Playing House

He barely looked up when she sat down across him. However, she didn't notice that he didn't notice, or if she did, she didn't let him notice that she'd noticed that he didn't notice.

"Good morning!" she chirped chirpily. She beamed at him across their breakfast, For once, he had cooked it. For once, she had allowed him to.

He looked across the top of him newspaper. "Morning," he grunted noncommittally, before going back to peruse the daily.

She smiled at him as she helped herself to some toast that he had laid on the table. It was slightly charred, but she didn't comment. The hot water he had used to make their coffee was in a plastic kettle, but she wouldn't trust him with any other one.

Inhaling deeply, she marvelled at the delicate blend of the early morning air and the coffee. It smelt just like home to her. Of course, she was home.

"What are you reading in the paper?" she questioned pleasantly.

He glared at her but said nothing.

"The headlines? The sport section? The auto section? The property section? The sock section?" she barrelled on.

His glare deepened. "The comics." He straightened out the aforesaid sheet with a crisp sound, then looked back up. "And those are stocks."

She shrugged, then he shrugged, then they went back to their separate tasks.

Unfortunately, her task made sure that his could not be completed.

"What will you be doing today?" She rested her chin in her hands and looked up at him.

"The usual," he said shortly.

"What's the usual?"

"Build a bit, break a bit," he said vaguely. "Things may get dirty today," he confided, his mind's eye drifting to his workplace.

"What will I do today?" she interrupted him prettily.

"I don't know!" he snapped. His thoughts drifted back to his workplace. "Whatever it is that you usually do," he said absently when she poked him in the arm. "Eat your toast, drink your coffee…"

"That's right!" She smiled at him, even though he didn't look up to see it., then reached for her elegant pink mug. She lifted it up and smelt it, savoured it, then tipped its contents down her throat.

Almost immediately, she spat it back out.

He looked up, amusement evident in his eye. While she spluttered, he began to laugh. "You drank it, you drank it," he taunted.

"What was that?" she shrieked. "Are you trying to poison me?"

"It was mud!" he cried out, in between chortles. When she leaned over and pinched him, he hiccupped, hastily retracted his arm, then glared at her. "Although poison is a good idea too."

"What are you suggesting?" She paled.

He was quiet for a moment, absently rubbing where she had pinched him, but then he stood. His brow was set, his voice firm. "I've just realised that this, our little game, is over."

"You can't be serious!" she gasped.

He looked her straight in the eye. "I am," he said harshly.

She stood abruptly, the meal ruined, taking short, unsteady steps backwards on her heels. "It's…over?" He nodded quicker this time, now quite pleased with his decision. "Why, you rude, nasty boy!" she shrieked. "How dare you do this to me! I'll tell my parents, I will!"

For a moment, he seemed to waver, but the moment soon passed. "Go on, tell them."

She looked affronted. "I'll make you suffer, I'll make you pay. I'll make you wish that you'd never agreed to this! I'll make sure that they'll all laugh at you and that -"

"Oh, quiet!" he thundered, drawing himself up to his full height. "Stop that now or I won't put off the poisoning! I'll tie you to the chair, then I'll put the poison in your water. Then I'll make you so thirsty that you'll drink the water even though it's poisoned, but you won't know that, because your thirst would have driven you mad! Then you'll drink it, and start choking, and turn blue, then -"

There was a splash combined with a shriek as an enraged girl threw the coffee he had made into his face. There was a clunk as the mug was set back on the table, and with a vehement hiss she left the room, slamming the door behind her.

He placed his hand on his dripping, muddied head and sighed. Just as angrily as she had left, he did.

Because playing house with eight year old girls was no fun at all, he decided grimly, drawing his eight year old self up to a full height of four feet and leaving for his workplace, the sandbox.

My work here is done.