Monday, 10 November 2014

The Perfect Game




‘So boring! There’s nothing coming on TV. Scrabble?’ said he with expectant eyes. She, on the other hand, had something else on her mind. She looked at the soundly sleeping baby, bit her lower lip in thought and then finally acquiesced, for now. How long can a game take? Plus, I’ll still have time for mine

He jumped off from the bed, went to the other room and was back in what seemed a second. Like a gladiatorial trophy he carried the green box in his hands and a thick, podgy Scrabble dictionary on top. On top… Uff! Stop it! Concentrate! When was the last time you won? Or even made a 7-letter word? Huh? Gleefully, as if aware already that this game too like most would be his to pocket, he opened the board and smoothed it flat on the bed. With such tenderness he picked the racks and placed them across the board, she just couldn’t watch those fingers any more, without feeling jealous. 

‘Shall we, madam?’ he asked and she wanted to say yes, now, please, right now, on the board, why wait but all she said was ‘Aye aye, Captain!’

Then, it began. The sound of silent thinking or of tiles shuffling in the bag; the click when they were laid as a word on the board, or the click of the tongue at a triple letter poached. His score card soared, like always. Only when by a stroke of chance one consonant and six vowels reared their heads on his rack he strained his neck backwards and she knew it instantly; finally, he’s got tough nuts to crack! 

‘Hey, I forgot our drinks! Be back in a minute. Your turn anyway,’ and off he ran. As if it mattered to her, those few extra seconds, because a Q without a U is like a life without love, unless there’s a free ‘I’ somewhere to couple with it. Qi is a word, isn’t it? I think it is. Should I peep into the dictionary? 

‘With Coke or lemon-soda?’ he called, interrupting, as if he had read her intention. Read my intention. Yeah, right! She said she wanted lemon-soda, for then he’ll take longer and she will plan her attack in the meantime. No. Not just landing the ‘Q’ on double letter or even making two ‘Qi’s. Back-to-back. 

He walked in with a confident swagger of a Scrabble winner despite the bad rack, with the ice jingling in two glasses – one full and grey the other golden and neat. Ah! He’ll need that straight. Wait till he sees what I made. And what I will make, right here, in a little while. Nonchalantly she yawned and stretched letting her strap fall over her shoulder. She let it lie there, the bare shoulder did not go unnoticed by the corner of his eye, but the two ‘Qi’s acted the mistresses demanding full attention. 

‘Oh God! Well played, honey!’ cooed he even before he sat fully, and quickly glanced at the vertical columns of score on the back of an envelope. Those pursed lips and deep-set eyes roving over the numbers told her he was doing the math, mentally. Taking stock of the situation, one slow sip of Bourbon at a time. She smiled wickedly in the lamp light. You fool! You should just have thought of another game then! Today is mine to perfect my way now. She leaned back on the pillow and stretched her legs, letting her toes surpass his knees but not without dropping a caress somewhere along the way. He kept his hand on her foot, rubbed it thoughtfully, still busy thinking of a word-bomb to drop. So him! 

Turn after turn the board filled up, the glasses emptied. Words were now taking longer to make but the edge remained. It could be anyone’s game, he knew that. She didn’t need to care.

Just as he sat down on the bed after getting the third round of drinks, he scrunched up the tile bag to check how many more to go. The bag was empty, except for one tile which would be hers to pick. She noticed that and turned to look at the clock. Aha! Not much longer now

‘What the hell is wrong today? I’ve either had all vowels or all consonants, and now I could open up a shop selling ‘Es’, complained he, as he made a puny ‘E.L.’ in a nondescript corner of the board. She was enjoying this moment, not of victory yet but of reaching it. How I love to see you helpless in a game. Of course, she didn’t say that. That would have been mean, and she wanted to be meaner. So she bent forward, crinkled her eyes and shook her head slowly from side to side ‘Tch tch tch’. He just smiled a good-sport smiled, and drained his glass in one gulp. ‘Ahh! Anyway, pick your tile, miss. The final move. How much damage can you do, after all?’

The tile in the bag read ‘X’. What luck! Just what she needed, but she took her time to do it. Slowly, as if she was making love to it, but more because she was three down and the board swung a bit, she placed it on the triple word. That’s all that was needed. A humble ‘E.X.’ in the same nondescript corner of the board, using his 'E' but snatching 27 points when none extra he could afford to give. The game was hers. 

Only one of them knew if all pieces of Scrabble made it back to the box that night. The board had been pushed to a corner of the bed some time ago by her free arm. Finally! As their moving shadows met on the walls, he had quietly pulled the score card from under her and pocketed the evidence of defeat that he wanted to bin. 

And she had, as quietly, stolen it back from his pocket and slipped it under her pillow, where it later slept satisfied with a pile of tiles that were being hidden away by her ever since this perfect game began. 

What damage can I do, you asked, honey?

The baby slept soundly through the night. 


[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts. The prompt for today was  -The perfect game - You’re set to play poker (or Scrabble or something else . . .) with a group of four. Write a story set during this game. Or, describe the ideal match: the players, the relationships — and the hidden rivalries.]


