Lucy Voss (aka Scorpio) sheds light on the nuances of individual tarot cards by bringing them to life in her tarot-inspired fiction.
The May dawn was breaking in the eastern sky as the Six Swords family took one last look to make sure nothing they needed had been left behind. Their car was loaded with the sleeping bags they had used for their last night in the house; all their proper furniture had already gone to the new one. The box with the kettle and breakfast goods was packed in, and Six Junior squeezed into the back seat among the last-minute bags and cartons.
“Do we really need to leave this early?” asked Mrs Six. “It feels a bit furtive, somehow.”
“We’ve said goodbye to the neighbours, we just have to post the keys through the estate agent’s door on the way down, and then we go,” said Mr Six. “No point in dragging things out, especially with all that went on in the last few months.”
The family closed the car doors as quietly as they could and the car slipped out into the street. “No looking back, Junior!” said Mrs Six.
“But Mummy, that’s home, why are we leaving it?”
“The new house will be home,” said Mrs Six, “when we’ve got used to it. Your dad and I had to get used to that house when we first came here, before you were born.”
The car turned east onto the motorway and towards the bridge that would take them across the water and then into another place that would be home. Junior turned and peered through the rear window for one last look at what had been his world up to now. It was difficult to imagine a new house where everything would be unfamiliar. How could that be “home?”
The new house was all white inside, and noisy because there were uncovered floorboards. The Six family arranged their furniture, but it looked all wrong.
“I wish we were at home again,” said Junior fretfully.
“We are at home,” said his mother, who secretly felt the same as Junior. “We’ll get everything sorted out over time and we’ll feel comfortable again. It won’t always be ‘pure brilliant white’ and floorboards.” Junior was not so sure.
Mr Six settled first as he had work to go to, and his day began to take the shape it had had when they were at the previous house. May was a bad time to have moved as far as Junior was concerned. It meant he would miss the last few weeks of the school year, but it had been agreed it would be better for him to start in September, at which point Mrs Six would start her own job-search. She and Junior occupied themselves with redecorating, adding colour everywhere, (ncluding, in Junior’s case, some places where paint was not required) and setting out the familiar throws and pictures. “Almost like home,” said Junior more happily.
The neighbours at the old house had been friendly, but then, Mrs Six reminded herself, she had lived there several years. Still, it was difficult trying to adjust, not knowing who to ask about things, or just having someone to say “Good morning” to on the way to the shops. She’d known it would be like this, moving such a distance, but it was for the best, really. It was understandable that there had been resentment when one of the main local businesses closed and the majority of staff were made redundant, except for Mr Six and a couple of others who were all transferred to other branches.
There didn’t seem to be many children in the “executive estate” to which they had moved. A couple of little girls could be seen leaving for school each morning, but their uniforms indicated they were not going to the same school as Junior would be attending. There were older children around in the evenings and at weekends, but too old for Six, and in most households both adults seemed to go out each morning so there was no-one around during the day. Weekends appeared to be organised around ferrying offspring hither and yon to participate in structured leisure.
* * * * * *
One morning after the schools had broken up for the summer, Mrs Five Swords and Mrs Seven Wands were walking back home after leaving their children at the activity centre.
“Well, it’s awkward,” said Mrs Seven. “That new man’s really unsettled people.”
“I thought that’s what he was brought in for,” said Mrs Five. “Though he’s not new to the company, is he? I understood he was moved over from the western area office when it closed.”
“Well he’s still unsettled people,” Mrs Seven huffed. She was not going to mention that her husband had been passed over in favour of the new man, though she suspected Mrs Five would manage to find that out for herself; it was what she did. Then she added, “I believe he’s moved into this estate.”
“Really? The only recent sale here was number six, and from what I see they are not like us.”
“Oh, I know they’re not like us,” said Mrs Seven, “that’s what annoyed hubby so much…” and she bit her tongue, realising what she’d let slip.
“Good morning,” said Mrs Six pleasantly, coming upon the two women and smiling at each in turn. “And this is my son. Do you have children?”
Mrs Five looked down her distinguished nose and nodded a greeting.
“Where are you from?” asked Mrs Seven. “You don’t sound as if you come from round here.”
“We were in the West,” said Mrs Six.
“Yes but where are you from?”
“The West,” repeated Mrs Six, who was used to her naturally odd-coloured hair attracting this or similar questions.
“You don’t look Western,” said Mrs Seven.
“Perhaps you’re the Help?” said Mrs Five in a deadly voice.
Mrs Seven, suddenly horrified, pinched her companion’s arm and pulled faces, hoping Mrs Six would not see.
At that moment, two more women came into view: the Queen of Cups and her daughter pushing a buggy. The Queen and the Page of Cups walked towards the three women.
“Good morning,” said the Queen, inclining her head to Five and Seven. She paused. “It is you, isn’t it!” she said recognising Mrs Six. “Your little boy starts at my husband’s school in September, doesn’t he? My husband mentioned a new child from the West…”
Mrs Five and Mrs Seven had faces of stone.
“Six and I have crossed paths professionally, workshops and so on,” said the Queen, turning to the others and ignoring their expressions. “This’ll be a chance to get to know each other better,” she said to Mrs Six. “Anyway, we’ll catch up later.” and she and her daughter and baby walked away.
“I must go too,” said Mrs Six, and she and her son continued down the road.
“You do realise who that was, don’t you?” said Seven Wands turning on Five Swords. “She’s the wife of the new man at the office. I just hope she’s too thick to realise whose wife I am.”
“Appearances can be deceptive,” said Five loftily. “Just because she’s met that daffy woman at ‘workshops’ needn’t amount to much. And that hair…”
* * * * * *
Some months later:
Mrs Five Swords was waiting for a first appointment for a complementary therapy for an annoying condition which was not responding to conventional treatment. The door of one of the therapy rooms opened. Mrs Five’s face froze. “Mrs Five Swords? Do come this way,” said Mrs Six Swords, smiling. “I’m the acupuncturist.”
© Lucy Voss, January 2020