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House Rules

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It was Thursday night after shift and the start of their weekend. The pair had been fortunate to have their time off requests approved for the next three days. Tim, who barely called off work, had to either use his hours or lose them. Lucy, a year out of her rookie year, had barely saved up enough time for the next three days, but she cashed in the hours without a second thought. There was no big elaborate weekend getaway planned, they just decided to spend the next few days at home, alone, with each other.

Lucy was rummaging through the closet when a bright blue box caught her attention. She had to stand on her tippy toes to reach the box wedged in the corner. The dust had caked the top of the box telling her that it had not been touched in years. There was no telling when he had put the box up there. A smile danced across her features as she turned towards the living room where Tim was sitting watching TV. Suddenly, their night of relaxing just got a whole lot more competitive.

They were a handful of rounds around the board and the little spats had already started. Growing up, everyone had played a monopoly at least once and knew the basic ground rules. Buying property the first time around was a hard no. Each player had to pass go before they could purchase a slot on the board where they tried to squeeze the other players out of their dough. They argued about it for a few moments before Lucy conceded to his stance. She would have to wait until the next time to buy Tennessee Avenue. Some people just bought every property they landed on, but she tried to be strategic with her purchases. The orange and red spot was where the money was, and Lucy had every intention of putting up a hotel to cause Tim to go bankrupt in the end.

Lucy was on her knees leaning on her elbows against the wooden coffee table watching him move his game piece, counting every space he passed over. Across the table, Tim watched her with a smile as she counted every move with precision. He couldn’t help but mess with her by counting one too many spaces just to see her look up at him quickly. When he would go one short, she would reach forward and move his little metal game piece another square ahead, even if it meant he didn’t land on her property after all.

She was eager to collect the rent when he did land on her property though. Her hand shot out instantly waiting for payment before he even had time to ask how much he owed her. Before long, she started popping up houses all around the board and was threatening with hotels all while he was stuck with just a bunch of random colored properties, that there was no way he could put a building on. He started to wonder how he was going to afford the end of this game and how she roped him into playing anyway.

Tim had stuffed the dreaded game in the top of his closet one night after he and Isabel got into a heated argument over the ending of the game. It had been in the top of the closet for so long that he forgot he even had it, it just sat up there collecting dust and would have if she would not have been looking for one of his shirts. He really didn’t want to play because he knew it always ended in a fight or with someone’s feelings hurt. But for her, he would do almost anything she asked.

When she landed on the free parking square, Tim did not miss how her eyes immediately locked on his. His brow raised questionably at her sudden surprised look. He had just started to take a sip of his beer when her hand crept towards the center of the board where the large stack of money had piled up thanks to the taxes and fee they, well mostly Tim, had paid. His brows shot up even farther as she started to grab the wad of cash pulling it towards her. “What are you doing?”

“I landed on free parking therefore, I get the cash,” she said nonchalantly as she continued to ease the cash over to her side of the table.

“Ugh no,” he says sitting straight immediately. Suddenly, he was a lot more interested in this game than before. “That’s not how the rule goes.”

“Uhh yeah, it does.”

“I have never played with that rule.”

“It’s not an official rule, but it’s a rule.”

“So, in other words, you just made it up,” he accused. He tried to keep his tone light, but the way her eyes deepened at his words told him he was a little too harsh than anticipated.

“I did not,” she exclaimed.

Tim grabbed the small rule book from the box and quickly scanned over the contents of the tiny black letters. “Yes, you did,” he said after a minute of reading. “There is nothing in here about this ‘rule’,” he said tossing the thin booklet back into the box.

“It’s a house rule,” she spat out, a little too bratty than she anticipated. She did not miss the small annoyed little ‘pfft’ that escaped his lips. “Oh come on,” she whines as Tim pushes himself up before walking into the kitchen only for him to return seconds later, a new cold beverage in his hand.

“I can’t play with a cheater.”

“I’m not cheated,” she defended looking up at him.

“Then tell me why I am just now hearing about this rule,” he questioned.

Lucy shrugged in response first. “I don’t know. Clearly, you don’t know how to play the game.”

It was Tim’s turn to laugh. “I don’t know how to play? I play by the rules. Rules matter, boot,” added with a teasing smile.

Somethings matter more

“Not everything has to be by the book,” she muttered lowly to herself.

Tim’s brows shot up. “What was that?”

“Um nothing,” she replied avoiding his eyes looking down at the board. Lucy heard his joints pop as Tim pushed himself to his feet.  “Tim,” she groaned as he started to walk away from the board on the coffee table in the middle of the living room towards the bedroom. “Where are you going?”

“I can’t play with a cheater,” he remarked, his voice lacking any type of bite.

“I’m not cheating. It’s a house rule,” she protested.

“My house, my rules,” he called from farther in the bedroom.

Lucy rolled her eyes before she could stop them. “As of three months ago, it became my house too,” she retorted. When he asked her, it caught her by surprise at first. Their relationship was blooming and only growing stronger with each passing day, but it still scared her. Lucy had never had a very serious relationship with anyone. She had lived with friends and even an ex-boyfriend for a period of time, but moving in with Tim, it scared her. He was something stable. He was something that she had wanted for such a long time.

Lucy looked over to Kojo, who was nearing sleep on the couch. “Daddy is a sore loser isn’t he,” she asked the dog, who only let out a small huff as a response. Lucy started to gather up the game pieces and the sound of the shower starting perked her attention. She was already kicking his ass and he was just looking for an excuse to quit with some dignity left intact.

She stopped cleaning up the game, looking over at Kojo quickly. She had won fair and square and she was wanting her prize. Lucy quickly pushed herself to her feet following Tim’s trail to the bathroom. She wanted her prize and Tim would be more than happy in the end.