King of Spades

— Pap’paaaaa!

The faint echo of small footsteps trickled through the curated cracks in the door. The incessant sounds of innocence. A good breakfasts excitement rang in the young voice. Fresh bread, eggs, milk, butter and jam.

The door sprang open as she ran into the study. Dressed in her morning dress. White. Glowing. She knew where he would be sitting. It had been rehearsed over and over again. Straight and a little to the right. The oak study table and the leather chair were for the other days. When important uncles and aunts came over, the only times she was not allowed inside. Not even to peak. But not today. This was a good morning.

— Pap’paaa! Pap’paaa! She repeated in short bursts matching the beats of her footsteps. Did you have breakfast?

Closer and closer she slows her pace to climb on his lap. The youngest flower in the garden. The Jewel in the crown. A dream he called her. A dream she was. A dream. A nightmare.

— No little dream. I haven’t. Did you? Without your pap’paa? He pinches her cheeks in adoration.

His voice was always so gentle toward her. He had never raised his voice at her. Even when she had plucked his moustache out of his face. He was hurt..and amused. But not angry. The deep crimson coloured people that served the house had watched the episode aghast. The little tamer of horses they called her. One day she would bring peace to all. Some day.

— But then why are you still drinking? She gets out of his lap, and runs toward the door again in one sweeping motion. Giggling and dancing. I will get you the best bread, and jam, and tea.

Her voice rose and fell as she hopped on the Wooden floor. Her dress flowing in the bright light from the windows. Swishing through the air, getting lost in the dance, and rushing past her hands.

She stops still.

— Oh! Nooo! She exclaims in exaggeration. Hands hanging loose on the side, chin hanging.

— What little one? A groan heavy with whiskey and waking. Concerned yet long gone in the far depths of the night. His eyes are open but he sleeps.

— Mother will be very angry. She whispers to herself. Soft. The rushing of birds, her voice. Mother will be very very angry.

She turns on her heels and points to the blood on her dress.

— Blood again. Mother will be very angry. Frozen expression.

Dropping the whip from his hand, he takes his emerald stick and gets up from the wooden chair. Slow…ly. His knees are not as good as they were. Slow…ly. Age. Catches on. Slow…ly. Between the space of the ribs and the arm he finds space to park his stick to climb over the unmoving sack of bones and comes to get his dream. She flies in his arms. He holds.

— You can say it was me. And a kiss on the red dusted marble cheek.

She giggles.