The game

Across the highrise canyon from my desk are two nondescript rooms. They’d been untenanted until last week. Then these three moved in—two women I’m now watching through the left-hand window and, in the next room, a man with an athletic build.

I’m supposed to be finishing the consolidation report. But my gaze keeps drifting to the scene. I call Vanessa to say I’ll be late. While Rory tells me about his new Lego, the women seat themselves either side of a small table. One shuffles a deck of cards.

In the other room the man lights a cigarette. He turns on a television then disappears into an armchair. The picture on his widescreen scrolls, first sport then a black-and-white movie then a newsreader with big hair. Round and round the images flick.

My screensaver somersaults uninterrupted.

I watch the women shuffle and deal through three more hands. Then, all of a sudden, one punches the air. The other’s head falls into her hands. I imagine a scream above the traffic. The man is out of his seat. The television turned off. The door between the rooms opens and the victor steps into his embrace. In the adjoining room the second player gathers things into a bag.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (