Pick a Card

This one is old. My short story offering for the month is from deep in the vault and was written back in 2009. In one of my first year English classes in university – one of the mandatory ones they made everyone take, regardless of your field of study – we were asked to write a short story as our first homework assignment. This was so the professor could asses our skill level. As someone who wrote religiously in my spare time, I thought I had this assignment in the bag (and I did get a good grade). However, even though I have made edits since, it’s clear that this was not a strong piece of work.

I love looking back at the kinds of things I used to write to see how far I’ve come. And to see what’s stayed the same. I wrote this not long after I started learning about tarot cards – and if my monthly blog posts are any indication, I am still fascinated by tarot.

Happy Reading! (and try not to judge 18 year old me too harshly)

“Pick a card.”

The phrase sounded odd to him as he reached a hand across the table towards the selection of cards; it made the whole experience seem like some cheap magician’s trick.

Pick a card.  He thought smugly.  Now, don’t show me; let me guess.  ‘Cause that’s all it is; just one big guessing game.  Forget certainties about your future; let’s just guess the whole thing.  She’ll take one look at my suit and guess that I’m going to make a fortune, or look at my ring finger and guess that someday I’ll get married.  What a scam.  I can’t believe I’m actually paying for this crap.

“Sir?”  The woman’s voice brought him back to reality.  “Are you going to pick one?”

“Yeah sure,” he answered back, not really caring.  After all, this was just a cheap magician’s trick.  “Aren’t you a little young to be doing this?  I thought that fortune tellers were all wrinkled old women.”

“You’re never too young to have the gift,” she answered matter-of-factly. 

The gift.  She makes it sound like she’s queen of the universe all because she’s had some crazy hallucinations that she’s mistaken for visions of the future.  Probably stoned out of her mind. Give me a break.

“Okay, I’ll pick this card.”  He pulled out a card directly from the center of the deck the fortune teller had fanned out across the table. 

She reached out towards the card, her bright purple nails clicked against table as she picked it up and turned it over.  When the man saw the card he had pulled out of the deck his heart sank a little.  So much for not caring.

“Great.  Just great,” he said sarcastically.  “That’s just what I wanted to see.”

“It’s not that bad.”  The fortune teller examined the card that lay on the table.

“What do you mean it’s not that bad?  Can’t you read?” he said as he pointed to the caption underneath the gruesome image on the card.  The picture was of a tall, skeletal figure, draped in black robes and holding a scythe in one hand.  “That card says ‘DEATH’ on it!  It’s even capitalized, for crying out loud!  How is that ‘not that bad’?”

“Just because it says ‘death’ it does not necessarily mean ‘death’.  In most cases it is used to signal transformation or a change in one’s life. You should be prepared to accept this change whether it is big or small.”

“Death seems like a pretty big change to me,” he scoffed.

The fortune teller responded to him in an irritated tone of voice.  “Perhaps if you changed your lifestyle or your attitude towards life…”

“Death is a lifestyle change.”

It looked to him as if she was trying to suppress the urge to slap him.  “Things aren’t always as bad as they seem,” she said as calmly as she could.

What a pathetic cliché.  She’s definitely just making things up as she goes along.  What a waste of time.  I can’t believe came here.

“That’s it.  I’m leaving,” he said as he grabbed his coat from a hanger on the wall.  “I could handle the cheap tricks, the gaudy decorations, but you save your shitty clichés for the next loser who walks through that door.  I ain’t buying that shit.  Not for a second.  You’re lucky I don’t ask for a refund, lady.”

As he placed his hand on the doorknob and opened the door to the street outside, he heard the fortune teller call after him. 

“Sir, there’s still time for you to change!”

“Not listening!” he called back arrogantly as he prepared to cross the street.  “And not caring!”

“Sir, you need to change!”

The fortune teller continued to call out to her customer as he crossed the street right, up until she realized the exact moment when it became too late for him to make a change to his attitude.  He was hit by a speeding truck.  Death came quickly.

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