Chapter 4: The High Priestess
Sunday was usually her day for sleeping in, and Rosemary indulged as long as her body allowed. She didn’t want to bother Thyme today – after all, he’d had to deal with her post-breakup blues last weekend – but she didn’t want to be alone, either. It was days like this that made her miss her grandparents most. They’d always been delighted when one of them showed up, never mind the day or the hour. Rosemary sighed. Might as well do what I’m supposed to, and draw my Tarot card for the day. Tonight I’m sending myself a text, so I don’t forget tomorrow morning again.
When she reached into the embroidered bag, she followed Parsley’s advice and let her fingers play in between the cards until she felt a tingle of energy, like a certain card was asking her to take it. She did, and came out with The High Priestess. It instantly brought a smile to her lips. Unlike the last three, The High Priestess card was calm and serene. A beautiful woman of indeterminate age, swathed in flowing blue robes and veils, wearing a crown with moon motifs. She held a scroll in one hand, hidden halfway in the folds of her cloak. On her face was a gentle Mona Lisa smile. The priestess looked approachable, yet wise. Just the kind of person I need right now.
As that thought clicked into place, Rosemary realized who the card reminded her of: Parsley. She would be spending time with Lorenzo today. Usually Rosemary liked to let them have their couple time, knowing how rare it was, but she needed some sisterly advice. If I bring wine, surely they’ll have me over for dinner. She checked the clock, confirmed it was an appropriate time to call, and dialed her sister’s number.
“Hey, Parsley, I wonder if you’d let me join you for dinner tonight?”
“Of course! I’ve been thinking about you this week, wondering how things are going. Have you been doing the Tarot journey?”
“Yes, though not every day since I keep forgetting. Actually, that’s part of what I wanted to talk about…”
“Come on over! Lorenzo will be glad to see you, too. It’s been a while since we got to hang out, just us three.”
“Red or white?”
“Well, I’m making chicken, so…”
“White. Got it.”
“Need a ride?”
“Nah, I can bus up. A ride home would be great, though.”
“You got it. See you at, say, 5:30? So we can chat and have some drinks before dinner?”
“Perfect. Thanks, Parsley. See you soon.”
Even figuring in an hour and a half for the long bus ride to Shoreline, that still left her a good four hours to kill. Rosemary decided to make the most of it, grabbed her canvas shopping bags, and headed to Trader Joes. At least she could stock up on groceries for the week. Maybe grab a coffee and do a little reading. Anything to avoid wondering about her suddenly complicated love life. Or lack thereof.
“So,” Parsley said, pouring herself a generous glass of wine, “Tell me about it. What have you learned so far?”
Though Parsley had said ‘she’ was making chicken, they all knew Lorenzo was the real chef in the family. He’d been happy to greet Rosemary, chatted a bit, and then went back into his fragrant lair, from whence delicious aromas were already wafting. He’d even prepared some little canapés for them to snack on while waiting for dinner. Where do you find a man like that? Rosemary wondered. Parsley lucked out! Then she amended, No, that’s not exactly true. Parsley figured it out. She was with two duds before finally choosing a great guy.
“Well, I’ve learned that The Devil is hot, and The Hanged Man is swinging upside down by choice, because he could just as easily pull himself up. And I’m not sure what The Fool’s deal is. Pretty sure the fool is me.”
Parsley guffawed, her deep belly laugh shaking the couch.
“We’re all fools at some point or another,” she said, still chuckling. “The secret is not remaining a fool. That’s the Tarot journey, really. Start out as The Fool, and learn and grow along the way, until you reach The World.”
“That’s the ultimate card of the Major Arcana. The journey’s end, if you will. Except, really, the journey is continuous, circling round and round forever. But we humans are linear creatures, and it helps to visualize some kind of endpoint.”
“What card did you draw today?”
“The High Priestess. She reminded me of you.”
