"Now, to what question would you like the answer?"
Golden Glover thought for a moment. "Will my sisters and I learn to work together as a team?"
The Diviner arched an eyebrow. This was not the usual kind of question about love, money or prestige. The kinds of things that people ask because in their hearts, they truly don't believe in the cards. This was a serious question. She shuffled through the cards, pulled one out, and set it on the table. The card was the Page of Cups.
"This is you," said the Diviner. "This is the Significator. It means you are a young woman asking a question of an emotional nature. You are a devoted student of the heart. You have a trusting nature, and you rarely question or doubt what is presented to you." She carefully placed the cards on the table in front of Goldie. "Now, cut the cards," she said with a wisp of a smile.
Goldie gingerly grasped what she gauged to be half the deck and placed it on the table to the left of the remaining cards. The smell of incense wafted in the air and tickled her nose. She gave a small sneeze.
The Diviner looked up at her. "If you want, I can get rid of the incense."
"Oh, no," protested Goldie with her customary warmth. "I'm fine."
The Diviner nodded. "Now, place the second half of the deck atop the first."
Goldie followed her instructions.
"Now, riffle the cards."
Goldie picked up the deck. She was pleased to show off her card skills. Her sister Red had taught her how to hustle at card games. Riffling was all part of the psyching out process. Goldie split the deck again and held each half between the index finger and thumb of each hand with the knuckle of the second finger used as a brace. The cards made a pleasant sound as they were restacked in alternating leaves. Then, Goldie removed her bracing knuckles and applied reverse pressure causing the cards to stack themselves into a nice neat deck. She repeated this process a few more times until she was sure that the deck was well mixed. Goldie noted that the extra length of the Tarot deck made riffling much easier than it was with a standard poker deck. When she finished riffling the cards, she placed them down on the table.
The Diviner nodded and picked the deck up with her right hand. She decided that a Celtic Cross layout would be best to answer such a complex question. The Diviner laid the cards face down on the table in the traditional fashion. In truth, there were three different versions of the Cross that she was familiar with, but she preferred the ten card layout. The first card was placed on the table over the Significator. The second card was then placed horizontally across the first. The third card went above the first. The fourth card was placed below the first. The fifth card was placed to the left of the first, and the sixth card was set to the right of the first. This formed a cross shape on the table. Next, the Diviner placed a card to the right of the fourth card. The eighth card was placed above the seventh, the ninth above the eighth, and the tenth above the ninth, so that there was a column of four cards next to the cross. Then, the Diviner set aside the remaining cards of the deck.
Goldie watched the cards being laid out with some apprehension. Out of habit, she bit her lower lip. The Diviner placed a hand on Goldie's in order to reassure her.
"Remember, what the cards tell us is not written in stone. This is merely a snapshot of the future based upon things as they are now. Once things begin to change, the future outcome may change as well. This is merely a tool to help you plan for a successful future."
Goldie nodded and smiled. The Diviner raised the second card and flipped over the first. The card showed a young boy in regal clothing carrying a long staff before him. "This is the Page of Wands. He is the herald of change for you and your sisters. You must be prepared to move with this change lest you be left behind. This change will doubtless take you by surprise, but you must be ready to act."
Goldie looked a little pensive. The Diviner smiled and continued. She turned over the second card that crossed the first. It bore a picture of a monarch holding his blade aloft. "The King of Swords challenges you to maintain your personal standards. You must not speak out until you are sure of your facts."
Goldie's face sobered at the news. The Diviner had known Goldie for a few months now. She was always seen wearing a bright smile regardless of whatever was going on around her. This new look felt alien to her normally bright face. The Diviner pressed on. She flipped the card above the first. It was a painting of a man and a woman, possibly a married couple, facing away from the viewer and hidden behind two standards. On the flags were five disks, each marked with pentagrams. "This is the Ten of Coins," said the Diviner. "It reminds you to be objective about the privileges you enjoy. You must remember that you should not expect to be entitled to them simply because you have always had them."
Goldie seemed confused by this. The Diviner smiled. "Privilege does not always mean money, Goldie. Think of the things that you have that others do not. Perhaps these are things that you take for granted." Goldie blinked hard a few times, but said nothing. The Diviner decided to press on. She turned over the card below the central card. It showed a man with his back turned to the viewer. Arranged about him were three oaken staffs. "This is the Three of Wands. It tells us that a discovery you have recently made will revolutionize your life. You should take advantage of the opportunity."
Goldie looked up at the Diviner for a moment in thought. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. The Diviner assumed that Goldie had a good idea what her recent discovery was. She decided to continue. She turned over the card to the left of the central card. This card had a picture of another monarch riding in a chariot drawn by two horses, one black and one white. "This is The Chariot. It represents an unstoppable force that is carrying you on toward your destiny. You must not oppose this force. Let it carry you along. You will become an institution of change from the old ways to the new. When the time comes, accept your role and be ready to act."
