As I sneak out of bed this morning, I curse under my breath until I fumble my robe out of my closet and quickly wrap myself up in it. I find my phone and check the weather. No wonder the AC never turned on while I slept; autumn had descended overnight. I smile at the still sleeping form of my husband Stevezie and decide to let him lie in. I was never good at staying in bed anyway.
Yawning, I make my way downstairs toward the kitchen. I overhear voices as I walk closer.
"I'm going to just hold this here while you... Is this cheating?"
"I'm sure it is!"
"How about this one? That feels quite loose-"
"Oh it is. I'll just try it now..."
I round the corner and rub my eyes. Two very unlikely Brits, Tilly and the Batch, are playing--attempting to play--Jenga on my kitchen table. They too are wrapped in robes and sipping tea as they try to giggle as silently as possible while jiggling little wood blocks from the tower.
"You guys suck at this," I say, my mouth agape with another yawn. They look up and smile as I walk past them and head for the tea cabinet. "You're supposed to put the discarded blocks back on top of the tower."
"There's still plenty of tea in the pot, love," Ben points out. "Please do help yourself."
I turn to see my green Harrods tea cozy is covering the pot on the counter, my old tea mug sitting beside it, awaiting my pour. I smile. "What kind is it?"
"You like chai for breakfast, sometimes, correct? I thought you'd need the extra spice to warm you on such a *chilly* morning."
I prep myself a cup with sugar and a splash of milk and join my house guests at the table.
Tilda smiles and shakes her head. "Chilly morning indeed... You don't know you're born, love."
"Oh yeah well not all of us are made in Scotland."
Ben grins behind his own cup of tea. "You're precious like a hothouse orchid. No wonder your fantasy home floats around wherever you wish."
"So I don't have to endure more than my desired amounts of temperatures," I say, folding my legs up under my robe. "I forgot to set the Manse to close over its protective dome last night. But you know, I'm glad for the slight change. Feels more seasonal this way."
"Oh...oh that ones not budging, Ben."
"I'm going to try for it anyway..."
"No, I wouldn't advise it, dear-"
"I have nearly got it-"
I cringe as I witness the whole tower crash with a cacophony over the table, disturbing the icy silence with tumbling bricks and polite laughter.
"Oh well done," Ben says, shaking his head at himself.
"Are you quite sure you're meant to replace the blocks on top?" Tilda asks. "That just seems to contribute an unnecessary level of difficulty to the task."
I roll my eyes and smile at them as they begin to rebuild. "That's how I've always played it."
"You Americans... always making things more complicated than they have to be," Ben adds. "No offence, of course."
I shrug. "No, I understand your sentiment entirely. Especially right now."
"Oh this election of yours is just awful, isn't it?" Tilda says in the compassionate way a kindly aunt would just after you had tripped and scraped your knee as she began wiping the gushing blood with a handkerchief.
"Sometimes I wish I could pass a law to let Obama stay on a little longer... at least until the country got its head out of its own ass."
"I wish you good luck with that," Ben says. "I hope you don't wake up and say 'What the Brexit just happened here?'"
"I sure hope not," I say, reaching over to help them steady their new tower. "You know this game was invented by a Brit, right?"
They both stare at me, eyes narrowing with distrust.
"Seriously," I say with a wink. "Americans don't hold the only patent on complicating things."
They both have a good chuckle and finish prepping the tower for the next round of play.
"You want to have a go?" Tilda asks.
"Perhaps... I wonder if there's a *strip* version of Jenga?"