Sounding The Current: Chapter 25 – Transition

Melissa came home that afternoon with another deck from Rebecca. The very copy of the Sweeney Tarot that was used in the final tarot trump challenge. While the deck was self-published, it was easily replaceable via a print-on-demand service. When Melissa offered to reimburse Rebecca for the deck, the card reader refused any money or promise of favor for it.

“That decorated deck of yours is not a beginner’s deck, that’s for sure. You’re going to have a hard time relating the images on those cards with the average instruction you’re going to find, online or not, because of how personal it is to the artist. Here. Keep the Sweeney. It’s not a Waite Smith clone, but the imagery is close enough to carry the tone. Look up the deck online, there’s a guide book available for the cards, if you want.”

Rebecca also offered to buy the Acacia Tarot deck from Melissa and offered twice as much as the younger woman had paid on the auction site. Melissa declined. Each card of that deck was now a personal token of not only the tarot challenge, but her personal ordeal in rescuing herself from Helen’s grip. While some of the details in the images would forever keep secrets, they were not alien to her anymore. They were talismans of allies she could call on for help.

Though the two women tried their hardest not to talk about tarot or tarot-adjacent matters, the conversation settled itself between the cards. Rebecca, still swearing that she was neither Melissa’s teacher nor mentor and there was no passing on of lineages or teachings, reviewed a good number of her personal “observations” regarding tarot.

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Sounding The Current: Chapter 24 – Metamorphosis

Lisa took a deep breath at the sight of the Magician card on top of the stack. She leaned over the table slightly and placed both hands flat on the table’s surface beside the deck to better examine the card.

This was not the card she had seen in so many forum headers and poster avatars. Lisa recalled first seeing this card in Rebecca’s treasured deck a week ago Sunday. Like the High Priestess, it was an image and many online card readers, witches, and magicians claimed as their personal representation. Lisa wondered how many of those would have been able to defend themselves against the dream attack as she did.

Her inflating ego quickly popped when she reminded herself that the card reader had probably been working such magic against her for years. She probably only won that particular dream encounter because he was not prepared for her to rise up against him. But now that he knew… Surely, he had to know that his magic failed by now. If whatever magical backlash didn’t tell him immediately, then Aunt Helen screeching at him for ruining her plans after court would have tipped him off that something didn’t work the way he had intended.

And if there was one thing that the internet did properly prepare her for, is the retaliation that comes from rejecting an entitled man’s advances.

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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.

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Sounding The Current: Chapter 22 – Direction

Lisa woke up after sunset. She spent the first minutes of wakefulness copiously bitching out the Moon for hosting the magical attack on her will. She spend the next several minutes expressing gratitude to the Hermit for helping her identify what she needed to know immediately and retaining the bulk of what she had learned, expressing gratitude to the Sun for coming to her when she called, and to Death for being a background encouragement and support to her. She stayed in bed for as long as her bladder allowed her to, then begrudging got up to take care of that business.

Relieving herself of one burden reminded her of another. She had not eaten anything all day. Lisa went to the kitchen for a glass of water to drink while she sorted out the “dream”, what to immediately eat, and what to do for the remaining hours of the day. She did not realize how thirsty she was until she stopped chugging her second glass of water only because her body could not drink any more.

Gasping for air, she placed the glass on the table. She questioned the dream. Questioned her experiences. Questioned her sanity. Questioned all that has happened in her life since she received the tarot cards from Rebecca just nine days ago. Just as she started to cry from how overwhelmed she was feeling, her stomach twisted and sounded a very long, very embarrassing series of growls.

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Sounding The Current: Chapter 21 – Occupation

Lisa lost track of how many times she reset the timer until finally giving up and just committing herself to the task for as long as she was able to remain awake. As it turned out, the Hermit’s influence enabled her to remain awake and aware as long as she was applying herself to her initial task of learning as much as she could about the twenty-two trump cards of the tarot deck.

Lisa learned about the mythical histories of tarot and the reconstructed histories of the tarot. She learned how tarot names changed over time and how political favor and disdain rose and fell depending on how strong was the church at the time and how politically connected was the person caught with tarot cards. She learned how the tarot was just a deck of playing cards no matter how dressed and adorned it was with the expectations and presentations of those who want it to be something entirely different that benefits the person presenting the cards as different in the first place.

But most importantly, Lisa learned that there is no One True Way™ to tarot cards of any sort. Not their appearance, not their numbering, not their purpose, and not how they are used. Whatever tarot means to the person holding the cards is right for that person and the cards they hold. Which meant that no one could tell Lisa that she was wrong for experiencing the visitation and apparitions of tarot card spirits. Or for that matter, anything that came as a result of accepting them.

