In the Cards
I turned over the next to last card. It was the witch. It was my card. The one the deck always chose to represent me. Next to it already sat the knight of swords, a kind young man that I would soon meet, and next to him was the man hording his gold coins, the four of coins. I knew this represented the person responsible for the situation I was in. It was the same reading I had gotten for awhile. The cards never lied to me and they were telling me my fate. I had been able to read them since I was a child barely able to read, which always made the adults around me uncomfortable.
When I was ten I found I could tell when people had a sickness and whether it might kill them. I would even know if they would soon die. Their faces were always covered in shadows. Papa told me to stop telling people what was about to happen to them or how they would die. I did, but I still knew and felt sad that I could not warn them to make peace with their lives.
Then when I tuned twelve I was struck with terrible headaches and visions of disasters yet to come. I saw floods, fires, tornados, and blizzards. Papa’s business prospered even more then because I would always warn him of the times or places not to send his merchant caravans to. He was grateful, but also realized no one would ever want to marry his daughter the “witch.” It was then that Papa decided to hide me away from strangers. I began to live a very sheltered life.
I understood why Papa did this, and could not bring myself to hate him. Although I knew he loved me in his own way and was only doing what he thought was best for the family. But I was so lonely since I was not allowed to have friends or playmates or do normal things girls my age did. I was only allowed a governess and my family, no one else. I was not allowed outside visitors, and only rarely was I allowed outside of my home. If one of my sisters was with me we could walk in the garden. My sisters knew they were to hide me away from everyone else who might see me by accident.
Once I turned sixteen I knew what would happen. I had read it in the cards. Papa had a scheme of getting rid of his strange daughter by pawning her off through marriage. The rest of the family, and Papa’s business partners had started to worry about me. They wondered if they should even do business with him anymore. Unholy creature, Satan’s mistress or witch is what they would call me. Some even felt justified in deciding how I might need to be dealt with in the future to please the Gods.
I was so angry with Papa at first that I could barely speak to him. Yet, I had heard of worse fates for girls like me. I had even heard of a time when they would drown or burn us because of our abilities. They were just afraid of what they didn’t understand.
I thought about running away. Maybe there was a place I could escape to. I could hide in the mountains and become a hermitess. Or I could join a traveling carnival and read cards for patrons for money. They would not think me too strange in a setting like that. But I would have to leave my family behind and never see any of my sisters again. My heart was heavy because I would miss them too much. I would also have to hide certain things about myself like my name and other abilities.
It was when I read the cards for myself again that I realized I might have a happy future with my new husband. I had a chance at finding a good home and possibly love. I looked down at the cards I had already put down and flipped over the last one. It was the lovers. I had often fantasized about finding a man who would love me for me. I guess it was normal for a girl my age. I also knew though that if I ran away now any chance of true happiness and love would disappear like the morning dew.
From the cards, I had learned about my husband-to-be long before my father told me his name. He would be a troubled man with dark hair and brooding brow. He was from a decent family, a wealthy one for sure, and would never be cruel. He would never strike me. He would do everything he could to care for me and our child. I had never thought of having children before either, but somehow the sacrifice of having an arranged marriage was less harsh by the fact that I would one day be a mother. I imagined myself holding that child and felt love for something that did not yet exist.
All the arrangements had been finalized between our families. I was anxious to see his face as I had no idea what he really looked like. I had been traveling by a coach and four horses for three long days. There were two men in the driver’s seats. Both of them were my cousins, and both of them were meant as my guards and keepers, in case I decided to run away. Little did they know I had no intention of running away from the man I had been waiting to meet for a long time.
I was nearing the end of my journey. As we rounded the last bend and came over the top of a slight hill I could see the estate that would be my home for the rest of my life. It was beautiful. There was an orchard to once side that went on as far as the eye could see. The building was pink brick with a set of steps of white stone. There were massive windows all along the front and a set of smaller windows on the second story. There was white trim around all the windows and the large double doors were also white. In front of and leading off to the other side of the building were elaborate gardens the likes of which I had never seen.
There were rows of roses and tulips and daisies, and every other flower I could name in this garden. There were paths that meandered through the whole garden or took you back to the manor itself. There was a little bridge over a gurgling stream. I saw several arches along the paths covered in vines and flowers that made the garden an invitation. And the culmination of it all was the gazebo in the middle surrounded by a pond with lily-pads and lotus blossoms and flowers and trees so thick they practically swallowed the gazebo whole. I imagined, for just a minute, meeting my future husband in such a romantic setting.
The carriage came to a stop in front of the large white doors. My cousins helped me down and I walked toward my new home as they unloaded my luggage. I felt a little nervous, despite what the cards had said. They could have been wrong. Perhaps my new husband would not like what he saw. I was all dark hair and dark eyes and tan skin. I was not a beauty by most standards. Many men liked the fair-haired and fair-skinned beauty with a curvaceous body, but I hoped my husband would take a liking to me anyway.
I was greeted by the doorman and then shown to my extravagant rooms. Aside from a beautiful bathroom with a large bath there was a separate bedroom and a sitting room all for me. It was a room fit for a queen. The bed was so large me and my three sisters could have slept in it together at the same time. I realized I now belonged to a much wealthier family now.
I waited. And waited. I knew it was only little longer until I met him. I had butterflies doing summersaults in my stomach. I could hardly stand to sit still. So I paced the room looking at the elegant details of the fine wooden furniture or the woman’s brush and comb at my new vanity.
Finally, after what was a long and arduous wait there was a knock on my door. This was it, the moment I had been waiting so many years for. He had come. I smoothed down my hair and dress as I said, “Come in.”
In came my husband. He stepped in timidly at first and looked around. Seeing me standing in the sitting area he smiled. “Hello,” he said. “I suppose it’s time for us to meet. My name is, uh, Evan. I’m your…, uh, husband,” he said ‘husband’ awkwardly and uncertain.
He seemed more nervous than me. “Hello,” I replied. “My name is Marissa Inari. Or was Inari, as I m now to be called Cooper, I imagine. I’m so happy to finally meet you as well, my husband,” I curtsied and rose. As we stared at each other I knew the cards had not lied. He seemed a kind, good, and handsome man. I knew he wouldn’t accept me right away, but the cards said one day he would fall madly in love with me just as I had already fallen in love with him.
Written Oct. 18, 2014
Here is a short story I wrote for class. I thought it came out pretty well.