“Well, that’s flattering, but the high priestess is really you. Your subconscious, actually. The inner woman in you, your source of magic.”
Here we go, Rosemary thought. It’s about to get seriously metaphysical up in here. Time to change the subject, before she busts out the aromatherapy oils.
“Some other kind of huge stuff has been happening this week.”
“Well… I met two guys.”
“Two guys?! You only got rid of Jason last week, and already you’ve got two guys lined up? What was I doing wrong all those years?”
“Oh, I dunno, finding the love of your life?” Rosemary said, and giggled. “I mean, he cooks, he cleans, he gardens… pretty much the perfect man.”
“Yeah, well, you’re not the one doing his dirty laundry.”
“It can’t smell that bad.”
“Really? You wanna be in the car with him after a full workday of landscaping? Believe me, Rosemary, it’s all four windows down and I still can barely breathe. The stench alone sometimes makes me miss my single days. And have I mentioned his snoring?”
“Um – hello? I can hear you!” came Lorenzo’s voice from the kitchen, making both of them burst into laughter.
“So, who are these two guys?” Parsley said once her giggles died down. “And how’d you meet them? I assume they aren’t a matched pair?” Her eyebrows raised and waggled, making Rosemary choke on her sip of wine. Wouldn’t that be nice! She pushed the brief, tempting image of a threesome from her mind. Save that one for her alone time tonight…
“Quite the opposite, in fact. Thyme had me get on this dating website, and the very first day this guy Josh started messaging me. We had drinks, kind of hit it off. I agreed to get dinner with him later this week.”
“That sounds encouraging. Is he good looking?”
“Oh, super hot. Like, probably too hot for me.”
Parsley made a phish sound. “I doubt that. You’ve always been hard on yourself. Don’t you know you’re a freaking knockout?”
“I second that opinion,” Lorenzo said, walking in. He was still in his apron; it stretched a little over his thick belly. His broad, dark-tanned face looked like a moon, with laugh lines at the corners of his eyes and mouth. Lorenzo had always looked that way: happy and solid, a mountain of calm. Smiling, he leaned down and planted a big sloppy kiss on Parsley’s cheek. “Second in beauty only to my lovely wife,” he added, nuzzling her with his nose.
“Oh, please,” Parsley said, laughing as she pushed him away. Even as they separated, Rosemary caught the special light in their eyes as they looked at one another. There could be no doubt: these two people were deeply in love. Rosemary felt a twinge of pain, wondering if she’d ever have something like that.
“Dinner’s ready in ten, ladies,” Lorenzo said.
“Need help with anything?” Rosemary offered.
“Nah, I got it. Besides, can’t wait to eavesdrop about guy number two.” He grinned and winked at her as he headed back into the kitchen.
“So who is guy number two?” asked Parsley. “More wine?” Not even waiting for an answer, she refilled Rosemary’s glass and then her own.
Rosemary heaved a heavy sigh. “Guy number two… wow, where do I start? Well, his name’s Fabricio –”
“Mexican guy? I’ll vouch for that!” Parsley crowed, loud enough to make Lorenzo chuckle from inside the kitchen.
“Half; Irish and Mexican, if you can believe it. Anyway, we met at the SAM. He’s an Art History major at the UW. Really nice guy, seems like.”
“Seriously? If I was going to design the perfect guy for you, that would probably be it.”
“Um, he’s an undergrad? So he must be, what, twenty-one, twenty-three at the oldest? I’m, like, ten years older than he is!”
“Why does that matter?”
“Come on, Parsley, you know it does! Does the older woman, younger man thing ever really work?”
“Worked for Demi Moore.”
“Yeah, for what, like, eight years?”
“Hey, for a Hollywood marriage, that’s pretty damn good! If that’s the only count against him, you’d better keep this Fabricio guy around.”
Rosemary hesitated, wondering if she should reveal what was really on her mind. She swirled her wine in the class, thinking it over. Should have known better; Parsley was way too intuitive to be distracted like that.
