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September 23rd, 2018
Lucilius walks into the hospital and finds on the map the appropriate wing. He takes the elevator and walks the busy corridors and finally finds the room where a good friend is bed ridden from sickness.
Lucilius approaches his friend, bends over and kisses his friend on the forehead. Eyes gently open and the widest of smiles greets Lucilius.
He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t comment on the situation, the setting, the ailments of his friend, just lifts a boxed game he’d been carrying.
“Brought a game. Let’s play.”
The groaning motor of the bed spins into action and Lucilius’ friend is slowly hoisted to a sitting position while Lucilius unfolds the board and places the glass beads in their respective places.
His friend, having never played, listens as Lucilius explains the simple rules.
They play a couple rounds until Lucilius’ friend has fully grasped the game. They set up another board and begin.
Lucilius looks to the clock in the room, thinking about the appointment of another loved one. He wonders how things went. Wonders when he might hear, and Lucilius’ friend watches him note the time.
After a few more moves, Lucilius notices his friend make a curious decision. He did not make the most advantageous move. Nor was it a terrible move.
Lucilius thinks it’s a fluke, until he notices his friend make a similar move. It’s easier for Lucilius to win with these sorts of moves and he wonders if he’s explained the game thoroughly enough, but curiosity keeps him quiet and he continues to play. He watches his friend undermine his own chances at victory again and again, making good moves only when Lucilius starts to inch towards victory.
Then Lucilius understands. His friend makes a few bad rolls losing the well balanced advantage he had with Lucilius, so Lucilius undermines his own advantage.
They both play like this for some time, neither gaining on the other, each keeping a vigilant balance against the other with no focus on winning, but only to play, and to continue playing.
Lucilius works into a sort of meditative state with the game play, rolling and moving glass beads, keeping the board balanced, the movement never ending, until Lucilius hears a sniffle.
He looks up and there are tears in his friend’s eyes.
“What’s up?” Lucilus asks.
His friend nods towards the clock. “It’s ok if you have to go. You don’t have to stay.”
Lucilius smiles. “Can’t leave in the middle of a game.”
“But neither of us are trying to win.”
Lucilius picks up the dice once more. “I know,” he says. He rolls them again, looks at his friend.
“it’s kind of nice, isn’t it?”
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