Sounding The Current: Chapter 23 – Sanctum

Lisa remained sitting at the table for a while longer after the nausea passed. She was too tired to do anything that required brain power and knew that not even the Hermit would be able to assist her now. But the least she could do was dispose of the tea bags and put the deck back in order.

She remained seated at the table and chose to take care of the cards first because once she got up, if she sat down again, she knew that she would fall asleep right then and there. She gathered the cards of the decorated deck and placed them back in the order that Rebecca had done, though now cycled so that the High Priestess was the visible top card.

The image lacked the unsettling otherworldliness that were the other cards’ main feature. A mountain sat in the far distance of the scene. A blue trail that originated from the mountain’s peak spiraled down the mountain, marched back and forth through the scene to approach the viewer and passed behind the central figure presumably to continue to an unknown destination. As the trail gets closer, it is revealed the blue motes were actually blue flames burning on yellow candles.

The figure in the foreground fills up the center of the card. Presumably a woman, she is wearing white robes with a white hood that covers her head and shadows over her face. Her hands are before her with one holding one of the burning yellow candles and the other possibly shielding the flame. The hands are long, distorted, and of a greenish hue that the image implies is a result of the blue flame.

Overall a very soft and gentle image, Lisa thought. It portrays the idea of a high priestess well, doesn’t try to shock the viewer, and doesn’t require intimate knowledge of the deck designer’s personal mythos to interpret. Lisa had no reason to be apprehensive of this card, and yet something about it was terrifying her.

The deck now stacked. She stood carefully and cleaned up as much of the mess in the kitchen that did not require soapy hot water. That, she decided, would have to wait for the morning as she did not want to risk another so-called dream event while standing. With everything placed where it needed to be placed, Lisa double checked the doors, double checked her phone, and went to bed for the day’s final time.

No alarm annoyed her into wakefulness. One moment she had just gotten warm under the covers. The next moment she was wide awake and there was warm light in her window. As Lisa studied the walls, she looked intensely for any hint that she was not in the physical world. She remained still for as long as she could until her bladder intruded upon her awareness and informed her just how physical she was right now.

Lisa wanted to get back to the laptop and look for more information on the High Priestess and Magician cards but realized she hadn’t taken any time for self-care all day yesterday. What was supposed to be just a quick shower turned into a personal spa morning as she did her best to drain the hot-water tank. She had never paid attention to the manual act of cleansing, but now that she was aware that any action could be a magical one, she wanted to remove all gunk that was clinging to her, physical, emotional, and otherwise.

As she emerged all nice and clean, she realized she had very few clean clothes and what was clean did not match well enough to be worn in public. She rearranged her plans as the main order of the day was now laundry with the primary task of camping the machines to make sure her clothes weren’t stolen, or worse, removed while wet.

Gathering all the dirty clothes into one corner of her room was disheartening. She knew she was not always as fastidiously clean as Jean, but did she really have these many clothes and just how long has it been since she did laundry, anyway? Having successfully faced and accepted the reality of laundry day, Lisa decided the next important adult thing to do would be to have coffee and breakfast.

So, she did just that.

It being Wednesday, Lisa knew the building’s laundry facility would be closed for another hour, which gave her a short time to look over the tarot cards again. Bringing her coffee with her, she sat at the table and reviewed the keywords and catchphrase for the High Priestess.

The keywords were straightforward without subtlety: “Spirituality, subconscious, and intuition.” The catchphrase was even more heavy handed, but the wording implied there were other questions to ask: “Keeper of the Mysteries.”

“What mysteries do you keep, High Priestess, and do you keep people out or keep the mysteries in?” When Lisa realized that the question had escaped her thoughts as a whisper, she placed the mug on the table and prepared for a visitation from either a spirit of the cards or one of the judges. When neither immediately happened, she drank up the remaining coffee, cleaned up after herself, pocketed her cellphone and key, and grabbed her bags of laundry for what was setting up to be a full day of adulting.

The laundry room was empty, which was good for her. There was no limit on the number of machines that could be used simultaneously per apartment, so she had a chance to get everything done in one round.

