The Queen of Cups

“It’s an altar,” she said softly. Jenna’s reddish blonde hair swung forward, obscuring most of her face as she knelt on the bathroom floor and gathered up the myriad of things that had spilled from her bag. The small, wooden box hadn’t come open but the pentagram engraved on the lid had drawn an inquiry from the older woman.

“Oh.” Peggy watched in silence, her warmly tanned face blank of all expression.

Jenna could feel the woman’s emotional shut-down as surely as if she had flicked off a light switch. A part of her wanted to just raise her head and bare her teeth, to cause an immediate fight or flight reaction in the woman. Another other part of her wanted to laugh, cackle actually, and offer Peggy an apple. She managed to pass between the two desires and just sighed, then asked if Peggy had seen her lipstick roll away?

“No, I didn’t see anything.”

“Of course not,” Jenna muttered.

“Huh? I didn’t catch that?”

“Oh… nothing important.” Jenna sighed again and stood up, zipping the bag safely closed. “I have other lipstick. I liked that one though, it was practically new.” She did a quick check in the mirror to straighten her clothes and her hair before gesturing toward the door. “Back to work I suppose?” They exited together, Peggy in the lead with her ‘I’d like to see your Manager’ haircut bobbing judgmentally in front of her.

Jenna tried to finish her day without letting exasperation get the better of her but, it was a difficult thing. Every time she encountered people like Peggy it was so hard to not give in and perpetuate the old stereotype of witches and their craft. Choosing to carry a mobile altar in her bag had been a big decision that, so far, had caused more conflict than anything. Peggy was not the first to spot the little box and ask questions.

Five o’clock eventually came and Jenna punched the time-clock with a deep sense of relief. It was Friday. A couple days away from her co-workers was a nerve-soothing balm she sorely needed right now. Walking to her car she caught sight of Peggy standing next to her SUV talking closely with one of the ladies from the shipping department. Her posture was clearly gossipy. Jenna punched the unlock button on her car remote a little forcefully and pulled on the driver’s door.

“Good night Jenna!” Peggy’s voice rang out like a bell. The shipping lady looked on with interest. Standing upright Jenna stared at her across the top of her Taurus and smiled.

“Good night Peggy,” she called back. “Blessed be!” Not waiting to see the reaction she slid into the car and shoved her key into the ignition. The engine fired smoothly. Backing out carefully Jenna drove away without a single glance in the rear view. She didn’t need to look. The expression on the faces of the two women was nothing new.

Home was a small apartment on the city’s south side, tucked into a nearly suburban neighborhood with a few conveniences on the corner, namely a nice Italian bakery that offered hot ham and rolls on Sundays. Jenna stopped for a chocolate covered cannoli and instantly felt better about things. Cannolis could solve a lot of problems, she thought. How can you be angry or hostile with a cannoli in your hand?

All was quiet in her apartment. Jasper twined himself between her legs as she dropped her bag and the cannoli on the table.

“Hello brother cat,” she said. “I see you haven’t eaten in weeks. Shall I fill your bowl?” Jasper mewed pitifully and pressed his side along her calf in agreement. Jenna chuckled at him and opened the cupboard where she kept his food in a small bucket. “Try to pace yourself a little, eh?” Snagging the cannoli from the table Jenna dropped into her recliner and took a healthy bite. The sounds of her chewing inside her head seemed to be an echo of Jasper grazing through the kibble in his dish. Evidently his day had been emotionally taxing day as well.

Snack time finished Jenna retrieved her bag from the table and rooted for her tarot cards. People seemed to love getting their cards read but throw down a single pentagram and all of the sudden you were an agent of devil worship. She kept her cards in a bag, a purple Crown Royal bag to be exact. Even if they fell out she would most likely be assumed to be a party girl as opposed to a witch. The deck inside was one of her favorites and quite tattered around the edges, a testament to its heavy use. She shuffled several times, feeling her way into the deck before focusing. When she felt ready Jenna cut the deck and flipped the top card over and studied it intently, letting her eyes pick out the details that called to her. The Queen of Cups.

This card was coming up quite often for her lately. This queen faced left, a sign to her of looking back, seeing what has already transpired. Cups were the suit of emotions. Today the queen looked to be full of thoughts and more than a little petty. All the pearl-like buttons along her sleeves seemed to speak of so many little things that could be let go.