The cottage where we stayed last week has the most delightful chess board I have ever seen set out on a table in the living room. It was impossible not to play chess. Boys one and two are learning. Girl one has the barest basics. Without even playing, the kids would stand by the board intrigued with the figures.
Come play chess with me, Girl two said to me on the second day.
You don’t know how to play, I said.
Yes, I do, she said. I learned yesterday.
She turned, expecting me to follow.
You might have to go easy on me, she tossed over her shoulder.
Would you mind, said Boy one. (It may be established by now that Boy one doesn’t say things unless he means them seriously, but just in case it is not, picture the way you might ask someone to consider giving you a kidney and you have about the right level of earnest.) Would you mind, if I shovelled the yard?
I blinked for a few minutes trying to figure out what I was missing. I could not come up with anything.
Where, I said.
On the other side of the driveway. I know it sounds strange, but I want to break in my cleats and I don’t want them getting all wet. I thought I’d shovel down to the grass and make myself a field big enough to take shots on a net.
Of course, he was still serious. If the goal was grass, he failed. If the goal was fun, he and his brother made wild success out of a few hours with a soccer ball, ten minutes of which involved a shovel.
I make it my business to read anything left lying around. Things left around the house are considered voluntary donations to my curiosity. The latest secret journal in tatters opened to the following page. Journal: date unknown. Content: unexplained. Original spelling: preserved.
To My Dear Huspin.
I culd nevr love u anuf
Bent over the dryer, I hear footsteps and a chair is shoved across the floor. I emerge to see Girl two climbing up onto my laundry table.
What are you doing? I ask.
I want to own that rainbow, she says eyes intent on the wall.
Over top of the laundry baskets, on tip toe she reaches a finger to a little square of colours reflected on the wall.
There, she says, and begins her descent. Now I own it.
I own a lot of those, I hear her say to herself as she disappears down the hall.