By: Kaitlyn Zhou
A cloudy day. Inside and out; unlike other burning weather lately. The heat and cold were getting unpredictable. I look out the window, then look at the chessboard. I smirk wickedly. I move my bishop. “Checkmate!”
“Noooo…” Dawn whines. She moves the King and tries to escape.
“What’s this? A knight?~” I say, in my sassiest act. I move my bishop and eat her knight.
Dawn doesn’t say anything. I can tell she’s really worried from the sweat rolling down her cheeks. She moves her king piece again to the right.
“HAHA! You fell right in my trap. I have a rook here, and…YES! I won!” I gloat, congratulating myself. Here I am, winning against my best friend. This was my first time winning, and I had put in hours every day for a month to win against her. She would always win in the past. “My teacher taught me that nifty trick.”
“No!!!” She cries, as if she had lost a life or something.
“Uh…what?” I ask. “Oh, right.”
That was Saturday.
It was another blazing hot Tuesday when I woke up. And when I say blazing, I mean 92 degrees for 7:45 a.m. It was mid-summer, as another school year had passed by a bit more than a month ago.
Clara Perkins logging in. I’m an average 16 year old girl in highschool. My parents are divorced. My mom’s living happily in New York; whatever she’s doing, she’s not sending us any money.
My dad is in prison right now, for shooting people. I don’t know why. But my dad is just… different... My brother, who’s 19, doesn’t live with us and he lives about 20 minutes away. I’m not exactly sure why he left us.
My sister, Noah, is 24; 8 years older than me. She has a good job, and moved to Los Angeles. I barely see her; only a couple of times a year. She visited me last weekend, so I can’t see her any sooner for now. So, here I am, living alone.
My oldest cousin, who’s 32 already, takes care of me. But I mostly see her as a friend. Not a mom or anything. She comes over to help me on weekdays, in the afternoon when I come back from school. I don’t need to be taken care of in those 60 minutes of the morning anyway.
She doesn’t come on weekends, so I could say, I’m pretty free. I’m not even sure why the police let me live by myself since I’m under the age of 18.
“Clara! Are you coming?” Dawn laughed when I finally snapped out of my daydream. I looked out the window.
“Yeah! Wait up!” I shouted from above. Even though we haven’t been friends for over a year, we get along like peas in a pod. Yet, we’re also amazingly different!
Dawn just lives right across the street, so we don’t have to travel at all to hang out with each other. Though Dawn seems positive and fun, her family isn’t much better than mine. For her, her mom died at a young age, and her dad is out a lot. I ran to the door. “What's up?”
“Oh! Hi. Why don’t you come to my house when you’re done dressing up?” Dawn asks. “I woke up about 15 minutes ago, and I was wondering if you wanted to eat breakfast together. My dad bought new supplies, and you know how to fry an egg, right?”
“Yeah, okay.” I reply. I walk back into the house and got dressed. Along with brushing my teeth, and taking a quick morning shower, I brushed my hair and headed to Dawn’s house.
Dawn got her name because the morning before she was born, the sunrise was extra sunny, and it was glowing way more than usual. And at night, 8:00 PM I think, she was born. ‘The sun was how she got her gorgeous blonde hair,’ they always say.
“DING! DANG! KLONK! BONK! BING! Beeeeeep.” the doorbell rang. I always loved how she didn’t change the doorbell. It reminded me of how it got broken in the first place when we were both younger. Just the thought cracks me up.
Dawn and I have actually known each other for a long time. We were just never close, until the school year, when we were in so many classes together.
“Hiiii!!” Dawn rushes to her door. “What do you wanna cook first?”
“Let’s first prepare some hot chocolate, then toast some bread, and fry the eggs. Then we can prepare side dishes like crackers and stuff.” I say. She was ‘richer’ than me because her dad is still very nice. “After we eat, let’s have another round of chess!”
“Yes to the food, no to the chess. After that Saturday, you’ve been beating me ever since! It’s not fun anymore when you brag about it…” She says. There was a long awkward silence.
“Sorry…but I felt the same way when you did that, too…” I replied. She looks at me. I look at her.
“Um…let’s head in…” She says, with both of us in an awkward, quiet position. Why did this have to happen to me????
The rest of the breakfast-making was quiet. We didn’t talk unless we were asking questions like, “Where are the spoons?” or “Do you want orange juice?” The time we were eating was also quiet. I could only hear the sizzling of the outside burn, and the forks and knives ticking on the plate.
After breakfast, and after we cleaned up the dishes, I headed out the door. She looked at me. I look at her. I fidget with my fingers and play with them in my hand. Was I supposed to say the first word?
“Um…sorry about before. Let’s not be awkward. Um…” I say, not very sure how to pick up a conversation.
“It’s okay. I’m sorry, too.” She replies and smiles. I smile back.
“Well, bye! See you at the party this afternoon! The breakfast was delish! Text when I get home! Sorry about the awkwardness!” I say in a catchy yet weird tune, then laugh, and go right on over to my house.
“Haha. Yeah, bye!” Dawn replies and looks at her phone.
When I got home, I jumped on my bed, and started texting with Dawn, and talking about things for this afternoon, and stuff we could set up. If you’re wondering what I mean by “afternoon,” I just have to tell you… that today’s my sixteenth birthday!!!!
I was so excited! My older cousin, Lina, who I told you about before, helped me pay and set it up. I looked at my phone and saw that Dawn had texted me. I replied to her, but she had forgotten she had a class.
Dawn had to go to writing class at 10:00. But she had to walk there since her dad was out. I put the phone away and was about to get a snack; when suddenly, BAM! The door was slammed open. I heard loud panting even from rooms away.
I came out of my room to see Fluer, my other older cousin, panting and resting on the sofa. She had a big box with a note on it in her arms.
“Fluer!!!” I say. “Why’re you here? Why’re you holding that big box?”
“Hey, cousin! Um…” she pants. She sets down the box. “I can’t make it to your birthday party, because I have a meeting from 10:00 to 6:00. I know, long. AH SHOOT I’M GONNA BE LATE,”
“Um–” I say, unable to finish.
Fluer gets up quickly. “Happy birthday, Clarrise! The box is your B-day present! Bye! Love you!” She says and rushes out the door.
I chuckle lightly. I look at the box and decide to open it later. Not at the party, but when the party's over. I read the note on the box. It said:
Hi, Clara! It’s me, Fluer. I wrote this note to you because I can’t make it to your party. In the box is a chessboard, a special one. It has glitter and is turquoise and green, instead of black and white. (sorry for spoilers!!)I got it mailed from Pennsylvania. The shop was called Witches Cavern! What a funny name, ain't I right? Seeya!
I had always adored Fluer’s handwriting. But… Witches Cavern? That sounds a bit fishy to me...oh well!
It was 10:42. Then I heard a big, loud, HONK. There was a big jeep, with a man and woman in it.
“Um…” I say.
“Honey!” The woman says in a squeaky, pitch voice and hugs me tightly. “It’s me, your mother! Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet baby!”
“Mom?” I say, heavily surprised. I was pretty upset that my mom just left me like that and I didn’t hear a word from her again. However, the fact she remembered my birthday was quite surprising after all these years. “What are you doing here?”
“To wish my daughter a happy birthday, of course. Though, I gotta run. I also came here for a meeting. Ugh, where is your father? That irresponsible RAT.” she smooches me on the forehead and runs back in the jeep. She had left a present for me! I didn’t mean to be greedy, but I wanted birthday presents. I unwrapped it, and groaned.
“UGH…” I say. My mom had bought me a doll set! I guess mom hadn’t seen me for so long, she forgot I was 16 YEARS old! I just threw it in the back of my closet and hoped not to find it in my future.
Soon enough, before I knew it, it was time for my birthday party. I combed my hair and made it into two buns, I put on a cute chick dress, and ran out the door. The birthday party was already set up by Lina.
“Hey, Lina!” I say.