While she had her clothes, she finally noticed that she had no detergent, which was not good at all. Lisa realized that in the two years since she moved into this apartment building, she had never done laundry on her own. It was always only when Jean came to visit and was disgusted by the various piles somewhat sorted by smell emanation and crunchiness of stains that laundry was actually ever done.

Lisa reviewed Jean’s favorite insult, that she was a rat of a child and a rat’s nest of an adult and conceded that maybe she did deserve the harshness after all.

The laundry supplies machine had enough detergent supplies available for her to purchase. Even with Lisa’s naivete, she still winced at the prices for them. Fortunately, the laundry supplies machine and the laundry machines were connected to the apartment building’s credit system. Residents would load their apartment account in advance and then enter an eight-digit code to release those funds when needed. Jean said she had paid next month’s rent in advance, which meant that until the rent was due, that amount was available as a credit to her apartment.

After she entered her apartment fund code, she stared at the display showing the amount available. Jean had said that she had paid for next month’s rent. Jean didn’t say that she had actually paid an additional half as much as well. Lisa wondered what Jean knew that prompted her sister to dump so much cash on her as she did. Was Jean really preparing to say goodbye? Or did she know about Aunt Helen’s now failed attempt to have her locked away?

As she waited for the supplies machine to dump enough detergent for five loads, she dumped the questions into a mental pocket to discuss with Jean later. Soon five washing machines were whirring the songs of their programming as Lisa sat down with her cellphone at the end of the row to begin her vigil and her study.

Lisa found that the High Priestess card was a personal status symbol for many witches, wiccans, and no small number of magicians and sorcerers, all self-attested of course. The first hour that Lisa had started looking up information about tarot cards last week, she had found that there were serious societies, groups, and associations that were banded together for the purposes of teaching and practicing magic. Last week, she laughed at them for being adult children playing expensive games of pretend. After yesterday morning, she was wondering if it would be worthwhile to her to join one.

The title of High Priestess was in such widespread use both in and out of those groups, that Lisa had great difficulty sorting through repackaged wiki posts and glimpses of personal experiences, knowledge, and understanding. So many people were upset that no one was giving them special treatment for taking on the title of the High Priestess (or High Priest in some groups) and so few were talking publicly about what a high priestess even does.

Lisa was so frustrated by lack of depth that she scrapped the idea of trying to use her cellphone to look up information and went to clear out old messages, voicemails, and notifications. There was a flurry of messages left yesterday afternoon from her party pals about lawyers in suits and agency men with badges demanding to know where she was and how to contact her. Most of those same party pals ended their panic with a declaration that she was no longer welcome with them and to stay away from them.

Lisa complied and deleted their contacts. She felt it was fair of them to want to distance themselves from her, and after all that she has been through in the previous ten days, she wanted to distance herself from them as well.

A voicemail from Marla was transcribed by her phone’s app. “Hope you are doing well Lisa. Wanted to let you know that bee bee was arrested for theft and the company is going after her for embezzlement. A suit tried to get me to sign a statement saying you were part of it. I refused because you weren’t. At least not on my watch. Gossip is really wild about you right now. Praying for you. Keep in touch when you can. Bye.”

Lisa knew that Marla was taking a risk to call her with the information. Even though the court case was thrown out, Aunt Helen is clearly vindictive enough to seek to punish anyone that ever smiled at Lisa without her authorization. Lisa made a mental note not to contact Marla until after she signed the termination papers on Friday.

The next message was from an anonymous caller and the phone’s screening system had marked it as possible spam. Lisa almost deleted it, but felt something very warm pouring over her chest, as if sunlight was reaching though the walls just to touch her. She basked in the sensation, then heeded it and opened the message.

“This message is for Miss [unknown] Arroyo, also known as Miss Lisa Arroyo. This is Bob Lee Fort calling. We met once at your failed interview and again in the home of your aunt, Mrs. Winston. Your sister, Jean, was kind enough to give me your phone number. I would like to schedule a second interview now that we both have had time to reconsider ourselves. If you would be so kind as to call my assistant at the following number…”

Lisa looked at the time of the message. It was received early yesterday morning, while she was battling Helen’s card reader for control of her thoughts and actions. She looked around the laundry room. No one else was present and all the machines in use were against one wall. She moved to the other side of the room where the sounds of the washing machines were almost muffled and called the assistant.

