Waiting On the River

This is an updated version of a piece of flash fiction I wrote for a prompt. The original is published on my old writer’s blog here.

A drop of sweat rolled down Riley’s forehead. Her eyes darted back and forth. She stared at the hand in her grasp.  She swallowed hard and licked her lips as she called the last bet, throwing more of her precious few chips into the pot.

With shoulders tensed and fingers clasping her cards tight, she felt a ripple of relaxation spread around the room, ending with the Cowboy tisking and whispering, “Brave little toaster.”  She said nothing.

True, it was only a two pair of sixes and sevens, and the Cowboy might’ve had her beat with a full house or four of a kind…if he was waiting on the river like her.

The river was everyone’s friend and enemy at the same time.  Schrödinger’s play.  All she needed was the kicker though, and she’d leave with the biggest pot she’d ever seen, on one of the crappier hands she’d ever played.

Small coughs and cleared throats echoed as the players waited for the dealer to flip the last card.  In slow motion, he took it from the top of the deck. With a communal intake of breath, he revealed the glossy print against the fuzzy green table top: ace of spades.

Riley peeked over her cards at her peers and watched fingers tap and brows furrow.  The last round started and two dropped out, leaving her against the Cowboy.

He raised the bet. Riley called, “All in.”

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