“It’s always all or nothing with you, kid.”

Jake refused to make eye contact with his favorite uncle, certain he’d lose his shit if he felt any more seen than he already did.

Toby kept putting Jake’s belongings into an overnight bag, shaking his head and exhaling deeper than he needed to, every third breath.

“Pack up whatever of that shit’s coming with us,” Toby instructed, gesturing toward a frat party’s worth of bottles, each at a different level of empty.

“None of it’s coming,” Jake mumbled. “I’m done.”


That fucking inflection. Jake hated that. It meant Toby didn’t believe him and that’s not okay.

“I mean it!”

“Yep. I’m sure you do, Jake.”

“Fuck off.”

One step too far, Jake realized, as Toby paused his somber packing of one more pair of socks and a favorite T-shirt.


“M-hmm,” Toby replied. “Been there, buddy. You only wish you were done. All or nothing. Last night? All. This morning? Nothing. Tonight?”

“NOTHING,” Jake insisted, now making eye contact and holding it steady.

“Okay,” Toby inquired, shoving the drawer closed as he took a seat on the foot of the motel room’s bed. “Convince me. Better yet, you tell me how you convinced yourself.”

“You see me feeling like shit, right?”

“No, Jake. I see you looking like shit. I smell you stinking like shit. I know from how much of how many different things you drank that your brain is shrinking away from your skull in a way that’s pretty damn painful… but none of this has anything to do with how you feel or why you took this little trip.”

Jake’s anger sizzled behind his eyes. He blinked hard and tried to stop seeing that moment.

“I don’t know. I couldn’t stay there.”

“Yeah, it sucks choking down all the things we disagree on while smiling like assholes at one another,” Toby remembered back to the first time he felt emboldened enough to push away from that dinner table and tell his old man to shove it.

Jake, not at all comforted by not being the only person ever to go through this, clenched his jaw.

“I’m NOT like him.”

“Yep, and I’m not like your grandfather, either.”

That moment. When Jake connected the dots between his uncle actually being a lot like his own father and the fact that that meant Toby was saying he’s actually a lot like his dad. Yeah. That’s a moment Jake would remember, no matter how many aspirin he took.

“I’m my own goddam person, Tob.” Jake’s cheeks were flush.

“Of course you are. Your abrupt departure last night made sure we all knew that about you. And now you get to come back with me,” Toby said, standing to do one last survey of the room for anything of Jake’s still strewn about.


Toby stopped cold, raised an eyebrow, “You trashed Thanksgiving dinner, left your mother in tears, stole my car, drank your weight in crappy tequila, and you brought your toothbrush?”

Both were laughing by now. It was absurd.

“Bought it at the liquor store,” Jake explained.

“Jake, man, that’s worse.”

As Toby tossed the toothbrush into the overnight bag and prompted Jake to leave the room with him, both men squinted into the sunlight, leaving the cleaning lady a tip of leftover booze.

Luminous Void Tarot spread for Bonnie Gillespie's fourth assignment, Writing for the Tarot with Ariel Gore
Click to enbiggen.

Family Tree — by Bonnie Gillespie, 8 November 2020
assignment 4 for Ariel Gore’s Writing with the Tarot
tarot deck from The Luminous Void

Tarot Spread 4
Celtic Cross; today share a small part of the story from this bigger picture
1-6 = setup for the larger story, bigger project
1 = 6. The Lovers (protagonist, project itself, the author [me]; only connect, feel magnetic charge of love drawing people together and drawing people to new places and experiences)
2 = 5 of Discs (1’s problem, the situation; 5 = change/conflict; discs = earth, wealth, material; 5 of Discs = losing faith, trudging through the rain, passing a totally good chicken coop)
3 = King of Wands (potentially unshared backstory; king = socially validated; wands = fire, enthusiasm, inspiration; King of Wands = ultra-creative, business-minded, good-lookin’, fully alive)
4 = 7 of Wands (1’s fairly recent past; 7 = assessment; wands = fire, enthusiasm, inspiration; 7 of Wands = made it to the top, defend your position)
5 = 7 of Discs (opportunity pursued in this story; 7 = assessment; discs = earth, wealth, material; 7 of Discs = has all this work been worth it, it’s okay to take a break, put your feet up and order in)
6 = 15. The Devil (1’s near future; under the spell of a lie, capitalism, addiction, entrapment, once pleasurable but now a compulsion, What are we still chained to?)
7-10 = plot, road trip phase of the story, chase scene of sorts
7 = Ace of Swords (plan forward; ace = new beginnings; swords = air, thought, communication, mental; Ace of Swords = stand up for what you know is right, new beginnings coupled with mental clarity = justice; Libra)
8 = King of Cups (external circumstances outside of their control; king = socially validated; cups = water, intuition, emotional; King of Cups = artist’s heart, justice meets compassion, counselor, teacher, a keeper)
9 = 5 of Swords (dark night of the soul, our hopes; 5 = change/conflict; swords = air, thought, communication, mental; 5 of Swords = winning at what cost, reconsider that fiery faceoff, opponent may just be a showy butterfly)
10 = 14. Temperance (outcome; new day dawned, Aphrodite + Hermes = world and waters are set on fire, sobriety, art, travel, healing old wounds, enthusiasm)

hero = connect, draw together new places and people; problem = losing faith; backstory = business minded/ultra creative; recent past = made it to the top/defend position; opportunity = take a break/feet up; near future = addiction
plan = new beginnings/air/justice; outside control = justice + compassion/teacher; dark night = winning at all costs/fiery faceoff; outcome = sobriety, healing, yay

I had noticed that I hadn’t yet received any “negative” cards. My classmates are getting stories with conflict and pain and stress and here I am continuing to get childhood (not without its pain of course) and play and lightness. Made me wonder if my cards are all positives. 😉

Of course, as soon as I saw the size and scope of the master layout for this next stage of the course, I knew there were positions that would (or should) invite some more conflict-centered cards. Sure enough, the darkest cards I’ve gotten yet and they’re almost all in positions that are meant to BE points of conflict or struggle.

REALLY enjoying the tarot as a prompt for creative writing. And not surprisingly, my USUAL writing (non-fiction, showbiz advice, pragmatic woo, mindset, enoughness) has been on FIRE as if I cleared out a gunked-up pipe somewhere with this first week of assignments for this course.

Keith keeps seeing patterns in these spreads that go with business decisions and growth we’re finding ourselves upon. I’m open! Could be crazier, y’know?

Thanks for reading!

Bonnie Gillespie autographed the internet

Enoughness is an inside job… and sometimes you need a guide to find your way there. Let Bonnie Gillespie get you started.

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