You knock on the door, 'Polly?'

'Hi there. Come in!'

Opening the door you are hit by the smell of incense. The room is dim, candles are lit. Polly is sitting on the bed, looking at the spread of cards in front of her.

'Am I disturbing you?'

'Nup. Just hang on a tick and I'll finish this. Then I'll do yours.' She looks up, 'That's if you want me to; read your cards that is.'

'Sure,' you nod.

'Okay,' she looks back down and concentrates.

You move over to the empty fireplace and look at the things on the mantlepiece: candles, a pyramid, postcards, some coins, an oil burner, a necklace.

Suddenly she picks up the cards, 'Fucked. Why is that always so fucked!' She shuffled hard, 'But the cards never lie. You know? And that's what's so bloody hard to take. Here.' She hands them to you, 'Shuffle and cut.'

You take them and shuffle. It's difficult because the cards are big. Awkwardly you move them around.

'And think of a question.'

You nod and think.

'When you're ready, stop shuffling and cut.'

You do it and she takes them from you, lays them out in front of her.

'Okay. Wow,' She looks up at you, 'I think I know what the question was. Am I right?'

'What does it mean?'

'Sit here,' she pats the bed next to her and you sit down. 'Well, this one,' she points at the bottom left of the five,' This one is to do with the question and it indicates a person, a wise mentor figure. And this one,' her hand moves over to the diagonally opposite card, 'indicates the reason for asking and is the travel card.' She looks up at you and raises her eyebrows.

'And? The rest?'

'Well the rest relate to the advice given and the outcome to your question and what you should think about in relation to the question.'


'Patience!' She laughs and then stares intently at the cards. 'Oh, shit I need my book for that one. I never get that one.' She points at the top card.

She reaches under the bed and pulls out a battered book with a white cover. She flicks through it.

'God! The card of divine guidance and achievement. No wonder I never get it.'

You stare at the cards and wonder.

'So I guess it really means that there's this person who's gone away, or you've gone away from them and you want to know why. And the cards are saying they can't tell you yet but you'll find out and you'll get everything you want in relation to this person.' She looks up at you, 'Does that make sense?'

'Kind of. I mean it's pretty general so I guess it does.'

She frowns.

'Sorry,' you reach out and put your hand on her arm, 'I didn't mean to be rude. I'm just not sure about this whole cards thing.'

'Well,' she starts gathering them up, 'they can be really good if you know how to take what they say.'

'Yeh, I'm sure they are. Sorry.'

'You wanted to know about Jess, didn't you.'

You shrug.

'Jess is gone. And that's that. Probably best left like that too.' She puts the book and the cards back under the bed.'

'Yeh. I'm not sure.'

'Well, I am and I knew Jess pretty well.' She stands and stretches, walks around the room and blows out the candles. 'Come on, let's go and see what the rest of those bums are doing.'

Philippa J Burne 1996

e-mail pburne@peg.apc.org