She is wearing a dress he has seen before, two sizes too big on
someone he loves. They sit at a circular table, too small for a
chessboard. He challenged her earlier, but she declined. He hopes at
least she plays. She asks what he’s drawing and he lies to her,
himself, and says it is a general. Really it is her.
He is trying to sleep but she is breathing loudly through the wall. So
is the girl next to him, which usually he likes. The door is firmly
shut. He thinks of questions he wants to ask, long and faceted, part
A, part B, part C. They are none of his business, he is told, though
he has never asked them. Not of her, anyway. Not loud enough to hear.
He is grateful she did what she did, exactly as she did it. He is
grateful that he is done sitting in his car and screaming, sitting in
his bed and shaking, walking in large circles, always caged. The
gratitude swells up sometimes, and he feels the hot foggy privilege of
this particular reality, of the girl wrapped around him, skipping on
the surface like a stone.
A year ago he remembers sitting in his car before game night,
screaming into his arm as loudly as he could. He remembers walking in
and winning all the games, which felt similar. He remembers shaking
the hands of his opponents, saying with his mouth that it could have
gone either way but with his eyes that it couldn’t, that it was his
all along, that he’d never let it go.
He thinks of more questions on the train ride home. In all the
commotion, they boil down to one.