Mindy and Louisa discovered the metaphysical bookshop by accident while on a joyride in Mindy’s parents’ BMW. The shop was called “Quest” and it looked exotic.
Louisa had marched in confidently. In tow behind her, Mindy felt the eyes of the many Buddha and Siddhartha statues boring into Louisa’s back and Starbucks cup, no doubt in disapproval.
They returned to Mindy’s parents’ house and Louisa took advantage of their Nutella supply. She slashed a piece of bread with a gratuitous amount and flipped through the tarot cards she had purchased from Quest.
“This is my card,” Louisa whispered, thrusting a shiny, garish card into Mindy’s face.
The card featured a naked man and woman in an idyllic garden and was entitled “The Lovers.” Mindy giggled politely but was drowned out by the garbage truck outside.
Louisa was perched up on the couch, peering out the window. Mindy thought she looked like a roosting bird. She imagined a tangle of wet newborn chicks beneath Louisa’s folded legs and shuddered. Her eyes followed Louisa’s to the front walkway. It was lined with garden stones and was situated at the end of the dead-end street where Mindy had lived her whole life. The garbage truck picked up the Hackmans’ trash with its long claw arm.
Louisa returned her attention to Mindy’s fortune, or rather, failed to ascertain any meaning in the cards whatsoever. Many cards had no words on them and were more ambiguous than “The Lovers.” They featured a variety of scenarios—people wielding swords, people toasting each other, people crying, people looking upon great distances, people surveying their work, people working together and people not working together, people in disarray and solitude—nothing that Louisa could understand.
“These don’t work,” Louisa huffed. She rearranged her legs underneath her and looked out the Hackmans’ window, visibly upset.
Mindy said nothing, because she never seemed to have anything to say in Louisa’s presence. Mindy pictured the wet baby birds. She returned the Nutella jar to the kitchen.
Outside the window, the trash lady was on the edge of the Hackman property. The trash had been deposited in the truck, and she was just about ready to leave. No one but Louisa saw the spectacle that occurred thereafter, and there was no way Mindy would believe her. Louisa had no time to cry out.
With no pause or indication of goodbye, the trash lady walked straight up into the sky, her head held aloft, to the stars beyond. She faded away midway through.
She left the street behind without the use of any cards. No trace of her previous life remained except for her neon green vest, which faded into the blue sky behind it.
The trash lady exalted.
About the author:
Meredith Maltby is from Glen Ellyn, Illinois and attends Tulane University. She studies English and Linguistics, and is the poetry editor for the Tulane Review. Meredith has previously published her work in OVS Magazine, Vending Machine Press, Pif Magazine, Prairie Margins, and was a featured reader at Design Cloud Chicago’s HERE / NOW event.