BRUEGEL TAROT: VIII Justice

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It’s The Little Things… 

There’s a fine line between justice and revenge, thought Christine, and what I’ve done is justice. But, was it? At least it was justified. However, somewhere deep down a little voice told her it had been revenge. 

It all started a two years ago when Christine met Rowan at a class she was taking. He’d shown up, out of the blue and with a wink and a smile had won her over. Well, it hadn’t been that simple, but Christine was not wrong in claiming he had started it. 

He flirted first, asked for her number, called her, invited her for coffee, drinks, dinner. Soon they were going to the movies, to concerts, to restaurants, day trips, nights out. They were always together, or else they’d be phoning, chatting and emailing. 

Rowan was charming and amiable. He was also good-looking and smart. He was everything a girl could want, and without knowing when or how, Christine fell head over heels for him. 

Except, he wasn’t interested. At least not in that way, he said, let’s just be friends, he said.  But the flirting didn’t stop. Nor did the constant contact. Christine would cry herself to sleep wondering why he wasn’t interested in her, what was wrong with her. 

Before she knew it, Rowan, unwittingly, answered all her secret questions. He would look at women, totally different in appearance to her, and say they were beautiful, but never Christine. No matter how hard she tried to look her best, she never got a compliment. Well, not a verbal compliment, because in behavior, Rowan acted like she was Aphrodite, Goddess of Beauty and Queen of Hearts. He would stand so near her that she would feel the warmth emanating from his body. He would look at her with eyes that said, “I see only you” and he would smile at her like she was the most radiant thing in the world. But in words, Rowan always retracted. His closeness would be contradicted by his hand on her shoulder, slowly pushing her away. His gaze would be followed by words like fat, ugly, pimply, casually thrown into conversation meant to sting, but assuring Christine that he wasn’t talking about her, or was he? The smile, Christine soon found out, was the worst. Hurtful comments like “you’re so weird,” “you’re so pushy, it’s creepy,” “gosh what a nerd,” would come wrapped in its treacherous warmth. They pained Christine to the bone. No one had ever said anything like that to her before. She should’ve walked away, but he wouldn’t let her. He still called, and emailed, and even showed up unexpected. 

I should’ve just run, Christine thought for the millionth time. But she hadn’t. Instead, she’d held on to the hope he might one day change his mind. 

When he spoke for the first time about a girl he was seeing, Christine almost died. She cried for hours. Every time he spoke of Lucy, it stung Christine so deep down that her soul hurt. So she came clean, and told Rowan how she felt about him, and that if he still wanted to be friends he’d need to leave her alone. She wouldn’t contact him, she said, and she would appreciate it if he didn’t either. Rowan agreed. 

For one marvelous week Christine felt herself liberated of his presence. She still cried and looked at herself in the mirror wondering what was wrong with her, but Rowan wasn’t there to sting her with honeyed gestures, and she felt herself beginning to heal. 

But Rowan wasn’t about to let go so easily. He called her the week after saying he missed her, and the week after that, until Christine, heart on her sleeve, told him she would never speak to him again, she never wanted to see him again. 

And so it was for almost a year, until one day, she saw Rowan walking down the street. He was walking towards her. Christine lifted her coat collar and hid her face with her hair and sunglasses as he approached. There was a discarded piece of cable on the pavement. She gingerly and discreetly kicked it his way. It tangled between his feet and Rowan fell flat on his face. 

“Timber!” Christine mumbled to herself and kept walking as if nothing had happened, smirking with satisfaction. 

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ALEISTER CROWLEY THOTH TAROT DECK: VIII of Swords, Adjustment

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Adjustment

‘Adjustment’ was the only word Kendra could come up with to describe the last month of her life. In just four weeks she’d had to adjust to the radical changes that had occurred in such a short time. Most people did not experience so much in their lifetime. 

It all started when Kendra was forced to make the most harrowing decision of her life: keep the baby, or let it go.

John and Kendra had been trying for children for years, and finally, the dream had come true, and for five wonderful months everything went swimmingly. Then came that day, that appointment when the doctor said there were complications and enumerated a list of genetic conditions Kendra couldn’t spell, let alone pronounce.

“Kendra,” the doctor spoke softly, “if you carry this baby to term your lives are in danger. Should we lose you and it survive, the baby’s life will be difficult, and painful, and it probably won’t live much longer than you. Should we lose the baby and you survive, you probably won’t be able to have another child. Ideally, you could both live, but the chances are very slim. If so, adjustments would have to be made in your life, and in your home.”

