Jamie lifted a black jug of aurora and clinking ice, a rare drink he only got to enjoy in instances such as this one, and carried it over to where Danny was sitting. He gave the container a shake, and then filled three glasses, liquid ribbons of green, purple, and red swirling around the ice and crystal. Danny, watching this all in mild amazement, gave his cup a shake just to see the colors move before lifting it to his lips. It tasted like clean snow and was sweet in the way that water from mountain streams was, rather than sugar. Fizzy, too.
“Cheers,” Jamie said, clinking his cup neatly against Danny’s.
He sat down at the clothed table and took a look around. They were in a round room, seemingly at the top of a tower, though the room had no windows or doors. There was sheer cloth draped everywhere, some dark with precise patterns of constellations, others just a foggy pale lavender or patterned with intricate earthy green ivy. A soft worn carpet covered the ground, and bookshelves filled with thick tomes lined much of the walls. Against part of the wall was a large four-poster bed with opaque sky blue curtains depicting birds and clouds drawn all the way around it. A massive brass telescope stood in a corner of the room, and from the rafters hung fairy lights, more cloths, origami cranes strung on lines of twine, and drying herbs.
“This place is pretty cool, Jamie,” Danny remarked, also looking around.
“Isn’t it? I only come here to do readings, so I’m away enough to appreciate it when I can. So, how have you been?”
“I’ve been good, though I need some advice with a curse I’m dealing with. Hence why I’m here, you know? How about you?”
“Pretty good, actually. Jack hasn’t come home for a while, and I haven’t seen him recently, so I’m getting a bit worried about him. Have you seen him recently?”
“He’s the one that’s been cursed, actually. Just moping around in some Russian forest last time I saw him, actually. Is that normal moping behaviour for him?
“Actually, yeah pretty much.” They both looked down at the table, which now held an unfinished tarot spread.
There were ten, arranged in four rows and just enough space in between for another card. There were three in each row until the one at the bottom, which only had one.
“A row for each of us then,” Jamie said, relieved. “An easier reading, for once. There’s a reason I don’t come here as often as I should, and the reason is that the cards never like me.”
“I gotta tell you dude, I have no idea what any of this means,” Danny told him, taking another sip of his drink.
“Well, it’s three cards, so typically that would mean its a past-present-future reading. I’m actually not sure this time though, since you’re asking for curse breaking advice.”
In the first row was Justice upright, then the Six of Cups reversed, and then the Seven of Swords upright.
“Draw a card,” Jamie told him.
Danny shuffled the deck next to him, split it, and drew. “Woah, that was cool. I can’t do that, usually.”
He passed the card to Jamie, who smiled. Strength- depicted as a hooded, white haired teen, holding a staff topped with a glowing hourglass, standing by a neon green lion with his hand on its head. In the background were the purple and green swirls of the ghost zone. Jamie went to put the card under the third row but paused.
“Well, I automatically want to put you under death, but Justice fits you better, I think.” He placed Strength between the first and second rows, under the reversed Six of Cups. “The Six of Cups- moving forwards, leaving home, independence. You’re about to go to college, right?”
“Yeah, in a week. What do the other ones mean?” Danny asked.
Jamie didn’t answer, instead drawing another card. A drawing of himself, dressed warmly in his winter coat and surrounded by snow. He held in one hand a glowing yellow lantern, and in the other a simple wooden staff. He gazed at the second row- the Knight of Swords upright, the Magician upright, and the Nine of Swords upright- and placed it hesitantly under the Magician. He brushed his fingers over the Nine of Swords and frowned. Danny said nothing about Jamie’s reading, but leaned forwards with a concerned expression until Jamie shook his head to clear his thoughts to gaze thoughtfully at the third row.
A hand emerged from the curtains of the bed and drew them back, and from the enclosed space came Jack himself. His hair was white with brown roots- looking a bit like a very good die job growing out, and the center of his irises, near his pupils, was a warm brown that became an ice blue nearer the edges. His face held a healthy red flush, and brown freckles were sprinkled across his cheeks. In short, he looked nothing like he had the last time Jamie had seen him, and he looked extraordinarily upset about the changes.
Quickly rising from the table, Jamie pulled out a chair for him and poured him a glass, Jack slumping silently in his chair. He gave his own drink a swirl, took a large gulp, and sighed heavily.
“Hey Jamie. Hi Danny.”
“Hi Jack,” Danny said cautiously.
Jamie didn’t answer, observing Jack, and then staring intently at the third row of cards- the Lovers upright, Death reversed, and the Five of Swords upright. The third time he looked at Jack, Jack rolled his eyes and drew a card from his sweatshirt pocket, flinging it at Jamie. It was the Magician, with white hair and an icy crown, one hand holding a shepherd's staff and pointing to the sky, and the other hand pointing to the ground. He was wearing a navy fur cape over a blue sweatshirt, but his eyes were in the same state as Jack’s were now- brown in the center and blue on the outside.
“Magician? Would have thought you’d go for Emperor, maybe Hierophant,” Jamie said, looking at the card and turning it about.
Danny smirked. “Isn’t one of the cards ‘the Fool’?”
Jack just waved his hand at them in pouting apathy, and watched as Jamie placed him beneath the third row.
“Lovers, huh?” Jamie teased from across the table. Danny and Jack both blushed, Jack a notable red.
“You look,,, really different, Jack,” Jamie continued. “Maybe fear the change a little less, I think it’ll turn out okay eventually.”
For the first time since he got emerged, Jack took an actual good look at the tarot spread. When his eyes wandered down to his own row, he grinned wryly at his present reading.
“Death reversed, my old adversary.” He turned to them. “I got a Death reversed reading when I first became a spirit, you know. Everything turned out alright in the end, I guess.” He stood up, went back over to the bed, and closed the curtains behind him. Danny and Jamie heard his flop on the mattress and smiled at each, each swallowing down the rest of their drink.
Jamie waved his hands over the empty tablecloth- where there had most definitely been tarot cards before, and the table disappeared as well, revealing a square hole in the carpet and a wooden trapdoor. “Time to go,” he said.
Danny nodded, and descended down the ladder, and around them everything began to dissolve, slipping away into the recesses of memory.
Danny frowned at his alarm clock. It was only 6:00 in the morning, about half an hour before what his alarm was actually set to. There was something he had wanted to do, before he slept, wasn’t there? He’d just woken up from a dream about tarot cards, Jamie, Jack, and colorful soda. ...Tarot cards- he leaped up in bed- of course, Jack’s curse!
He vaulted onto his bedroom floor and ran down the hallways. Man, he hoped Jack was where he left him.