Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Games page 2


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‘Mother won't be back until the evening, should play checkers?’ Gil asked. He often looked very serious, as now as he stared into Kima's eyes, waiting for her answer. But he was serious in a way that made her feel protected, like he would take care of any danger and she didn't have to worry. Eli answered first, with a little squeak of delight. She liked all games: she would spend them trying to grab the pieces, and then Gil would get grumpy, and Kima would have to make sure it didn't happen any more. It was their daily routine.

‘Yes, let's play checkers,’ Kima said.

They were in the middle of a game, and Gil was winning as he often did, while Eli was still sitting on Kima's legs, contained in her embrace but proudly sucking the one white piece she had managed to steal, when Vania, Gil's cousin, walked into the sitting room. She looked down at them and sighed loudly.

‘You know you're not supposed to play with her,’ she said to Gil. ‘She's here to work, not to entertain you.’ She looked at herself in the wall mirror, passed a fingertip under her eye, cleaning up a little bit of make-up. Then she looked back at Gil. ‘And she's a slave.’

‘What's it to you,’ replied Gil, looking at Kima. Kima was not breathing.

‘What's it to me?’ Vania said, smiling. ‘Well, it's very simple, I'll tell you. If you keep inviting her to sit down and play games, and you keep spending your afternoons with her, I will have to tell Raquel. I will tell her that you've fallen in love with your pet here, and see if she doesn't send you away to boarding school.’

Gil didn't say anything. Kima still held her breath. She studied his face. His eyes were fixed on the floor. Slowly, he raised his head and looked at her. ‘Perhaps it's better if you go.’

‘And I don't want to see you playing games in the house ever again. You must understand,’ Vania added, sweetly, ‘it's not good for anyone.’

Kima looked from her to Gil, and he was now looking squarely at her; his doubts seemed to have been washed away. She took a sharp breath and tightened her mouth. She held Eli and handed her slowly to Gil, and then stood up slowly. She walked out of the sitting room looking down.


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