The slap still ringing in Julian’s ears, he proceeded to Sister Zoe. He had won. He had won(!); the nun was certain to acknowledge it. Why had not Melanie?

Not that it mattered. She had her memory back. She would be okay, when she simmered down. Of course she despised him for rubbing her nose in the truth, but such was life. He had played the heavy intentionally. He had been harsh—maybe a little callous. He had been mean, in fact. He had overdone it. Why?

Because she had trespassed on his territory, showed him that his meadow was accessible, filled the space so perfectly he could close his eyes and see her, as if the presence in his "aura"—feminine but kindred—had been Melanie’s (or someone like hers) all along.

What had she said—"I always have been"—when he had wondered at her being there? Was it any less likely that she had shared his meadow than he had shared her nightmare? More importantly, had his refuge been restored? And had it returned to him as reliably as the past had returned to Melanie?

The snow was beginning to melt as Julian’s sneakers stamped their imprint. Despite his regrets about how things were left with the girl, his step was confident, self-assured. The Game was over. His play had been inspired. And he had won.

Upon hearing his knock, Sister Zoe bade Julian enter. Once again he seemed changed. For the better? His posture was certainly more erect, his stride more energetic as he crossed to her desk, stopped, and waited—or, rather, loomed with an air of expectancy.

"I take it you have seen our patient, Mr. Papp." (At her using the pronoun "our," Julian smiled.) "It went well?"

"Well enough. She has recovered. A tad ungratefully."

"Oh? You quarreled?"

"Let’s just say she chose a peculiar way of thanking me."

"But she’s…"

"Nothing to worry about, Ms. Zoe. Melanie’s fine. Though I admit I was a little rough… Nonetheless, she survived it intact—even feistily.

His bravado seemed a trifle too contrived.

"And you, Julian? What about you?"

"What about me? Well, that’s why I’m here; I should have thought it was obvious."

She scrutinized him carefully, his straight aggressive stance, his hauteur, his superior aspect. Was he cured? Was his ego—which she found so objectionable—revivified? Was he invulnerable—hence insufferable—once again? Or had this game he had been playing (superimposing on them all) accomplished something more than Julian’s merely chalking up another win?

He was waiting, armor refurbished… (Would she concede? Would she understand?)… refurbished but somehow altered, perhaps, underneath.

With a slow, deliberate motion Sister Zoe reached for the telephone, and, lifting the receiver, resignedly dialed.



2. Nf3
3. Bc4
4. b4
5. c3
6. d4
7. 0 - 0
8. Qb3
9. Nxc3
10. Nd5!
11. exd5
12. Nxe5
13. Bb2
14. h4!
15. Bxg7
16. Rfe1+
17. Qg3!



Wednesday, November...

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