by Todd Richardson
As a devout atheist, I don’t believe in the supernatural. But when my friend offered a free tarot card reading, I thought I’d entertain the idea, just for fun. I met her in a square room filled with photographs yellowed with age. A circular table stood in the center. I took a seat across from her.
She looked me in the eye as she unboxed the cards. “Are you open to this?”
I shrugged, “Sure.”
She held my gaze as she spilled the cards face-down on the table. She swirled them, her hands gently floating over their surfaces as she churned the deck. “Is there some paperwork that you need to finish?”
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“Something for work?” she asked.
“I’m still waiting for a teaching contract.”
“It’s coming on Thursday.”
“Sweet,” I said. Lucky guess, I thought.
She told me to pick five cards and place them in order on the table without turning them over. I chose from the pile at random. She flipped them over one at a time. A woman. Swords. Cups. The moon. A sunflower.
She pulled the first card—a man surrounded by cups—toward her.
“You have a financial opportunity coming,” she said.
“Great,” I said. How cliché, I thought.
“Three months, maybe. Watch for it.”
She tapped on the card with a picture of the moon on it. “The moon means you have someone watching over you. Was there someone important to you who passed away?”
“Not really,” I said. My thoughts drifted toward my grandpa, who died when I was fourteen.
“I’m getting a grandfather?”
I nodded in confirmation. C’mon, I thought, who doesn’t have a beloved grandparent they hope watches over them?
“He’s sending me an image of boots,” she said.
“A pair of old, leather boots.”
“Nope,” I said.
She paused. “No, it’s definitely boots.”
Don’t make me put my boot in your ass, I heard his voice echo in my head. I smiled. “That used to be his brand of heartfelt motivation,” I told her. “He used to say he’d put a boot in my ass if he thought I needed it.”
“He’s telling me that he’s there for you, to give you that boot in your ass when you need it,” she said.
I chuckled. Ok, that was pretty good, I thought.
She dragged the three remaining cards closer to her: the sunflower, the swords, and the woman. There was a pause before she spoke again.
“The sunflower means fertility,” she said. She looked up and my throat tightened. My wife and I had a miscarriage, but my friend knew that. I’d told her about it weeks ago.
“You’ve been through something horrible,” my friend said. She reached across the table and placed a gentle hand on my forearm. What did she see? I thought. Could she see the toilet bowl full of blood, the frantic drive to the ER, me wringing my hands like a damp wash cloth as the nurse pressed an IV into my wife’s vein? I swallowed hard.
“Something good will happen.” She gave me a knowing look. “I see a seven. Seven weeks, maybe. Seven months. I’m not sure. Just be strong.” She pointed to the card with swords on it, looked at me, and smiled.
“Whenever the good news comes, your wife will become a warrior.”
“She’s already fierce.”
“She’ll be even stronger. Just wait. You’ll see.”
I thanked my friend and left. I spent the rest of the day full of equal parts doubt and hope. I wanted to believe my grandfather was beaming down at me. More than anything, I needed to be a father again, to feel whole in a way that only the baby had made me feel. But I was skeptical. Mystic cards held no sway over the forces of the universe; life was determined by choice and chance, not fate.
I woke up the next morning. It was Thursday. My teaching contract sat in my inbox awaiting my signature. Son of a bitch, I thought and began praying. I don’t know about God, or the cards, but I prayed for seven—seven days or weeks or months—prayed for the day my sunflower will come.
Todd Richardson is a current degree candidate at The Mountainview Low Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction.