The Queen is Always Blue

Sally with a blue robe, silver hair, bright eyes
Frank with suspenders falling down the sleeves of a red shirt, bald, smiling
They meet in the dayroom of the nursing home
Hold hands
Tell stories of the world out there
The people who might visit, those free to comeandgo leaveorstay

They play chess
On a wooden board
Use two bottle caps, one clear, one blue
For the king and queen

One day Sally asks why the queen is always blue
Frank shrugs, making his suspenders fall further down and says
The king can be blue if you want
So they switch the bottle caps
Only to change them back
When she can’t remember
Who is blue

The staff walks by, laughing at the couple’s laughter
When I get that old, I won’t be thinking of sex , an aide says
You’ll always be thinking of sex , the housekeeper says
The aide brings their meds into the dayroom
Knocking into the board just as Frank gets checkmate
The pieces fly to their feet, the bottle caps spinning
No longer a king and queen on the floor.

No matter, Frank says after the aide leaves
We can play again.
Slowly he picks up each piece with arthritic fingers
Places pawns, bishops, and rooks on squares as Sally stares out the window
I saw a white car, she says, maybe that’s my daughter
He doesn’t answer. Sally’s daughter has never visited.
Your move, he says.
Is the queen blue? She asks
The queen is always blue, he says
Clasping her hand and kissing her forehead.

Copyright 2009 A Different Light

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