“I’m sorry,” she said.
“No,” he said. “Don’t be. But I have to go.” She was before me, looking up. “This is not what I came for.” He touched her cheek. “I have felt you already, much better that this—just as you feel and think, just as you are. But these hands—this is not how I am. And that”—the Staunton stood vacant in the corner like a bedpost, stiff and limbless—“that only holds my place. All of this is temporary. This is flesh and wood, and it’s not why I’ve come, to drink or smoke your pipe. I am only here to tell you, tell you so you can hear it with your ears—“ Her eyes were brown on green. “What the old man said was true. From the moment you appeared, I have been in love with you, and I grow more so every time you return.”
She pressed my palm against her cheek, and I could feel her tears.
“Here.” He opened my hand, and rolled the thread from my finger. “If strings are for remembering, then I want you to wear this.” He hooked the thread over her ring finger, which was so small he had to loop it twice. “So that you will always be reminded, when all these things are ash and dust, you and I shall be together.”
He tried to pull my hand from hers, but she held to it fast. “Please don’t go.”
He stroked her hair. “But I am not going anywhere,” he whispered. “I will be here.” Her forehead was warm. “And I will be here.” Her heart was beating.
—Brooks Hansen, The Chess Garden
Crack my heart open when I die, and you will find a map of The Antipodes and something from Eugene’s rook there.