Full of the joys of getting paid to be on stand, Carolyn had graciously allowed the board game cupboard to be opened for the fourth day in a row, on the understanding that Snakes and Ladders was still banned, and Trivial Pursuit was to be conducted entirely without singing.
“Board games again, Carolyn?” Douglas said mildly. “I would have thought you were still nursing your wounds from yesterday.”
“Yes, you’d like that, wouldn’t you? But I know what I’m doing with Dixit now. The solution, of course, is to choose a victim and stick with it. My problem before was wanting you all to lose equally.”
Douglas was about to make some retort, but Arthur was already back with an armful of game boxes, which he set down on the table. “Gosh,” he said, marvelling. “They’ve never had such a busy week! We’ll have to change their name.”
The three of them regarded him questioningly.
“Well, they’re not getting very bored this week, are they?” Arthur expounded. “They’re… what’s the opposite of bored?”
Douglas raised an eyebrow. “I’d make a quip about being engaged, if it weren’t for the almost-football team.” He took the top box - Upwords - from the pile and opened it. “I must say, Arthur, you took me by surprise with that one. Glad to see you’re finally taking an interest in pun manufacture.”
“Hmm?” Arthur looked pleased with what was evidently a compliment, but confused as to its meaning.
Carolyn, Douglas and Herc shared an amused glance.
“Or not, as the case may be,” Douglas amended.
“Remind us,” said Herc, “Why are they called ‘board games’, Arthur?”
“Because,” said Arthur, earnest and kind as he ever was in the unlikely role of teacher, “They get just as bored sitting in the cupboard, waiting to be played, as the people who aren’t playing them get until they… play them.”
Taking a moment to process the fullness of his sentence, Herc nodded. “I see.”
“Do you, now,” Carolyn said wryly.
“Why, what did you all think it meant?”
“I think we attributed it to the boards they’re played on, chiefly,” said Douglas, tapping the raised squares of the one in front of him.
“Oh! That makes sense too, actually.” Arthur smiled upon them all. “Either one could be right, I suppose. Who’s to say!”
“The laws of spelling?” Carolyn suggested.
Arthur appeared not to hear. “Then again,” he said, picking up the narrow box that contained the Domino tiles, “They don’t all have your sort of board, do they? There’s no board in Dominoes. Or Jenga. Or Snap.”
“Yes, but that’s just—”
“Or Taboo. Or Bananagrams. Or Scattergories.”
“Arthur, the cupboard isn’t—”
“Or Dobble. Or Spyfall. Or Hedbanz. There’s a board for Pictionary, but we don’t always use it. And we lost the one for Balderdash ages ago…”
“We didn’t lose it, it was destroyed in battle,” Carolyn said, finally finding a gap in his oration sufficient to insert her oar. “But in any case, you’re just listing any old ‘game’ now. Not everything that lives in that cupboard is a board game.”
“No, not anymore,” said Arthur smugly. “Not now they’re getting to come out every day. Actually, once Mr Alyakhin finally calls us, they’ll probably be glad of a rest.”
“Then they’ll be resting games, I presume,” said Douglas.
“Yeah! See, Mum, Douglas gets it.”
“And me,” said Herc quickly, “I get it, too.”
“Yeah. Douglas and Herc get it.”
“It’s unlike you to be so slow on the uptake, Carolyn,” Douglas said with poorly-disguised mirth.
Carolyn rolled her eyes at the three of them. “Fine! Let’s just start something, or I’ll be so bored I may use one of the boards to thump somebody.”
Douglas held out the letters bag. “May the best speller win.”
“Yes, she plans to.”