She looked confused. “What cookies?”
“Molasses.” I looked at her. “You don’t have molasses where you live?”
“I’ve never heard of it. Is it good?” She made a face. “The name doesn’t sound delicious.”
“It’s a lot tastier than it sounds. Well, I don’t know about the molasses itself… I can’t think of anyone that just eats molasses. But if you put it in cookies, it’s really good.” I took the plastic-wrapped container, unwrapped it, and removed a cookie, holding it out to Ixi. “Here, try one.”
She nibbled the cookie, her face lighting up.
“Do you like it?”
“I’m… not sure.” She looked at the cookie again. “I haven’t gotten used to the taste yet. It tastes… I don’t know. Strange. Different.”
I smirked. “Yeah, real exotic. Well, we have plenty left over, so if you decide you like it, you can have more.” I took a cookie for myself and led Ixi into my bedroom, where my chessboard was laid out on a folding table. Ixi stared at it blankly.
“What?” I asked, sitting on one side.
“No, I just… I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were unfortunate.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
She blushed. “You… are, right?”
“Have you seen this house? I’m not exactly rich, but I’m sure not poor.”
“But… your board…” She shook her head in disbelief. “It’s just that, it’s so… wow. I’m so sorry, Leo.”
I sighed in annoyance. “I’m not poor,” I repeated. “I just didn’t buy myself a very good board.”
She looked up in surprise. “You bought a board like this on purpose?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“But… it’s just basic cardboard! And the pieces… cheap plastic!”
“I know. Chess isn’t as big of a deal here as it is on your planet. Here, it’s just a game. No big deal. You’re lucky you picked me and not Zeke. Zeke doesn’t even own a board.”
Ixi shook her head again. “This is such a culture shock. Well, fine. The game isn’t even affected by the board, so I guess it doesn’t matter.” She sat down across from me, looking around, until her eyes fell on something by my wall. “What’s that?”
I looked. It was a figurine of mine. A metal crane, wings spread wide, about to take flight. It was balanced on a stand.
“It’s a crane,” I replied. “They’re a type of bird here.”
“I know that’s a crane. We have them in my country. In fact…” She turned back to me. “That happens to be the Leonterian mascot. I’m surprised to see it here. It’s even posed the same way our mascot is.”
“Really.” I didn’t sound very surprised, because I wasn’t. It was just a bird, after all. Not a big deal.
“And you don’t seem like the kind of person who would own something like that. Nothing else in your room is like that. It’s all just posters and term papers and--”
“Alright,” I interrupted. “Are we going to train or not?” I didn’t really want to talk about the figurine, though even I was unsure about why. I just didn’t want to.