“Good morning, Bob Leifert’s office.”

Of all the tarot cards that Lisa could think of to ask for assistance, only Fortune came to mind. Lisa wasn’t sure how tarot magic worked but there was only one way to find out. As loud as a thought could be, Lisa prayed, Fortune, favor me.

“Good morning, my name is Lisa Arroyo and Bob left me a message yesterday to reschedule my interview.” Lisa thought her voice sounded as clear and as clean as she physically felt.

“Oh.” The assistant sounded surprised and dismayed that Lisa was calling. “One moment please while I check his schedule.”

Great, another gatekeeper.

“One moment please while I transfer you.” Transfer? Lisa thought about just hanging up right then and there. It’s not she would actually have any luck or anything, right?

“Miss Arroyo! It is a pleasure to speak with you again!” Bob’s mature voice swept away the bulk of her fears and doubts. Lisa reminded herself that he was the one who gambled first for this second chance. She was just playing the next card in the sequence. “I heard some interesting gossip about you, and I am relieved that it was merely gossip. Forgive me for granting it even a mote of attention.”

Lisa was thankful that the call was audio only. Her tears were more embarrassing than her clothes, right now. “Some of it may be true, I’m afraid. But if the gossip is that I am not able to care for myself, I assure you that I am still present and still caring.”

He laughed softly and the last of her fears melted. “Well, that explains the washing machines I hear in the background. I completely understand having to monitor one type of business while settling another. Please, don’t be embarrassed. My start as a professional businessman came about from the same environment you are calling from. It is a combination of sounds that I will always recognize no matter how far away I am from what I was and no matter how advanced washing machine technology claims to be.”

He laughed again in a warm manner that gave her legs strength to remain standing even as her stomach wanted to flee. Before her voice could recover enough to attempt, he spoke for the both of them. “Miss Arroyo, I was sincere when I offered you a chance at a second interview. The courier position that was originally offered has been filled, however, I would like the chance to meet with you, to discuss your skills, and to find a position within my company for you to begin a fresh start.”

This all sounded too good to be true to Lisa. When her voice returned, it was with a skepticism that she wore too well. “I appreciate the chance, I do, however please understand that my start into adult life has not been pleasant. I have been given reason to… examine… offers that appear too good to be true, too perfect a fit. If I may ask, why? Why give me a second chance? And what is my price to pay for this boon?”

The silence that followed made her uncomfortable, but she had already tallied up the price of failure: No job with Bob. Which would place her right where she is now without having lost anything more. Rejection is part of the adult experience, Lisa reminded herself. Her life does not hang on his acceptance.

“Those are fair questions to ask.” His voice was steady and patient, as if he had been practicing his response long before she knew even to ask her questions. “And if you had not asked them at some point, I would have lost faith in you, Miss Arroyo. I… know… the environment you are emerging from. Why give you a second chance? Because I am paying a debt. Not to your aunt, privileged though she may be. I am paying forward the chance that was given to me so many years ago. And your price, Miss Arroyo, is the same price that I had to pay. That once you find your footing in the space that I am making for you, that you use that footing to increase your self to the best of your abilities. I am not giving you a career or a new method of living, I am giving you a job. It is up to you, to make the most of that job, that opportunity, and to fashion your life into what you want it to be. That is your price for my boon. I want you to think this over for at least an hour. Finish your laundry. Fold what needs to be folded and hang what needs to be hung. Then call me back, and let me know if this acceptable. Good day, Miss Arroyo. I look forward to hearing from you again.”

Before she could respond, Bob had softly ended the call. Lisa thought about Jean’s observation of Bob’s return to Aunt Helen and the dowager’s response to his declaration. “What’s the worst that could happen? Aunt Helen disowns me for working without her permission? I get no allowance from her as it is!”

