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White King's Pawn
There was an ice storm one winter and it knocked the electricity out for a week. My wife, being a woman who was used to comfort, decided that she would live at a hotel two towns over while the electric company worked out their problems. I, on the other hand, felt it necessary to stay at our country abode and brave the blackout. I made a fire in the fireplace and collected a bucket of snow in which to cool my scotch. The local high school, where I worked as a mathematics teacher, was shut down the entire week giving me the freedom to relax as I pleased. After exhausting my 'to read' book collection and shoveling all the snow my strength could handle, I set up the chess set my grandfather gave me when I turned eighteen. For hours I acted as both battalions, black taking white and white taking black, until I could no longer muster the interest to go on. Moments after I had conceded to myself a knock rung out at my door. It was a man who worked for the electric company come to check on my status.
"Are you still without power," he said.
"Sure am," I said.
"We're working on it. It seems the storm knocked a bunch of lines down. I'm surprised you're still here, it being so cold and all."
"I've got a fire, it's not bad," I said. "I'm just playing chess."
"My wife left me."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Was she a decent chess player?"
"Not really," I said. "She would always bring her queen out as soon as she could. I hated that."
"My wife does that, too," he said. "I tell her she should wait until middle game but she doesn't care."
"Mine's too stubborn to listen to me," I said.
"Middle game, I tell her, middle game."
"Do you want to play?"
"No. Give us a few hours or a few days, we'll have the power back on. Good luck with your game, buddy," he said as he walked down my steps and to his truck.
I shut the door and walked back to my chess set and my scotch. I sat down, moved white king's pawn two spaces up to begin a new game, and put the opening of the scotch bottle to my lips. And then I passed out and fell to the floor.
Later, when I awoke, the power was on and my wife was standing above me. I tried to open my mouth but she beat me to the first words.
"Stop pretending to be your grandfather, Larry," she said. "I don't want to clean up any more messes than I already have to."