Kendra looked into the doctor’s eyes, she knew where this was going, and she sought some alternative, or enlightenment in the doctor’s gaze, but all she saw was the despair of a mother losing a child, of a mother choosing to lose a child. Kendra saw the doctor’s eyes water, as she blinked back tears, kept a straight face and sighed. 

“You’re saying I should let it go?” 

“I’m saying that is an option available to you, neither I, nor anyone else will judge you for it. This is the most difficult decision of your life, believe me, I loved someone who was once faced with it too.”

“Who?” 

“My daughter, she chose to keep the baby and in the end, we lost both.”

Kendra looked down at her hands, palm up on her lap. They were empty. There was nothing, but the big fat teardrops that plunked on them. She even thought she heard the sound they made as they splashed against her palm, like a storm pounding on rocks. 

“You don’t have to decide right now,” the doctor told her, and Kendra nodded, folded her hands and set them against her protruding belly. 

“Do you know the sex?”

“She’s a girl.”

Kendra spent many moments with her eyes closed, asking for clarity, praying for guidance. Once, she raised her eyes to the moonless, yet starry night and saw Andromeda. She who was sacrificed, though saved by Perseus. Kendra covered her face with her hands and cried, praying for help. She was on her knees when the pain ripped through her. 

Kendra didn’t need to choose. The baby left on its own.

There was a funeral, and a service. Everyone rallied around her, her parents, her sister, her friends. All of them understood, no one judged. All but John, only he judged, and his judgement was severe. 

Andromeda was still in the sky above her when John left. The moon, whose light she had missed the night the universe decided for her, was full when Kendra was forced to move out of her home and back in with her parents, so that the house could be sold per the divorce. 

The moon was absent again when she started her new job. Kendra had never worked before, John had been the sole provider, but now, she had to look after herself. Kendra was more alone than ever. She was surrounded by people who loved her, but she felt there was one person missing. One love that was lost. And it wasn’t John. 

Kendra looked around the cafeteria and took stock of her life. She wasn’t happy, but she wasn’t sad. Nor was she angry. It was Death that had taken that life, not Kendra. To her surprise, she often found solace and comfort in the cheerfulness of others. Her job filled her with purpose and satisfaction. Her parents had welcomed her with open arms and still smiled when she came home. She saw her sister every day, and they had more fun now, than they’d ever had before. 

“I’ve adjusted,” Kendra sighed as she put away her lunch. She’d gotten into the habit of putting her palm on her belly whenever she felt like giving thanks. It kept her from breaking into a million tragic pieces. She gave thanks for her meal, her job, her life and most importantly, for the strength to adjust. She stayed like that for a moment; long enough for Peter to ask if she was leaving. 

Kendra looked into his eyes and, for the first time in a long time, smiled so bright that Peter couldn’t take his eyes off her. He sought her, asked her out and before she knew it, Kendra was happy again. 

Andromeda had returned when Kendra went into labor. Peter, her husband held her hand and kissed her as they welcomed their perfect little girl into the world. 

THE GODDESS TAROT: Ace of Cups

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Moon, Moon

The moon rose full in the sky. The waves splashed against the rocks on the beach. Lara sat on her porch, the soft light from the gas lantern framing the doorway. Everywhere else there was darkness and moonlight. The moon shone on the water in broken patterns of light on the waves. She could barely distinguish the soft foam on the sand. 

“Moon, Moon,” Lara said softly, “will he return tonight?”

But the moon only glistened on the waves, and no matter how hard Lara tried, she could not see the horizon. The water was much too dark. 

Lara closed her eyes and listened. She listened for the sound of creaking wood, of a flapping sail, of a rocking ship, but all she heard was the sound of waves breaking on the beach, their soft rolling rattle as they drew back, only to break again. 

Lara wiped away the two tears she allowed to trickle down her cheek. She was certain that tonight was the night, she had felt it as the sun set the ocean alight and gave way to the cold white moon. 

“Tonight was a beginning, Moon, I felt it,” she whispered, face turned upward, “won’t you tell me what will begin?”

She listened to the lapping of the waves. 

Lara stood up with a sigh, took the lantern and went inside. The door creaked shut. If only she had heeded the Moon as its arms of light reached out to her through the window. If only she had stopped for a moment to listen, she might have heard the soft fluttering of a sail, and the far away cry of a weary sailor. 

GOLDEN TAROT: King of Coins

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Martin

Someone had once told Martin that money couldn’t buy everything, but he’d always disagreed. Looking back at his life it seemed that he was right. 

