Ace of Swords (reversed): Not allowing yourself to see what matters most
Six of Cups: Optimism. Open to possibilities. Willing to learn.
The world (reversed): Realization of your true self. Slowdown of events to see the truth.
Two of Pentacles (reversed): Be proactive. Make a decision.
Strength: Follow your instincts
“Where are the kids?” Jim asked. He loosened his tie and dropped his briefcase on the table.
“They’re already in bed. Don’t you know what time it is?” Laura said. She stood with her back to him and continued to wash the dishes.
“Late, I guess. The meeting ran over. Tom insisted on ordering in dinner. It was all a waste of time, though.”
“Of course, it was. They never get anything done after six so I don’t know why they insist on keeping you there.” An edge crept into Laura’s voice, but she refused to turn around.
“Yeah, I know. But I can’t just walk out.” Jim sat and rubbed his face.
“Sure you can. That’s exactly what you can do. I’m tired of you being there more than you’re here. The kids need you, Jim.”
She’d halfway turned to deliver that retort, but spun back towards the sink before he could see the tears in her eyes. They’d had this fight too often, lately.
“The kids need a roof over their head, too. And food on their plates. How am I supposed to provide that if I walk out of my job? We’re barely making it as it is.”
Laura sighed. “There are other jobs out there.”
“I’m going to bed.” Laura threw the sponge into the sink and walked out of the room before Jim could continue.
She’d be asleep before he’d make it upstairs and he’d be gone in the morning earlier than she woke. He hated going to bed like this, but there never seemed to be time to really hash it out. Jim shrugged out of his blazer and found a glass to fill with water. He paced the kitchen and pondered his wife’s words for the hundredth time. Other jobs. Of course, there were other jobs. But how was he supposed to find one if he already had no free time?
Morning came too soon and Jim tried to shake off sleep as he backed out of the driveway. He needed coffee, but he’d snoozed the alarm and ran out of time to make any. He just had to hope that someone had filled the pot in the breakroom before he arrived. Hell, he’d even take a reheated cup from yesterday’s batch. Anything to wake him up.
Jim merged onto the highway and slid in between two cars in the morning traffic. For ten miles, they inched along at a snail’s pace. He yawned and slapped his cheeks to stay alert. His phone rang and he suppressed a groan before answering.
“Yeah?” He said.
“Jim. Antonio wants to have a full board meeting at 8:15 to review from last night so we can come up with a final solution,” Marty’s voice came through the car speakers.
“You have the notes?”
Jim looked down to double check that he’d actually grabbed his briefcase. “Yeah, of course I do.” But it wasn’t there. He must have left it on the kitchen table in his rush to get out the door. “Shit…” he muttered.
“Nothing.” Jim flipped his blinker on to move towards the exit and was surprised when a car immediately allowed him to move over. He’d be lucky to make it to the office in time for the meeting now that he had to turn around. But he didn’t dare show up without the notes. “I’ll be there. With the notes.”
“Good. Because Antonio seems like he’s out for blood this morning. I would hate for him to come down on you over something like this.”
“Yeah, me too.” Jim glanced in his blind spot and moved over one more lane. And in that moment, a blue mustang roared up the shoulder and tried to swerve into the open space Jim’s car was about to occupy.
The crunch of metal exploded the morning quiet and Jim’s head smacked the steering wheel before the air bag could deploy. He sat unconscious in his seat, his car slowing to a stop with the mustang rammed into the passenger side.
“Jim? Are you still there? What happened Jim!?”
Jim woke in a hospital bed with a terrible headache. He pulled himself up to a half sitting position and noticed Laura in a chair near him. Her face was streaked with tears and her hands were clenched in her lap. She flew to her feet when she noticed he was awake.
“Oh my god. I’m so glad you woke up.” She clutched his hand and fresh tears poured down her face.
“What do you mean? It was just a fender bender.” Jim rubbed his head and felt nauseous. He lay back down.
“The doctors weren’t sure what state you’d be in when you woke up. If you woke up. The cat scan showed a brain bleed, and they did what they could, but they weren’t sure. It wasn’t a fender bender. The car that hit you was going at least 70 miles per hour. The rest of traffic wasn’t getting over 20. You were pushed at least two miles down the road into other cars. It took the paramedics almost an hour to get the scene cleared up.”
Jim took a moment to digest this information and tried to push it away before he puked all over his wife. “How did you find out?”
“Marty called me. He heard it over your phone and knew something terrible had happened when you wouldn’t answer him.” Laura took a deep steadying breath. “What happened, Jim?”
“I…” Jim rubbed his head again and tried to remember. “I had to turn around. I forgot my briefcase and we were supposed to have a meeting as soon as I got there.” Jim sat bold upright. “Shit! The meeting! I’m going to be fired!”
“No, no you’re not. Marty told everyone in the office what happened. You’re not going to be in trouble for this.”
“You don’t know Antonio. He’ll find a reason. Shit, shit, shit. I need to go. I need to get to the office.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” a new voice said. A doctor pulled the curtain back and entered the room. “Lay back down, please. I need to examine you.”
Jim did as he was told. Even though he felt the undeniable urge to make sure he still had a job, he couldn’t refuse the doctor that had saved his life.
“I’m Dr. Robinson. I performed your surgery to stop your brain bleed. The surgery was successful, but, like I told your wife, you never really know until the patient wakes up. Everything seems to be in working order though.” He prodded around the bandage on Jim’s head and checked his pupils. After a few more pokes and prods, Dr. Robinson straightened up. “I’m keeping you here for at least two more days for observation. I want to be completely sure you’re fine before I send you home. That was quiet an accident you had, sir. I wouldn’t feel good about letting you go before you’re ready.”
“When can I get back to work?”
“Jim…” Laura dropped his hand and slumped back into her seat.
“It will be a few weeks.”
“Weeks?” Jim felt sick again, but not from the pain. There was no way Antonio would be okay with this.
“Yes, weeks. And if you try to rush it, it will be longer.”
“Yes, sir,” Jim said reluctantly. Again, he couldn’t argue. No matter how much he wanted to.
After Dr. Robinson left the room, Laura walked back over to his bedside.
“I can’t believe you.”
“You’re nearly killed driving to your stupid job and the first thing you want to know is how fast you can get back to it!”
“It’s not the job’s fault.”
“Yes, it is! If you didn’t work such long hours and get so little sleep, you would have been alert enough this morning to remember your briefcase. And you would have been ahead of the traffic instead of right in the middle of it.”
Then Jim did something that he hadn’t done in a long time. He listened to his wife. He really listened. He let her words penetrate the stubbornness and pride and he realized she’d been right all along.
“Okay. You’re right.”
“And another – wait what did you say?”
“You’re right. It’s all my job’s fault. And look, none of them even cared to come check how I was doing. Not even Marty. But at least he had the sense to call you before he dropped me, too.”
“Well, Marty’s been here, actually. He came on his lunch break. No one else has even called though.”
“Okay, so Marty’s alright. But see, you’ve been right this whole time. I don’t matter to them. And I’ve been killing myself for them. And I nearly succeeded.”
Laura put her hand over his.
“So, now what?” She asked. She could barely believe her ears and she didn’t dare let herself hope this meant what she thought it did.
“I’m going to quit. There’s got to be something better out there that will let me have a life too. At least something that resembles one.”
“Oh, Jim!” Laura flung herself across his chest, crying again, but this time it was from joy and relief. “I knew you’d figure it out eventually.”