Games Daughters Play

Solange twisted the sides around on her cube, tongue sticking out between her lips as she fully concentrated on the hunk of wood in her hands. A Housemen she’d met on her latest escape- er, unplanned vacation had given her the cube, and told her to “create order from the virulent chaos.”

The twelve year old’s response was to smash the cube, put it back together and say “Like this?”

Solange had gotten a new cube, and had it slowly explained to her that she was supposed to turn the sides. Now she looked around the cube’s sides, trying to determine the quickest way to put the cube back into its proper shape. But for real, this time.

Six sides. Nine squares on each side. Each square had a pair of runes, and when put together properly, the cube formed a poem. (At least, she thought that was what it did – the Housemen hadn’t been very clear) But for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out the tale. Heck, how was one supposed to put together a poem from this anyway… And where did it start on this bloody cube?!

Eliana tugged on Solange’s legging. “Play with me!”

“Fire born, fire day, death night…” Solange grumbled, still looking at her cube. “Should’ve asked for a hint. This poem makes no sense…”

“PLAY WITH ME!!”

“And all the sides look the same, how’re you supposed to tell where it starts?!”

Eliana pouted and moved over to Idalia and Dawn. Idalia was standing with her fist closed and near her shoulder, her open palm lower. She was… Eliana didn’t know, learning a basic stance from some fighting style or something. But who cared? Eliana wanted to play NOW.

“-just surprised Housemen came up with it, is all.” Idalia was saying.

“No caste has a monopoly on ideas that benefit them.” Dawn said calmly. “Turn your feet a li-”

“PLAY WITH ME!!”

One moment, Eliana.” Dawn said, moving Idalia’s other hand. “Hold that position for as long as you can. Your stance is everything, Idalia.”

“It hurts a little…”

“It’ll be uncomfortable for a while, but eventually it will require no effort.” She turned to Eliana, smiling. “Now, what was-”

“PLAY!” Eli grabbed the woman’s hand and dragged her to the side.

“Eliana, it’s not that big a OW stop squeezing!”

Idalia watched Dawn get dragged off and sighed. She then looked to Sol, keeping her stance as still as she could. “Getting any closer on that cube thing?”

Solange didn’t answer, twisting the cubes’ sides.

“Typical.” Idalia grumbled, turning her head back around. “Can’t even say ‘**** off’.”

“Language, Idalia.” Solange said, twisting the cube’s sides again. “Maybe if I… no, that moves water day out of position… wonder if the poem is-”

“Oh for the love of…” Idalia growled. “It’s not a poem.”

Solange finally looked up to Idalia and cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean?”
“It’s not that complicated – you get each of the six sides to have only one of the left elements on them, with the right in the same position on each face.”

Solange blinked, then looked down at the cube. She performed several quick twists. Idalia looked ahead, keeping her breathing under control. So the answer was ‘no’, apparent-

“Done!”

Idalia’s head immediately shot around, moving out of her stance and grabbed the cube from Solange’s hands.

“Hey!”

Idalia looked the cube over. Indeed, Idalia had solved the cube ridiculously quickly. She looked at the girl, blinking. “How did you do that?”

Solange frowned. “Gimme the cube back and I’ll tell you.”

Idalia tossed it back to Solange, who caught it, glaring at Idalia. “Okay, now tell me how you solved it.”

Solange gritted her teeth.

“…What?”

“You think I cheated.”

“Never said that!”

“You thought it.”

“I didn’t think anything.”

“Oh, I’m sure that’s mostly true.”

“Excuse me?!”

“Enough.”

Idalia and Solange both looked up to see Dawn standing over them. She picked up the cube and looked it over. After a few moments of silence, she looked to Solange. “How did you accomplish this?”

Solange scratched her head, grinning sheepishly. “Er, I spent so long looking for the poem I uh… kind of memorized what every square was on the entire thing… and where? And from there it was a matter of simple math.”

Idalia could’ve sworn she imagined it, but for a brief moment she thought Dawn’s eyes had widened and her mouth dropped. It must have been her imagination though, because in the time it took to blink, she was just smiling motherly again.

Motherly, eh… Idalia kept her smile to herself. She wondered if Dawn would take one of them home one day – scratch that, she wondered when that would happen and (more importantly) if she would keep coming back.

“That’s brilliant.” Dawn tossed the cube back to Solange. “Could you show me?” She glanced at Idalia. “Dear, you need to hold that stance for as long as you can.”

Idalia smirked with amusement and moved back into her stance. Solange looked back down at the cube and saw (with some small bit of irritation) that the cube was messed up again. Eliana tugged on Dawn’s dress, still pouting that nobody was playing with her.

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