Palace of Swords Reversed by K A Laity

Flash Fiction, K A Laity, Short Stories, The Fall

Palace of Swords Reversed

‘Look, this is the Five of Swords. That means conflict or strife. Which seems appropriate, right?’ Joy looked up with bright eyes but Will only grunted. ‘Strife it is, indeed. Oh, but look! It’s reversed. Now let me remember. Oh, no I can’t. I have to peek.’

Joy picked up the well-thumbed Rainbows and Unicorns spiral notebook she had bought at WS Smith at the beginning of this new enthusiasm. She had taken notes more carefully  than ever she had in school. Perhaps she had only needed the right subject to awaken the avid scholar within. ‘Ah reversed: here it is. An ongoing conflict, one you can never win so you just need to walk away. Avoid it. Well, that’s a new path to walk as Mother Shipton would say.’

Will offered no reply to this. Perhaps he had grown tired of Mother Shipton says this, Mother Shipton advises that. Perhaps he realised that she had drawn her name from a slightly more famous, somewhat earlier, vaguely notorious psychic of some sort who had a cave now doing a bustling business as a tourist destination in Yorkshire. Perhaps he wasn’t listening.

‘Now this one seems obvious, but it’s not. We had many discussions about this trump. They’re called trumps, you know,’ Joy said, the excitement evident in her voice and the way she bounced on her chair. When they met back in the local primary school, he had found that endearing and told her so. So much energy in such a small bundle was what he always said.

‘The Death card is much feared, and it looks rather daunting, but it doesn’t necessarily doom you,’ she added with a giggle. ‘It means a big change. Things cannot go back to the way they were. An old life is ending—not always literally, mind you!—and a new one begins. That’s encouraging, don’t you think? I think so!’

Will sighed and coughed a little. He was having some trouble breathing. It may have been the knife in his throat.

‘But the last card: that’s the way forward. Look, Will. Knight of Swords. Two swords in this spread. Past and future both the same suit.’ Joy looked over at Will. The spill of red blood down the front of his vest looked rather like a bib, which struck her as funny.

‘The Knight cards area always about energy and motion. Mother Shipton says that real knights were seldom better than mercenaries! Nothing like the stories at all. You know, King Arthur and all that. Maybe Guy Ritchie was right, they were thugs. You liked that film, didn’t you?’

Will did not respond.

‘Motivation. Oh who was that, Will? Comedian fellah, doing the football manager. You know! The three Ms: motivation, motivation, motivation. How we laughed. It was on the YouTube. You remember, I know you do. Motivation, determination, overcoming challenges. Don’t let anything faze you. Brazen it out.’

Joy pulled the knife from his neck and Will fell forward onto the table. Fortunately the vinyl tablecloth would keep the blood from staining the veneer. Incoherent babble emanated from his shape and his hands clawed uselessly at his sides. It had been a good idea to tie him up. Serves him right for nodding off right in the middle of his tea. Four cans of Boddingtons before he sat down! No wonder.

‘I was wondering what I would tell the polis when they came,’ Joy said, more serious now, ‘but as I turn the matter over in my head, I think I may just wait for a nice dark night and slip you into the compost.’

Will did not offer an opinion on the matter.

‘Listen, I’ll call Alice in a few days. Oh Alice, Will left me for a woman Ayrshire! Or should it be France?’ Joy pursed her lips, thinking. Inspiration hit and she turned over another card.

‘Queen of Wands. Ooh, I like that. Independent woman. Wands…hmmm…Poles! I know, you’ve run off with Polish woman to France. Ha! So much for your Brexit, take back control nonsense, Will. You must admit you were wrong about that.’

Will admitted nothing.

Joy wet her thumb and cleaned the drop of blood off the Death card. ‘Can’t have that, now can we?’