He was born during the Great Depression, a surprise child to an already old and impoverished couple. He grew up eating scraps left by others, wearing other people’s hand-me-downs, never the right size and always shabby. At school he had learned one thing, that work, not education made money. If he wanted to get ahead in life, and leave poverty in the past, he would have to start early. He had always understood what he termed “the poor people’s dilemma” that what was cheap quickly became expensive. He always believed that poor people remained poor because they settled for lesser quality and sought more quantity, but to Martin it was clear that it wasn’t worth it to buy used clothing that was already frayed and might last a few months, when you could scrimp and save to buy new that would last for years. His philosophy in life was: if you had to buy something, buy the best with what you could afford. 

As a teenager he worked as a handy-man, jack-of-all-trades. He would mow lawns, deliver from the local grocery store, clean gutters, paint fences, any menial work available he would do it, and every penny he would save until he could buy one thing that met his self-imposed rules: it must be necessary and it must be the best. It didn’t matter if it took him months to buy a pair of shoes, he would live in his old shoes, feet torn up and calloused until he could buy the best shoes. The same went for clothing and even food. If he were to eat meat, it would be the best quality, otherwise potatoes suited just fine. School was important, but not all-consuming, he got good grades, but was never the best in class, not because he couldn’t be, but because he never wanted to be. Martin knew that a person like him would only get so far with school, work was necessary and he liked it. 

Now, at the ripe old age of ninety-three, Martin, sitting on his Italian leather high-backed chair and smoking his Meerschaum pipe, looked around his study, covered from wall to ceiling with books, antiques and artwork. He was satisfied. He had pulled himself up from nothing. 

He’d worked as a cobbler, a house painter, a newspaper boy, a carpenter, a bartender, a gardener, a clerk, a delivery boy and a myriad other jobs. He even sold lottery tickets for a while, and all that little money he saved best as he could, and if there was any left over he would invest. His keen eye for quality served him well, he would notice products and brands and would research the companies in the newspaper, and when he could, he would buy as many shares as possible. So one dollar, became ten, then one hundred, one thousand and ultimately, one million. Money begets money, he often said, especially if gotten the right way. 

Martin puffed on his pipe and rested his head back. Everything had worked out. He had gone from zero to millions, but there was one thing he forgot along the way: he had no one to pass it on to. 

TAROCCHI DELL’OLIMPO: VII The Chariot

Providence

David was not the type to take the reins. He was always more comfortable sitting back and letting someone else take the wheel. It was easy, and simple, and he found that he learned much through someone else’s guidance, rather than trying things out for himself. He had learned not to play with fire when his sister burnt her fingers while lighting a match, not to play ball in the house when his brother fell and hit his head on a step trying out a new trick, and not to run with scissors when his kindergarten classmate was taken to the emergency room for stitches.

David learned through others; he sat, observed, listened and let his life flow by, led by an invisible, tender hand. Talent came to him naturally and he was blissfully unaware of hardship. Never in his life had he needed to strive for anything, food was never wanting, nor dress, and education and learning was always easy. That’s not to say he took things for granted, he did not. In fact, he was very conscious of the struggles of others, but could not always understand the time and effort people took to overcome them. He always figured everything would turn out fine. He always believed that everything was for the best.

Raymond believed the opposite. Raymond had grown up poor, in a house dry of books and learning, its inhabitants working themselves to the bone. Raymond knew sunless days and freezing nights. He knew poverty and hunger and hard work. Raymond knew David, and hated him. He would watch David cross the quad, always smiling, the sun shining above. Raymond would look up at the same sky and see only dark clouds. He would then spit on the ground and curse his lot.

Raymond was the janitor at David’s college, he had never wanted a higher education for himself, but was always quick to blame the kids who did. Those snotty, little good-for-nothings that befouled his halls, smeared his windows and dirtied everything he cleaned. It did not occur to him that those kids and their tuitions paid his wages, that it was his job to clean the school, to maintain it. Raymond only saw in others the opportunities he never had; opportunities, which, truth be told, he’d never wanted.

One day, Raymond saw David and decided to teach him a lesson. The pea-brained little shit had come out of the bathroom Raymond had finished cleaning not five minutes before. David and those like him could never wait for at least ten minutes before soiling his pristine and sparkling lavatory. That day, his foul mood compounded his negative outlook on life, Raymond decided enough was enough. David would have to pay.

Raymond watched David as he walked happily down the hall. He put his foot on the mopping bucket and waited for the right moment. In one swift movement Raymond pushed the bucket with a mumbled warning, and watched as David, unable to get out of the way, slipped and fell over the bucket. He fell on his arm with a crack and a painful cry. Raymond smirked while David tried to stand, his nose bleeding and cradling his arm.