“Okay, spill it,” she said, in a voice that brooked no wishy-washing.
“Well… he’s in a wheelchair.”
That surprised Parsley, evidently. Her wineglass paused halfway to her lips, and she locked eyes with Rosemary for a long moment. Finally the wineglass finished its journey. Parsley took a long, pensive swallow.
“Okay…” she said slowly, measuring her words. “So he’s differently abled. And how does that change things, exactly?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I know it shouldn’t change anything. But… it kind of does. Doesn’t it?”
“You tell me.”
By now Rosemary was feeling really bad. She almost wished she hadn’t brought it up, but after all, didn’t she come here tonight hoping to get some encouragement – or at least some perspective – from Parsley? She lowered her voice anyway, not sure she wanted Lorenzo to overhear her discomforting thoughts.
“Parsley, you know I’m looking for a real relationship. Like, a marriage, a family – the kind of thing you found with Lorenzo. Do you think that’s possible with someone who’s wheelchair-bound?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“What about…. you know…”
“Sex? Is that what you’re trying to say? Rosemary, really, how old are you? You can just come out and ask! Ask me, but most of all ask him. Sheesh,” Parsley shook her head in disgust, smiling to hide the blow. “And anyway, that’s not the be-all, end-all of a relationship. That’s why they invented dildos.”
“Wow. Thyme said those same exact words last Sunday.”
Parsley’s laugh came out more like a hiccough as she downed the last of her wine.
“For once, I agree with our little brother.”
Lorenzo’s voice cut through the awkwardness then, saving Rosemary from further embarrassment.
Lorenzo was pulling the car around to drive her home after dinner. Parsley pulled her in for a hug, rubbing her back encouragingly. They’d had a nice time, just small talk and banter. Exactly what Rosemary needed. Now, though, she was about to set off into another week, and she felt nowhere closer to an answer than before.
“Listen, go online, do some research, watch some wheelchair porn, whatever,” Parsley said. “I guarantee you’ll figure out what’s possible and not. Okay?”
“Okay,” Rosemary said, still unconvinced. Parsley gave her an extra squeeze.
“And in the meantime, enjoy those dates, right? Remember, this time last week you were sobbing in a puddle at my shop!”
“Thanks for the reminder,” she said ruefully.
“And let me know how things go, okay?”
“Will do. Thanks for dinner.”
“Thank Lorenzo – he made it, as usual. That’s my relationship advice to you: find a man who can cook. For real.”
Rosemary giggled at that. Wise words, indeed.
Lorenzo drove her home, chatting happily. He asked about Rosemary’s work, her art projects, and other easy, comfortable things. It put her in a good mood.
“Thanks for the dinner, Lorenzo. It was delicious, as always.”
“You’re welcome! Come over anytime. Next weekend, maybe?”
“We’ll see. I’ve got a couple dates lined up.”
“So I heard,” Lorenzo said with a grin. “Don’t go breaking too many hearts, okay?”
“I’ll try not to,” she answered with a lopsided smile.
Lorenzo waved as he drove off, and she headed up to her apartment. Rosemary didn’t feel like she had any answers, just more questions. Kind of like the Tarot – it kept forcing her to dig deeper, to think harder, without really letting her know if she’d figured out the meaning or not. She took The High Priestess out of her purse and set it up alongside the other cards on her bookshelf. Four so far, the start of a narrative. So if I’m the fool, what’s The World?
With time to spare, she took Parsley’s advice and brought her laptop onto the couch. Though she wasn’t one for pornography usually – Rosemary preferred her sexy times literary, in the form of erotic fiction – she went ahead and put in a quick Google search for “porn guy in wheelchair.”
What she found convinced her that plenty of sexy things would indeed be possible with Fabricio. Oh, many things indeed. Her cheeks flushed, body heated with erotic imaginings, she took herself to bed early that night.