With Open Arms

The midday sun poured though cumbersome clouds, rain falling in sheets, tapping and splashing against glass, concrete, and ground, creating a melodic cacophony – a curiously dulcet sound.

The Gaffer bid me to sit with him underneath the shaped glass tarp. He offered to play a game and brought drink to compliment, and when I accepted he unfurled a large colorful carpet. He had brought his own pieces and antique board. We set the stage and sat cross-legged on an elevated floor then he passed me a bottle of what he insured was some of his finest brew from the month before.

“Should we place bets again, or…?” He flashed his roguish grin.

I answered with my own smile and reached into my satchel to place a handsome bet on the table. He lifted his brow and chuckled then matched the bet. We started the game slow and methodical, inching out pieces forward before the first engagement. I had come to understand it as similar to chess, although, the field was hexagonal and capture points were important.

“Someone’s been practicing in her down time, hm?”

“Fool me twice, shame on me. I’m not about to get stuck running your errands again.”

“A shame. I was getting used to the extra set of competent hands.” He took his turn and two of my pieces out of play. “So, I suppose you’ll be leaving us then?”

I matched his play and nodded. “Yeah. Now that I’ve got some money, I should be moving on.”

“Guess I’ll just have to make sure I take all your money, then.” He smirked.

The game went on, turn by turn, piece by piece, a push back and forth until we came to an even trade-off that was getting us nowhere. We were both playing defensively. I decided to take the chance.

“Waddaya doin’.” A whisper in my ear, a small bat Sprite floating who had manifested and claimed the town as its home during my extended stay. “Don’t do that, he’s — ”

The Gaffer picked up a cap and threw it at the Sprite, pegging it in the head. “Get outta here ya damned cheat. Nosy little kibitzer.”

The Sprite stuck out its tongue. It said no more but continued to hover. I made my move, the same as planned, but with considerably less confidence than before.

“In truth, we’d prefer if you stayed, Catmint. You’re more than a helping hand to us.”

I twisted my mouth and slowly shook my head, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

He somberly nodded and made his next move but it did not end in the glaring defeat I had imagined it would have. My next move backed him into a corner and the game ended in my victory. I smiled at my success and the Gaffer reached across the board to shake hands with me, “not a bad game. Keep practicing and come back to see us.”

The Gaffer slowly stood up, straightening his clothes, “do an old man a favor and clean this up, hm? Bring it back by the house and we’ll have dinner made before you head out.”

I watched him walk off, into the rain, and looked down at the board, unsure of the pain I felt at the thought of leaving that place.


Daily Prompt: Unfurl

Word of the Day: kibitzer



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