People dashed to David’s aid, they helped him up and took him to the infirmary. He was later rushed to the hospital with a broken arm.

Raymond was content, the little shit would be more careful next time, the little jerk would have to watch where he was going.

Raymond’s shift ended while David listened to the doctor explain that his fractured arm would be in a cast for at least six weeks. He would be unable to play sports, and would have to rest. He would have to learn to use his free hand for all tasks that required his dominant, yet broken arm.

David smiled and shrugged; cool, he said, he would be ambidextrous now.

Raymond was on the bus ride home as David walked out of the hospital, arm in a sling, his coat draped over it. The flurries that had begun to fall while David was taken to the school’s infirmary, had now become a full, steady, blizzard. The visibility was near zero, and the bus trudged slowly through the untreated streets. The wind had picked up and Raymond thought what a helluva whiteout, as he looked out the window.

Suddenly, an empty trash can tumbled across the street and into the bus’s path. The driver slammed on the brakes and the bus skidded on black ice. The driver tried his best to control it, but the bus overturned.

It was in all the newspapers the next morning: “Local school janitor only fatality in bus accident.”

TAROCCHI DELL’OLIMPO: XXI The World

The World According to Virgil

Virgil had always known about right and wrong, particularly when it concerned other people. He knew that his brother Peter had chosen a career in the Law right, and that his sister Candace had chosen her husband wrong. Never mind that Peter was miserable, or claimed to be, because Virgil was certain he wasn’t. Or that Candace, childless as she and her husband were, were happy (Virgil believed otherwise).

Now the time had come for Virgil’s own children to choose their life, and Virgil knew what was best for them. The oldest, Samuel, would be a great doctor, the middle, Ian would be an excellent lawyer, and his daughter Karen, the apple of his eye, was best suited for accounting.

Thanks to the careers he’d chosen for them they would never want for anything. There would always be a need for doctors, lawyers and accountants, as certain as death and taxes, he always said. Thus, he said, he would be happy in the knowledge that his children had everything they’d ever want, that he had brought them up right, and that he could live peacefully the rest of his days.

He had always imagined himself surrounded by successful children, with equally successful partners and beautiful grandchildren. In his mind, the house would be bursting with family on Christmas Eve, and quiet by evening on Christmas Day. Everyone would do as he said, and everything would run smoothly according to the plans he laid out.

“Dad,” Samuel told him over breakfast one day, “I’ve been thinking about a career in Engineering, you know, building things, what do you think?”

Virgil shook his head and sighed, “Sam, we’ve been over this, the best career for you is Medicine. A great doctor can do a great many things for humanity, and I believe you’d be best at it.”

Samuel bowed his head and ate his breakfast in silence. He knew it was no good to argue with the old man, he knew that his father would never see the world through his eyes, would never understand that the Lego’s and Erector sets that had so fascinated him as a child fascinated him still. It was no use telling him that his favorite shows on TV were about how things were made, and that his favorite subjects at school had always been, and always will be, physics, science and math.

Virgil would look back on that breakfast years later and wonder what he did wrong. He had never understood why Samuel had done what he’d done. Worse even why his brother and sister had followed in Sam’s footsteps.

Samuel’s Medical School career was untarnished and unsurpassed. He was the great doctor that Virgil always knew he would be. Virgil was proud of Samuel, he puffed his chest and spoke of his son as Doctor Samuel.

One day, while Virgil and his children were sitting quietly in the living room, Samuel, clearing his throat, presented Virgil with a check and his diploma.

“What’s this Sam?”

“It’s a check for all the years of tuition, and my diploma. Here’s your medical career, I’ve enrolled myself in Engineering. No need to worry, Dad, thanks to my practice, I can pay for the tuition myself.”

Virgil was speechless and when he looked at his other children for help, they shrugged.

“What did you expect, Dad?” Ian, the middle child, said, “You’ve spent so much time planning our entire lives for us, but you never bothered to ask us what we wanted.”

Ian reached over and handed Virgil a piece of paper. Karen did the same. They were both checks.

“I’ve never wanted to be an accountant, Dad, I’ve always wanted to be an Architect. Who do you think played with Sam’s hand-me-down Lego’s? And Ian, a lawyer? Puh-leaze, he couldn’t argue a case to save his life. He loves Archaeology.”

Virgil scowled and his face turned an ugly red.

“You ungrateful bastards! After everything I’ve done for you! I know what’s best for you, I know what’s right. Engineering? Architecture? Archaeology? Do you realize how ridiculous you sound? Get out! Get out of my house!”

Soon after that, came the first of many Christmas Eves Virgil’s house didn’t burst with family.