered, and a voice whispered in their ear, and such images of warmth and comfort filled their minds they longed for the light. So, without thinking, he said, they trudged the frozen path. At the gate they met an angel, so bright and kind. He smiled at them and said they would never be cold again. He carried a staff, and with it, struck the ground. The Angel vanished. Where he stood, my grandfather said, there remained a spark. It looked like something shining, he said, and he dug it up. They found a small hoard of gold that night, right at the gates. They were never cold again.”

The lady smiles as she sips her beer. 

“I think,” she continued, “whether you meet Devil or Angel, depends on your intentions. So if you go up there, please thank the Angel for the wonderful life he gave me and my family.”

The sun set while I listened in the tavern. I step out onto the darkened street and look at the castle. There is a light in the tower. 

Love always,