Barn Owls

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he evening I found my mother on the back porch, sitting still, it worried me. That woman never sat still, not even if her life depended on it.

“It’s Chuck,” she said. “He’s broken it off with me. He’s found someone else.”

The next thing I knew, I was driving down a dark gravel road with the windows down. I’d left in a hurry, I didn’t even have socks on. When I reached Chuck’s place, I revved my engine, kicking up dirt in his driveway. I clenched my fists and stomped onto his porch. An abundance of testosterone in a boy’s bloodstream will make him do such things.

Chuck came to the door and saw me breathing heavy. “Hey buddy, what’s the matter?”

I wanted to shout something ugly, say something about my mother’s honor. I wanted to smear Chuck on the pavement for breaking her heart. More than that, I wanted my father back; I wanted to walk into the woods and disappear like a barn owl.

“H-H-How could you?” was all I could mutter before crying.

Chuck took me into his arms. He brought me inside, made coffee, and out the kindness of his heart, explained himself to a cotton-picking eighteen-year-old. Then, Chuck did something odd; he taught me to play chess. I was terrible at it. We played five hours, until I fell asleep on his sofa.

When I went to leave the next morning, I found a chess set in the front seat of my truck. A note read, “Cheer up, you’ll forget all about me one day, partner.”

He was wrong.

You never forget how to play chess.

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