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Sounding The Current: Chapter 20 – Heresy

As two hours of study came to an end, Lisa knew enough to say with certainty that it was going to take a lot more than two hours just to get the basics. Now that she wasn’t afraid of the cards and had some experience with them, it took her only ten minutes to recite the order of the Major Arcana forwards and backwards. The Fool gave her a bit of trouble at first until she found that some decks place the Fool in different starting positions, including being between Judgement and the World.

When the alarm sounded, Lisa silenced it, looked at her notes, then reset it. The girl child spoke “ahem” in that irritating and loud way that children do when they are trying to be properly adult when doing improper adult things like interrupting someone. Lisa put the phone down on the table and indulged the girl child with her full attention.

“Remember I said that flowers are like people? Well, do you know what flowers and people need?”

Lisa shook her head to be polite.

“Water! Go get something to drink before you start the timer again!”

Lisa thought that was the best study aid ever and did just that.

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Sounding The Current: Chapter 19 – Convergence

Lisa’s cellphone began to ring just as she got comfortable under the covers. She was upset at herself and the Fortune card for not making sure it was on silent before her executive decision to take a nap. By the time the ringing sequence had ended, Lisa was wide awake but too spiteful to get out of the bed. When the phone began ringing immediately again, she got up with intention of silencing it.

Seeing Marla’s name on the screen confused Lisa. It’s Monday, after all. Today would have been spent working a full shift at the restaurant, not a half shift at the mall. Lisa swiped to answer it. “Hello? Marla?”

“Oh, Lisa! You’re okay! Are you okay? Have you talked to anyone from corporate since I last saw you?” Marla’s panic threatened to infect Lisa.

“No. Why?”

“I have orders to terminate your employment immediately and if I don’t by the end of tonight’s shift, I’m terminated too!”

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Sounding The Current: Chapter 18 – Pathwork

The semi rural landscape was partitioned into tracts of vineyards with the occasional manufactured rustic manor accompanied by the occasional winery serving as a monument to the family proudly displaying how they accomplish tax evasion. Though both women were hungry, it would be a while before they found an eatery that was open to the public.

“You haven’t called me that in years.” Jean spoke quietly as she continued driving back to lesser modernity, as if by speaking at her normal volume she would shatter the moment. “I’ll be honest, Lisa, these recent changes of yours is scaring me, but at the same time, I like where they seem to be taking you.”

Lisa leaned her head against the window. “To be honest, Jeannie, you haven’t been here for years. You’ve been my handler, my enabler, my excuse not to try harder, but you haven’t been my sister for a while.” She glanced across to Jean before looking down at her wringing hands. “But, if these changes mean I get my sister back, I like where they’re taking me too.”

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Sounding The Current: Chapter 17 – The Lioness’s Den

Lisa woke shortly after dawn. To her surprise, she was completely refreshed and absent of any nightmares, dream visitations, and visions. She lazed in bed a while, laughing at herself for how deeply and diligently she studied the night before. She hadn’t looked that hard for scraps of information since the time she was given a second chance for a take-home final.

Inspecting the reflections of the past only brought the duties of the present into vivid focus. Reluctantly, Lisa got out of bed to begin the morning’s usual proceedings. The sleep had done her good as she was able to think further on all she had learned during her late night studies.

Remembering there was no creamer available this morning, Lisa made her coffee at a lighter strength than usual. She gave a silent nod of acknowledgement to Fortune as the coffee brewed. Lisa would be pushing her luck walking into Aunt Helen’s house already on edge from too strong coffee, after all.

Jean had not told her when she was to report to the house to meet with the lawyers and sign the papers declaring her innocence of the fire’s start. She also had not advised her how to present herself. But Lisa knew better. This was Aunt Fucking Helen’s personal abode. If Lisa didn’t dress as a congressional intern, then she might as well not bother. So it was without complaint that she dressed in the same tailored and conservative clothes that she was supposed to have taken the interview in a week ago.

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Sounding The Current: Chapter 16 – Disclosure

Lisa immediately recapped the spoiled creamer and placed the container in the kitchen trash can. She stood with the initial resolve to take the trash out in the morning, but recalled what the judge had just said about preparation and lack of preparation.

It was rotten luck that the creamer had gone off, but it would be downright negligent not to take the container out before it warmed up and burst. The sound of the noticeably expanding container settling in the trash can was enough to emphasize the importance of taking care of immediate matters immediately.

As Lisa took out the trash, she noted that the sun had already set and night was quickly smothering all familiarity and friendliess from the streets. The thickening chill reminded her of the Moon card and she shivered and hurried to get back into her warm apartment.

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