I’m sitting on the floor in front of my little house of cards. At four storeys, it’s nearly finished. I pick up the next card from the stack by my side and lay it facedown as capstone. I hold my breath (even breath could influence what happens next, even a phone buzzing, even a harsh and/or offensive thought).
Wait, are the cards triangled beneath the capstone trembling? Slightly? I could fix it, but wouldn’t that be going backwards, a re-writing of history? Have I not placed my last card? And promised the mirror to be decisive, stand by my choices, no matter how frail (also, when is it permissible to absolve all responsibility and place it on the cards, or on the magpie sitting on the fence outside, eyeing me)?
Here it is then, the latest house of cards. Its symmetry is exactly as before (though, again, it has an air of thinking itself unique and, again, I’m drawn in, thinking; this time it’ll be different). If I hunch down and peer through the rows of stacked card-triangles, I can see the cat pawing at the door trying to get out (peering through those carefully stacked rows, I can surely see what’s to come; I will get the call, sharp words will be retracted, foundations will be laid for the future, and so on).
True, the house of cards is indeed quivering, but barely, in a way that could be ignored, or described as poetic, A Whispered Prophecy maybe, or A Crowning Farewell.
And the capstone-induced shiver is now sending a clearly observable wave of rumours through this misfortunate house. Damn.
My top storey falls first, crumpling soft onto the storey beneath which dithers, sways, succumbs. The following storey holds its zig-zag shape before slowly snaking left. Finally, the last storey, bearing the flat weight of the cards, collapses onto itself. My house is down, the cards in disarray, the fluke capstone face-up.
Check the phone. Charged, yes, Coverage, yes. Missed Calls, Notifications, none.
Gather the cards, tap the edges inwards, shuffle, tap, shuffle, tap, begin again, first storey first, etcetera.
© Niamh Mac Cabe
[This piece was selected by Sommer Schafer. Read Niamh’s interview]