"All the cards seem to be saying the same thing," said Goldie. "That there is a change coming. Now, they are saying that I am the change?"
The Diviner shook her head. "No, not you. However, you will be the herald for that change. When the change appears, you will embrace it and spread it on to others."
Goldie responded with a muted, "Oh."
The Diviner smiled. "Let's press on, shall we?"
"Please," said Goldie.
The Diviner turned over the card to the right of the central card. It showed an angel blowing a trumpet while below the dead were rising from their graves, fresh and youthful. "This," said the Diviner, "is Judgment. It means you are about to undergo a major transformation. You are about to be reborn in ways you never thought possible."
Goldie took an involuntary inhalation. "Wow," she uttered. "I wonder what that will be like."
"You'll find out soon enough," said the Diviner. She turned to the column of four cards next to the cross and turned over the bottom card. It was a woman wearing a crown and holding a sword. "This is the Queen of Swords. It means that you will feel threatened and will want to retaliate." The Diviner held up an admonishing finger. "But you must stop and listen to yourself. Find out why you feel threatened and work out those feelings. Do not always assume that someone is trying to hurt you."
Goldie nodded, and the Diviner turned over the next card above. It showed a young man and woman facing one another. In front of them were five chalices each with a white lily resting within. A sixth chalice was being held by the young man, as if he were presenting it to the young woman. "This is the Six of Cups," said the Diviner. "A close friend will help you realize your own personal growth. This in turn will empower you to be proactive in your life and the lives of others."
Goldie beamed a smile at the Diviner, and she smiled back. The Diviner turned over the next card. A monarch sat upon his throne while holding another chalice. "This is the King of Cups. He asks that you support others with your strength and wisdom."
"I will," Goldie said to the card as if it could actually hear and understand her.
The Diviner placed a hand on the final card. "This is the last card, Goldie. It is the culmination of the entire reading. A kind of summation, if you will." The Diviner turned the card over and smiled. "Gee, why am I not surprised." The card showed a man and a woman lovingly embracing one another in a stand of irises. Goldie looked at the card and blushed a little, as both man and woman were naked.
"This is The Lovers," said the Diviner with a generous smile. "It says that communication will lead to a commitment that can bring people together in a creative and harmonious way. Competitive interests can be transformed into a team effort provided that the members are inspired to combine their special attributes and talents."
Goldie gasped, then eyed the Diviner for a moment. "You aren't making this up, are you Kristin?"
Kristin Carter smiled. "I see you remember the Page of Cups. Very good, Goldie, but no. I am not making this up." Kristin reached below the counter and pulled out several books on Tarot reading. "You can check, if you like."
Goldie laughed out loud. "That's alright Kristin. I believe you." Goldie picked up the deck and sorted through the cards. "These are very beautiful."
Kristin nodded. "Most decks are. It's an art many take seriously. This one is called the Morgan-Greer deck. The pictures are not merely there to look beautiful. Many of the symbols have astrological meanings."
"It doesn't sound like you're foretelling my future," said Goldie. "It sounds more like the cards are giving me advice."
"That's exactly what they're for," responded Kristin. "No one can predict the future. The cards merely present you with a choice of actions that you can take. They may even suggest the best course of action. But they can not give you a definite outcome. That is something you have to provide on your own."
Goldie nodded appreciatively. "I think things will work out okay."
"I don't doubt that," said Kristin with a smile. "Your sisters are lucky to have someone who cares so much for them."
At that moment, the small bells attached to the front door announced the entrance of a customer.
"Hey, there you are, Smiley," called out Red Glover. "I've been lookin' all over for ya. Whoa, it smells like a French whore house in here."
Kristin was stunned. This new person looked identical to her friend Golden. Kristin blinked a few times. No, they weren't quite identical. The demeanor of Golden's twin gave her away. She was more casual in a careless fashion. She was a textbook type A personality.
Kristin turned to Golden. "I didn't realize that you had a twin sister."
Goldie beamed with pride. "Yes, this is my sister Red. There are eight of us altogether."
Kristin's jaw dropped. "You mean octuplets?"
Goldie paused in thought. "Yes, octuplets."
"Wow," was all that Kristin could manage.
"Okay, kiddo," said Red, "if you're finished freakin' out the populace, let's go. Everybody's waiting."
Goldie nodded to Red. "I'll talk to you later, Kristin. Oh, and thanks for the reading."
Goldie waved good-bye as Red pulled her out the door. Kristin watched them leave. She sighed lightly. I just hope the other six are more like Goldie than they are like Red, she thought to herself.
* * *
"So who's your friend," asked Red conversationally.
"Her name's Kristin Carter," said Golden. "She runs the book shop. That's where I get all my books from."
"You mean that touchy-feely psychobabble stuff you're reading all the time?" asked Red with a grimace of disgust.
