Bishop Eustace Prep Library, Sophomore Year
He lugged the chessboard, pieces, clock, and his short pimply self to slaughter again.
“Thank you Rebekah for the lesson. You played great.” Playing the New Jersey Junior Champ felt more like a lesson than a game.
“Shhh.” The librarian lingered over them like the grim reaper.
“You don’t have enough fight in you, James, nor enough knowledge.” He leaned across the table for a handshake.
“See you.” She rose and swiveled, showing off a cheeky Lacrosse outfit, which barely covered her cute bottom. She tapped rubber cleats across linoleum squares and glancing back flashed a metallic Cheshire cat smile.
“Good bye, Rebekah.” He trembled, just above a whisper.
The princess never gets a shhh. Why am I so lucky?
He wasn’t the evil student who stuck chewing gum under this maple table or sprinkled salt in the librarian’s coffee.
His secret desire to win one game and her heart never came true, perhaps because he said and did nothing. Instead, they eventually graduated and then lost each other into life’s black hole. She became a warrior of more than sixty-four squares. He tried to bring peace to a crazy world, teach a little Physics at NYU, and master the game of chess.
Present Day, May 4, Baghdad, 1202 hours
Today might be her last on Earth. She wondered why. Intuition or premonitions about enemy placements supplemented her . . .