Magical Flash Fiction – Tarot-a-Day: Seven of Cups by Charley Barnes
She unlocked the door, stepped into the room and secured the entrance behind her. With great care, she reached for the light-switch to her right and illuminated the room with uncovered bulbs. Their light collided with the glass cabinets, fixed to pedestals around the room, and she allowed her eyes a moment to adjust.
One by one, she looked from one cabinet to the next to see that the fixtures displayed within them were still standing. For years now, she had been building houses made from cards. Her superstition forced her to keep them locked away in here and it was that same superstition that compelled her to orchestrate these weekly visits, when the house was quiet from loud voices and unexpected gusts of wind, to check the arrangements were still standing. But something less like superstition – she had wanted to call it intuition, but hadn’t for fear of the accuracy that it might award the feeling – had driven her to the room that day. She had woken in the morning with her husband by her side, overcome with a need to check the cards.
You’ve been working in that studio for years, her husband said, and I’m yet to see anything emerge from it.
Things aren’t ready, she replied.
But she sensed that things somehow were ready – to collapse.
Through the panes of glass she inspected each tower, each home that she had built and secured and everything seemed to be in order until she arrived at the last cabinet. From outside then there came a ferocious noise that pulled her away from her dealings. She stepped to the window and saw a car she recognised veering into the open driveway – the car belonged to the man she shared a bed with. The other man, that is.
The windows, draped with thin white linings, made her invisible from the outside. So with a thumping heart she watched as he stepped out of the car and looked up, aghast, at the sight of her home; a home she had never told him she owned, with a husband she had never told him she had. A noise from behind her disturbed her observations again – a butterfly’s wing beat, somewhere in the room – but when she turned to assess the danger she saw it wasn’t a butterfly at all, but a house of cards.
The structure in the cabinet furthest from her had tumbled, leaving rubble and cardboard inside the glass. Beyond this space there was a pounding on her front door, the sound of raised voices, a shuffle of bodies. But it wasn’t this that caused the remaining dwellings to tumble; it was her own heart, knocking once, twice, three times against her rib cage, and tearing the houses down.
Card: Seven of cups
Keywords: Illusion, deception