THE HOUSE OF CARDS by Caretza Formica

Illustration by Himanshu Goel


Once upon a time  there lived a man in the woods, The Carpenter.

He just a carpenter, no more, no less, which very well implied that he built things, no more or less.

He took to his work religiously though, hammering out the grandest of designs, and nailing in the most intricate of detail into them.

But like I said, a carpenter he was, pulpy, and rough around the edges, just like some of his unfinished work.

The Carpenter worked out of a cabin, that he had built himself, naturally.

As for where he lived, nobody was really too certain. He drifted around quite a bit, appearing only when there was something a bustling interest going on, like that relative of yours that wafts around the family gathering from conversation to conversation, with a glass of wine in hand.

But, be sure, when you were tired of trying  to renovate your affairs all by your struggling self, you could hike your way up to that live-in logbin, and he’d be there , ready to work for you with a whistle.


So one day, just as hands of the rusty clock, in crook of the rustic cabin, closed the deal on his work day, The Carpenter decided it was time to close shop. Strangely, for the past several hours he had not been battering at something, or polishing an object down to diamond perfection.

No. What he had been preoccupied with was building a house of cards.

Really? A man so talented as he had squandered away his time stacking up cards among weedy bits of tobacco creeping along his work desk?

But he was rather fond of what he had just created, mind you. It was quite a triumphant structure of stick-thins, standing as tall and sturdy as any great fire engine-colored bridge you just might so happen to stumble across in San Francisco. The Carpenter chuckled and folded hammish arms as he stood back and reviewed the design.

At the apex, he’d made a point of balancing a King and Queen together. With their foreheads nuzzling each other , Mother Earth will quickly become infatuated with Father Time. Being young, heady and spritely, she can’t help but be bonded to his black sobriety. A maturity accompanied by a weariness that is the only thing he can’t extinguish. And he does hate it when her gardening get unruly. He takes to them with a fluid hand and icy sickle.


To make up the precedent row, The Carpenter had laid out The Jacks of the Pack. Now the Jacks were The King’s younger brothers you see. They sometimes went by the title of Dream. They were sleepy men, with the leaky faucet of sand from Mother Earth’s garden constantly sprinkling into their eyes. They lounge around, stretched out, yawning, stretching over to tug at the corners of The Tens (the row hoisting them up) pinching at their collarbones, whispering, whispering heart-breaking beautiful things in the Tens’ ears, so that they might be inspired to stand straight, stay strong and keep their dreams close to them. To create pillars with dreams, and produce a temple of the improbable. The Tens are the most resourceful of all the cards after all.

How grand they are, The Carpenter must have thought while sliding them into place, to be so close to the truth about what lies at the tippy-top.

And what of the bulk of the card matter, you may ask? The fat part of the framework that’s made up of , in The Carpenter’s construction at least, many many many many colliding, coexisting cards.

Well, had packed the meaty chuck of this meal with cards of different numeral designations. Nines mingled with Fives , and Two stepped on Threes, and Sevens knocked heads with other Sevens.

This chaotic order, played out by cards that hum like subatomic particles, is regulated by presence of Diamonds, Hearts, Clubs and Spades between them.

They have Riches, and Love, and War and Restitution, and the degrees by which is present is dependent on the type of cards tango-ing it out together.


Oh, and The Carpenter, without having paid too much attention to it, had slipped in some Jokers around some pretty unstable parts, which, in hindsight, maybe wasn’t the best of things to do.


But, and don’t lose focus now, The Carpenter is proud of papery pyramid. Prouder of it than most of his work that he is regulated to do. This is a magic trick, a whim, an amusing pass time that bubbled over and left something wowsey at the bottom of the pit.

Finally the first and largest row here is made up of the Aces. Piddly little bunch, you’d think, to form the basis of this colossus, but these seedlings are knocking together with potential energy, and with just the right amount of these, as The Carpenter calculated, they will shoot up and wrap their way around their successors.


And so, after skimming over every detail of his work, flawed or fluid, The Carpenter unwrapped his arms, drew in a watery breath, struck up his pipe, and then abruptly shuffled out the door.

And he never came back.


The last thing The Carpenter built was that House of Cards.

He had abandoned his cabin entirely for some reason unknown, disappearing entirely after that.

Not that he had ever really been around much before, being the travelling-salesman type.


So the cabin still stood after that. It stood as an artifact, as a haunted place echoing with the coming-downs of a hammer, sealing promises.

But that House of Cards still remained. It still stood up, under slick piles of sooty dust, building up and pressing down on it. The dust, covering everything, tingeing the colossus grey.


And you know something else?

Before slipping off, The Carpenter didn’t close the shutters.

So the window is wide open

And today’s forecast calls for a pretty bad storm.


About the Author-10409741_10206631685525672_7370592613999139469_n

This is a short-story, an analogy of the creation of the universe.
 Facebook: Caretza Formica
 Instagram : ink_witch
Caretza Formica is a 21 year old biotechnology student at the
University of Camerino, only during the times when she actually studies instead of writing amateur poetry, making cookies, and contemplating Life, The Universe and Everything.

Illustrated by-11130143_946363425388396_4574623716045954949_n

Himanshu Goel is a 20 year old engineering student in Punjab University, India. He is featured in,  Flash fiction Press, Flash fiction magazine, a long story short,beam me up podcast and Polychrome Ink and forthcoming in The Singularity and TEO magazine. You can usually find him at a McDonalds or a football field. You can find more of his writings on his  blog and instagram.

The house of cards is a part of the upcoming collection The Machinery, if you wish to submit you can go to Submissions.  The cards and the carpenter is sketched by our illustrator Modita.

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