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Stags

By Susan Earlam

 

 

 

 

We argue.

I can’t recall what about.

She pulls a card.

We turn into stags, teasing and chasing each other.

The Two of Cups.

I’m preparing for a wedding, my own. The guests are strangers and the location is an infinite tangle of rooms, corridors and halls.

 

I collect my bouquet and climb into a child’s electric toy car. An attempt to save my energy as my dress is so heavy.

 

Driving down a long passageway, I’m looking for a clue as to where I should be. My groom is a tall white beast, with antlers stretching wide.

 

She pulls another card.

 

I climb out of the tiny car, taking care over the layers that make up the structure of my dress.

 

The Nine of Wands.

 

The walls are glass and through them I’m observed by future and past iterations of the writer, me.

 

Staggering towards my White Hart, he stands, champion amongst his clan. An outsider, I can’t remember how this started.

 

My dress stifles, my hand squeezes the bouquet. I won’t stop this beginning. The thorn pierces my palm, an acknowledgment of existence. I wish to ask my future self what to do but the glass is misting with condensation: I’m obscured from myself.

 

My white beast reaches for me with the gloved hands of a man, steadfastly gripping my waist. Our faces close in, his pupils hold shafts of a crescent moon.

 

Releasing the flowers, I lift my bloody palm to his mouth. His thick, wet tongue laps where the thorn entered skin. I find myself combing my fingers through his dense fur, feeling him rise beneath them.

 

The Knight of Swords.

 

The arrival of a message. The glass walls shatter all around and I’m scooped up by an unseen force. Looking down from safety I see my stag covered with shards of reflections, each one a version of me. Each one draws crimson at its apex.

About the author

Writing online since 2010, Susan has written for a wide variety of outlets, but the call of the strange and unusual grew irresistible. Now, she mixes words like potions at her laptop in South Manchester. Editing the third draft of her novel, she procrastinates by writing shorter, and weirder, stories.

Find me at susanearlam.com and @susanearlam on social.

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