After dinner was monopoly time and I went and sat eagerly by the board. Nobody caught on. Cara and Nana did dishes. Dad and Mom disappeared. I fingered the worn edge of the box for a while then went to find Grandpa.
“I want to play Monopoly.” I stared up at Grandpa. He was tall, with a watermelon belly balanced between two spindly legs. His chest was hollow and he had jowls like a bulldog.
He looked down at me and smiled. “Alright, Sean. Let’s get everyone together. You go and try to convince your aunt.”
Auntie Cara was on the porch.
“I think this will be my seat this summer.” She rubbed the arms of the big wood chair. “Here, feel, it’s still warm from the sun.”
I put two fingers on the wood. It was still warm. “You should come play Monopoly with the rest of us.”
Auntie leaned back and smiled, her eyes closed. “I don’t think so Sean. I think I’ll take the high road and stay out of this one. Oh! Maybe I can go for a swim, but that would mean getting out of this nice warm chair–”
I left Auntie on the porch happily talking to herself.
In the living room we sat around the coffee table in different amounts of lounging. Mom was slouched into the couch, while I sat on the edge. Dad was leaning so far back into his chair his neck was at ninety degrees. It looked like the lazy boy was swallowing him. Grandpa’s posture matched mine as he dealt out the starting cash.
Nana perched on a stool only half facing the game. She watched a figure pick its way down to the lake. Auntie went for a swim after all.
I got to be the car.
The game started with Grandpa rolling a five and buying the first railway with a wide grin.
Nana immediately landed on it.
Mom grabbed Baltic Avenue.
Then I went. The dice felt heavy, powerful. Destiny in my hands.
I rolled two threes.
A slow yeeeesssss hissed between my teeth.
I bought Oriental Avenue without a second’s hesitation.
I rolled the die between my palms till they were slick with sweat.
I bought Vermont Avenue and the crowd in my head went wild.
All I needed was Connecticut Ave. and I’d have the first monopoly!
Dad picked the die. “Ugh, they’re sweaty.”
He rolled casually and landed squarely on Connecticut. He bought it and smiled at me, waving the deed between thumb and forefinger. “Now, how much would you pay for this little piece of property?”
I watched as he tucked the deed under the board. That was it. I needed the Connecticut Deed.
“Can I buy it from you?” My voice was wavery. I swallowed a lump with difficulty.
We’ll see means no. My dad was evil.
The game kept going but I was devastated. I grabbed New York Avenue, which was stupid, because everybody a piece of those oranges. Grandpa kept buying railways and Nana kept landing on them. Mom rolled past go and landed on Mediterranean. Cara walked in and laughed when Mom bought Mediterranean with a fist pump. Everyone was cheery.
I glared at Connecticut Avenue tucked under the board.
When a chance card hustled Mom to the last unsold railway she was too broke to buy it. We weren’t playing with the auction law so Nana twisted the rules and lent Mom the money. They both whopped and hollered when Grandpa grumbled and sank back into his chair. Then Nana made a comeback, snatching St. Charles Place and Virginia Ave, making a monopoly of the pinkie-purples. Mom high-five her.
Dad let out a yawn and looked to Grandpa. They agreed it was time for bed. I sulked away from the table.
I was sleeping in the loft again. It wasn’tbadit just wasn’tgood. Sometimes it was too hot, other times it was too cold. Since it was part of the main room if somebody left the sliding door open (like Grandpa did last year) I’d freeze, and if somebody closed to many windows I’d cook. It wasn’t fair. I wanted a real bed.
I peeked over the edge. Auntie Cara was back on the porch smoking. Mom and Dad were on the couch talking to Nana and Grandpa. Something was wrong. They were all smiling.
They’re making alliances!I peeked over again. They totally were. I had to break them up somehow. I had to win. Somehow.
I watched as Nana and Grandpa left to go to bed.
I leaned further over so I could hear Mom and Dad.
“I never thought you would high five my mum,” said Dad.
“I know! And the arm on that woman, my hand is still stinging.”
“Stick together and you two will have the game bagged.”
“Yeah, right, we’re playing against cutthroats don’t forget,” said Mom.
“What? Poor little Sean? He’s not that cutthroat–”
“I wasn’t talking about Sean,” said Mom prodding Dad in the ribs. He laughed. They stood up together and started off down the hallway.
“If Sean wants to play, he’ll have to learn the hard way,” said Dad.
“Sounds like a quote from your dad.”
“It is.” Mom stopped then and put her hands on her hips. I flinched out of instinct.
“Scott, you better be nice to your son or he won’t play with you anymore.”
“I am nice.”
“I meant in the game. Give him that deed.”
I pulled myself back over and set my watch alarm to midnight.