Five of Swords

// dolls, cults, paranoia, PTSD

They say that every doll has a satin ribbon wra–That’s stupid shut up shut up there’s no such thing as dolls.

Why are her dolls here anyway? How did she find you? Is she coming after you? You pace frantically, fighting down the panic. Dolls, fucking dolls.

You take another shot of bottom shelf vodka as you stare at the collection of enamel pins. You know that the alcohol will corrode your gears, and ye–

“That makes six of them,” you tell your girlfriend with pursed lips, “They’re still doing the doll bullshit?”

Your doll nods excitedly, you trained it well considering you’re just another broken doll yourself, when she takes you back it’ll ma–No. No that will not happen.

“Oh yeah,” your do–girlfriend–is gesticulating with a cigarette, “They’re definitely on some sorta shit.”

“They’re hanging out at the Mage bar downtown,” your doll reports, leaning against a cluttered table, “They had business cards, fliers, the whole thing.”

She isn’t coming for you, she’s invading. It isn’t safe here anymore. It isn’t safe anywhere. You’re hyperventilating again.

“We need to leave,” you tell her, looking around as the walls close in on you, “We have to get out of this state.”

“They’re really that dangerous?” Your doll asks. Innocent, naive, how could a doll understa–you nod firmly.

“Just pack the essentials, we’ll leave first thing tomorrow morning,” you say, trying to keep your overwound springs from sna–

She hasn’t found you, this place isn’t infected with her yet. You still have time. Take a deep breath. You still have time. Your doll starts packing.

Is that clockwork or just the thundering of your heart? Don’t think about it. Just keep loading the car and suck down another cigarette.

Breathe. You aren’t just a scared little doll anymore. You can do this. They say within every doll is the seed of a witch right? Breathe.

Five of Wands

 // dolls, cults, paranoia, PTSD

You stare tiredly into the half-drank glass of cheap beer. With rent paid with a little to spare, you can feel your springs unwind and release the tension they had been accumulating. 

You sip your beer, eyes taking in the shitty dive bar. That’s when you see it wander in.

You’d recognize one of her dolls anywhere of course, it’s practically your sister, she made each of you sp–shut up up shut up shut up, what the fuck is that doing here?

The doll placidly takes in the bar. You can see its enamel pins. It’s definitely hers. It doesn’t see you.

You realize you’ve stopped breathing and draw in a ragged breath, still hiding your face behind the glass. What a pathetic broken doll, not even willing to tal–

That’s right, you’re broken. You’re not like them. You’re free. You wait for the doll to look away and bolt.

The familiar streets to which you had begun to grow accustomed took on a sinister energy as you raced home, constantly glancing over your shoulder.

How the fuck did she find you? You know how she found you, wrapped around every doll’s heart is a satin ribbon whi–you throw up.

You slam the door to your flat closed behind you in a near panic, just managing to lock the deadbolt before crumpling.

You knew this would happen you pathetic doll. Did you really think you cou–your doll hugs you gently, silencing the voices and leaving only your quiet sobs.

Page of Swords

// dolls, hallucinations, implied brainwashing, implied abuse

They say within every doll is the seed of a witch right? So why is this girl such a helpless mess? You weren’t like this when you were first on the street. 

Two dolls sitting in the mouldering disaster that is their flat, is there anything as pathe–nobody fucking asked you.

They say when a witch cuts the threads to a doll, its life force is severed and its existence becomes a mere sha–Who this they anyway? they should shut their fucking mouths.

You light a cigarette and let the cool bite calm your nerves. You were lonely right? You wanted this.

You offer the doll one and collapse wearily onto the greasy chair you salvaged off a street corner. You feel a simmering anger at her, all you asked was for her to help clean up, but she can barely even manage to bathe.

A doll without a witch is–Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

You want to hit her, you want to bash her head into the wall and teach her what it means to be a doll. You want to do no such fucking thing.

The doll looks at you tiredly. Is that fear? What does one doll have to fear from ano–There’s no such thing as fucking dolls!

Cigarette smoke in the light beams and dead air on the speakers, a moth flutters around a bare bulb, bouncing off the glass to the tune of your ticking clockwork. 

Shake your head to clear the fog, that’s stupid, you’re hallucinating again. Keep telling yourself it’s not real.

The doll–the girl you took in off the street–looks at you, and you see your own scared eyes looking back. She asks you what’s wrong, you tell her it’s nothing.

She spends the evening frantically cleaning while watching you nervously. Good doll.

Page of Cups

// dolls, cycle of abuse, trauma

They say th–

You stumble out of the din of the bar into the evening silence, ears ringing and burning. Lonely, embarrassed, all that glitter and your still can’t manage to be a person. It doesn’t matter, you don’t have any patience for asshole mages. Why are you so lonely then?

The metal railing is cool and feels good to perch on. At least it’s a nice night. You light a cigarette, and that’s when you see the doll. 

Wary, desperate eyes look back at you from behind a ragged overgrown mop of hair. You blink and clear your vision. You’re staring now.

