Double-checking the address, Emma looked at the modern, all-glass door of the Tarot Reader’s house. Confirming it was the right place, she climbed the snow-covered flagstone steps and found the doorbell. Low bell tones rang just beyond the entrance when she pressed the button.  Emma watched as the Tarot Reader enter the foyer to answer the door.

“Hi,” said the Reader, inviting Emma into her home. “Come on in from the cold.”

Emma went inside.  After taking off her gloves, coat and galoshes, she followed the Reader to a bright, quiet room just past the entrance hallway. The room, while bright due to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, was surprisingly cozy.  Outside was a beautiful view of falling snow. Inside, the room was warm and heated by a small wood stove. The Reader had Emma sit at a round table littered with a stack of books, some partially opened and bookmarked.  Emma’s chair was quite comfortable, being covered in a chenille throw blanket.

The Reader left the room. Emma looked around and began to examine the books. With titles like ‘Geologic Survey,’ ‘Theoretical Physics,’ ‘Stock Market Economics,’ and finally ‘Persuasion,’ Emma didn’t expect the Reader to be interested in such topics. For some reason, she had expected books on the occult, magic and astrology. She picked up Persuasion from the stack. Upon opening the book, several pages spilled out onto the floor. The Reader came back as Emma started picking up the pages.

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” said the Reader. “I’ve read that Austen book so many times, the pages have pulled from their binding.” The Reader also brought refreshments. “Would you like some coffee? How about some coffee cake?”

A little embarassed at having been caught snooping, Emma nodded. She placed all the pages back inside the book and returned it to its spot.

With Emma seemingly comfortable, the Reader asked, “So, why have you come?”

Emma nervously sat up and said, “I’d like a reading about my future. I’ve been doing the same thing for many, many years now. My life has been one boring day after another. I get up, clean the house, and take care of my babies. I’m tired of my life and have been in a rut – unable to make any changes due to commitments. I need a change. I’m desperate for a change – for something new.”

“Well then,” said the Reader. “Let’s see what guidance the Tarot has to offer. But I better clean this off first.” She took all of the books from the table and set them on another chair. What was left was the Tarot deck. She carefully shuffled the deck multiple times, then laid the cards in a single stack in front of Emma. She then said: “You’ll need to ask your question. Go ahead and phrase it in a way that does not result in either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.”

Thinking about this condition, Emma said, “What is in store for me if I make a change to my life as it is?”

“Please, go ahead and choose a card,” said the Reader.

Emma drew one from the stack.  She turned it over and handed it to the Reader.  It was the Ace of Wands.

The Reader smiled. “The Ace of Wands – this is very good news for you,” she said. “The suit of Wands generally address energy, creativity, and invention – all realated to a person’s purpose in the world. This guidance will be of great use to answering your question.”

Emma took out a small pen and pad, and began taking notes.

The Reader continued: “Specifically, the Ace of Wands represents a pivotal act – a new beginning – perhaps a job or an opportunity. Or even more subtle than that, such as a new situation, or even a different outlook in life. In any way, the Ace of Wands is a ‘go for it’ card. It is literally telling you that a change in your life will be worthwhile and beneficial.”

Unsure but hopeful, Emma asked, “Is that really what the card means? I wasn’t expecting such a clear message from my Tarot reading – and one so meaningful.”

“Yes,” said the Reader. “It’s been my experience that the Tarot Cards are very much in tune with the issue at hand, sometimes in unexpected ways, and other times quite direct. But still, generally on point. If you need a change from your life, the Ace of Wands tells us to examine our situation and do something to improve it. The Tarot is speaking very clearly to you.”

Pleased with her reading, and with a new eagerness for the future, Emma thanked the Reader and left. She went to the grocery store to do a little shopping. Emma felt invigorated and started humming while walking up and down the isles. Feeling lucky, she bought a Powerball lottery ticket. Then a handsome man bumped into her shopping cart, spoke to her for a few minutes, and asked her on a date. An finally at the checkout counter, her groceries cost way less that what she had expected. “Things are really turning around for me,” she thought to herself. “Now, if I can just get through tonight…”

Emma headed home in her car, still feeling great, but just a bit uneasy. Purposely driving slow in the snow-covered streets, she started dreading her return. Once home, she put the groceries away. She prepared dinner and set the table. Sitting down, she sighed and pulled out a slip of paper containing the notes she had scribbled down earlier that day at the Tarot Reader’s. She laid it next to her dinner plate.

