chess

The Dark And Smiling Face

I was in my old house again, living with my mother, and some of my old friends from school had called over to play cards and drink. I was showing some of them my computer while the rest of them were watching television, and I showed them a website like E2 where I was posting articles on famous chess players. One of them asked "What about Etienne Bacrot? and I typed in his name and brought up a java applet of one of his games. I explained, "Etienne Bacrot just won the French  Championships.

The guys were getting quite loud, and I knew that my mother would be trying to get to sleep so I turned down the volume of the music and the TV and went upstairs to see how she was. I saw that her bedroom door was open and the light was on, and when I poked my head around the corner she said "Hi there," so I went in.

"Sorry about the noise, I'm just kicking the guys out now."
It's fine, don't worry about it. I see you disconnected the Internet and then dialled in again."
"The first call was from a mobile so we dialled in again from the land line, it's cheaper.
"Oh, that's good. Before you go downstairs again, will you do me a favour? Tell me if you see the dark and smiling face.
"What's that?"
"Oh, I thought I told you." She laughs. "The doctor showed me how to tell if I'm sick."

She gets out of bed and we walk to the top of the stairs together, and she waits while I go downstairs and look back up at her. She's half-naked and grossly fat and pale, and she hunches forward so that her belly pushes into a strange, contorted shape. As I stare at it, the folds resolve into a smiling face with dark eyes.

"I can see the face."
"Is it laughing or smiling?"
"Just smiling."
"Okay, I'm still sick then."

She goes back to her room and I get rid of my friends and go to bed.
 

A zero expanded as the world

one winter the man fell through the lakeshore ice and felt a god's cold hammer slam into his heart and his brain. in his terror he heard in the distant reaches of his memory  his mother's voice telling him the story of the snow queen and the young boy with a splinter of ice in his heart. his sister saved him. the ice was above him like an endless window to paradise and he beat upon it with his fists as you would beat upon a rock. the water of the lake was like liquid iron. he began to want the darkness. he turned from the unbreakable light and floated towards the darkness as if he had found a way to go home at last. on the ice above, his gloves and his canvas chair. a tartan  blanket for his legs. an unopened book.

the colour of her on the sheets of the bed. pale on the dark blue, she dances and drowns in your dreams. blood wave. star whisper. ice flame. she knows she is only in your mind.

WHO SAID that your heart is a zero - a zero expanded as the world - like that delicious raindrop summer that never existed except in your dreams of your dreams. the unimaginable zero summer. all of the things you ever saw and ever knew are melting like celluloid on fire while the obsessional music grows louder. carousel jingles. frantic, overwound musical boxes. fading away as if into intergalactic space.

a never ending chess game with your friends and lovers as pieces - their personalities, powers, likes and dislikes sliding and merging into geometric fields of influence in your tired brain as you slumber on the long train journey home. I have earned this. I have earned the voice that speaks like this, the vision that sees the world in this way. I earned it by enduring the madness that produces it. it is mine.