Arius picked up the bones, gave them a little shake, and tossed them on the ground with a grin. “What do you see there, Cassandra?” He and Balen turned their eager and expectant faces to their sister.
Cassandra peered at the bones from every angle. With narrow-lidded eyes, she cocked her head to one side, then the other, contemplating. She stepped, barefoot, around the circle, laying her feet down in light, careful steps that might be part of an intricate dance.
“Good, God, she does like to be dramatic about it,” muttered Circe.
Cassandra glanced sharply at her cousin, but otherwise pretended to ignore her. Circe was jealous that she couldn’t read the bones. Cassandra was surprised the boys still believed she could, but until they found reason to believe otherwise, they needed her. She lifted her arms, palms up, tilted her head back, and rolled her eyes.
“Ahh, this is where she employs the Art of Utter Nonsense,” grumbled Circe. The girl was utterly lacking in imagination. She preferred reality TV and celebrity fan magazines. She was only out here pretending to participate in this childish game because Aunt Marivelle had insisted they all go out for some fresh air and sunshine before the tropical storm made landfall.
Utter nonsense? Cassandra looked around for inspiration. Circe sat on the lawn, fiddling with cylindrical foam curlers in her hair while reading a magazine in the bright sun. The curlers hung down in neat rows on either side of the insolent girl’s face – four on one side, five on the other. Yes, thought Cassandra. Utter nonsense… She could work with that. “I see a great cauldron, round and deep as my father’s pool, filled with molten gold. Bathing in the cauldron is a gleaming, golden–cow with nine udders!” proclaimed Cassandra. Balen the Bright caught on quick and giggled.
Shh, warned Cassandra, pressing a finger to her lips. “Silence while the Oracle is…Oracling.” The twins both laughed at that.
The game required one symbol for each of the bones. The real trick would be in figuring out what each of the symbols meant; fortunately, Cassandra was rarely required to venture an interpretation. She merely provided the element of suprise; the boys would embellish and act out the tales of their heroic quest to find the objects she planted in their minds. She lowered her head and peeked at the ground, where Bes, their dopey black and white house cat lay, rolling in the dust. “On its back, there is a wise, fat cat–”
Arius gasped. Balen let out a delighted little “ooooh!” They imagined, no doubt, a cat made of silver – or at least a panther made of obsidian. Cassandra pictured a goofy cat. She stifled a giggle as Bes gave frantic chase to a scruffy rat that looked like breakfast, then allowed himself to be distracted by dust motes in a ray of sun. Cassandra held out her hands to the boys. Each dropped a precious marble into her palm and thanked her, The Mystic Oracle of the Driveway. They grabbed their hiking sticks and set off on their epic journey into the woods behind the house.
“I don’t even know why you bother,” muttered Circe the Sullen.
Later that night, holed up in the living room with the wind howling down the chimney, the boys excitedly recounted their adventures. Circe slumped across the couch and stared up at the ceiling, bored. “I’m going to watch Swimming with Ordinary Sharks,” she announced, interrupting the tale of the two heroes’ adventures. Cassandra supposed it was for the best. “You didn’t want to play Chess?” she asked, pulling the set out for the twins. She knew the answer, of course. But she didn’t want to be accused of being rude to her cousin by not extending the invitation.
The storm was expected to last all night. Cassandra hoped her patience would, too.
Today’s prompt comes from Sept 8 — Use These Elements. My initial response was, “Gee, what’d you do? Write a bunch of nouns on slips of paper, throw ’em in a Mason jar, shake, and pick six?” And then I smiled, remembering this weekend’s conversation with my son about games and making up the rules…
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