She lived alone. But at the dining table, she had four place settings. One was hers. The others were for her babies – actually her dolls.

Sitting across from Emma were three ceramic dolls, all dressed in fresh, clean clothes. Each doll was just tall enough to have their head reach above the table top. Their plates of food, however, were as full as Emma’s.

“I hope all of you had a good day,” said Emma, smiling and looking directly at the dolls. “I certainly did. I ran my errands, received some good news, and felt lucky all afternoon. In fact, a man even asked me out on a date. That hasn’t happened to me in a long time.”

Emma took a few bites of food. She looked at the dolls and said: “Eat up everyone. I made this big meal – this feast – to celebrate my decision. As I mentioned this morning, I went to see a Tarot Reader about my life, or our lives, here in this home. Since your mother, my sister, died nine years ago and left us this house, I’ve taken care of you three. I no longer work, and I had to give up college to make sure you are cared for. I put my life on hold for you.”

“I’m not saying that I dislike caring for you. I do care for you, but I personally need a change. For some time now, I’ve grown tired and weary. My day has turned into a series of unchanging events. I get up, clean the house, and cook. And throughout the day, I care for you and all of your needs. Then again the following day.”

The three dolls, each perfectly still and with unblinking glass eyes, stared back at Emma.

“An emptiness has recently descended in me, forcing me to assess my life. I find that I can no longer stay here and do the same thing day after day. Inside, I am yearning for something different – an adventure, a career, a new beginning. That is why I visited the Tarot Reader.”

Emma quickly scanned the notes scribbled on the paper and forced a smile. “As you can see from my upbeat mood, the Tarot cards gave me some favorable advice. It basically said that if I’m willing, now is the time to make a change in my life. And if I do, it will result in something good.”

“So,” Emma continued, “let’s finish this excellent dinner and talk more about it tomorrow morning.”

As she ate, her mood slowly changed. In place of optimism, she started experiencing pangs of guilt. Emma put her utensils down and spoke: “What am I doing? I can’t leave. I can’t leave you. Who will take care of you? I made a promise to your mother that I would care for you.”

Emma’s face showed anger, then resignation, followed by tears. She took her napkin and covered her face. She took the note paper and ripped it in two. After a few minutes, she got up and started cleaning up dinner. She put the food away and washed dishes. She collected each doll and carried them with care to their bedroom.

Their room was lovely. With home-made quilts and pillows, it was inviting. At the bed and having pulled the covers, Emma laid each doll down. She went to armoire and grabbed small nightgowns. Having switched the dolls’ to their sleeping clothes, Emma pulled the covers, turned on the night lamp, and gave each doll a hug and goodnight kiss.

“I’ll be right back,” said Emma.

She left the room – door slightly open. She dressed for sleep and went to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Looking at the mirror, she sighed as she resigned herself to this same life.

Emma walked the house to check that everything was turned off, and that the doors and windows were locked. She headed back to the dolls’ bedroom. Reaching the door, she noticed that the light was off.

She peaked inside. The room looked normal enough with the three dolls in their bed. But once her eyes adjusted to the dark, she saw a piece of paper on the bed. It was the note she took at the Tarot Reader’s – the one she ripped in half during dinner. But the paper had been repaired. The two pieces were taped together.

Emma picked up the paper. In addition to her writing, there was a hand-written message scribbled near the bottom. It read: “Live your life. We’ll be fine.”

Emma smiled.


This is Dante P Ramon, your author and host of The Dark Reading, a collection of original scary stories inspired by Tarot cards. I invite you to follow my website as I present new stories on a weekly basis. I also record and distribute my stories via podcast. So, visit us on the web at, and feel free to share The Dark Reading with your friends.

I just picked the Death card, so good night for now.


Season 1 Episode 19.

©2020 The Dark Reading. All Rights Reserved.

This, and all stories on The Dark Reading are original and written by Dante P. Ramon.

All third party marks are the property of their respective owners.


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