What do you think is the best use of your time?
Ingrid scanned the message for a third time. The words were still in the same order, the letters forming them all chopped up from various magazine pages and hastily pasted together. The paper trembled in her shaking hands.
Her sister joined her on the balcony. “What’s so funny Inge?” Rika asked, a lightness in her voice at the sight of her sister’s amusement.
“A fantastic joke,” she answered, passing over the ransom letter.
Rika’s eyes went wide when she realized what it was. “A joke?” She snatched the crinkled missive from Ingrid’s hands and read it herself.
IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR BROTHER ALIVE AGAIN
BRING THE SACRED STAFF TO THE TREE OF LIFE BY SUNSET
“We have to go!” Rika exclaimed. “The sun will set in a few hours and it will take half that long to get there unless we hurry! What are you doing?” she hissed the last as Ingrid settled into her favorite reading chair and cracked the spine on an adventure novel. “Gus is in trouble! We don’t have time to be sitting around reading!”
“The staff isn’t even here,” Ingrid said. “Gus is fine. He’ll be home for dinner.”
Rika paced up and down the balcony. “How can you be so sure? What if they torture him? Who even sent that note?”
“I’m pretty sure he’ll be the one doing the torturing,” Ingrid giggled under her breath. Liv was a fool if she thought she could handle Gus on her own. “Worrying is a waste of your time. Why don’t you go about preparing dinner? It will take your mind off our foolish brother for a bit.”
“How can you be so heartless Inge?”
Ingrid peered over the top of her book at her frazzled sister. “I am not heartless. I just know my brother and I know my enemy. Trust me, she will pay us to take him back.”
Recognition dawned on Rika’s face and she suppressed a giggle. “Well if you’re so sure. Shall I prepare enough for 4?”
“Might as well.”
Not an hour passed before Ingrid heard voices coming up the gravel path. “And that was how I beat a bear in a fistfight to win the honor of—Hi Ingrid!” Gus waved at her from below. “Look who came to visit!”
Ingrid allowed herself a smug grin at the ire in Liv’s eyes. She gestured to the west where the sun was still a few fingers above setting. “I thought we were going to meet in the park later?”
“You were never going to come,” Liv growled. “I decided to personally deliver this blathering idiot back to you.”
Gus’s toothy smile stretched across his face. He inhaled. “Is Rika cooking? I’m famished! Liv, you should stay for dinner!”
Live rubbed her temple. “Gus, I’m not staying for dinner, I am bartering your life for your family’s sacred staff!”
“Well that’s silly. You can’t barter with something that’s not yours.” Ingrid struggled to keep from laughing outright at Liv’s outrage. “Besides, we don’t have it.”
“Sorry Liv,” Ingrid crooned. “Looks like you came all the way here for nothing.”
Ingrid shrugged. “Believe what you want. You’re welcome to join us for dinner and search the house in the meantime, if that suits you. But I think a better use of your time would be hanging out with us.”
Liv sighed. “You’ve never lied to me before. Why you would start now, I don’t know, and I am pretty hungry after spending all day dragging your idiot brother all over the countryside.”
“Plus, Rika is cooking,” Gus said. “Far less chance it will accidentally kill us!”
Ingrid’s face soured. “My cooking isn’t that bad.”
“Please,” Liv said. “I’m pretty sure your cooking violates some international treaty against cruelty. Best to leave it to Rika.”
As they descended into bickering, Ingrid felt contentment. Gustav had been returned. All was as it should be.
Notes: I really needed to manage my time better after staying up so late finishing last night’s ridiculous post, but I had a hard time getting anything going for this. Once it got rolling though, I enjoyed writing it. The best use of my time is reading and writing, after all.
Only one prompt to go for the week. I’ll see you tomorrow!
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