Lisa had a mind to immediately call Bob to accept the offer but the combined sound of five washing machines loudly buzzing the simultaneous completion of their wash cycles was a harsh reminder of his soft command. Just as she finished raising the last lid to silence the alarm, another resident came into the laundromat to begin their laundry. This was not the place to be having these sorts of conversations and it was just her luck that she had the peace and quiet that she did for so long.

Ninety minutes later, Lisa was back in her apartment with all five loads of laundry dried and stuffed back into bags and baskets for her to fold and sort in the comfort and peace in the living room. She changed from her mismatched clothes into a random clean top and clean jeans with intention of eventually using the dresser and closet for their intended purposes.

The first shirt she pulled from the pile of dry clothes had a massive stain on the front and the back had been creatively cut and ripped into a design that probably made sense at the time it was done, but no longer made sense now. As there was no further sense to be had keeping it, she tossed it to the floor at the end of the couch. Two more stained shirts followed it. A broken bra soon crowned the small pile.

As Lisa sorted through more of the clothes and found so few clothes that were acceptable for wearing to an interview, or even acceptable for wearing in public, she realized she was doing more than just sorting out her closet. She was sorting out her life.

On the floor was a growing monument to the ill-informed, lackadaisical, possibly altered decisions and lack of decisions that she had been making since she graduated high school. For the most part, Lisa remembered the moments that led to any particular rejected cloth being modified to the state that it was in now, and how fun it was at the time to be so out of control. Now, the increasing pile was a source of shame that pulled all of her despair and anguish into a form that was threatening to devour the cleanliness she was trying to reestablish in her life.

Lisa felt threatened by the physical mementos. However, the act of the clothes triggering memories reminded Lisa of another memento. She stepped around the organized blocks of the folded clothes she was keeping and went to the table. The flowers were still fresh though the water level was down a bit. She topped off the vase from the diner and moved it so it would be clearly visible from her station at the couch. If the stained clothes were a reminder of pain, then the vase and flowers were a reminder of healing.

“I’m doing the best that I can do, and all is well for it.”

Once Lisa finished sorting her clothes, she tallied up the consequences of facing her past. Three quarters of the clothes she had taken to the laundry room should have gone to the trash instead. It wasn’t that they did not fit her lifestyle or her body anymore. They were all stained, ripped, or otherwise physically damaged in some way that prevented a charity from taking them for reuse. This was the pile that her father would have chosen from when he needed a cloth rag for some cleaning project.

Lisa sat down. As there was no space on the couch, she sat down on the floor. The heap of rejected clothes was taller than her now. She reached into the pile, into the memories, leaned forward, and screamed her sorrow into the suffocating cloth until she had purged even that from her.

When she sat up, she wiped her face on the rejected clothes and looked out the window. It was late in the day, but the business day was not yet over. She still wanted to call Bob back but knowing that he would ask if her laundry was done, she knew she had to complete the final set of laundry tasks.

It took three trips to the dumpster, but Lisa threw away each and every stained, ripped, and rejected piece of clothing. Each time she heaved a bag into the dumpster, it felt like she was heaving a piece of herself. Each time, she reminded herself that the girl child Death said that there were pieces of Lisa that needed to wilt and die, and Lisa was disposing of those decaying pieces, at last.

She poured herself a glass of water and drank it calmly. She needed to get her voice back to normal before calling. Only then was she able to call Bob’s office again.

“Good afternoon, Bob Leifert’s office.” The assistant gave no indication that she recognized either Lisa’s voice or her phone number.

“Good afternoon, may I speak with Bob, please. This is Lisa Arroyo returning his call.”

The assistant’s voice was cheery and cold, as if the woman was taking pleasure in her response. “I’m sorry. Mr. Leifert had to take care of a sudden urgent matter and has stepped out for the day. As he has an event later in the week, he will be unavailable until Tuesday at the earliest. May I tell him you called?”

Lisa ground her teeth as she recognized the assistant’s attempt to ruin her chances. “Actually, if you would transfer me to his voicemail, I would like to leave a message.”

“I can relay that message for you, if you like?” The assistant was very eager to help Lisa, she realized. Too eager. Some of Aunt Helen’s lessons were valid ones to retain. Recognizing when someone is trying to set her up will never leave her.