42 comments:

  1. because a Q without a U is like a life without love, unless there’s a free ‘I’ somewhere to couple with it ... a line worth stealing. Now to find a situation in my book where I can put it. :P

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    1. You liked the 'play' of letters, did you? ;) Put put put in your book! I will feel happy only! :D
      Thanks for reading, Ritu ma'am.

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  2. Ha ha! Couldn't imagine such a story with scrabble as the backdrop. Now i will find it difficult to play scrabble with my husband without this story popping up in my head ;)

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    1. This SHOULD pop in your head next time your play Scrabble with your beau. Good deed of the day done! :D
      (PS - Also remember, 'Qi' is one of the most expensive two-letter words which exist.)

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  3. Loved this story. Simply superb! Must make sure wife doesn't read it :p

    Cheers
    CRD

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    1. Oh come on! You don't really mean that. I think all Scrabble playing wives must read this story. :P
      Good to see you here, CRD!

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  4. This needs to be published. Loved the play of words. Instead of scrabble, it's carom board for us. Except that the son also joins the game so there is nothing seductive or suggestive about the game. It's mother and son versus the father. Regardless, we lose.
    I loved this.

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    Replies
    1. I am going to get a carom soon. N is young still, but I really miss playing it with my cousins.
      So you mean you play a partners game and let your husband fend solo? Sounds very good, and something I can do too. :D
      Thank you so much for liking this. :)

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    2. Yes, he plays solo while I partner with Gautam but he gets two strikes every alternate move. Just to make it even. :)

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    3. That is what we call in-house innovation. It will be perfect for us three. :)

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  5. This made me realize that it has been SO LONG since I played scrabble! And SO LONG since I have commented here :)

    Good reading you again!

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    1. I have missed you. So it had to take a naughty post to get you back? :D Welcome back!
      Play your game soon.
      Good to have you reading me again. :)

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  6. Enjoyed reading and visualizing the perfect game :) Nicely done.

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  7. I am glad that the absence of the last tile of S in the bag did not ruin the game for you in the end! Though, I do think that he probably felt like a winner too, once all the words were done for the night!

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    1. The writer of this post did think of making the female protagonist use the full three letters of the word, but she changed her mind for fear of making it cheesier than it may be right now. What the two characters felt at the end of the game will simply remain a guess. :D
      Thanks for reading, Rickie.

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  8. So nicely written that I didn't want it to end. :)

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    1. Ha ha! Any further ... and I would be venturing into a genre I don't know the 'e' of, D. :D
      Thank you so much for reading!

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  9. ha ha ha..........very nice post...........need this type post these days.......... :)

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    1. We need these type of posts these days? :D Good to know.
      And thank you for stopping by, Amul.

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  10. Haha.. now I wanna play scrabble. It's like a word association game, only subtler.

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    1. Ha ha, Abhyudaya!
      If this post was a book's manuscript, your comment would have been the pitch to the publishers. :D

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  11. Well played!

    Scrabble isn't quite the same, because you have to worry about the screen......

    Top Tip: Chinese checkers works too.

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    1. I meant to say Scrabble "on the iPad"...

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    2. Thank you!

      I have a microscopic-version-they-like-to-call-travel-versions of CC. So tiny that I cannot look away from it when I want to keep my attention diverted elsewhere, and another's too. :D

      Top Comment, yours, Slo! :D

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    3. I got that. Except, I thought you meant the phone screen.

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  12. I haven't played scrabble wid my husband .
    As the post neared the climax, the thought of the possibility of a twist at the end which might NOT be what the reader thinks as the post suggests from the beginning, struck me. Fortunately it was a clean one and that gives me the impetus to try playin scrabble wid him:)
    Wonderfully written as always Sakshi!

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    1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, as are so many other things in life. :D
      Yes, play Scrabble with your husband. It's a great thing to do when nothing is coming on TV.
      Good to see you here, Vaishnavi.

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  13. Superb story! It reminded me of a something that happened many years back.
    A friend was thrilled when he bought a 'Travel Scrabble' in Paris on his way back to India. When we were halfway through the very first game, we found that it was difficult to make words. At that point, we checked and found that the distribution of letters in French Scrabble is different from the distribution of letters in English Scrabble! This was in the pre-internet era. Now, this information is available on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrabble_letter_distributions

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    1. Thanks, Pro!
      You know, what you say about distribution of letters could have held true for this situation too. I am sure these characters play enough Scrabble to know how many 'E' tiles there are, for instance. Maybe, the man was playing along all the time? :)
      I hope your friend didn't have to shell out too many Euros for the French version! :D

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  14. haha! I truly enjoyed the "play of words" !! Brilliant story Sakshi :)

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    1. Hello Pixie, so happy to see you here and to know you enjoyed this! :D
      Thank you so much.

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  15. Brilliant!!!! Loved this story!

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  16. Very interesting story :) I loved the suspense and mystery woven into it.

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  17. Thoroughly enjoyed this...
    Being a scrabble fan myself...!!!

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    1. Ah! Always good to meet a fellow-fan.
      Thank you so much. :)

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  18. That was a perfect game of 'Scrabble' recreated!

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