Lucy Voss (aka Scorpio) sheds light on the nuances of individual tarot cards by bringing them to life in her tarot-inspired fiction.
Share and Share Unlike
Three of the Knights were having a meeting round the kitchen table.
“We’ll have to get a lodger,” said the Knight of Pentacles. “The rent is a bit much between three.”
“Agreed,” said the Knight of Swords, “though I never thought I’d miss the mess Wandsy makes in this place.”
“Well, we’re missing his share of the rent, too,” said the Knight of Cups, “as well as the mess.”
“I do think he could have said sooner that he and his brother were going off on that world tour,” said the Knight of Swords. “It’s all very well being a free spirit and going off just because you feel like it,” he added, “but it was very thoughtless.”
The three young men drafted an ad to appear in Gumtree and in a local paper, just in case anyone still read local papers.
“We’ll have to say, ‘Fourth “person,” to share with three men,’” said the Knight of Cups. “We’ll be contravening something or other if we don’t.”
The Knight of Swords sighed. “I’d really rather not have a female, they leave their folderols all over the place and spend hours in the bathroom.”
“Wandsy left all his stuff all over the place,” said the Knight of Pentacles, “and Cupsy spends all day in the bathroom given the chance.”
“Yes, but it was male stuff, that’s easier for us to cope with. And we can always manhandle Cupsy out of the bathroom if we have to. Imagine the uproar if we did that to a girl.”
“I do not spend all day in the bathroom,” said Cups, “and when have you ever had to manhandle me out?”
“All right, never, but you know what I mean. It’s got pretty close sometimes.”
After hurling Wands’s stuff into the loft, and doing a thorough clean and tidy of his room, they commenced interviews, reference-checking, and compatibility assessments of their own kind. They agreed Six Pentacles would be suitable and he moved in. He was tidy and didn’t hog the bathroom, he paid the rent on time, and didn’t come home late and noisy as far as they could tell.
The Knights didn’t usually eat together, but if they coincided in the kitchen at meal times, they caught up with each other or discussed jobs in the house. Six Pentacles joined in from time to time. He seemed to like sharing anecdotes about his work which was all right to start with, but after a while it became just a bit annoying.
“I suppose it’s because we’ve known each other such a long time,” said Cups, “so we know what we’re thinking or feeling and we know not to ask questions at the wrong time.”
“Well, he’s tidy,” said Pentacles, “he even washed the kitchen floor last week instead of leaving it to me.”
“I expect that’s because he’s another Pentacle,” said Swords, “and I do take my turn.”
“Yes, when I twist your arm,” said Pentacles lightly.
One Saturday, the Knights woke up to a smell of cooking. The Knight of Swords was in a hurry, so he dressed quickly and charged into the kitchen.
“I’ve made us all breakfast,” said Six Pentacles. “I thought as it was Saturday we could take our time and chat a bit.”
“I’ve got a hockey match,” said Swords, “but thanks anyway.” He grabbed one of the fried eggs and made it into a toast sandwich, then washed that down with tea.
“Oh, I made coffee, it’s some special stuff I got for us,” said Six Pentacles.
“Sorry,” said Swords, “I prefer tea in the morning, haven’t you noticed? … Where’s my sports bag?” he shouted a moment later. “I left it in the usual place.”
“I thought it was laundry,” said Six Pentacles coming through the kitchen door into the hallway.
“You haven’t put it in the laundry!!??” Swords was irate.
“Er, oh, I thought I was being helpful.”
“Well you weren’t,” snapped Swords, “is it all in the washer now?”
“N-n-no, not yet, I …” Six Pentacles quailed in the face of Swords’s bad temper. Swords checked the bag; his shin pads, mouth-guard and stick were still there, and he retrieved the rest of his kit from the laundry basket, and stamped out.
Some weeks later Six Pentacles returned from a visit to his family. He had brought a very fat bag of something and a tubular package which he dumped on the kitchen table. The three Knights were seated round the table.
“So what’s that, then?” asked Cups.
“Wait till you see,” beamed Six, unwrapping the fat bundle first. “Curtains!” he said.
“But we’ve got curtains,” said Pentacles.
“Yes, but they are thin ones. That living room that no-one seems to live in is quite chilly and heavy curtains will make it so much better. One of my uncles is in the trade, so I got these at cost.” He unwrapped the curtains with a flourish. They were very nice curtains. Cups and Pentacles couldn’t resist stroking the fabric.
“These are expensive,” said Swords. “And what happens if you move on? They are your curtains, so you will take them with you.”
“It’s very nice of you to share this with us,” said Cups, “but this isn’t what we usually do …” He felt uncomfortable.
“And this,” said Six Pentacles picking up the tubular package “is a blind for the kitchen window. It’s OK,” he said, seeing the expressions on the others’ faces, “it’s one of uncle’s rejects. You won’t be able to tell once it’s up.” And he stood in the sink and proceeded to fix the blind. The other three exchanged looks. They weren’t ungrateful, but this generosity was veering towards the overpowering.
“Euaaagh,” exclaimed the Knight of Cups one morning. “That’s another one. Shoo! Out of the kitchen!” and he banged on the floor with a long-handled brush to get rid of a mouse.
“Calm down,” said Pentacles.
“Well, I hate the little perishers.”
“We all do,” said Swords. “Do you agree we are getting more mice than before?”
“Yes,” replied the other two. “We’ve been extra careful about putting food away, and swept the floor and so on,” said Cups, “but they just keep coming back.”
“They even eat the bait in the traps and then escape,” said Pentacles, “and I think they are getting upstairs through the old pipes.”
“Well the landlord excludes mice problems in the lease so we’ll have to do something ourselves,” said Swords. “I think we should get someone in.”
Pest-Kill sent someone round to do a survey, and then suggested appropriate treatment, which the three Knights agreed to. For some reason Six Pentacles wasn’t present at the discussion. There was an invoice for the survey and a second one for the treatment.
“So we split this between the four of us,” said Pents.
“It’s not too awful really, and if we keep the invoices and receipts we might still be able to get the landlord to cough up.”
“Split what between four of us?” asked Six, coming in to the kitchen.
“The bills for getting rid of the mice.”
“Why doesn’t the landlord pay?” asked Six.
“It’s in the lease that he doesn’t deal with mice,” said Swords, “so we each pay a quarter of the bill from Pest-Kill.”
“Oh, that’s not fair,” said Six, “and anyway I wasn’t consulted.”
“You knew we were going to have to do something about the mice,” said Swords, “even if you weren’t here when we discussed the recommendations. It isn’t a huge amount … and anyway we are four equal
tenants with four equal responsibilities.”
“Shall I make some soup we can share?” asked Six Pentacles, going to the kitchen cupboard for ingredients.
The Knight of Swords took a deep breath, hoping he could be tactful, but he rather doubted it.
“We don’t need to share soup, we are talking about sharing a bill for the property in which we live. I don’t know about you, but the rest of us are tired of the blessed mice, so we decided to do something about it. And since you live here, this is the kind of thing you share with us.”
“But I shared that nice breakfast with you which no-one had time to eat, and I shared the curtains and the blind …”
“Yes, well,” said Cups pacifically, “it was very nice of you to do that, but not necessary. Paying your share of the bill to Pest-Kill for clearing out the mice is necessary.”
The next morning they found that Six had left, taking his blind and his curtains, and the special coffee. He had left no money for Pest-Kill, though.
© Lucy Voss, November 2019