The Chess Game

A ten sentence short story… I also think this one should be expanded before adding it to the collection. Some history between these old friends… 

Every day Abraham Stein set up the chess board in the park. The game was always in progress, but Abraham never accepted offers to play. Every day he sat for an hour, staring at the board, not making a move. At the end of the hour, he would slide all the chess pieces back into the box, fold the board and walk the five blocks back to his apartment at Temple Beth Israel Retirement Home.

The ladies of Temple Beth Israel wondered about Abraham Stein, trying always to dissuade Abraham from his routine. As he walked each day to his appointment in the park, he would shoo them away with a wave of his hand.

One day, after some weeks had gone by, a man in a wheelchair was wheeled by his nurse to the place opposite Abraham in the park. Abraham smiled, without looking up from the board and said, “It’s about time you showed up.”

Saul Rosenberg snorted and said, “I missed you, too, you old meshuggener.”

Abraham pointed to the board and said, “It’s your move.”

Out of Reach

I idly sit and watch from my throne of inertia
While the bridges I so carefully built
Are thoroughly and systematically destroyed
And with them, the pathways are forever cut off,
Leaving one side of the shore isolated from the other
Except for the occasional stone you throw
Which lands harmlessly at my feet
It’s as if the tectonic plates have shifted beneath us
And earth itself has put me beyond your reach

Header image via Pinterest

Budapest

A short story by Meg Sorick.

I tasted blood. I was on my knees, my eye was swelling shut but at least I was alone. Somehow –and the how was really fuzzy– I had managed to fight off my attacker. The block was quiet and dark except for the street lights at regular intervals. I had been in that dark space between two of them when I was struck from behind. Some preternatural sense had made me move at the last minute so that the blow didn’t find its mark, probably saving my life.

I pulled myself to my feet, abandoned my errand and hurried back to the apartment we’d rented for the month. “Let’s live abroad,” my husband had said. “We’ll never get this chance again,” he’d insisted. “You will love Budapest,” he’d promised. “I can work on my book and you can indulge yourself in history,” he’d tempted.

Julian had a way of convincing me that all his ideas were mine, too. So that when things didn’t go as planned I could share the blame. I kept looking over my shoulder as I ran, terrified that the attacker would return. I never should’ve gone out alone this late at night.

Julian had been tapping away at his keyboard all evening while I read quietly on the other end of the narrow sofa. Without looking up, he said, “Cara, I’m out of cigarettes. Get me some, would you?” It wasn’t really a request. The ‘would you’ was just a polite afterthought. He knew I would go. Most of the time it was just easier to acquiesce rather than bear his brooding if I refused his wishes. Tonight however, I had resisted.

“But Julian, it’s nearly midnight. Nothing will be open,” I reasoned.

“Try the Lado,” he suggested. “They’re open late.”

“You must be joking,” I laughed mirthlessly. “That’s seven blocks away.”

“But Cara,” he pouted. “I’m on a roll. The words are flowing effortlessly tonight. Please don’t make me beg you. You do care about me don’t you?”

Internally I rolled my eyes. I had fallen in love with the quintessential temperamental artist. Tall and gaunt, but roguishly handsome, a brilliant conversationalist, educated, cultured and absolutely the most frustrating and childish creature I’d ever known. He had enchanted me, romanced me, made me lose all sense and reason, and married me six weeks after we’d first met. Our days were certainly numbered. But tonight, I thought… tonight I would accede to his wishes once again and tomorrow I would make plans to leave.

I arrived at the door breathless, my heart thundering in my chest. Perhaps he would come to his senses when he saw my injuries. Surely he’d agree that Budapest was a mistake. With shaking hands, I inserted the key into the lock on the outer door of the apartment building. Tears of relief spilled over as I closed the door behind me and leaned back against it.

I climbed the three flights of stairs and stumbled, weeping, into the apartment. Julian stood and came over to me. I collapsed into his arms as he held them out to me. “There, there, Cara. There, there…”

“Julian,” I sobbed. “We have to get out of here. I can’t spend another night in this place.”

“Cara,” he said, holding my face between his hands. “We aren’t going anywhere.” He grasped me by the shoulders and spun me around. From the darkened bedroom a figure stepped forward. Julian shoved me toward him and snarled, “Now, be a good girl and let the man finish his work.”