Black Petals Issue #104, Summer 2023

Editor's Page
BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Question of Money: Fiction by Eric Burbridge
Behold, a White Horse; Fiction by Spencer Jepma
Crawling Flesh: Fiction by Michael Stoll
Elm Weaver: N. G. Leonetti
Hunger: Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Mr. Fuzzypants: Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Stop the World: Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Road Less Taken: Fiction by Albert N. Katz
The Washer Woman: Fiction by Sophia Wiseman-Rose
Underneath the Sheet: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Shining Up Grandma: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Children of 666 Middle School: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Bleed: Flash Fiction by Liam Spinage
Good Times: Flash Fiction by Ronin Fox
Time Lost: Flash Fiction by Bruce Costello
Unhappy Shadow: Flash Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Cemetery Road: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Chasing Desolation: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Detroit Jurassic: Poem by Joseph V. Donaski
Colonia Somnia: Poem by Bianca Alu-Marr
The Precipice: Poem by Bianca Alu-Marr
Dread: Poem by LindaAnn LoSchiavo
Home Movies: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Peppermint Twist: Poem by Christopher Hivner
There's Always Tomorrow Night: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Joke: Poem by DJ Tyrer
Ceramic Duck: Poem by Pete Mladinic
Choice: Poem by Pete Mladinic
To Stop the Killing: Poem by Pete Mladinic
Reaper: Poem by David Barber

Paul Radcliffe: Unhappy Shadow

Art by Bernice Holtzman 2023

Unhappy Shadow


Paul Radcliffe


My former girlfriend passed the extensive audition for the part of Love of my Life. The script, unfortunately, was subject to rewrites and the film was never made. Consequently, I took up reading the Tarot by way of consolation. It was cheaper than drinking and more dignified than whining. There are seventy-eight cards in the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. Unfortunately, they don’t tell the querent—the one who is posing the question—what they want to hear. I was looking for the Sun card to appear. It conveys vitality, optimism and the happiness that comes with these. The Sun resolutely declined to appear. After my personal train wreck, there remained what the earthquake scientists refer to as ‘shock waves of consequence.’  I used the Tarot to stumble my way through the emotional rubble looking for survivors. The Sun card radiates zeal and optimism, and I was lacking in both. The Sun, so to speak, did not come up. Life was a country and western song on a badly strung guitar, punctuated by efforts to bathe the future in sunlight. The Sun did not appear. No warmth and little success. In Tarot as in life, the answers you want are not always forthcoming. Who are you going to complain to?

But there always is an answer. One morning of rain, I finally drew The Sun card. This was in response to a question frequently put by the recently dumped in the fond hope of finding some form of lifebelt. I asked whether I would meet someone remotely comparable to the departed audition passer. The Sun card I drew, however, was reversed. This brings the likelihood of gloom, of problems unresolved, and a deeper emotional pothole than the one I was trying to climb my way out of. The sunny side of the street , it seemed,  was closed to traffic till further notice.  However, The Sun reversed also speaks of delayed success. The Sun covers all of the esoteric options on offer. I found this hard to believe,  unless, for example, it meant my eventual obituary would be well received by the mourners. Perhaps a round of applause in the funeral parlour. Until my cell rang. The cellphone, a potential weapon of self-destruction. Remarkably, it was the Passer Of The Audition. 

She had become unexpectedly available for the part, subject to certain revisions. A remake. Love of My Life—the Sequel. I reached for The Sun card,  reversed, and looked at it upright. Abundance. Sunshine. Second Act. Before I put the Tarot cards away, I asked one last question. I couldn’t help it. Euphoria is compulsive, a tag line for a charity. One phone call can change your world. It did. I drew the Three of Swords. The heartbreak card. The card of separation, sadness and grief, loss and tears. Should this be the case, there will be no further auditions, and she will not be called back. By anyone. Ever.

Roll credits.

          Paul is an Emergency RN. In the past worked in an area where children were sometimes afflicted with sickness of Gothic proportions. Some are ghosts now. As a child visited an aunt in a haunted farmhouse. This explains a lot. Paul has worked in a variety of noisy places unlikely to be on anyone’s list of holiday destinations. He is also a highly suggestible subject for any cat requiring feeding and practising hypnosis.

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