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So I picked up a pack of tarot cards from the bookstore and started messing around with them. They had lithe, ethereal people on them, mostly grey, with long, dried out limbs and sunken faces. They didn't smile much.

My friends didn't like them, not even the ones with decks of their own. They wouldn't believe me when I started seeing things in their futures, like when I picked the Tower for Jason and his treehouse collapsed around him then next day, or when I got the Hanged Man for Tommy and he got stuck in a snare that night and had to hang upside down on the trees till morning to be rescued. Soon, they wouldn't play with me and my deck anymore. They're just jealous because my deck was a lot more accurate than theirs. But it's okay, I have my deck. All we need is each other.

We were happy together, my deck and I. We had fun together. We told jokes about other people. The cards always had something good to say for me.

One day, they gave me Death. I didn't blame them. They didn't determine our fates, merely define them. I stayed in and was afraid to go anywhere. My boss called and threatened to fire me if I didn't show up at work. I didn't dare leave the house. My girlfriend called and threatened to elope with a Tennessee cowboy she'd met on vacation if I didn't go over and stop her right now. I didn't leave the house. My mother called and said Dad's dying and if I don't go to him NOW, he'll strike me off his will. I still didn't dare leave the house.

I was running out of food by now, and the only thing in the fridge was some milk with sour lumps in it. I didn't go out. Three weeks had gone by and still I was fine; minus job, girlfriend, inheritance and even the bad milk, but hey, I was alive, right? I was starting to get worried. Three weeks have passed and there were still no signs of me dying of anything yet, so I consulted the cards again.


I didn't know what that meant, so I had to check it up in the dictionary. When I did I couldn't believe my eyes. The dictionary must have made a mistake somewhere. My cards would never trick me... would they?


What about all the other times? Jason, Tommy...?


WHAT? You've been fucking me around the whole time?! I lost my job, girlfriend and family because of you! I gave up my entire inheritance and lived on sour milk for a week because of you! I threw the deck down and stomped on them, but that didn't take the bite off my betrayal. I built up a fire and burnt them and felt a little better.

But then, I still didn't dare leave the house. What if I had misread them? What if they were right, that I was going to meet with some terrible doom? I shouldn't have burnt them. I screamed, I yelled, and cried. I was sorry, and lost without my cards, but they were gone and there was no bringing them back now. When the anger subsided, I curled away in a corner and sobbed. I stayed there for days, petrified, unable to make the smallest stir for fear of it being my last. I could feel the fragility creeping upon me, ever since I burned the cards, as if any slight stir of dust or breath may blow me into a million zillion atoms.

The other day some people came into my apartment. I didn't know who they were cos I dared not lift my head to see them. It may be the death of me, for all you know. I heard their voices, and I heard them say "No wonder there's a smell, Bowb, poor bastard's dead, huddled in the corner and gone all stone cold like one o' them mummies they used ta dig up on Discovery!"

I wanted to tell them I wasn't dead, but I didn't dare to speak out for fear of breaking my delicate body. I decided I would rock, ever so gently, when the guy came close so that he'll notice and see that I'm not dead. I swayed, lightly, so as not to stir anything unnecessarily, and swayed. But he marched in on purposeful footsteps and quickly retreated having established there was no-one else in the place. They didn't notice my rocking. I tried to stop, since obviously the plan wasn't working, but couldn't slow down. I rocked faster and faster, more and more violent. Bits of my skin fell off and dusted the air, like really old parchment that turns into dust when you touch it. I panicked, but the more I tried to stop, the greater my motions became. My hair started floating off my head in wispy cloud pieces. I tried to cling on to them with my gaze, but it was too heavy a touch upon them and they disintegrated too. Then, I fell over on the floor and broke flesh and bone into more grey dust material.

I laid there for hours feeling the tremours rake and ravage my fragile body. I counted the zillions and zillions of pieces they'll have to fit to put me back together again, and I saw a card under the sofa that must have dropped at some point or another. Its little grey person with dark, wiry cascades of hair and stick-like bone-dry limbs posed silently in perfect stillness, and its glittery dark eyes caught me for but a brief moment and looked haughtily away.


I am alone now, laying on the floor amidst my own bone-dust, spilled like granulated grey blood, waiting for someone to come rescue me and put me back together, the image of the card and my grey tragedy burning painfully into my bones.


My only solace was in knowing it didn't know no cowboys from Tennessee.

Did it?

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