“It is a private matter and a continuation of our previous conversation. As such, I appreciate your offer, but I would like to be transferred to his voicemail, immediately.”

“Of course. One mo–” The assistant’s cheery tone dropped, as Lisa expected. When her word dropped as well, Lisa wondered if she had been hung up on. “One moment, transferring you now, Miss Arroyo.”

“Miss Arroyo! How did the laundry go? I surmised that you had a large number of loads going based on the sound of the machines earlier. Hopefully you were able to get everything taken care of?” Bob sounds like he could have been her uncle, Lisa mused. How can such a gentle voice be so commanding and so reassuring all at once?

“I got a lot taken care of, Mr. Leifert. Thank you for giving me time to consider your offer. It was spent well.”

“This is good to hear. As I have learned the hard way, the outside of a jar is never clean enough if the inside is filthy. I’m glad the day has gone well for you. Speaking of, the day is late, and there is no need to play chess between us. Do you have a response, or do you need more time?”

Lisa sat on the end of the couch that had been covered with rejected clothing not even twenty minutes ago. The empty space felt like a vast throne under her. “I have a response, Mr. Leifert. I would like to take you up on that chance and meet with you. And if there is a space for me to find my footing, I’d like to start there.”

“I see. Even if that space is beneath you and your station? Like, say, carrying documents and small items between groups? A gopher, if you will. Go for this, go for that.” He laughed at his pun.

Lisa laughed with him. “Even if it means picking up cigarette butts. And yes, I’ve had to do that before and I know how messy it can get. I’m done falling, Mr. Leifert. I’m done failing. I know I’m going to be starting from nothing, but it’s a start, and I want it.”

“Then here is your first instruction: Call me Bob. My first name is actually Robert, but that’s also my father’s name, and, well, I’m not my father. I apologize that I won’t be able to meet with you this week as I had originally planned. Something has come up and I will be out until next week. How about we plan to meet here, in the same interview room as before, next Tuesday at nine o’clock. We’ll have a do-over then and see what comes of it. If something happens, either I or my assistant will give you a call to reschedule.”

It was good that Lisa was sitting down, or she might have fainted. “Yes, mist… er… Bob. Tuesday at nine in the morning. Let’s try this again.”

“Excellent. I leave you to your day and your evening then, Lisa. Take care.” As before, Bob ended the call softly before Lisa could react. She put the phone down on the couch and covered her face with her hands again to cry, though this time, with hot and happy tears.

This terrible night of her life was going to end. Lisa could now recognize the rays of hope on the horizon as the herald of a new dawn.

The physical sun had already set by the time Lisa had put away her kept clothing. Her stomach rumbled. It was time for dinner. She exited her bedroom, stepping through the open door and over the threshold between her bedroom and the living room.

She entered the living room and arrested her momentum immediately.

She was standing on the mirrored ceiling of her living room. Looking down at the floor above her, she watched her identical double continue walking through the living room to the kitchen. They opened the fridge and looked at the remaining groceries while planning what to make for dinner tonight.

“The fuck?”

“Congratulations. You have succeeded in changing yourself after all. Not many are able to turn their life around in just ten days, not with the restrictions that you were already bound with at the start.”

Lisa looked forward. The blank-faced judge stood before her. Behind them was the judge that wore her face and the judge that wore Rebecca’s face.

None of them showed any emotion, gesture, or hint of warmth.

“Thank you, I think?” Lisa walked around on the ceiling. She had to step around the ceiling light that dimmed as she approached it. Her body double never looked up to notice the change in light. “So, what’s up?”

“The end, Lisa. You have done well, Lisa. You can rest now, Lisa.” The judge wearing her face used her tone and inflection, but still sounded hollow, and threatening.

“Yes, girl. You have done very well. To not only face yourself and your enemies, but to face the very forces that others were using against you? Well done, Lisa. And now, you can rest.” The judge wearing Rebecca’s face used Rebecca’s tone and inflection as well. But there was no warmth or joviality in it that Lisa was used to hearing from the real Rebecca.

