It's All Fun and Games

Two parents are left alone, causing them to end their boredom with Mario Kart and gambling.

It's all fun and games, right? Depends on who you ask.

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1. It's All Fun and Games

"Oh, yeah!" I crow. "Suck up your tears, Ben, because you lost again!"

"It's just because my controller isn't working," he bites, slumping forward. "It's broken."

"Uh huh, sure."

I continue my victory dance around the living room, laughing at my sullen husband.

Izzy is out with her grandma for the day, so Ben and I have the house to ourselves. Not to say we know what to do with it. It's been so long since we've been alone that we're not exactly sure how people without children spend their time anymore.

We thought about going to a movie or out to eat, but both decided we were too tired from last night to bother getting ready and leaving. Izzy had a nightmare and came to sleep in our bed. That girl is like a cat, stretching in her sleep and pressing her cold feet against our backs until we shuffle to the edge of the bed.

We ended up just camping out in the living room, making a pillow nest and playing Mario Kart. Ben's lost the last two full circuit games, hence his sulking and my cheering.

I detangle myself from my pile of pillows, grabbing our wine glasses.

"Want a refill?" I ask Ben.

"Sure," he replies. "Try not to get so much pulp in it this time, please. You and Izzy are crazy about it, but I'm not."

"Whatever, you weirdo."

We may or may not have been drinking orange juice in the glasses in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. Our last bottle of anything remotely alcoholic was used up during the dinner party we had . . . six years ago. That's before Izzy was born. Wow. We haven't done anything that wasn't playing princesses and doctor in six years. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I head to the kitchen, reaching into the fridge to grab the orange juice. I leave it open as I scan the contents inside for something to eat. We had some apple slices and caramel sauce in little packets earlier, but I'm craving something with more sugar. Giving up, I check the freezer too. I groan as an ice cube clatters to the floor. Following lazy rule 364, I knock it under the fridge with my foot. I go back to staring at the inside of it again.

I hit the jackpot in the cabinet, finding the cookies way up on the top shelf that I hid from Izzy a while ago when she wouldn't stop taking them without permission. I grab them, along with our drinks, kicking the fridge door shut on the way back.

"Thanks," Ben says when I hand him his glass. "Are you sure there isn't anything else we can drink though?"

"There's some Capri sun on the fridge door," I answer, shrugging after I sit back down. "But Izzy might kill you if they're all gone. You know those are "hers." Then again, in a way so are these."

I hold up the cookies, smiling at the way his eyes light up. It's before dinner and we shouldn't be eating these, but we're adults. We can eat cookies when we please, despite what we tell Izzy.

"I've never loved you so much," Ben cheers, reaching for them.

I lean back, pulling my legs out from under me. Before Ben can get close, I plant a foot on the side of his face to halt his progress.

"Don't be mean," he whines, struggling to get around me. "Sharing is caring, remember?"

"Nope!" I chirp, still holding him back. "Finders keepers, remember?"

"I'll lick you," he threatens.

"Nun uh. It's my foot, that'd be gross. Besides, you wouldn't dare."

"Wanna try me?"

I shriek as he starts to move, jerking my foot back to me. He's leaning over me in less than a second, reaching for the cookies. I scramble to flip on my stomach, holding them away from his long arms. I elbow him, attempting to wriggle out from under him in his moment of surprise. Unfortunately, his fingers make their way to my sides before I can make it.

"B-Ben!" I squeal, uncontrollable laughter coming from my body. "S-stop!"

"Let go of the cookies first," he demands, continuing the tickle torment. "I can do this for a long time, I warn you."

"F-fine! Here!"

I throw the cookies at him, enjoying the fact they hit him in the face. He ignores the attack, opening the package and savoring the taste of the vanilla cream inside.

"Jerk," I grumble, taking one of the cookies myself.

"You're just mad because I made you share," he coos, grinning.

"And you're jealous that I'm a much better at playing video games than you," I snap back, picking up my controller again. "I guess I can share the cookies as a consolation prize."

I'm not actually mad at him, but he's competitive and it's fun to mess with him. And really, I'm just paying him back. A week ago he laughed at me for being scared of the giant spider I saw in the basement, and even brought it to me to freak me out before taking it outside. He's been doing that kind of stuff since we first started dating.

"I told you, my controller is to blame!" he exclaims, immediately indignant.

"That's an excuse, and you know it. You're just a sore loser."

"Oh, yeah? Want to make things for the next game interesting then?"

"What do you mean?" I ask, intrigued.

"I mean let’s make a wager," he responds, smirking. "We play another three race circuit. Best two out of three wins."

"What's the bet?"

He thinks for a moment, snapping when he gets an idea.

"Chores," he announces. "The loser has to do not only their own chores, but the other's as well. For the whole week."

"Are you saying you'll have to do the dishes and the laundry? Make breakfast too?"

"If you win," he replies. "And that's a big if."

"You're on. You'll regret this so much in about ten minutes."

We split the chores evenly each day, but having time to relax will be heavenly. Ben's just made the mistake of his lifetime.

"I'm glad you have such a false sense of confidence," he shoots back. "I'll try to let you down easy."

I get him to change controllers with me, sensing he'll try to blow off the bet using the "faulty" one as an excuse, and we begin the race. Let's just say that there's certainly nothing wrong with the controller, and that it was the player after all. Coming in six places ahead of him of the track during the second race, I can't help but leap up and dance again.

