Still Life: Cheat

She’s a liar and a thief. He tells pretty tales to people for entertainment, makes their eyes fool them, and he can read her like a book.




She gives him her poker face and a tight smile, casually mentions their situation.

He laughs, a low, humourless thing, and looks over his hand of cards; he gives nothing away, and she can’t tell if it’s good or bad.

He meets her eye. A scratch of his ear and a tiny, lopsided half-smile – she’s got him. It’s a good hand.

Then he raises his eyebrows, gaze faux-nonchalantly straying back to his cards, and remarks, “You’ve got no idea of my hand. Your tells, though, like that…” He showily tucks a strand of unruly hair behind his ear in an impersonation of one of her nervous habits, and stares, exaggeratedly wide-eyed, at his cards; he’s mimicking her once again, what’s giving her away. He asks, in an unusual act of bravado, “Do you have to make this easy?”

She curses his skill and herself. She’s meant to be good at cheating, isn’t she? Yet she just can’t seem to – the easy, false words fail her around him.

She shakes her head, letting out a frustrated breath, and lays down her hand.


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