Magical Flash Fiction – Tarot-a-Day: Nine of Swords by Charley Barnes
(This story comes with a TW/CN for eating disorders.)
You imagine it as a ladder. The rungs are made of liquorice, candy laces, and other edible plastics that made up your childhood. Naturally, this must mean that the rungs shake underfoot. There aren’t the sturdiest steps in the world but none of the ones that have brought you here have been either, and yet here you are.
At the top of the ladder, there is food. It can be any food you like; in fact, any food you need, in order to push through the final steps and arrive at the last treads of the journey. Sometimes when you look at the food it’s a roast dinner; the kind you haven’t eaten for months because you steadfastly ignore your family on Sundays for the very fear that they’ll ask you to eat with them. Sometimes it’s a pizza, positioned inside a perfect circle made up of your friends; friends who, for a long time now, you’ve only managed to see for coffee – black, no milk, no sugar. Sometimes it’s a cinnamon roll, or a slice of lemon drizzle cake, or half a scone, split with your mum; or it could be anything else that you once-upon-a-time would have treated yourself to before you decided that restricted one area of your life would give you control over another.
I’m sorry. I know that was hurtful. But you know it’s the truth.
At the top of the ladder there is food that smells so good that for the first time in months your desire not to eat is overridden by your desire to remember how salted fries taste. The rungs of the ladder are salted fries now, which means they’re even less sturdy. Their grit crunches underfoot and reminds you of the grit and determination it took to climb this far; reminds you how hard | easy it would be to tumble back. But instead of moving backwards, you choose to eat a single fry.
It isn’t the ladder’s peak. You’re a bit closer, though.
Card: Nine of Swords
Keywords: strength, stamina, confidence