“What’s your man?” asked Augie Dechantagne as he slid his wooden playing piece, marked to resemble a utahraptor forward to attack a similar wooden piece controlled by his cousin Iolana.
“Drache Girl,” she said.
“No fair!” he cried. “That’s supposed to be your lizzie witch doctor.”
“No, he’s over here.” She pointed to another wooden square several inches closer to her. “I moved him when you were eating all my lizzies with your tyrannosaurus.”
“I’m not playing anymore!”
“It’s just as well,” said Iolana, taking off her glasses and rubbing her eyes. “You know you can’t win when I have the Drache Girl.”
“Yuh huh. What if I have Hoonan Matriarch?”
“What if I have Insane Witch Woman?” the girl countered, sliding her glasses back into place on her button nose.
“Tonahass Ssotook,” he snarled.
Iolana slapped him across the cheek. Insane Witch Woman was a powerful piece that guaranteed victory for its owner, but that was no excuse for such profanity. Augie jumped to his feet, tears escaping his already full eyes, and ran from the room, but not before kicking the little wooden squares across the rug. The girl set about gathering the pieces all up and putting them back into their cloth bag. She was just finishing as her aunt Yuah entered the parlor and sat down on the sofa.
“Good morning, Aunt Yuah.”
“Come here,” ordered her aunt, as she sat down. “Let me see your new dress.”
Iolana sat the game on the coffee table and standing in front of the woman, twirled around. Her shin-length red dress with a trim of yellow bows was spread out around her by the three petticoats beneath it.
“Yes, you look just darling.” Yuah, reached out and adjusted a red bow in flowing locks of blond hair. “What do you think of it?”
“I love it,” said the girl. “It’s even nicer than the dresses that Mama buys for me. Thank you.”
“Well, if you are going to grow up to be a princess, you must look the part, mustn’t you?”
“I have no desire to be a princess, Aunt Yuah.”
“You have no desire… What kind of five year old child talks that way? What kind of little girl doesn’t want to grow up to be a princess? What exactly do you want to be then?”
“I want to go to Brech City and attend at St. Dante University,” said Iolana. “I’m going to read every book ever written and be a professor of literature.”
“I never heard of anything so ridiculous. Women do not become professors of anything, let alone professors of literature.”
“Tonahass Ssotook,” muttered the girl.
The smack of her aunt’s palm meeting her cheek echoed throughout the lower floor of the mansion.
Upstairs in the nursery, Cissy sat on the wooden toy box, Augie curled up in her lap, as she rocked the cradle containing little Terra back and forth. She looked from one to the other. The little girl was almost too big for the cradle. In fact she was almost too big for her baby bed. Soon the family would have to bring in a grown up human bed and convert the nursery to a bedroom. The boy’s tears had stopped and now he absentmindedly played with the lizzie’s dewlap as she hissed soothingly to him. He was already too big for the nursery and his uncle was converting the room in the far back corner of the house into a suitable boy’s room. It had already been outfitted wood paneling and a gold rug. A dresser, a desk, and chair had been moved in, and several stuffed dinosaur heads had been mounted on the wall.
Yuah passed the doorway heading toward her bedroom. Cissy shifted and Augie leaned back and looked up at his nurse.
“Go down and tlay with Iolana,” said Cissy.
“I don’t want to. I don’t like her anymore.”
“Little hoonan say wrong words. Little hoonan know it. Tell her sorry.”
“I’m not sorry. She wasn’t playing fair.”
“Tell her sorry. She loves little hoonan. He loves her.”
“No I don’t,” he said, but got up and stomped out of the nursery.
Cissy stood and stepped through the doorway, but instead of following the boy down the sweeping staircase, she turned right toward Yuah’s bedroom door. She gently turned the doorknob, not surprised to find it locked. Lifting the knob up with both hands, she bumped the door with her shoulder. It opened and she stepped inside.
“Get out you…” Yuah started. She was lying on her bed, her head propped up on two pillows, with a small glass vial of blue liquid in her hands. “Oh, it’s you. Don’t bother me. I want to be alone.”
Cissy crossed the distance in the blink of an eye, snatched the tiny bottle from her hands and threw it across the room. It dashed to pieces against the cold stones of the unused fireplace.
“You stupid bloody bitch!” Yuah jumped to her feet on the bed. “That was two hundred marks!”
Suddenly her eyes jumped toward the small nightstand beside the bed. Cissy followed her eyes to see a small wooden box with several more of the tiny vials. They both jumped for the little box, but the reptilian was quicker. With a swift motion, it too flew into the fireplace, the box breaking apart and the bottles all smashing to pieces.
Yuah let out a cry halfway between a scream and a growl and jumped onto Cissy’s shoulders. The lizzie easily pulled her away and tossed her on the bed. With a quick backward kick, she shut the door. Then she grabbed the woman by the shoulder and dragged her to her feet.
“I’ll kill you, you stupid lizzie.”
“No!” hissed Cissy. “Kill yourself! Kill yourself with staahstiachtio. Yuah whant to die? I do it for you now!”
She pressed a claw-tipped finger against the skin right between the woman’s eyes.
“Yuah whant to die?”
Yuah whimpered and then sobbed. “Go ahead. Do it.”
“Is it what you whant? Whant Augie to be orphan? Terra? Grow with no…”
Yuah broke down into uncontrollable weeping. Cissy let her go and she wilted down onto the bed, where she lay crying.
Someone pounded on the door.
“What’s going on in there?” called Mrs. Colbshallow.
“You whant Augie and Terra to live like lizzies with no family? You have to not staahstiachtio. None. None.”
“I can’t do it!” wailed Yuah. “I want to do it, but it’s too hard. It’s too hard. Just kill me. Just kill me.”
“No,” said Cissy. “Yuah whill do it. Yuah whill do it for Augie and Terra. There whill be no more staahstiachtio. None.”
Yuah looked up at her through bloodshot eyes.
“None,” said Cissy. “Yuah say it. None.”