Queen Of Wands – Part 1
The match scraped across the rough surface, and a tiny flame leaped to life, spitting and fizzing as it entered the world. Tamatha watched it dance, its light reflecting off the metallic surfaces in the cramped RV kitchen; the oven door, the chrome teapot on the stove, the steel blade, and black enamel handle of Tamatha’s athamé resting on the dinette.
She lowered the flame to the first of seven white candles that formed a half-moon around her, then proceeded to the next. When all seven lights flickered, illuminating the stack of cards nestled on a silk cloth, Tamatha shuffled.
Held together with spit and spells, the cards’ soft edges made a gentle shushing sound as they slid beneath her fingertips. She’d inherited the ancient cards from Great Aunt Tabatha; the knife from Great Aunt Samantha. Though she’d never met either, she imagined the power they must have possessed and knew she inherited much more than a name from the two sisters.
As Tamatha cut the deck into three stacks, Ellis shuffled quietly into the space. The man’s familiar morning silence and the gentle squeeze he gave her shoulder warmed Tamatha’s belly. He was truly loyal and as patient as the day was long. Ellis had asked her to marry him dozens of times. Every time she had refused, and every time he stayed, a stoic sentinel of the last two decades of her life.
“Morning, beautiful,” he said, his voice low and gruff. He poured a cup of coffee and huddled on the bench across from her, his eyes still barely open.
When they’d met, Tamatha told Ellis she was forty-two, and he marveled at her, saying she defied time. Over the years, he began to suspect more than beeswax and sage went into the healing salves she sold on the circuit of craft festivals and magical shops around the country. He never suspected the true reason for her agelessness.
Curving her lips into a smile, she dipped her chin, bringing her focus back to her task. She’d awoken before dawn — the darkest hour of night — to a shift. The palpable movement of energy pushed Tamatha’s eyes open and sent prickles through her fingers and toes.
She rested a hand on the first stack of cards, letting her eyes drift closed. A gentle buzz circled, warming the hollow of her palm. She moved to the second stack feeling a similar tingle in her fingertips. When she touched the third stack, energy buzzed through her arm and curled in her stomach with a sickening growl.
“Whoa,” she mumbled, her brow wrinkling. She placed her other hand onto the back of the first.
“Everything alright?” She heard the concern in Ellis’s voice but kept her eyes closed.
“Mm-hmm,” she hummed and spread the stack across the table. Her hand glided over the fan of cards, searching through a line of white energy until a stab shot her palm. She slid the card out with her fingertips, opened her eyes, and touched her forehead.
“You sure you’re okay?” Ellis leaned toward her, setting his mug on the table. His hand cupped her elbow. “I’ve never seen you so pale.”
Tamatha never hid her cards from Ellis. She never shied from answering his questions about the rituals she performed when creating salves and teas. He always accepted, considering her magic something of a novelty. He had never seen this much energy flow through her. In fact, it had been decades since she felt a change this substantial.
Her dark eyes shifted to meet his. Grateful for his presence, she wrapped her hand around his forearm.
“Yes, I’m fine, but just stay with me. I’ll explain after the reading.”
She pressed her fingertips to the card, and her mother’s face flashed in her thoughts. She had never seen her mother in person, only a small portrait Tamatha’s father had commissioned before her death. She knew the woman weaved all manner of protective spells at every full moon throughout her pregnancy. She’d given so much of her own energy to safeguard Tamatha that her body gave out after the birth, sealing Tamatha’s fate that January night in 1602. They never needed to meet in person. The magical bond that connected Tamatha to her mother stretched over centuries.
She placed the card in the center of the silk cloth and turned it over, revealing a scene of destruction. Lightning struck a tower, cleaving it in two as bodies fell to a grim ending below. Could her mother’s protective spells be losing their power?
Photo by Joshua Newton, on Unsplash edited by Haley P. Law.