The tarot reader had it right on the first guess.
I can’t help but see that the missing cup in this 8 of cups is offered here, by the Knight. And yet someone walked away from that love offer. There was self-harm too or winning, but at what price? The 5 of swords.
The readers words grated on Camilla.
But the reader had been confused too. Because she saw Camilla refusing the advice of the reading.
You’ll end up all alone, cutting everyone away, telling yourself you are complete. But this old resentment, this clinging to this 3 of swords. A heart is stabbed 3 times: betrayal, abandonment, neglect. This feeling you have been wronged. 7 of Swords.
Jesus, Camilla had tried to let it go. There had been therapists, anger management trainings, martial arts, now a tarot reader for fuck’s sake.
Camilla took a hot, shuddering breath before the cupboard of ointments and thread and gauze and tools.
Then, placing the needle loaded with local anesthesia on the tray, she turned to her patient, a girlish woman, platinum haired, lithe. Miserable. The woman needed stitches from a self inflicted cut to her thigh.
“Now Gallia,” said Camilla. “What do we have here?”
Gallia said nothing. Camilla could see the fine scars up and down Gallia’s thigh. The new angry ones, the black healing ones, the fine white web of a history of self-harm.
No, self punishment was not Camilla’s story. Hers was winning horribly. Hers was cutting people out. Hers was carrying the truth with ferocity.
The fucking reader had been right.
“No shame.” Camilla was matter of fact. “I have seen worse. What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a vet. Veterinarian.”
Camilla knew the kind of sensitive animal lovers who had the intelligence and grit to become vets had not planned on the level of isolation, loss, and pain in that profession. Veterinarians had a surprisingly high suicide rate.
She met Gallia’s icicle eyes and felt a strange drop inside. Then looked quickly down to the knotting of the stitch.
“You are lucky to have such beautiful hair,” Camilla was good at small talk. “Is that your natural color?
Gallia put her hands to her pale cropped hair. “I love your color.”
“Bottled gold. It’s dark underneath.” In fact, she guessed, Gallia could certainly see the roots, the new grey coming in in streaks. For now, it was tied up into a rushed knot, off kilter from her helmet, and then wind blown from the parking lot.
“It’s not that I had to put a cat to sleep.” Gallia volunteered.
“Oh,” Camilla said openly.
“It’s. I don’t know exactly. But some days. I cannot see the point. I can’t feel. There’s no color.”
“Hmmm.” Camilla deftly bandaged the stitched wound, the tape holding Gallia there, holding her firmly together. Or Camilla hoped as much.
“I am so alone,” Gallia said.
Camilla patted her on the knee.
“I know that feeling,” Camilla said. “I am glad you told me. You know, you don’t have to do it alone.”
Camilla stopped, questioned herself. She meant it.
Gallia put her hand on Camilla’s forearm. “I feel like I know you already. You know? From before–”
Camilla had had the same thought when she had met Gallia’s icicle eyes.
She had thought of stars.
“I do this thing. SIA. I am sure you would be welcome.”
Gallia, airy and steady and intense, said, “Okay.”