“SEXUAL?” Amanda’s voice holds an accusation.

“What?” Mark doesn’t look up as he taps each letter with his pencil eraser and then writes down his score.

“Oh man, way to double-score the X!” Frank shouts out, a little too obviously trying to break the tension.

“More wine?” Jan’s distraction is only slightly more subtle. “Your turn, Mandy.”

Amanda ponders her Scrabble tiles and then carefully places them down, one at time, the N above Mark’s E, the V below, followed by E and R. “Never,” she says. “That’s eight.”

Mark writes down her score and still doesn’t look up. “Eight years of wedded bliss,” he stage-whispers in Frank’s direction without a trace of bliss in his voice.

Amanda shoves her chair back with a screech and disappears into the bathroom. Everyone stares at their tiles, pretending they don’t hear the nose-blowing coming from behind the bathroom door.

AFFAIR, spells out Frank.

“Frank!” Jan smacks Frank’s arm.

“Not yet, but I should be.” Mark downs his wine like a shot of cheap whiskey. “I’ve had plenty of chances. She barely talks to me. Shit, maybe she’s having one. Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve had sex? ”

“About three months, I’d guess,” says Jan quietly.

“What — does she talk to you about it?”

“Mark . . .” Jan shakes her head. She’s been picking out tiles from the Scrabble box lid and now sets them down to spell out MISCARRIAGE.

The room is dead quiet. Only the golden retriever under the table seems to be breathing. The toilet flushes, and Jan quickly scoops the tiles back up as Amanda comes out of the bathroom.

“Oh, Jesus. Why didn’t . . .” Mark gets up and hurries toward Amanda with his arms open wide.

“I told him, Mandy. He needed to know,” says Jan.

Amanda melts into her husband’s arms, and they sway together as one, like a sail rolled protectively around a ship’s mast in a storm.

409

This story was written in response to today’s WordPress Daily Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/daily-prompt-game/

Daily Prompt: The Perfect Game — You’re set to play poker (or Scrabble or something else . . .) with a group of four. Write a story set during this game. Or, describe the ideal match: the players, the relationships — and the hidden rivalries. Photographers, artists, poets: show us COMPETITION.

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