“You are the reason we have been banned from four countries.” Sadie made her accusation with all the seriousness that could be mustered while munching on gummy bears, and still managed to make Dana pause in the middle of picking up the dice. Dana wasn’t sure how one was supposed to get past being given a death glare by a twenty-five year old woman in Cheery Banana pajama pants while she decapitated a cherry red Ursus Major with her teeth.
Sadie chewed and glared. Dana took a deep breath.
“Yes,” Dana said slowly. “And?”
Sadie’s eyebrows rose, making it clear that there was no and. Her statement had been absolutely complete, perfectly succinct in its meaning and it’s demand for repentance.
“It’s a game, Sadie,” Dana said.
Sadie leaned forward over the table, pointing at the game board with the body of her gummy bear. “I know,” she said. “But you got us banned from Acryana, Evium, Teaacoria, and Gaiadal and we have to go through all of them because of the stupid Isthmus of Erganadon if we want to get back to the Caves of Ishakak to put the Amulet of Great Disturbances back in its place before it kills us. And if we get caught sneaking through any of them, the Princess of Intaja won’t marry me.”
“You said you didn’t want to marry her,” Dana said.
“I don’t,” Sadie said, almost plaintively. She shoved the rest of her gummy bear between her teeth.
“You said you didn’t even want to play,” Dana said.
Sadie was looking down at the array of cards in front of her, and picked at the one that showed the Princess’ smiling face. “She’s holding a white lily, dressed in all black, there’s nine cats behind her – yes, I count the tail – an hour-glass, and I swear that’s a skull, all of which are symbols for death and murder and the inevitability of the passage of time, and I think she’s gonna kill me on our wedding night.” She held the card up so that Dana could see the evidence herself.
Dana coughed to keep from laughing.
“And no!” Sadie said. She tapped a fist against the table, though she clearly would have liked to hit the wood harder. “I didn’t want to play, but now that I am, I would rather not die in prison with an amulet that should have come with a better label, while the woman whom fate has declared is my one true love plots to stab me between my favorite ribs…” She waved at the staggered spread of cards in front of Dana. “… all because your table manners were horrible, you lost the King of Evium’s favorite parakeet, you stepped in a mud puddle that was actually priceless art, and you waved palm-out at the Princess of Gaiadal which is apparently very wrong!”
She pulled a deep breath as soon as she had finished. Then she ate another bear.
Dana had her hand over her mouth, trying not to laugh flat-out.
Sadie shook her head, and threw a hand in the air. “What am I talking about?” she murmured. One side of her mouth tilted up in a smile, as if she had just heard everything she had said. “I want to do all of that.” She ate two bears.
Dana shook the dice in her hands.
“Whoever wrote this game was a few peas short of a casserole,” Sadie muttered.
“If it helps,” Dana told her carefully. “We’re not banned. We’re wanted. I think it’s better.” She shrugged when Sadie looked up at her.
Sadie blinked, then nodded along with it. “Oh yes,” she said, painting on a smile that was almost as sharp as her glare. “It has a much better ring to it.”
I’m a thief! And I have no good explanation for myself. The first line of this piece was stolen from my friend, Kate, who promised us a line chock-full of ridiculous potential. She succeeded.