Red Eyes: Flash Fiction

Red Eyes

Fwip.

They stared at the card. It was illuminated by candle light, for no other purpose but to set the mood. The red eyes painted on the back of the card stared back.

“So, let’s see,” they said quietly to the rat sitting on their shoulder. It felt wrong to speak loudly in such silence. Besides, you never knew who was listening – or watching. Licking their lips, the witch turned the card over.

Tiny whiskers tickled their ear as the beautiful figures of the lovers revealed themselves. There were three of them, holding hands, each one a different gender. The tall one with large curves and dark freckles on dark skin, was a woman. The short one who was stout and blocky and straight lines, was a genderfluid agender demiboy. The middle one with flyaway hair and tired eyes was gendervoid. The nonbinary witch knew all this because they had made the cards themself.

The lovers meant many things. Unification of ideas. Relationships. Decisions. Attraction. Possibilities. So many possibilities. It was the sixth card of the Major Arcana, the sixth step in the Fool’s Journey.

Placing the card down in front of them, they contemplated the position it was in a moment. It wasn’t reversed, sitting to the left. Three other cards sat in front of them, forming a diamond. Question and Answer were the top and bottom cards. Pros and Cons were left and right, respectively. A simple reading with a complicated message.

The candle flickered. Reaching into the bag, the witch fetched a treat for the second rat companion.

Fwip.

The red eyes stared.

Turning it over, the card revealed itself to be the Fool itself. Card zero. One. First. New. Beginning. Life. The start of the Fool’s Journey. It was in the right position, Cons. The Fool looked somewhere into the distance, long, thick hair pulled back and braided into a tight rope at the back of his head. He was a simple genderqueer person, meant to mirror the witch themself.

The witch hummed. Placing the card down, they contemplated the two cards in front of them briefly.

A third rat bruxed from under the bed. Making kissing noises, the witch coaxed their friend out from under the dusty frame for a treat. Once the rat had a yogurt drop in his mouth, he climbed up into the witch’s lap to nibble away at it. The first rat snuffled in their ear again.

The candle flickered.

Fwip.

“Oh,” breathed the witch, scratching the belly of their second friend, who had climbed through the bars of his cage instead of using the door to get to his big human friend. “Eight of swords.” The picture was of a person of undetermined gender, bound up and surrounded by swords. Self-imposed restriction. Inability to act. Obstacles. Hurt. Silence. Persecution.

The question they didn’t know they were asking. They flipped the card over again, to see the eyes. The red irises stared back.

The candle flickered.

Fwip.

The final card. The eyes were cold.

Swallowing, the witch stalled for the Answer. They rounded up their three friends, bringing them into their lap with treats and belly-scratches. Once they were all safe, they turned the waiting card over.

“Seven of wands,” they whispered. A smile tugged at their painted lips.

Seven wands stood tall on a hill. On the peak, a nonbinary man stood tall, resting a hand on one of the wands. He smiled back at the witch.

Making the right call. Speaking your mind. Decisions. Perseverance.

With the card in the Answer position, it was easy to understand what the deck was saying. With the Lovers in the Pros, The Fool in the Cons, the Question was the Eight of Swords, and the Answer was the Seven of Wands, the witch had a clear understanding. It was time to ask out their crush.

The candle flickered one last time. The room went dark.

Sighing, the witch clapped twice, sharply. The sound echoed in the dark room, making the pile of rats in their lap squirm suddenly. The light flicked on a moment later.

The witch stared at the four cards in front of them, deciding they were happy with the reading. Gathering them all up, they shuffled them into the pile and reached for their lighter, to light the candle and do another one.

The flame flickered.

The red eyes stared.

Mx. Tia Liet is a white, disabled, mentally ill, queer, nonbinary trans person. They are an adult that writes Speculative Fiction and sometimes Romance, with queer twists. Their first book, The Void Between Stars, published in 2017. Since then, they’ve published Folktales, The Red Journal, and other various flash fiction pieces.

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