Lisa kept walking around the mirrored ceiling of the apartment. The three judges did not follow her but turned in place to continually face her. Lisa noted she did not see their legs move, though with the full-length closed robes hiding their body, she was not sure they had legs in the first place.

“Rest. Yea. That would be nice. You guys and the cards have been running me to hell and back for the past week and a half.” A sudden anger flowed up into her. “I’ve lost so much! It’s like pieces of myself have been ripped from me and chewed up and spit back in my face out of fucking spite!”

The anger felt good to be in, too good. It was the rage of a helpless person but she wasn’t helpless anymore. She took a deep breath and forced herself to release the rage.

“And to be honest, guys.” She wiped stinging tears from her eyes. “Everything I’ve lost was already on the way out anyway. It would be really easy to blame you, to blame the cards, for the shit that got revealed along the way. But everything, each and every last thing that came to light or was handled, started long before I met you, before I met Rebecca, hell, even before my parents… Yea. Long before.”

She looked away for a moment as unfinished mourning for her parents finally made itself known. After another deep breath, she looked back at the judges. “Thank you. Thank you for the chance. Thank you for the realizations and the lessons. Thank you for kicking my ass when I needed it and giving me the chance to kick others when they needed to get out of my way. Thank you for helping me recover my life. Thank you.”

Lisa turned with the intention of leaving the scene by just stepping away. Instead, she turned, and the three judges were standing in front of her as if she never turned at all. She looked down at her double who was making a fancy bowl of chicken ramen noodles and was even including vegetables in their preparation.

“Lisa.” The blank-faced judge stepped forward. Lisa felt suddenly cold and afraid. “Would you like to rest? Would you like to be at peace? After all that has happened, you have more emotional concerns than you did when we came to you. Would you like to rest from them for a while, Lisa?”

The judge’s words felt very familiar and very threatening. “Rest, how?”

They pointed to Lisa’s double humming happily to herself in the kitchen. “That is you. Your awareness has been split. That portion of you is ignorant of the portion of you that is here with us. That portion of you who is preparing a healthy meal for herself is not burdened with the knowledge of tarot or of magic, is not having to prepare for dreams altering physical space or the possibility of another card reader turning her own card. The you that is here with us has broken the chains of control that was placed on the you that is happy. Would you like to remain happy, Lisa? Would you like to rest?”

Lisa had been avoiding further contemplation on the tarot cards since reading Bob’s message. His second chance meant that she could have a normal life that did not involve magic, did not involve tarot. She wouldn’t have to listen to Jean be concerned about alternative religions, or worse, occultism! She could just be herself again. Just be her father’s preciosa rata, again. All she had to do was let this part of her… rest.

“How?”

The three judges held out their hands and spoke with a combined voice. “Give to us that part of you that wants to rest, Lisa. We will keep it within us, Lisa. You will rest, Lisa. And that part of you that wants to live, will live, Lisa.”

Lisa felt colder than even the chill that came with Death. She wanted to rest and sleep forever. But something was nagging her, keeping an uncomfortable warmth sparking within her. When she focused on it, she realized that she had not completed the tarot cycle yet. She still had two cards remaining. One was… the Magician and the other was…

She backed away from the judges. “No. I’m not done. I need to finish something. I need to remember!”

She looked down and watched her double carry her completed dinner bowl to the table. The bowl would have been set down, but there were cards in the way. Lisa was able to see the richly decorated card. It was labeled the High Priestess.

“Yes, the High Priestess. And there’s a meaning and a phrase to that card. What was it?” The warmth surged for one bright second and then ceased, allowing her chest to be stuffed with the same chill that was freezing her will, but not before illuminating her memory one last time. Keeper of the Mysteries. Lisa remembered what she had said the first time she encountered that phrase.

“What mysteries do you keep, High Priestess, and do you keep people out or keep the mysteries in?”

Chattering, she looked up at the judges. Even though she had backed away from them the entire length of the living room, they remained just out of arm’s reach from her with their hands outstretched.

“NO! I WILL NOT REST! I’M NOT DONE, DAMMIT!”

The judges did not move.

