The deep violet of evening
You tell me that you’re at war with a sunflower. That you’ve been trying to stand it up straight in the middle of its vase for most of the afternoon; but that whenever you look away, the flower droops to the side, resting on its compadre. Lazy, blousy thing you say.
If the truth be told, I’m not interested. What I used to find quirky – cute even - about your observations, has begun to pall on me.
Later, we sit in the back room, at the table in front of the fireplace. The French windows open on to the garden and the willow tree that dominates it. I think I can hear the swish of its leaves as the wind blows strong.
I shuffle the tarot cards and throw them upwards. Deliberately. Viciously.
The cards flip and fly through the air. Then, like weary, defeated birds, they land back on the table.
You shut your eyes and pick three cards up. I watch with anticipation as you open your eyes and hold the cards out. The Fool. The Hanged Man. The Tower.
The Fool’s simpleton features make crazy, cow eyes at me and the Hanged Man stands still and inverted. Two crows hunch on his gibbet. The Tower is waiting.
Violet darkens to bruise purple
You tell me I have no choice, that what you say goes. Then you qualify this – it’s not you. It’s the tarot that have spoken. Absolute obedience to circumstance, abandonment to fate.
At midnight, I’m naked. There’s a shoestring round my neck. tethering me to the handrail in the stairwell of the car-park. You say it can stand for the tower, but I’m not convinced. I feel ridiculous and a bit frightened. You come towards me in a jester’s outfit. Please, I think, and almost giggle.
Then what needs to happen, happens.
The brash tangerine of mid-afternoon
You’ve spent the afternoon watching YouTube videos of fairground rides. As therapy, you say. So you can get used to them and build up the courage to go on the real rides. You’ve ticked off the Big One and Nemesis, Oblivion and Rita without even queuing. I notice though, you can’t finish the clip of the ghost train. No, you can’t stand the darkness, even vicariously.
I’ve got my own problems. I’ve been organising my steps and ladders and stepladders. A height for each job and hobby, all sorted and stacked. You roll your eyes when I ask if you’ve seen my steps, correct for the job of prodding next door’s cat off the fence.
Then, it’s that time again. Tarot Time, the backroom shuffle and throw. This time, it’s my turn to pick the cards up. You look closely at what we’ve got. The World. Justice. The Devil.
The World’s image is a tree, autumnal and golden. It doesn’t work for me, it’s not the world in my head. Justice is haughty and white. The Devil is louche, with powerful buttocks. Ooh, that looks fun you say and I’m already dreading the demon suit.
Tangerine bleeds to rust red
You say it adds spice, that after twenty three years, you have to do what you can to keep things fresh; to add fizz. But standing in the woods at sunset, while you advance on me in the inevitable, red costume - the cold whip of justice in your left hand - I’m not so sure.
The steely blue of morning
Morning is stealthy. We never quite know when it’s going to come, you say. I’m irritated by this - it’s not profound, but your tone of voice suggests you think it is.
The sun isn’t up yet, but the precise light in the kitchen doesn’t do your face any favours. You need something fuzzier; perhaps the kindness of candlelight.
I know you’re thinking of the cards and their possibilities, but I’m thinking about coffee and rain on windows and how impossibly green my grandmother’s eyes were. Still, you must do as you’re told, you say. Adherence is all.
We go into the back room, me following you, and we sit at the table. You shuffle the cards and I think, tomorrow my life might completely change. This might happen, or that might. The thought fills me with fear and you throw the tarot. The cards are revealed. Death. The Moon. The Chariot.
It’s always the significant cards, you say and I remind you we took out the minor arcana, so we’re only left with significance. Death stares at me impassively. The moon is blue-beautiful, although a shadow is crossing it. The Chariot’s wild horses jostle and stampede.
Blue fades to still water grey
So it comes to this. A supermarket car park, very early on a Sunday morning. At its furthest corner, by the bottle and clothes bank. I’m chained to one of the trollies, facing forwards on my knees. Forget the discomfort of the child-seat in the small of your back, you say, and imagine a chariot. I’m finding this very hard to do. The moon is still in the sky, as you knew it would be.
I don’t want to think about what you’re wearing. I don’t want to see the big reveal of a Halloween cloak and a fancy dress scythe. But you surprise me. When you come into my line of vision, you’re simply you. I’m flummoxed for a moment, but then ask you about Death. Where’s its place in all this?
You look at me, smile and talk of all the petites morts, the little deaths I’ll be experiencing. The tarot have spoken, you say. Then you punch-kiss me on the lips.
I watch you as you stand in front of the shopping trolley, shoulders straight, taking deep breaths of the morning air. You’re facing away from me and I notice, not for the first time, how ugly the back of your head is.