"Yup," responded Goldie not the least bit insulted.
"Uh-hunh," said Red. "So, what was that about a reading? She does poetry or something?"
"No, no," giggled Golden. "Not that kind of reading. A tarot reading."
Red stopped in her tracks causing Goldie to bump into her. "Tarot? You mean like fortune telling gypsies kinda stuff?"
"Well, sorta...," began Golden. She didn't think Red would understand, or even try to.
Red was quiet for a moment. "So, what was in the cards for you?"
"I don't know really," said Golden, "except that I am to be the herald of change."
Red blinked, then snorted derisively. "If you mean everybody's gonna start getting in touch with nature and love one another all of a sudden, then that only proves those things are a gimmick."
Golden smiled patiently. "Oh, Red, you're such a cynic."
"And lovin' every minute of it, kiddo."
The sisters travelled several blocks until they met up with two others. They all wore identical outfits in every way except in color. Golden's dress was yellow while Red's dress color was the same as her name sake. The two other sisters wore light blue and orange dresses.
"Hey, Sky," called Red to the woman in blue. "I found Little Mary Sunshine in the occult book store."
"How's your friend Kristin, Goldie?" asked Sky.
"She's doing just fine," answered Golden cheerfully.
"Goldie got her fortune read," said Red conspiratorially.
"Cool," said the woman in the orange dress. "What's your fortune?"
"I don't think I'm supposed to tell you, Tangy," said Golden apologetically.
"Oh, kind of like a birthday wish," said Tangerine. "If you tell someone, it won't come true."
"It's all a lot of stuff and nonsense," grumbled Red.
"Not necessarily, Red," said Sky. "There are forces out there that we just don't know about or are simply not aware."
"Uh huh," muttered Red. "Speaking of strange forces, where's Clover?"
"In the boutique trying to charm a discount out of a really cute salesclerk," giggled Tangerine.
"Irene's really got to talk to her about abusing her powers," said Red with an exasperated sigh.
"How about you talk to her," said Golden.
Red looked at Golden and arched an eyebrow. "Only if you want to have a cat fight break out and turn into a riot."
"You two should really learn to get along," said Golden.
Red shook her head. "Not everybody is as compatible as we are, kiddo," said Red.
"Now there's one of the great mysteries of the universe," said Sky with a smirk.
"Ah blow it out your rock garden, zen head," snapped Red.
Sky and Tangerine just chuckled.
"What's so funny?" asked Clover as she stepped out of the boutique.
"Finally," said Red. "Irene's gonna have kittens if we're late. Com'on let's get a move on."
* * *
Irene glanced at her watch. "Where are they? They should havebeen here ten minutes ago."
"Hmph," grunted an identical looking woman in a purple dress, "what did you expect from them. They probably screwed up the directions and got lost."
"They didn't need directions, Violet," said Irene. "You guys all know the same things I know."
"You think that's gonna stop them?" asked Violet.
Another woman in a dark blue dress walked up to Irene and Violet. "I have the tickets. I assume there eventually will be eight of us, correct?"
"They'll be here, Indigo," assured Irene. "If I know Red, she probably browbeating them right now."
Irene glanced across the small public park opposite the theater. Suddenly she caught sight of red, yellow, orange, green and blue colors wafting across the grass. Irene turned to Violet and Indigo. "See? What did I tell you?"
"I see Clover has a shopping bag in her hand...again," commented Indigo.
Irene quickly turned and looked again at the approaching fiugres. True enough, the woman clad in green was carrying a rather hefty shopping bag. "Oh, God, not again. When is that girl gonna learn? I'm not made of money. Quite the opposite, in fact."
Indigo shook her head. "It's not entirely her fault. Her predominant personality deals with lust in all it's forms. That doesn't necessarily limit her to looking for masculine companionship. Apparently, she's inherited your shopping cravings."
"Terrific," sighed Irene. She half-heartedly waved to the women who were now attempting to cross the street. A car swerved and then braked to avoid hitting them. The driver angrily leaned on his horn.
"Hey, buddy," yelled Red, "why don't you shove the horn right up your--"
"Red!" shouted Irene. "Can we please enjoy this evening without you embarrassing me in public?"
Red turned and spotted Irene. She patently ignored the driver and led her sisters toward the theater.
"There ya go, boss lady," said Red rather smugly. "Told ya I'd get 'em here. And in one piece, too."
"That's debatable," muttered Clover.
"Zip it, freak," growled Red. "I'm in a good mood tonight, and you're not going to spoil it."
Irene covered her eyes. "Okay, explain to me again why we're doing this."
"You wanted to spend a quiet evening with all of us," said Indigo.
"You're my logical self, Indigo," said Irene. "Why didn't you try to talk me out of this?"
"Well, uhm, I wanted to see the play," said Indigo a little uncertain.
Irene looked at Indigo and smiled. "Good answer. Pass out the tickets, please."