Norm gnawed on a large hunk of meat. He swallowed, then leaned his elbow onto the table and waggled his eyebrows at Inga.
“I’ve got one:
Wheel and water,
Seed and slaughter.”
Inga looked up and him and cocked her head to the side.
“Wheels don’t work in water. Everything just turns to mud!”
Norm leaned back and frowned.
Inga chewed her lip and furrowed her brow.
After a moment she exclaimed “It’s a water wheel!” She slapped the table with her hand.
Norm leaned forward with a smug smile.
Before he could speak Inga said
“No, wait: It’s bread!”
Norm threw up his hands.
“I almost had you!
Srix was drinking the last of his stew from his bowl, then paused and looked down at them over the lip of the bowl.
He set down his bowl and said:
grass and groan,
life and loam.”
He drank the rest of his stew.
Jorge leaned forward around Srix.
“It’s a field birth. Were you a farmer, Srix?”
Srix frowned and said “Not quite. No longer.”
Inga hung her head.
“It’s a stillbirth, isn’t it?”
There was silence at the table.
Norm said “Stones and bones, Srix! Sure it’s a riddle, but you’re missing the point of the game.”
Srix slammed his fist on the tabletop, rattling all of their bowls.
“It’s not a game!”
He stood, snatched up his bowl, and stormed off.
Norm started to stand, but Vernon grabbed his arm.
“Maybe give him an hour, Norm.”
Norm frowned, then sighed and sat back down.
He looked at Inga and said “What about you? Got anything lighter?”
Inga took a deep breath and said:
Fly and flit,
Don’t get bit!”
Inga laced her fingers and set her elbows on the table. Her eyes flicked between Norm, Vernon, and Jorge.
“Don’t get bit?”
Vernon leaned in toward Inga.
Inga dropped her forehead to the table and knocked her head against the wood.
“Bees. The answer is bees.”
Vernon slowly leaned back and frowned.
Jorge leaned toward him and said “Fruit flies?” then chuckled.
Vernon kicked him under the table.
Inga sat up and rubbed her forehead.
“I thought about ‘Swarm and sting’ but that would have been too obvious.”
“Well, you’re right about that.”
He slapped her on the back and said “Cheer up!”
She bolted upright and sharply inhaled.
He continued “You’re good at guessing. No one’s good at everything.”