Reads: 140

“Well, Cleo?” Dad held up his goblet of wine to the lean, plainly dressed Spartan. “The athletes sure made fools of themselves when their wheels got all bent out of shape, when their discuses fell short, and when they stopped in the middle of a run. All because they were ‘feeble-minded and greedy’. Wouldn’t you say?”

My full stomach churned at those words. Now I knew that those assumptions weren’t necessarily true.

“Pathetic.” As before, Cleo had only eaten some greens and left the rest of his food along with a full goblet of wine on his table as he leaned back on his couch. “I don’t know how people filled with such greed, bad judgment, self-centeredness, and mischief got this far.”

I could tell by the way Dad pursed his lips that he wondered, as I did, if those last two descriptions were meant for him. I was annoyed that instead of acknowledging Dad had proved him wrong, his guest found other faults. I was even more annoyed that those two words described Dad’s behavior over the last few days perfectly.

“May I be excused?” I stood up more abruptly than I meant to, drawing raised eyebrows from the five guests. 

I was surprised when Dad’s eyes drifted down to my empty wrist. 

“Yes, yes.” he looked toward my sectioned off part of the tent. “I’ll bring you cake later.”

I laid on top of my linen blanket staring at the ceiling of the tent and touching my bare wrist. It was such a waste - Dad using his power to trip up people and make them lose for no good reason. After all, Cleo obviously would never admit to being wrong. I kept thinking about why I gave Alex my bracelet rather than asking Dad for help. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. Dad had no problem turning all those things to gold to prove a point, but acted like giving poor people gold would exhaust him. He could make the effort once in a while. Helping some people sometimes was better than helping no people ever.

I must have drifted off to sleep for a while because suddenly I heard Dad calling my name but no longer heard guests.

“Yeah?” I got up and pulled back a section of tent to find Dad offering me a piece of cake.

“Did you lose your bracelets?” His eyebrows were crinkled. 

I cupped the honey-and-nut cake in my hands and stared at it. “I gave them to someone who needs them more than me. That boy Alex, who you were supposed to wrestle, can use it to help feed people back home.” 

Dad frowned. “You know better than to let people take advantage of you.”

“I knew what I was doing,” I said firmly. “That gold will help way more people in his hands than on my wrist.” I looked up into Dad’s stern brown eyes. “Dad, I wish you would use your power to do more good. You could help poor people get on their feet. You could find honest physicians to cure sicknesses like the one Mari had.”

“Once you help people a little, it's like a droplet becoming a flood.” Dad spread his arms.

“Dad.” I said slowly, “You have unlimited gold.” I shifted my weight. “You have councils of advisors to help you in other matters. Why not have a council of people you trust to be your flood gates?”

Dad shook his head. “You are too young to understand.

I held the cake out to him. “I’m not hungry.”  He took it, and I trudged back to my blankets.

Submitted: May 23, 2022

© Copyright 2023 LaVonna S.. All rights reserved.


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