The Game is Hearts. And the cool tension lingering between we four, is too delicious. The Game is Hearts. And I hungrily wait to be dealt the Queen of Spades. The cards are a mirage as Anastasia shuffles them effortlessly between her clever hands. A skilled card player, a Black Jack dealer in her past life, she smiles serenely, but her mind runs rampant as she plots her assault with cards. Achilles to my left, sits hands folded in peace, cracking a joke or relaying another Australian accented story, yet his eyes flick occasionally back to Anastasia hands as she calmly shuffles the deck of cards. So effortlessly that stacking the deck would not be an impossible feat. So he watches her suspiciously. Winifred has her hands fanned out in front of her, flushing with embarrassment or humility as Achilles jokes poke at her, she casually analyzes each of us and when she comes full circle she looks at her nails as if they were the most interesting thing she had seen yet. I, lounged comfortably in my chair, watch these proceedings with ease and humor. We are a close knit group of cunning and wily people. Two men. Two women. A perfect match.
So there we sit, a close knit group of Black Jack dealing, swift-fingered people with deceptive smiles and innocent chit chat. Almost too innocent.
The cards are dealt at mind boggling speed, Anastasia’s hand flick in each of our directions and a card lands in the slowly rising pile of more cards. 13. 13 cards to each of us. Equally dealt, 13 cards for four people, perfectly even. Damn I do not have the Queen of Spades. I glare around accusingly, looking for the briefest of smug smiles that will give away the possessor of the Queen. But there is nothing, but unreadable and deceiving faces. Curse them. I easily sort my cards into each suit and the others follow. I choose my three worst cards. An Ace of Hearts, a Jack of Hearts, and a King of Spades. Placing them in a pile on the wooden table I slide them to the right to Winifred. Who then passes three cards to Anastasia, who passes to Achilles, and who then passes three cards to me. I expect nothing. If Achilles has the Queen of Spades he would not pass it on, he will play it wickedly. As we all would. I receive minimal cards, nothing too noteworthy, so I add them to my hand with ease and await the Two of Clubs that will start the game.
The game, Hearts, is for the most part easy. Hearts, the suit, are taboo. You want to end up at the end of each round with zero Hearts. Hearts are points and the fewer points you have, the closer you are to winning. The trump card is the Queen of Spades, if played correctly it can give the receiver thirteen points. Now, some have the talent to “Shoot the Moon,” which is where you get every Heart and the Queen of Spades. When that happens the person who “shot the moon” can give one person 27 points. The amount points totaled up with all the Hearts and the Queen of Spades.
We play swiftly. We play without pause or hesitation; each of us certain in every card that we play. I have raked up two Hearts. Winifred has seven. Achilles has three. And Anastasia has one. Each of us reach our final card, Winifred decides the suit by laying her card down first. It’s a Nine of Hearts. She looks a little miffed, but keeps her eyes peeled and watches menacingly for the one card that has yet to be played; the Queen of Hearts. I throw down a Six of Clubs since I have nothing else and Achilles lays down a Three of Diamonds with a smile that is echoed in his eyes. Winifred lets out an exaggerated moan as Anastasia tosses down the Queen of Spades triumphantly.
“Let them eat cake!” She laughs hysterically as she rocks back and forth with her success.
“MOM!” Winifred shrieks in irritation.
“What? It’s not like I said ‘Let them eat brussel sprouts!'” She begins to laugh once again and Achilles and I join in; after all is isn’t us who got hit with the Queen. The loser of the first round has been decided and we make way for round two. Winifred inhales deeply and smiles.
“Alright bitches, enough practicing. Let’s play for real this time!” She cracks her knuckles and starts some innocent chit chat as the shuffles the cards. It’s almost too innocent.
Inspired by the Daily Prompt.