Chess

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a story of an occurrence during the rise of feminism. It is not a true event.

Submitted: July 09, 2015

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Submitted: July 09, 2015

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“Checkmate,” he said.

He was always first to say it. To tell you the truth, he was as impatient as a four year old. He had the tenacity to complain every time he lost, much like a sore-loser. Truly, that’s all he was. He was an instillation to everything I hated. Yet, I couldn’t help but play chess with him every day.

In this match, he fed his queen away to my knight. He never cherished its power. He’d throw it away at my rook, my bishop, hell, even my pawns. He always said it was part of his “master plan”. That’s probably why he lost every time. But I couldn’t get move my queen around his pawns in one move, so I lightly kept my finger on it.

Meanwhile, he’d always deliver a conversation on my turn. He always needed absolute silence, for his thinking was delicate and rather mute for my taste. But his words were always bounded to anyone’s ears. You could hear every breath and screech he called intelligence. I called it ignorance. He was a child at heart.

“You’re always ready to light a match when you believe you’re triumphant.”

He chuckled as a hand scratched his chin.

“You seem to forget my friend that I’m always triumphant. Perhaps not in chess, but in everything else.”

It did slip my mind to tell you that he was pompous. As pompous as a lion among sheep. Come to think of it, he thought all of us were sheep compared to him. Imagining why, I’d rather not even cross that road. Speaking of roads, he didn’t cross those either. It was his belief that only the weak had to cross anything. All that was immortal and gifted inevitably acquired divinity naturally. And I’m sure his youthful years were ahead of him, but still knew himself to be divine.

He called chess divine. He really did. He said that the game gives light to the individual. We see those who are protective, and we see those who risk. He said that this can only give light to the most important aspect of lives:

“The dangerous,” he said swiftly, flipping his hair back as he moved his pawn adjacent to mine.

“Hm?”

“Do you know of those who act? Do you know those that give the most to their eyes and not to their head? Those are the most dangerous.”

I nodded in fake understanding, but I moved my queen over to his king.

“And exactly how does this apply to chess?”

“Don’t be blinded Mia; you’re a girl. Have you not encountered danger?”

I giggled, frolicking my hand over to my queen to his rook.

“Danger? You’re referring to yourself, are you not?”

He smiled eagerly, as if pretending to be dangerous. I wouldn’t call him dangerous, but more so reckless. He was a man that could tell you the strength of a rock but the not the strength of a piece of paper. He was very one sided upon appearance, and at least had the diligence tell you that.

Nevertheless, he moved his pawn straight on its path again, ready for it to be taken by my knight.

“Clever as always you are. But I’m not dangerous: I’d tell you if I was. I have a limit. There are those who don’t.”

I looked into his eyes. They were not fruitful to our conversation. He was obsessed with winning, and more particularly, his planning was meticulous and precise, but never accessible. He had such high hopes so quickly that his eyes would lighten brightly for the slightest inclement that was to win. And for the strangest of reasons, he never did.

So I didn’t take his pawn; I moved my bishop. 

And then I said what he said so famously.

“Checkmate.”

That’s when his eyes lost that light. I wouldn’t say they were in darkness now, but they were dim. They were always dim every time he lost. He never accepted it well, but I would give him the credit to say the least that he did accept it. And so he moved the pawn.

“You’re correct; that is checkmate. But I can’t help but move my pawn still.”

The pawn led to the end of the board.

“May I ask why? I told you before that you never take your loses well.”

“True, but at least I’m not dangerous. But it’s clear to me now that you are.”

I lifted my head.

“What? Why? How?”

He smiled after my succession of statements, and reset the chess board very slowly, not responding to my questions until every last piece was where it was meant to be. He took his jacket off and placed it over my shoulders as he whispered,

“Because you always win.”

He left his jacket with me as he departed from the chess board and to this I day I never understood what he meant. I held the queen in my hand. I always kept it alive, never sacrificing it to anything lesser than its power. But he always gave it away. Why? Perhaps it was dangerous to keep such power? But it was just a chess set. It couldn’t have amounted to much. 

Or so I thought.

It just occurred to me that he left his jacket and I turned around to find him, but he was long gone. Not any of his soul left. And as I was about to leave the chess board, a young woman, probably no older than me, politely reached for the chair opposite of me.

“I-I apologize madam. Were you leaving?”

I gave a courteous bow and positioned myself back within in the seat.

“No, no! I mean, I was about to, but I have ample time to stay. Do you play?”

The lady nodded.

“Why yes, of course.”

She moved the knight first.

And I moved my pawn forward.

The game was very forward and precise, not much of either one of us exercising a train in thought. It was swift and motionless. It was like facing a statue, one whose earthy exterior could not be ridden. She didn’t hesitate to sacrifice her other pieces, but she always kept the queen. And then I realized what he meant. The power; it’s a dangerous thing.

I had to ask her, “Are you dangerous?”

She was startled, so startled, that she knocked over a few of the pieces. She kept apologizing over and over. I didn’t see any in her, for she seemed so fragile to me. I could see the frail bones underling her skin, like she hadn’t eaten for a remainder of her life. But yet she was dressed so elegantly, as if the man in her life had assumed all patriarchal control. I told her it was all alright and asked of her name.

“May,” she said shyly, looking down promptly at the queen.

“Such a pretty name,” I said to her, watching her smile slightly afterwards. “Shall we proceed?”

“But why did you say I was dangerous?”

I folded my hands across my laps and shook my head.

“You have my sincerest apologies. There’s a man I play with here every weekend, and he spoke to me about danger. He believed it was progressed by those with swift decision and sacrifice.”

She moved her bishop adjacent to my knight and shook her head.

“I would not know anything of the sort. I have never encountered such a thing. Have you?”

I regretted even instigating the conversation, but it was weighing heavily on my mind. As I stared back at the chess set, I took her bishop with my queen.

“I’d rather not say.”

“I apologize as well. As a commoner, you must have endured through much. May I ask who taught you to play? You are quite exceptional, but you relinquished your queen to-”

She paused as she watched the end of my next move. Her hand lightly removed the queen and saw the end of this match. But I said the words.

“Checkmate. And the man I mentioned of before taught me. He also taught me to read. But I realize now that perhaps he was correct upon the extremes of all us, and somehow, he compared that to chess.”

“I’m afraid I don’t follow,” the lady said.

I shook my head with a delicate smile, as I wrapped around the jacket the man left for me around my shoulders. I handed her the queen and placed it her hands. I delicately wrapped her fingers around it.

“You have this power. Please do realize this. No man can control you. No man can break you. You are dangerous, but not evil. You are a woman, and let no one deprive you of that privilege.”

I watched her roll her sleeves, the very fabric that covered the bruises and scars. As I stood up from my kneeling position, I promised I would help any woman that I’d find. Dangerous; I’m not sure I understand the very meaning of the word. But any misogynist or overbearing, testosterone-infested beast would face this danger I speak of. I never was able to thank the man, for he never accepted my thanks. And I would never see him again either. All I was left to do was to keep a promise. As for the lady, she was shown in the newspaper the next day and found dead in her estate. It was called a “crime of passion” apparently. But I knew better. I knew of dangerous men. 


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