“Here you go, sugar.” The young man dealt three cards face down.
She noticed how his biceps flexed when he shuffled the deck.
“If you pick the highest ranking card, I’ll date you,” he started laying out his terms on the table, “If you pick the middle one, I’ll kiss you. It would be a onetime thing though.”
“Picking the lowest ranking card,” he shrugged, “would be a bitter pill to swallow…. cuz that would mean you get nothing. Nada….. Just clarifying you know. I want no bad blood to wipe.”
As he went on and on, she remembered how she had loved this boy-next-door through the summer days when he sported a hairstyle à la Billoo and she had hers coiffed in trademark Pinki style, when the only trick they played with each other was the magic-hat trick, when the only reason they looked deep into each other’s eyes was while playing blinking contest. As they grew up, no matter how much she had felt a soft fragrance emanate from herself when he was nearby, she hadn’t let him get a whiff of it. When it came to love, she had always kept her cards close to her chest. All this was true until her best friend spilled the beans at the beach party yesterday.
And now, here she was, listening to the boy who had occupied her dreams for more than a decade and watching him act out like the king of spades and dictate the terms on which he would accept her as his girlfriend.
Her eyes bore through the three cards on the table hoping she could see what was on the other side. She had been dealt with a really bad hand. The probability of picking the lowest ranking card didn’t bother her in the least. Her agony lay in the other cards. What if the card turned out to be the middle one? Would she let him kiss her or let the opportunity slip by? What if it’s the highest one? If he accepts her as his girlfriend, would she ever be able to accept how it all went by?
She stared at the three cards, and smelt in the soft fragrance that lingered around, perhaps for the last time.
“It’s time, sweets,” he reminded her, “Take your pick.”
It’s time indeed! She straightened her back as she rose from the chair to walk away. It was time to let go of the past for something true to come along. Her heart and steps felt as light as a feather when she spun around to leave.
“Hey, hold on,” With those words, he locked his hand with hers and stopped her before it was too late, “Just so you know, this is the card I had prayed you would play.”
Although she hoped she understood what he meant, she wanted an affirmation to remember for life.
“Call me a girl, but I don’t like playing games, Mister,” she confessed, “I never did.”
“That’s what I needed to know,” he heaved a sigh of relief, “since the time I heard the story from your friend.”
She turned to face him and check which game he was playing this time.
“You were so out of my league. What was a boy to think?” he explained, “When your friend told that you had a crush on me, all I could imagine for a reason was – Whoa the pretty girl must be out to win some bet. And I just planned to call your bluff.”
“You played it out well, handsome,” she murmured and shuffled on her feet, “now you know the truth.”
“And now you need to know it too. You won the moment you declined to play. Some game it was!” He tilted his head to see her face.
Hearing an admission that sweet, she couldn’t help but smile.
“All is fair in the game of hearts, I guess,” she whispered as he took her in his warm embrace.