Updated: May 8
Pinkie Perideaux came to me in a vision.
It was 2014 and I was walking the causeway at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The Gulf surrounded me, the sun kissing my face, seagulls laughing, the wind in my hair. Ms. Pinkie first appeared in the form of a memory: the sweet, silver-braided mother of one of my caregivers. A couple of years prior, I'd worked as a Programs Director for the Alzheimer's Association, Georgia Chapter. I'd helped caregivers understand the changing needs of their loved ones. Ms. Pinkie's muse was living with Alzheimer's disease. She and her daughter were such a delight.
As the memory evolved into a vision, I could clearly see Ms. Pinkie sitting in her wheelchair on a back porch. The ocean pulsing against the backyard beach behind her, she faced a small table, a selection of tarot cards spread before her.
"Tarot cards?" I thought, a shiver masking itself as a Gulf breeze scampering up my arms.
Days later, the scene stayed with me: an elderly woman, two long, silver braids, rich ebony skin, sitting on the back porch of a bungalow nestled into a stretch of the Gulf of Mexico. Wind chimes. Candles. Tarot cards.
"She's magical," I thought. "A Seer, perhaps?"
That's when it occurred to me that in order to explore this story that was clearly unfolding on somebody's back porch—somebody wise and mystical and resolute—I needed to know a few things: 1) Which cards those were on that table, 2) What they meant, 3) Who this woman was, and 4) the rest of her story. All of it.
And to know those things, I needed to start with the tarot. I had to get my hands on a deck. So, I did. After doing a little research to determine which deck included the most popular images I'd seen time and time again on TV and sometimes described in books, I settled on a Rider-Waite-Smith deck.
Flipping through the cards, drinking in every detail, felt like holding an art gallery in my hands. The illustrations—ink drawings with what reminded me of watercolor—seemed to tell a story, each story unique, yet each card its own slice of an overall plot.
Madness kindling a fire in my gut, I hammered out notes in the mornings, walking the Gulf park in the evenings, and allowing this new, beachside story to tell itself.
My mind was opened in a way I'd never before understood. I'd never imagined writing a story like this one. And using tarot cards? I'd always been taught they were "of the devil" and I would go to hell if I messed with them.
Well, I don't often follow rules I don't understand or respect. And thank goodness for that. Otherwise, I'd never have gone to college, never have married my husband, and never had decided for myself what felt right and wrong for me. Those were among the scars I'd chosen.
To learn more about Pinkie Perideaux and what those cards mean, I'd love for you to read my duology, The Scars We Choose.
Pictured, you can see the Tower, a card that (to me) means an awakening, a sudden, paradigm shift in the way of thinking. Out with the old and in with the new! Open your mind... FREE YOUR MIND! (In my best, guttural yalp a la En Vogue). This tarot card brings to mind my own creative awakening while getting to know these 78 pieces of art, and the gorgeous story I was able to write because of them.
Publishing on Monday, my next tarot story, The Hierophant, will explore the dangers of indoctrination, religious dogma, and cancel culture.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself.
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.