Playing Black

It was a little over a year ago that my aunt died. A little under a year ago that I first wrote this, before editing it here. Today, I’m reordering and rethinking this. It’s true now, a year later, that I still want to sit on the huge chess board in the crease between the two dorm buildings at New College. I want to sit there when I write about my grandfather. He was the one who started to teach me to play this game. I had insisted on playing black. He died when I was twelve, and only now, fourteen years later, can I sit and write at least passingly well of his passing, even if I can’t play worth a damn. I am going to have to write for Aunt Linda too, now that she’s gone. She had a chess set– it was stone, pink and grey, the kind you can purchase in Mexico, and I think that’s where she found it. My mother called me and told me about it a week after my aunt died, when she was searching through her sister’s house, cleaning out the dead woman’s things. She gave me the chess set, because… because I had started to teach my aunt to play just a few years ago, when she still lived in Miami. With that very set. And because there was a note attached to the board when my mother found it. It said, “Play chess with Story.” Only that.

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