Chapter 5: Death
Well, that’s not ominous at all, Rosemary thought, admittedly with a great deal of inner sarcasm. She could imagine this card giving someone a heart attack – perhaps literally – when it was revealed. Death. Yup. Pretty straightforward.
If she was a superstitious person Rosemary would already be burning sage in every corner, or something. But although she believed in greater powers, inner wisdom, and fate, Rosemary was anything but superstitious. Plus, Parsley always said the cards can’t be looked at as guarantees, or as literal interpretations of what was to come (or already had). So really, the Death card could indicate any kind of drastic change, leaving behind something old like an empty exoskeleton.
Death even looked rather cheerful. Swathed in red, his grinning skull face stared head-on at her. He sat on a black horse – a glossy, prancing one – and held, in one skeletal hand, a blooming white rose. It wasn’t a scary card, really, but a pensive one.
“So what’s dying in my life?” she wondered aloud. “Or what needs to die, so I can move on?”
At several points throughout the day she was pretty sure her job should die. The kids were their usual rambunctious selves, and it was tough to wrangle them one by one over to the table so she could dip their hands into the green paint, and then press them onto the branches of their “spring tree.” It ended up looking cute, though, with all those little handprints like leaves.
Latysha put it perfectly as Rosemary was changing her twenty-third dirty diaper that day.
“Girl, how long you been working here?” Laysha asked, her voice as sharp and direct as usual.
“Six years, now, I guess.”
“And you never applied for your own classroom, and you never went ahead and let the company pay for you to get that Early Childhood Education degree, and you never try to move up to the preschool. Six years, and you still Assistant Toddler Teacher!”
Latysha shook her head, her shiny gold hoop earrings swinging. “This job isn’t for you, Rosemary, and you know it. What are you doing?”
Rosemary sighed, set down the clean toddler, and washed her hands. Latysha made a teeth-sucking sound, waving her hand in exasperation, then stooped to help a toddler whose toy had fallen behind the bookshelf.
“Just got used to it, I suppose,” Rosemary said finally. “Nothing else to do, really.”
Latysha snorted at that.
“Plenty else to do. You just too scared – or maybe too lazy – to go get it.”
Rosemary couldn’t help but laugh; Latysha was never one to mince her words. “Well, you’re probably right.”
“I know I’m right. And I’ll tell you one thing – unless that blond guy with the pretty blue eyes is about to sweep you off your feet, and tuck you away in some multimillion dollar mansion or something, with nothing else to do but get manicures and check out pool boys in bikinis, then you gonna have to do it yourself.”
“Yeah,” Rosemary said, and sighed. “But pool boys in bikinis sure sound nice…”
Latysha laughed, her open, wide-mouthed guffaw, and Rosemary knew the conversation was over. It had her thinking, though. With her recent breakup, and now her Tarot journey, plus her conflicting feelings about dating, everything did seem to be signaling change. Drastic change. Maybe it is my job that Death is signaling… but if so, what do I do next?
She thought about it on the bus as she went home. It all seemed linked in her mind: her job, her failed relationships, her Tarot reflections. Somehow, they were related. The message solidified as she realized what Death was asking her to do. The card spoke loud and clear: let go. Make a change. After all, death is really just about renewal, she thought, stepping off the bus into the chilly evening. And before renewal can occur, the old has to decompose. That’s where I’m at right now.
Back at her apartment, she went through all the rooms. Piece by piece, Rosemary gathered all evidence of her old boyfriends. Here was Jason’s T-shirt, which he left behind in his haste to escape. A photo of her and Shaun on their weekend trip to Ellensburg; he’s in a cowboy hat, since they spent a day at the rodeo. The paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye that Kyle gave her, in the hopes that they could have sophisticated literary discussions. Hadn’t worked; Rosemary hated Catcher in the Rye. All of that, plus other bits and pieces, anything that reminded her of any of them, went into a cardboard box.
When it was full, Rosemary took a Sharpie and wrote FREE on the front. She went out to the apartment dumpster. All the photos went into the recycling. Rearranging everything else in the box, she took it around to the street, turned it so the FREE sign was clearly visible, and walked away. Free stuff never lasted too long on a Seattle sidewalk. Wiping her hands on her jeans, Rosemary went back inside, already feeling lighter.
