Tarot Tuesdays: The Five of Cups

Five of Cups

I stare down at the gelatinous egg on its bed of thickly buttered glistening white toast. After a minute, I realise my sister, Pat is still hovering by the door. I look up at her from the bed.

“Maybe you’ll come down a bit later, Colin, if you’re feeling up to it?” Her tone is hopeful, artificially bright. “The kids would love to see you.”

I snort in response and she leaves the room, defeated for the moment, the door clicking to behind her.

I really can’t imagine that anyone would love to see me at the moment. All I can feel is the crushing weight of shame in my chest, the desperate need to hide myself away. These haven’t left me since last Monday morning, when I was called to the bosses’ office at about half past ten. One look at her face and that of the assistant manager sitting beside her, one glance at the pile of ledgers open on her desk and I knew it was all over. You’re lucky we didn’t get the police in, they told me, lucky you’re not looking at a prison sentence. I suppose they thought it would be bad publicity, more than anything. I was escorted from the building while my colleagues, people I’d known for ten years or more, men and women I’d drank in the pub with every Friday night, sat still as statues at their desks, just watching me in silence, as though what I had done was too low even to need comment. It would have been easier, somehow, to leave to boos and jeers.

The last thing I feel I can face just now is going down to my noisy inquisitive nephew and niece in the sitting room. Suppose they were to ask me questions about why I’m here? How much have Pat and Dave told them?

How much has Helen told our daughter, more to the point? No, I can’t think about that. The hardest thing was having, finally, to tell my wife the truth, tell her that the nice new car, the Edwardian-style conservatory we’d had put in last year, the holidays to Florida and Thailand weren’t the result of my hard work being rewarded with pay-rises, but from ten years of my systematically fiddling the books at the office. Now it would all have to be paid back, straight away if I wanted to avoid gaol.

She didn’t take it well and who could blame her? Not just losing all the nice stuff, but the shame she felt on my behalf, her own behalf. Helen has a responsible job at the Council; how will it affect her at work when it inevitably leaks out that her accountant husband was sacked for fraud and embezzlement? They’re both in Nottingham now, at Helen’s mam and dad’s. We communicate via solicitor’s letters.

So I’ve lost my wife, my kid, my good name, my house, my job, everything. I prod my cooling breakfast with my fork, wondering if I’ll ever feel like eating again. My sister has added a bright blob of tomato sauce to the edge of the plate for me to dip my egg in, which somehow makes things worse.

There’s a scratching at my bedroom door, low, imploring woofs. It’s my old terrier, Charlie; he knows I’m in here, but I can’t face getting up and going to the door to let him in. I know Pat or one of the kids will walk him later. Meanwhile, all I can do is lie back on these polyester sheets and face the fact that I’ve lost everything.

 

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Tarot Tuesdays: The Knight of Wands

I am excited to be taking part in Tarot Tuesdays inaugurated by Jenn Moss over on her blog. The premise is simple, but effective; each Tuesday, Jenn draws a random Tarot card and the following week creates a story, poem, or whatever else inspires. Anyone who wishes to participate can write their own response to the card on their blog and post a comment linking back to it.

The first card to be drawn is the Knight of Wands and here is my response in the form of a rumination.

 

Knight of wands

The Knight of Wands

In the midst of the barren desert the Knight of Wands pulls up sharply, impetuously in mid-gallop, causing his horse to rear. He is bearing aloft a knobbly, burgeoning bough, bursting with green shoots. This is a quixotic fellow; there is something absurd about that great stick he’s brandishing in the place of a knight’s lance, a neat, honed weapon of destruction. What, one might ask, does he think he’s going to do with it, precisely?

I find myself imagining that this unlikely knight is on a quest to bring life and hope to the waterless places. Somehow, with that stick full of shoots like the hopeful eyes on a cupboard potato, our knight intends to turn that desert place into lush, green forest, living boughs sweeping the blue sky.

Heinrich_fueger_1817_prometheus_brings_fire_to_mankindHow might he achieve this? Perhaps in the same way as Prometheus brought fire to the whole of humanity, with only a few stolen, glowing coals concealed in a great stalk of fennel, held aloft in flight. Prometheus was another quixotic fellow who took sometimes unlovely humankind as his chosen Dulcinea. He would come to pay a high price for his chivalry in presenting his illicit gift of life and power to the naked, shivering apes who trembled before Zeus Omnipotent.

Behind our Knight, amongst the trackless sands, rear up the ancient tombs of the ancestors, sealed and immutable. In contrast, the brandished bough, pullulating with green shoots speaks of new ideas, new life, new energy. Our tree-planter of the desert wastes stands up against stone Ozymandias’ ‘sneer of cold command’ and goes gallantly forth on his absurd quest to foster green and flourishing life on the parched and waterless places of the world.