my proposal for a paper on much ado about nothing got accepted, which is GREAT because now I have an excuse to re-watch the Josie Rourke Tate/Tennant version for the millionth time guilt-free. I’m studying.
The purpose of making the chess set it twofold: firstly, to practice forming small, intricate figures made of both wood and paint, and secondly, to play chess. Chess was always something she wanted to try, but never had the chance to. That’s not entirely true: she’s played against a computer before, so she knows the rules and a bit of strategy. But she’s never played with a real person. She wants a real game, during which she can physically move the pieces and see the board in three dimensions. She wants to play against a real person she can clearly see in front of her.
Momo sits in the common area, laying the board she created first in front of her. Then she begins making the pieces, concentrating deeply while pieces fall out from her thighs. At first, Jirou and Tooru keep her company, but they soon tire and head off to eat. Aoyama compliments her on the shiny paint job. Iida asks if he would be allowed to play against her once she’s finished.
In total, it takes her two hours. By the time she finishes, she’s starving. Before she heads to the kitchen, Momo arranges all the pieces in their proper places. She’s pretty proud of her work; the pure white and pitch black armies look rather regal standing off against each other on the checkered board. As an afterthought, she pushes a white pawn forward.
Her stomach rumbles, and Momo head off to make herself a big dinner.
The next morning, she sees that the chess board is not as she left it. A black pawn has been moved two spaces forward, two columns away from the one she pushed forward last night.
She asks around to see who might have done it, but no one knows.
Before she goes to bed that night, she pushes her pawn forward another space. And the game begins.
It goes on like that for a week. Momo still doesn’t know for sure who she’s playing. She doesn’t think it’s one of the girls; since she’s friendly enough with all of them, they would most likely tell her directly. Her second guess had been Iida - he had said he wanted to play her. But when she had asked, he said it wasn’t him. She suspects it’s Tokoyami, or maybe Ojiro. They seem to have the disposition for chess, and might be shy enough to avoid confronting her about it.
She can’t bring herself to ask them, though, afraid that if she did, she would scare them off and the game would end.
But playing one move a night is agonizingly slow. They’re getting nowhere at this rate. So that night, Momo waits up, hovering around the kitchen while keeping an eye on the common area.
Evening fades into night, the natural light of the setting sun replaced by electric lights within the dorm. The hands on the clock tick away slowly, round and round, and still, no one touches the board. Each of her classmates head up one by one, until it’s only Tokoyami and Bakugou left. And then Tokoyami heads upstairs.
Sure enough, Bakugou gets up and moves a piece. He flickers his eyes up and glares at her.
Momo jumps. She didn’t think he realized she was there.
One of my history professors is this scarily intense German guy, and today we were talking about the peer reviewing process and how vicious some academics can get, so I casually asked him what the worst review he’d ever received was.
He became very stony-faced, looked off into the distance and said, completely deadpan and in his thick accent: