The Rules


Eden collected the poisonous chestnuts from the bowl on the end table and lined them up near the flames in the fireplace. They weren’t poisonous because of their ingredients, but because of what they brought with them.

“Are you going to poke them with a fork?” Helen asked, with venom on her tongue.

“Of course not, you idiot,” Eden said through gritted teeth. “That would defeat the purpose.”

“I wouldn’t put it passed you,” Helen sneered.

Eden pretended to ignore her and lifted a revolver from the mantlepiece. “Do I need to repeat the rules to you?”

“Not for me, dear. I just want to make sure that you know them.”

“Fine!” Eden slammed her down unto another revolver from the mantle and tossed it with more force than she needed to Helen, who stopped the gun with with stomach before grabbing it in her hands. 

Helen smirked, “That wasn’t very lady like.”

“Nothing we are doing or have done has been lady like!”

“Very true.” Helen flung the cartridge out of revolver with a flick of her wrist and made sure that her gun was loaded before whipping the cartilage back into place. “The rules. Say them!”

“As soon as the first chestnut pops, we fire. End of.”

“Sounds very cut and dry.”

“It is.”

“Then nether of us should fear anything mischievous from the other?”

“I would say not.”

“Let’s get on with it then.” Helen swallowed hard. “I can’t remember how long it takes to crack a nut.” She knelt down in front of the fireplace, facing Eden.

Eden chuckled and knelt down as well, quickly checking her cartridge. “I haven’t roasted chestnuts since I was a girl.”

“Then why do it like this?”

“Couldn’t think of a better way. A fairer way.”

They both pointed their revolvers at the opposite.

Helen showed her teeth in what one might call a smile as a memory flashed in her mind. “That reminds me of…”

Suddenly, a hissing sound could be heard from one of the chestnuts.

The talking stopped. Their breathing became more shallow and their hearts raced. The white of their eyes grew large and their lips tightened. 

At the same time, as if mentally connected, they both pulled back the hammers of their revolvers.

Seconds crept by in what seemed like minutes and then hours.

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