by Bronson D. Beatty
A hand of five trumps--a rarity indeed.
I held The Lovers, signifying a choice between two paths, and The Tower for misfortune. The Wheel, which spun fate. The Magician, poised with promise, and The Moon, which masked turmoil behind illusion.
"Will you trade?" the Dealer asked.
The Dealer wore a plain white suit and sunglasses which hid his eyes. I imagined that they shone like sunbursts, like nebulae. The deck in his hand still held many of the lesser arcana, powerful in their own way, and a smattering of trumps. The back of each card was emblazoned with a mask that looked neither male nor female, with an ouroboros weaving around it.
My confliction must have shown on my face, because the Dealer smiled at me, a grandfatherly smile which reflected his greying hair and age-weathered face. "Take all the time you need," he said.
I looked at the other players. Though we bet money in this game, it was merely a token. The ante was not the aim; the cards were. You walked out with your last hand and the cards were more important for what they held after than for what they won you at the table.
You could only play once in your lifetime.