This wasn’t meant to be a horror story (I don’t think), but there are few things that I can imagine that are scarier than false accusations. When Charlotte finds out from her aunt Sylvia that Mildred, whom Charlotte has been going to all her life, has been accused, Charlotte’s first response is to ask what proof there is being the accusations. Sylvia’s response is chilling:
“Oh, there’s no proof. Not yet. She’s just been accused.”
Behind those words is the chilling truth, that proof doesn’t matter. When a woman is accused, proof isn’t needed. When a woman accuses, proof is required.
It is fear that drives Charlotte to ask Mildred to read the cards: The Empress, the Emperor, the broken tower, symbol of destruction. But while Charlotte fears destruction as a dangerous, harmful thing, Mildred embraces hope: Hope that what is to come is the shattering of oppressive power structures. Mildred’s hope is so calm and steadfast, it is difficult not to believe in it. Hope in the face of oppression is always something worth reading about.