The Chariot

It’s Monday morning and I’m trying to not look tired or hungry because if teachers think you are hungry they might think you are not being looked after properly by your parents and they might phone Dad. Miss Chapin is just the sort of teacher who notices things like children being tired or hungry.

Being hungry is quite easy to hide because people don’t usually ask you if you are hungry and if they do you can just say “no” or “I just ate the hugest breakfast” and people believe you and then at lunchtime you can get out your lunchbox and pretend that you ate your lunch really fast or your friends might give you some of theirs. And sometimes my big sister Chelsea will find some money in Dad’s wallet and buy a loaf of bread and some vegemite and then I don’t have to pretend at all and on those days I make sure the teacher on duty sees me eating just in case she was wondering.

Being tired is harder to hide, especially after a night when Dad has his friends over and they stay awake all night and don’t go home afterwards.

Sometimes people try to come into our bedroom after they’ve had grown-up drinks and Chelsea puts her bed against the door so nobody can open it but sometimes Chelsea goes out with her friends and I can’t stop people coming in and when that happens I imagine all the twenty-two Major Arcana cards in my head one by one until I find one that will protect me which is often the Emperor but it might be The Fool or sometimes The Chariot.

In the morning I get up while everyone is still asleep but I don’t have a shower or breakfast in case someone wakes up and sometimes I can’t find a clean uniform to wear so I get yesterday’s uniform and spray it with Dad’s Brut spray.

This morning is one of those mornings and Miss Chapin is sitting across from me at my desk looking at me and asking “Did you get enough sleep last night, Justin?” and I put on my very awake and curious scientist face and give a scientific answer that most people could only give if they had got plenty of sleep. “Well I think so Miss Chapin but it depends on how much sleep is enough sleep because doctors say that you need eight hours per night but there are monks in Tibet who hardly sleep at all and they seem to manage quite well.” I think I’ve won because Miss Chapin does a deep breath in and smiles at me with her mouth and then does a long breath out and says “O.K. Justin, go out and play”.

I don’t bring my Tarot cards out at play time anymore because people think they are weird and I also don’t want them to get damaged because they were a special gift from Mum before she got sick and had to go away and she used them to tell me about all the adventures we will have together when she gets better but Dad says they are stupid.

Mum said that there is a Tarot card for everything we do and everything we feel. Some people think that Tarot is about telling the future but it’s really about picking the right card for the right moment and knowing what it is saying to us. I’m not being boastful but I am pretty much an expert at Tarot.

Even though the Major Arcana cards are like my protectors I have also memorised all the fifty-six Minor Arcana cards which are sorted into cups and swords and wands and pentacles and they are useful for lots of everyday things because the cups are about our feelings and the swords mean thoughts and actions and choices.

Today at second break I fell asleep behind D block and didn’t wake up in time to go back to class which was a mistake I’ve never done before and I think that’s why at 2:50 just before the bell goes Miss Gustavsson from SEP comes into our class and takes me to the SEP room where there is a lady I haven’t seen before and Miss Gustavsson says her name is Beryl and her job is keeping children safe or something like that and today Beryl is going to take me to stay with a different family for a few days and they have a dog called Basil which I happen to know is also a herb used in cooking.

To be honest if I didn’t have my cards today I wouldn’t cope very well with this surprise because I don’t usually like surprises and as we walk to Beryl’s car I am picturing the cards one by one until I come to The Chariot. Beryl’s car is silver and shiny without any scratches on it which is different from our car that has dents from when Dad has hit things that got in the way and it smells like wee when you get in.

The Chariot card is about moving past things that are difficult and making the right choices and there is a brave and powerful prince sitting in the chariot which is me and as Beryl opens the passenger door I decide to get in because it is so clean and shiny and the inside doesn’t smell at all like wee.

The chariot can take you to new places and when I get scary surprises like today I remember that surprises can sometimes turn into adventures and that makes me think of the adventures I will have with Mum when she is better and then I say to Beryl “Can you please make sure my Mum knows where I am going so she can find me when she gets better?”

And Beryl says she will.

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