It was Jaimie’s turn to draw a card. The back of the downturned deck shimmered turquoise in the candlelight in Clara’s darkened bedroom. Turquoise was Jaimie’s favourite colour. As she stared at it, the surface of the card expanded and became a turquoise ocean gleaming in full sunshine. Jaimie began slowly to fall out of her body and into it.
“C’mon Jaimie. Shuffle three times. Cut the pack. Turn the top card over.” Clara’s stab-sharp voice tugged Jaimie back into her body. “If you don’t hurry, we’ll miss our chances.”
“Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it,” Tessi mocked.
She never wished for anything. There was nowhere she specially longed to visit. There was no person she longed to meet, no experience she desperately desired. She simply loved journeying.
The first time they’d used the cards, she’d drawn a dolphin which invited her onto its back and dived with her through rainbow shoals of tropical fish and forests of dark green sea weed down to where the sharks swim, down among eels and rays, down through the sea floor into the earth’s boiling heart.
The next time a white-gold star embossed on to an indigo field lifted her above cold bleached moonscapes, through glittering starscapes, past suns that could burn her physical body to cinders, to the very end of the Universe.
This was the third time. Jaimie wondered what wonder was in store for her but she did not wish. She trusted the cards.
The other girls had precise wishes. Clara, with her huge blue eyes had parents who were designers. She wished for voyages to Yves St Lauren in Paris, or Gucci in Italy. Tessi, who coloured her mousy hair white blond, had a banker mother. She wished for dance parties with celebrities like Beyoncé or Kanye West. Erica, who could recite as much Shakespeare as her actor parents, wished to find herself onstage in musicals like Cats Hamilton. But Jaimie had no interest in the latest fashion, or celebrity parties, or great actors. She longed to tell Clara and Tessi and Erica that longing for surface stuff only led to more longing for surface stuff, and more after that, and however much of it they got, they would never be satisfied or happy. They only had to look at the models they aspired to follow and they would see. But she didn’t tell them. Jaimie knew she couldn’t fit in, neither here among these friends, nor at school among other friends who wanted to win races, and be in the first team, and get into the best university. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t fit in. She knew that Clara and Tessi and Erica only invited her because when she wasn’t there, journeys didn’t happen.
Jaimie had no interest in the latest fashion, or famous boyfriends or special people. What Jaimie longed for more than anything, more than life itself, was a friend who understood, who could voyage with her, and in the same way that she did, by letting the cards lead.
“C’mon, Jaimie. Shuffle.”
Still floating in her turquoise reverie, Jaimie shuffled a second time, and a third, then laid the deck back onto the purple velvet mat on the table and cut the cards, following Clara’s rules which were as shallow and controlling as Clara herself: shuffle three times, place the cards on the purple velvet mat, cut the deck, turn the top card over, don’t take too long or we won’t each have a turn, afterwards share what happened.
Jaimie longed instead to simply flow into the deck’s shimmering turquoise. Turquoise symbolised wisdom, insight, spiritual depth. Real voyaging meant letting go.
“Cut and turn a card over, Jaimie,” the other girls hissed.
Jaimie cut, put the pack together again, and then turned the top card over. It showed an image of a slender blond girl standing on a long, empty beach caressed by waves. The blond girl was Jaimie’s mirror image.
Jaimie floated out of her body and into the image and found herself looking down at the beach, its sand damp and golden, and translucent as a dream.
The girl was packing the moist sand tightly into a shimmering turquoise mug. She turned the mug over, tapped it and then lifted it away, leaving a firm round brick. Then she packed it again. Mugful after mugful, she stacked sand-cylinders, building a circle around herself. Jaimie watched the columns rise and rise until the beach girl was completely enclosed.
Now, standing tall and brilliant within her circle, the beach girl held the turquoise mug with both hands between her breasts, over her heart chakra. Breathing in, she raised it until her elbows were straight as a yogi’s and the mug was directly above her head. Then she rotated it so that its opening, turquoise as the sea, faced Jaimie.
Jaimie recognised what she had wished for and her heart filled with joy. At last she had found the friend who understood. Drawn as if by a magnet, she flowed into the turquoise of the mug.
The teenagers in the circle were as if fossilised, unable to blink or to breathe as their friend’s clothes crumbled and her corpse dried to dust. On the purple velvet tablecloth, a light covering of golden beach sand fell around a mug as turquoise as seawater.
And then they screamed.
They would tell her mother that Jaimie had not arrived to play that day, would say they waited an hour and then went to play on the swings in the park.
But first, they would clean away the damp golden sand, transparent as a dream. And then they would burn the Ouija board that had told them where to buy the cards. Jaimie had warned them not to play with it.
Joy Manné writes fiction, non-fiction and books about Conscious Breathing Techniques and Family Constellations. Joy won the Geneva Writers Group prize for Non-Fiction in 2017 and was one of three finalists in the Arkansas International 2017 Emerging Writer’s Prize in Fiction. Her flash fiction is published widely on the internet and in anthologies. She lives mostly in Switzerland and on Tenerife and belongs with love everywhere on this planet.