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The weed was beginning to feel like a warm sweater around her head. Yet, strangely, she began to feel her eyebrows furrow. She didn’t know why though, and it bothered her that the worry had no name.

Smoking never made her paranoid. That was not the problem.

The light on the digital clock glided from 11:59pm to 12:00am like a red pair of dice dropped slowly and bouncing in toss of color. That drew her. So she stood up and weaved unsteadily over to it. She leaned her hands on the counter top and lowered her body, back bent, so she could look at the numbers more closely. There was something about the numbers that was important, she felt. Something she was forgetting. Just as she was focusing in on the numbers the door slammed. She jumped and spun around startled and suddenly remembered what she was waiting on. It was Friday. Game night. Justin set his backpack on the ground and groaned.

 

“You aren’t gonna whine about how late I am again, are you?” he asked.

 

She smiled. As if there was a different answer to give. Then she sat back down at the table.

 

As he approached the table, a frown crossed his face as he saw the bowl on the table.

 

“Without me?” Justin said.

 

“Sorry,” she mumbled.

 

His frown turned to a malicious grin as he sat across from her and leaned predatorily over the edge of the table.

 

“You know that means I get to choose,” he whispered. His eyebrows were unevenly arched and mocking her. Her heart began to beat against her chest.

 

“How about Risk?” Justin’s smile was slight, but aggressive.

 

A small slit showing just a bit of teeth in the corner where his lips started to part as they rose upward. She expected this and hated herself for compulsively filling the pipe an hour ago. Without an answer he stood and walked to the other room sliding a game out of the stack of toppled board game boxes on the shelf. Then he made his way back to kitchen table and set it down before her.

She stared at the box for a minute sure she heard the jeers and taunts of previous games rising as if muffled from under the lid. Like a war movie was playing with the volume down low from behind a wall. She turned around as if she could find the source behind her but there was nothing there.

 

“Set it up. Go ahead.” He grinned.

 

With shaking hands she gripped the slippery surface of the box and pulled up. Inside the pieces were neatly organized. Small blue and red and green and yellow all separated into their own baggies. And a set of dice perfectly centered beneath the folded board. At least he didn’t pick Clue, she thought.

As she set the board down she remembered their last game. It still brought her nightmares and she shook her head trying to get herself right.

 

“I will be red, of course,” Justin said.

 

He reached out a hand and snatched the bag of red tokens and began piling them in neat stacks on his side of the table. She flipped the cards from the board and shuffled them careful to let him see, then began handing them out. Once done, she settled back in her chair, her hands grabbing the edge of the table as if ready to be flung away. Justin set his hands on the table as well and leaned forward with excitement.

And just like that she was standing in the middle of Madagascar with a pile of Risk cards strewn around her feet. She knelt to pick them up. The game had started.

 

Music challenge chosen by Trebez from Wax Tailor’s “The Games You Play” feat. Ursula Rucker. You can read the one by Trebez at this link.

 

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