Too easy to fall

Lynlee Derrick

More stories from Lynlee Derrick

Emma Zawacki
March 15, 2021
Linus Kaechele
February 17, 2021

A sea of red encapsulates the torn-up table. Vines of white detailing snake their way through the waves. Daintily dangling, the ripples could crash at any given moment.

Upon closer glance, the waves sharpen to reveal edges. Curved corners and white borders characterize the lake of damaged cards. Each brackish bend, mark, or tear reveals the haunted history under the layers of paper, plastic, and cardboard.

Faced back-up, the array of cards are left vulnerable to the weaponed will of the world.

Uneven, discolored nails dig into the cards as calloused feeble fingers wrap around them, lifting them off the table like their savior. With no time left to recover from their previous adventure, cards are once again aligned, and they are trying to become something more; maybe they’ll succeed this time.

The stressful strain of exertion threatens the building tower of cards. With years of heritable experience under its belt, the pair of hands works to maintain the precarious balance. Utilizing every ounce of energy, the cards fit together, winding their way up.

Every card, breath, and movement is calculated. Effort radiates off of each attempt to add on, to make something more. Building from the ground up, cards morph into a structure outside of their own; they have meaning.

As the cards come to a perceived point rivaling the height of Everest, every obstacle once perceived small combines together. Every misstep, blunder, or crack becomes magnified, and they take on a new form. A monster of doubt rises out of the shadows of mistake, and the cards tremble out of fear.

Terror washes into exhaustion as the sustained stacking and rigorous refortifying have taken their obvious toll. The atmosphere has transformed into a panicked storm as the once careful placement of her cards collides into a frantic frenzy. Tactics are impetuously tossed out of the window like they are rubbish as the menacing malevolent monster sulks closer to the looming cards.

The fingers halt their work. Reluctantly, the informal final card is situated on the edge, and the hands withdraw from the scene.

Taking a seat at the table with an unwelcome presence, the monster peers over the work of the hands from long, tiring days. It ganders upon all the tears, sweat, and overcomings of the work — of life.

It deeply breathes in.

And then it powerfully exhales.

Echoing sounds of the clattering cards fill the room, and the cycle has begun to repeat as the discouraging figure returns to its corner, daring to destroy whatever is built next.