Dealing with her job wasn’t as easy. She sat in front of her computer for an hour, searching around for inspiration. The only thing she’d ever really thought about was going back to school, to get her bachelor’s in Fine Art. When she saw the price tags, though, Rosemary always backed away. This time she forced herself to continue, even sign up for some e-mailed application information. But her heart wasn’t in it. Rosemary didn’t think she had the confidence to make such a ballsy move.
It was weird, but whenever Rosemary felt doubtful or unsure, she got totally horny. Didn’t make a bit of sense – probably some weird physiological daddy-issues shit going on there – but it had always been that way. Got her in trouble with men a few times. With memories of ex-boyfriends swirling in her mind, and tingling waves of uncertainty about her future, Rosemary took herself to bed.
She was naked, her magic egg vibrator in her hand, in two minutes flat. Rosemary’s clit was humming, begging to be touched. Hungry for release, she slipped her hand down to cup her mound. It felt amazing to touch her clitoris, feeling the brush of her dry fingertips. Feather-light, she stroked herself delicately, pulling her nerves to attention. The contact was so intense it almost stung, yet felt so good. Moving lower, her fingers connected with the wet slickness between her lips. Her pussy was already dripping, her inner muscles clenching with need. No foreplay tonight. Dipping her fingers into her slit, Rosemary gathered her natural lubrication on her fingertips and swished them up over her clitoris.
Her clit responded to the sudden wetness with a zing of pleasure. Knowing it wouldn’t take long for her to climax, Rosemary fired up her vibrator. She brought the buzzing egg between her legs, letting it play around her labia, teasingly close to her clit. “Oh, yes,” she breathed, as vibrations fluttered through her body. As she teased herself, Rosemary brought her thoughts into line.
One by one, she imagined her exes. There hadn’t been so many, really; she easily remembered them all. As her fantasy built, Rosemary gave each of them his due. Hiro, her first, rose above her, braced on his strong arms, gazing down in wonder as he thrust rhythmically. Then Kyle, who read her poetry while he fingered and licked her, bringing her closer to orgasm with each controlled stanza. And Maurice, her short-lived Canadian flame, who had bent her over the seat of his motorcycle one night. She’d shrieked with helpless pleasure as he pounded her like that, her skirt pulled up over her hips, his cock slamming hard against her ass as the cold night air skimmed between them. Shaun’s laughing black eyes, his dimples showing as he grinned, giving her a little striptease as she watched from the breakfast nook, her hands wrapped around a mug of tea. Nate, who’d moan deep in his throat as she sucked his dick, digging his hands into her hair and shuddering as she swallowed his cum. And Jason, with his easy grin, hard, muscular body, and seductive gravelly voice. He used to stroke her slowly, avoiding her erogenous zones until she thrashed with desire; only when she was begging did he finally bring his lips to her sex.
Each of them had left their mark. She’d found pleasure with them all, each in his own way. As they marched through her mind now, Rosemary found herself remembering the best of them. And, once imagined, she let them go. As her orgasm rose and swelled, almost ready to burst, she liberated her past loves. When it came, sweeping her up in a shuddering climax, Rosemary screamed with release. Her body convulsed, twitching around the center of her pleasure, as the orgasm crashed over her like the tide.
When it finally faded, Rosemary was left weak, limbs shivering, naked and alone. Totally alone. They were no longer with her, the men of her past. She’d exorcised them through orgasm. Not a bad way to do it. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks. In French, she recalled, they call orgasm ‘le petit mort’ – the little death. Holy fuck, she thought. This Tarot thing is no joke. Her heart rate slowly returned to normal. Rosemary realized something huge had happened. All those years she’d been carrying around the memory of her failures, dwelling on them, rehashing them. Now, with them gone, she was finally ready to move on. The future is mine.
Rising, still warm and sated with pleasure, Rosemary wrapped her cozy bathrobe around herself. Then she walked over to her corner studio, set up a fresh canvas, and began to paint.