Ben whimpers at his loss, hiding his face behind a pillow while I continue to bound around the room.

"Think of all the time I'll have!" I cheer to myself. "I feel like I'll go to the gym and enjoy a morning workout. Then I'll have a steaming cup of coffee on the deck. And then after that I can take Izzy to the park and read while she plays. I have so many novels I want to-"

"Wait," Ben interrupts, looking crushed. "Can we maybe-"

"Nope."

"What if we-"

"Still no."

"How about-"

"No way."

When the withering glare I get quiets me just enough for him to speak, he clears his throat.

"All or nothing."

"Excuse me?" I ask, incredulous.

"All or nothing," he repeats. "Play just one last race with me, winner takes all."

"You always say that," I complain, plopping back down on the pillows. "Every time you lose something you want to do all or nothing. Face it, Ben, you're a sore loser."

"You're great at this game, right? Then it shouldn't bother you to do one more race. Your confidence hasn't been lacking so far, and you've backed it up. This shouldn't be an issue for you."

When I shake my head again, giving him a look that I hope tells him how ridiculous he is, he speaks again.

"Listen, allow me to race against you for this and I'll make another deal," he pleads. "If you win, I'll let you have any one thing you want in addition to the original prize."

"Any one thing?" I ask, doubtful. "Really anything?"

"Really," he assures, determined.

"Even a promise to kill any bugs I ask you to without teasing me with them?"

"Is that what you want?" he relies, eyebrows raised. "Okay, sure. I'll give you my word. But only if you let me play again and you win. And if for some reason you lose, we'll stick to the original bargain. I won't ask anything special of you."

I don't like the mischievous spark in his eyes, but I can't resist the temptation of the offer. I've won four games in a row, how could I lose? Besides, he's probably just trying to save himself from the chores and thinks he can win this time despite the evidence showing him otherwise. He's never been one to know when to quit.

"Fine," I say, resigned. "But you better be serious. I never want to see another bug near my face again, you got it?"

"Yes, ma'am," he chimes, looking far too pleased.

Ben fiddles with his phone while I set up the game for just one race. He's noncommittal when I ask which track he wants, so I pick Rainbow Road. After it’s ready, Ben picks up his controller.

"Ready?" he asks, still seeming suspicious.

"Any time you are," I reply, narrowing my eyes at him.

He blatantly ignores my gaze, eyes fixed on the start screen. Deciding I'll never be able to guess what he's doing, and that I've already agreed to the bet, I just focus on the game.

Not surprisingly, I pull ahead of him within a minute. I lock in my first place spot, cruising along the last lap with a grin on my face.

Bzzt!

I jump with a squeak of surprise, startled by my phone vibrating. Deciding to ignore whoever it is for now, since it would be a call if it was really important, I turn my attention back to the game. Oh my god. I just fell off the track. I watch helplessly as the other drivers pass me while I'm being placed back on it. Ben is one of them. I can feel him lean forward beside me, intent on using my sudden text as an advantage. I desperately try to catch up, I even pass all of the computerized racers, but I still come in second. Right. Behind. Ben. Literally within seconds of him. You have got to be kidding me.

"Yes!" Ben shouts, pumping his fist. "Whoo! That's right, read the scores like you told me to! I win! I win! Oh, I'm going to do so many things with my free time, you have no idea."

"This isn't fair!" I protest. "I was distracted!"

"That's not my problem," he replies, smirking. "Better get started on that laundry before it's time for dinner. You know, since you have to do both."

He takes a seat on the couch, leaning back and folding his hands behind his head. He's so smug, I almost can't stand it.

Ready to murder the person who texted me unless they're in my immediate family, I check to see who it is. No. Way. There is absolutely no way at all that I'm reading this right. It's from Ben.

It reads: Not so confident now, huh?

With something I can only call a bloodthirsty battle call coming from my mouth, I lunge at my husband. I manage to land a hearty smack on his chest before he restrains me.

"You cheater!" I scream, struggling against his hold. "You reached down right when I was about to win and sent this text message! You know that I'm easily distracted, and you prepared it before we started! That's absolutely cheating!"

"Calm down!" he replies, managing to shove me off of him into the seat beside his. "I only told you I wanted one more race. You never said I couldn't do anything else. Besides, a bet is a bet. You agreed to it."

"If you think I'm holding up this agreement after your act of betrayal, you're more than mistaken. You're delusional."

"Don't be a sore loser," he teases, obviously enjoying himself. "Nobody likes people that go back on a bet. Now, if you're looking for suggestions of what to do for dinner, I'd love if you made-"

"Screw you," I growl.

He raises his eyebrows again, a snarky smile coming to his face.

"Well if you really want to, I won't object. I just don't know if we have time before-"

I smack him again, and this time he withdraws like a kicked puppy.

"That hurt," he whines, rubbing at his injury.

"Good," I snap, throwing my controller at him too. "I'm leaving to get Izzy now. When I come back, don't expect me to make dinner."

He sighs, like I'm unbearable.

"Okay, I'll let you off tonight," he says to me as I storm by him. "But tomorrow I want-"

"I'm not giving you anything."

"Don't expect me to ever stop with the spiders then!" he calls, sullen again.

He has to duck when one of Izzy's toys is directed at him.

"Don't expect to ever sleep anywhere but the couch then!" I call back, stepping out of the house.

I'm never gambling again.

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