MAGPIE TALES: Contact Bridge
The pattern of light on Nedra's back -- half in and out of the rumpled sheets -- made Bark think of a sunrise over the Atlas Mountains. He half wanted to let her rest for what remained of the morning until the room would be filled with only remnants of direct sun as it busied itself with other rooms to illuminate. He could hear the tinkering bells of the Salvadorean ice cream vendors and children across the street chasing their rat terrier until it yelped with confusion or delight. Finally he could resist no longer and placed his hand on Nedra's bare right shoulder. "Would you like to play a game?" She stirred slowly and finally mumbled, "Only if it's not too tedious..."
"How about contact bridge."
"Oh, please no," Nedra groaned. "I hate contract bridge. It makes me think of my mother and her gin-soaked friends."
"No, I said contact bridge."
"I told you, Bark, I'm not interested. It's too tedious."
"Listen..." There was the slightest air of irritation in his voice that warmed the otherwise calm still of the room. "Contact, not contract. There is a huge difference." He pulled a deck of tarot cards from the tiny drawer of the bedside table and began to shuffle them. "All you have to do in this game is lie there and be...well, just be honest in your breathing."
Nedra weaved in the sheets, a koi navigating irritable waters. "In all honesty, I'm not sure I am up to it..."
Deaf to her tepid protests, he placed the first card on the base of her spine. "Ah, the juggler. How fitting for all that you carry in your third chakra."
Bark placed another card perfectly parallel to the first, and slowly continuing the process up Nedra's spine as her back rose and fell gently with each breath, a tiny sliver of flesh exposed with each inhale but not a card out of place. He smiled as he admired the perfect bridge of cards winding its way upward. Finally the last card was placed just below her crown.
"Ah ha! The Joker." Nedra ignored him for a moment and then turned and glared at him, the face of the angry hierophant, unwilling to continue the game.