An Evening of Checkers
A comfortable room.
A cozy fire.
Two old men.
Between them, a checkerboard, a plate of homemade cookies, the interwoven threads of their lives.
“Tell Emma these cookies are delicious.”
Caleb grins. “She’s a fine cook. Didn’t she bake the cake for your first wedding?”
“Yep. Had pink roses all over,” Seth remembers. “Sarah loved roses. Yellow honeysuckle for the second wedding.”
“Your Sarah was a good woman. Shame she had to go so young.”
“Margaret’s a blessing, too. Twice lucky, I was.”
Jump, jump, jump. Red takes three black.
“Yikes. Your game has improved a lot since we were young!”
“I’ve always beaten you, and you know it.”
Two old men, smiling through the haze of decades.
“Will Margaret be joining us later tonight?”
“Might do, might do. She’s babysitting the grands while Janie and Bart go to the pictures.”
“Emma and I wanted grandchildren. But it wasn’t to be.”
“Mine have started calling you ‘Uncle Pappy’.”
Two old men slapping legs, guffawing.
“Kids are something!” they agree.
The fire crackles as a figure half-hidden in a great arm chair takes copious notes.
Amazing how these two strangers are bonding. Two bachelors with no families, belonging nowhere, have somehow created a shared history and moved into it. Together.
Andrea is deep into her research on cognitive decline and creative imagination, gathering material for her thesis. Seth and Caleb have been an endless inspiration and an unexpected source of joy.
Sue, the nursing home attendant, banks the fire for the night, and whispers to Andrea, “Visiting hours are over, dear. See you tomorrow?” Andrea nods.
“Game over!” Sue observes. “Who won?” Seth and Caleb both laugh and raise their hands, like mischievous school boys.
“I’ll wait up for Margaret.”
“She’s probably in your room.”
“Right! Good night, Caleb.”
“Good night, Seth.”
Caleb puts the checkers in the box, reds on one side, blacks on the other. Emma loves neatness and order.
“Come, love. Let’s get some sleep. Tomorrow’s another big day!”
When he passes the hall mirror, he can almost see her reflection.