The Affair

Ten of Swords

TenOfSwordsAs I cautiously traced my fingers across the 78 cards, I never imagined I would conjure the most ominous image in the tarot. You are guessing that I drew the Death card, no? Hollywood seduces you into believing a Candyland of curses will be unleashed when the Death card is drawn by the seeker. Even a wizened fortuneteller will wince and hastily bring the reading to a close, ushering the querent out of the room. As tidy as it is to blame Death, it is not the true villain of the oracle. Although it signifies something coming to an end, it leaves the earth ready for a new beginning. I summoned the one card that out-Deaths Death – the Ten of Swords. It foretells betrayal and absolute destruction. The relationship is done. It is dead. The illustration shows a figure lying face down on the ground with ten swords penetrating his back. He won’t be recovering any time soon. As I read the old chat between my boyfriend and his cousin, I felt the unforgiving steel of a sword slowly pushing its way through my shoulder blade, tearing the skin, separating the muscles, breaking the bones. A woman we both knew had recently given birth, and my boyfriend of ten years was expressing relief that the baby was not his. He had come to this conclusion based on clumsy gestational math. I heard a keening noise getting louder. “No, no, no, no! This is not really happening!” The haunting wails of Tori Amos echoed through my head, “You bet your life it is! Yoooou bet yooooouuuur liiiife…”

My senses became heightened and my hands started to shake. Is this possible? I had been in shock before, but that was after rolling my bright yellow classic car as a teenager. It was left on the side of the road looking like King King had crushed a banana and tossed it aside. The complete disbelief that this was happening kept the cleaver poised above my head from splitting me in half. My boyfriend, My Space Angel, would be at work right now happily driving parts around the sagebrush dotted countryside while listening to loud music. Having started a new job, I worried that any distraction from the homefront would cause him to lose it. Since we were not currently living together, I decided to wait to confront him with this explosive discovery over the weekend. “Wake up! What is wrong with you? Why are you being so rational?” I knew I had stepped on a landmine. Did I seriously believe I could keep it from exploding for two days? I copied the chat into an e-mail, typed “Weird” into the Subject line, dashed off the words “I don’t remember you telling me this,” and hit Send.

My Dear Inquisitive Hearts, how did I get here? I was so happy to wake up to my Friday morning. I had finished my final fifteen hour shift at work for the week and attended an exhilarating Writer’s Workshop touting the importance of “Setting” the previous night. For some reason (maybe it was the Writer’s Prompt titled “What if you had a secret…”), I woke up and headed straight to the computer to peruse his e-mails and chats. We had an open-door policy when it came to such matters. His e-mail icon was often flashing like an annoying gnat in the corner of the screen. I would swat it away out of irritation. Today, it was a lighthouse beacon illuminating the rocky shoreline. I admit, once every two or three years, I would follow the White Rabbit down the hole. I would poke around to see if he was flirting on Facebook or maybe had been out drinking too much and failed to tell me. With his new job, I wanted to see if he was making compulsive online purchases. We wanted to buy our house together, to build our little nest. I expected to find a purchase of t-shirts with nerdy sayings or maybe a video game. I never imagined I would find infidelity. I never imagined I would find her.

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