Chapter Seventeen, Part Two: How To Play Old MaidMature

The cup is carried to the table, and is set beside the woman in white with the clean, tended hands. 

She takes it, wrapping those lovely bones around the warmth of the steaming cup, then savours a sip. 

Her half-closed gaze looks up to see the old man who brought her the tea deciding on a chair, near a wall where a single blue-green, paper rose-shaped succulent stands happily in a yellow pot. 

“The Little Prince is out of commission, it seems.” she murmurs, drawing one grey eye away from heavy thoughts of seating as she considers the small white piece that just fell into the crack in the board. It had first tumbled, she remembers, a small, impetuous human week ago. He’s kept it floating on the rim of the crack for an entire week, and not just that one- he’s controlling almost every piece. But now the little tumbled white stone has fallen into the black hole at the center of the board. 

The rest of the old man follows from his study of the colored chairs; River half expects a creak from the branchy limbs and vanished teeth, but he flows about like a watery tide splashing expert and hither on the rocks.

 “Indeed, my little Songbird, and there are not many pills left in that last pack.” the old man parries with a warm smile that, though genuine, affords his dry-mud countenance no favours. “If he does not break concentration soon, we may have to venture outside the room, and…”

The End

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