“Hey uh, can I have a cigarette?” The doll asks you as you stare at it, at her. What’s gotten into you? What do you see in this girl? Pity? A twisted mirror?

The roar of a million crickets combine with the buzz of halogen bulbs and fluttering moth wings into a deafening silence.

You finally register her words after an awkward amount of time and fumble for your cigarettes, shakily offering her one and asking her name. 

She takes the smoke and lights it with jerking clockwork precision. Something about her has you transfixed. Is it how fragile she seems?

She tells you what she’s been going by lately, along with the fact she’s new, and doesn’t really have anywhere worked out to go yet. Before you realize what’s happened, you’ve blurted out an offer of a place to stay. 

The fear in her eyes as she accepts curls around your heart.

You light another cigarette, using the wash of nicotine to try and keep your cool. Don’t be weird now. She chatters excitedly to you while you listen, drunk on her words as you work out a plan to take her home with you.

They say that within every doll is the seed of a witch.

Four of Cups

 // hallucinations, cults, trauma

She’ll always be waiting for you. You should be grateful that she chose you. Do you really expect someone else to chose a thing like you?

The humid buzz of cicadas crushes you against your mattress with the weight of the sky. You mumble a curse and light another cigarette.

Intangible gossamer threads dance in the heat shimmer, mixing with eddies of dust and smoke to form a lattice of illusory chains and wires climbing off your anorexic body.

Its not real. Keep telling yourself that. Why do you miss her? Why is everything so empty without her?

Can a doll truly escape its witch? You know she could call you back any time, all it would take is the right word. Maybe she’s just waiting for you to give up.

“Then she can keep fucking waiting!” you say to the yellowing walls of the closet you call a flat. Are you lonely yet?

Seven of Cups

 // Drug abuse, illusions, trauma

Well, you’re drunk. The idea of a drunk doll is amusing but the reality is mostly pathetic–

“I’m not a fucking doll!” You shout into to the empty apartment. Great, now you’re talking to yourself. Really keeping it together there.

Dolls should know better than to consume human drugs, after all–

You empty the bottle of fireball in one swig and slam the heavy glass onto your desk. For a long, blissful moment, there’s silence. You sigh and turn back the story you’re failing to write. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

The doll thinks it can make art, it would be cute if it wasn’t so sad. 

You ignore the voices and light a cigarette. The text document mocks you with its comfortable emptiness and its unsullied potential and your heartbeat syncs with the blinking cursor…or is that clockwork?

The glimmer of stale moonlight in the alley tells you that the sun will soon be rising bright and sticky. What can a being without the spark of life ever hope to create besides a full ashtray?

At least the nicotine feels good. You lean back and sigh, it still reminds you of her.

The longer a doll goes without its witch, the deeper its longing and adoration. You’ll never really escape her. You’ll never rea–FUCK YOU

You grip the cigarette with your teeth, fingers hammering out a sentence.

“They say that within every doll is the seed of a witch.”

Ten of Eyes

// paranoia, hypervigilance, implied transphobia

No one could ever mistake a doll for a person. No matter how you try to disguise yourself, they’ll always–

Are they staring? Your eyes dart momentarily down the aisle. Confusion. Disgust. Typical. You sigh behind your mask, quickly picking up a box of cereal and hurrying off.

A doll’s clockwork motions are of course, only a simulation of a re–FUCK OFF. 

A woman sneers at you while you look at soup. You wanted this. Why won’t they stop fucking staring? Cold shame feels like a knot in your sinuses. You’re so lonely. Do you miss her yet?

The boy behind the register gives you an unimpressed look as your card declines again. A line is forming behind you as you check your balance and tally up the total. Sorrow. Shame. Loneliness. Everyone’s getting annoyed. 

Do you really think a thing like you can be a person?

You sort out payment, all friendly and apologetic, and flee the store into the summer light and heat. Your shaking hands are fumbling a cigarette out as soon as you clear the threshold. 

You meant to kick the habit after leaving. 

You didn’t. It reminds you of her. 


Six of Swords

// trauma, cults, abuse, escape

They say that within every doll is the seed of a witch.

Rain hammers the windshield. The world contracts down to a grey tunnel as the odometer ticks up mile by mile. You’ve been driving for hours now. It’s going to get dark soon. Your makeup is still running. You’re free.

They say that wrapped around every doll’s heart is a satin ribbon its witch can tug upon whenever she wishes to recall her errant tool.

You really got away. Did she let you go? The wiper blades beat in time with your heart. Or is that clockwork?

They say you can’t ever really be free. They say she’ll always find you in the end.

Streams and rivers pour off the highway overpass, roaring into the concrete cavern that shelters your car while you smoke. It tastes horrible and bitter. It reminds you of her. It feels good.

They say she made you what you are, and so you’ll always be a seed that hatches into her again. They say a lot of shit okay. But that’s all just stupid stories, right?

You hold your shark stuffie and sob, the rain masks the sound of your despair. You’re free. Great. Fuck.