“It’s very fucking easy to keep people out! I see that just by trying to look shit up on the internet! So many people want to see what they want to see in tarot and so very few people are willing to see the truth that comes with tarot. I know because that’s how the Moon card kicked my ass! It’s so easy to keep people out, just make it too uncomfortable to bear the truth.”

Lisa sunk to her knees as the chill stole the strength from her legs. In the reflection on the ceiling, she saw that her double had abandoned the table and sat in front of the television with her dinner bowl instead. She found something to watch on cable and was enjoying her peaceful evening.

Lisa looked back up to the judges now looming over her on all sides. She huddled and shivered. “I will hold the truth. I do not yield. Do you fucking hear me? I DO NOT FUCKING YIELD! I WILL NOT FUCKING REST! I GIVE NOTHING UP! ESPECIALLY THE TRUTH! YOU WILL NOT TAKE THE MYSTERIES FROM ME BECAUSE I WILL MAKE MYSELF INTO A MYSTERY AND DEVOUR YOU ALL! DO YOU HEAR ME!”

The judges melted into impenetrable shadow and flowed over her as she screamed her resistance, smothering her voice, her sight, and her consciousness.

Lisa woke with a jerk on the couch, almost kicking the ramen bowl off of the coffee table. It was a good dinner, but the show was really boring, and she dozed off soon after finishing her dinner.

She looked up at the ceiling, half expecting it to be mirrored for some reason. She felt panicky and threatened even though the deadbolt lock was still in place on the front door. She wiped tears from her face and struggled to remember the dream.

Wait. Did she dream? Was it a good one? She looked around. Everything was the same. Even those cards on the table that she didn’t remember collecting was the same. Earlier, she had meant to throw them away, thinking that they were a memento from one of her wild ass parties.

Lisa got up to stretch her suddenly cold legs. She walked to the table and looked at the very weird cards. She recognized the written notes next to them as being in her handwriting, but she didn’t remember writing anything about these…

Tarot cards.

The top card was titled, “The High Priestess”. The figure didn’t look human. This was some weird ass shit, and to be honest, with all the stuff that Lisa had gone into and came out of, this was the weirdest shit yet.

Maybe it was time to put her wild life completely to rest. Time to put these cards away if she wasn’t comfortable throwing them out yet. Time to settle in her new life.

Lisa was not settled about the idea.

Rebecca had given her a deck much like it, she remembered. Besides, tarot cards were just paper and ink, she remembered. The physical cards themselves were nothing more than artwork, she remembered. But for some people, the cards were a way to unlock…

The truth.

She remembered.

“Sunnavabitch.”

Her rage built up within her such that she started crying again. She touched the topmost card. The smooth matte surface remained cool under her fingers. If tarot was just a tool, then why did the judges try to take it from her?

Tarot is a tool, Lisa remembered Rebecca as saying, and like any tool it can wreck your shit if you’re not paying attention. Lisa didn’t pay attention during the ordeal of the Moon card and it not only hid the truth from her but hosted the card reader when he tried to capture her. And now the same judges that had encouraged her to seek the truth, to seek herself attempted to lock herself away. Why?

Lisa thought about how happy her other self was making dinner. There was no thought about supernatural conspiracies. No thought about dream attacks. No thought about the ghost of a little girl haunting her. For a few minutes, her other self was at peace, and she remembered the entire sequence from a first hand perspective.

She understood now that the judges were not being malicious. They were as they are, manifestations of a tool, and like any tool, it is up to the user to determine how far that tool will be used. She accepted tarot into her life to help her fix it, to help her find peace, and for a moment, she had the peace that she thought she wanted when she first accepted tarot.

But now, a mere ten days later, Lisa was not content to have that peace anymore. She picked up the card of the High Priestess as if it were a mirror and examined it. Her old life was fading away and the tokens of it were going twice as fast. She could not afford to be so free to allow others into her new life. Between what she found on the internet and Jean’s reaction to Rebecca, discretion was no longer an option.

Lisa would have to be the keeper of her personal mysteries.

“I accept what I have become.”

Quietly, she placed the card under the bottom of the deck, revealing the Magician as the last card in the tarot cycle for Lisa to pass through.


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