In Mid Game
[Two sitting on the floor playing with their three children paused a moment to stretch. Leaning back, they idly surveyed the spread of action figures and other toys about them, until the first spoke.]
I was thinking honey. It occurred to me—
What? Go on. Why you stop like that I hate it when you do that.
Uh—oh, I thought over there—see over there a bug ran across there. Here—
No, no! Finish what you were thinking! I will not let you get away with it this time!
Get away with what? What are you saying?
—no—settle down and listen, or I’ll leave the room right now.
Leave the room? I. What, you. Why are you starting something with me—come on—
Settle down. Last chance.
—you’re always starting stuff with me! Why?
Settle down—okay, I’m going outside to do some stuff—
No! No. Sit down. I. Okay. There. See. I’m settled down.
So. What got you going?
Your habit of stopping halfway through talking to me and totally changing the subject.
I don’t do that.
[The look from the second sought to pull thought from deep in the first and—and—a-n-d and the first gulped in air then immediately pushed out loose rattily words at the second.]
Oh, yes. I know. I know I do that. But not…
But not what?
Not that much.
Oh, come on, said the one with a back leaning armflip up on the sofaback waving, I have told you about this at least every day and sometimes more than once a day how you do that.
But I don’t mean nothing.
Don’t matter. It comes across very rude. Now, with me that doesn’t matter. After all we’re family. But to strangers—and yes, I have seen you do this with strangers—no no no, don’t wave me down let me finish—doing this to strangers makes you look rude, and. If not rude on purpose, then really, really stupid. Get it?
You’re trying to hurt my feelings! You like to do that.
[the second with a handflip matching the first’s quick reply.]
Oh? Well try stopping doing these stupid things, and you’ll see I’ll never say these things to you.
I doubt that. Everything is always me. Never you. Just me.
Oh, cut it. Say the whole sentence you were going to say. That was what started all this. If it was so damned important, then go on and finish it.
Okay—what it was that, I was thinking honey, that it just might be true we are Gods to tiny worlds of people attached to these tiny plastic action figures. Those people, though believing as we do that they have free will, are living lives controlled by us through some remote attachment to these destiny controllers, which we are likewise deluded in believing are mere insignificant children’s toys—which children, by the way, causing us to play this way or that with these toys or those from their widely varied collection of same—ironically which has been gifted to them piecemeal by us, driven by some other forces too dark and vast to ever be comprehended—are the real masters of all universes connected to these controls we manipulate. It is a good thing that.
[the second into the emptiness between]
There you go again, cutting off! You really did not learn! I swear to God.
No! This time I cut my words off deliberately. I felt by your near-doze either you had got the gist already or that you were not listening at all. Which was it?
The answer is not going to please you.
It was both.
Oh. Uh—well, you know, that leads me to another view of this all. Care to hear it?
Sure. Why not?
It very well may also be that—oh wait—see over there—see over there’s that bug ran across there again. See it?
Okay, sure, yes, but—
[the words of the bored children came back up round them]
[leaning them over down and quieting them down]
[settling them smoothly back to resumption of the game]
About the writer:
Jim Meirose’s short works have appeared in numerous venues. Meirose’s published novels include Understanding Franklin Thompson (JEF pubs) and Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer (Optional books).
Image: Sweater Pattern by KJ Hannah Greenberg. Digital art. No technical data specified. By 2019. By permission. KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her newest poetry collection is The Wife/Mom (Seashell Books, 2019). Her most recent fiction collection is Walnut Street (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2019).