“Hey, Clara.” She replies. “I gotta go, I have a date to run with my boyfriend, Axeliis. Sorry. I’ll see you later. The birthday present is already on the table!”
Soon enough, many people started arriving. First, Dawn came. Then, the Watson sisters: Emma and Ella. Then there was Rosie, Addison, Lola, Gayle, Harmonica, Lucy, Naomi, Noah, Aerith, and Jackie. All these girls were from school. They were my friends, I just wasn’t very close with them.
The party started great and ended off great. We cut the cake, hit the pinãta, opened the presents, did a scavenger hunt, and more. I was having fun, my friends were having fun.
“Aerith! You’re in the red group with me, Harmonica, Naomi, Lola, Ella, and Rosie!!” I shout. “And Jackie, Noah, Addison, Gayle, Emma, Lucy, you’re on Dawn’s team, the blue group! Okay, red group, huddle up!” That was the water balloon fight.
It was 6 at the birthday party when we were cleaning up the trash. I thought maybe I could go over to Dawn’s house for dinner. “Hey, Dawn, do you have anything to do tonight? Will your dad be home?” I ask.
“I think you could come over for dinner. My dad will be home, I think he’s on the mend.” Dawn replies.
“Okay. I’ll come over after I bring back the leftovers to my house.” I say. “Welp, see you!” I wave to Dawn and carry all the leftover cake to the bike. I had a little crate on my bike and the leftovers perfectly fit inside the crate. I arrived home in a niffy and threw the leftover cake on the table.
I was about to leave when I remembered that I was in a frilly dress. I ran to my room and quickly changed into a t-shirt and shorts. I was about to leave again, when I remembered the unique chess board Fluer gave me. I grabbed it and rushed out the door.
When I arrived, Dawn had already prepared dinner. She was a great cook. I don’t clearly remember, but she told me a long time ago that she took cooking lessons.
“Mmm…” I say, smelling the delicious food I was going to eat. “So, Dawn, what are we going to eat tonight? I had already planned to come to your house after the birthday party, so I had made Lina’s Chicken Basil Soup. It’s her recipe.”
“Oh, that’s amazing!” Dawn says. “I prepared us some fried rice, scrambled eggs with beef, and salad with croutons.”
“Wow, that sounds delish. And oh, it smells really good too!” I say.
“Haha, very funny.” She rolls her eyes. “But, thanks.”
After a bit, It was time to eat. I sat down at the table, looking at the chessboard I had set down on the couch. I was thinking Dawn and I could play a round of chess before I leave. Suddenly, the door came open. A man walked in.
“Hey, dad!” Dawn says and hugs him. He hugged her back. I guess he wasn’t that scary after all. I guess… “Where’d you go today?”
“Hey, my beautiful Dawn!” He says. “I was having another meeting.”
“Oh…” Dawn says.. “Um, I made dinner!”
“I know, I can smell it from outside. it smells like yum-yum in my belly!” He laughs. Dawn and I can’t help but giggle. Dawn’s dad sure had a sense of humor.
Dawn and her dad sat at the table, and we ate awkwardly. I was pretty nervous around Dawn’s dad, because of stories I heard from him. Once, Dawn told me that he was sick, and wrecked the whole house! He also slapped Dawn…
But when he isn’t mad or sick, Dawn tells me he’s the best dad anyone could ask for. That’s what I want..
The rest of dinner was quiet. Each of us tried to bring up a conversation, but somehow they all just ended quickly. The three of us finished dinner, and put our plates and utensils in the sink.
Dawn and I went to her room and talked. We talked about how the school would start, and what we would do. We also gossiped about our family, and some other things.
Dawn was the only person I could rely on. The only person I could trust. We told jokes, and stories, and when we were done, about 2 hours had already passed.
Since there was nothing to really do, we decided to go to my house. Even though it was practically the same, I had a nice table that was the perfect size to play chess.
I grab the chess board, then Dawn and I gallop hysterically outside. “See you, dad!” She says.
We march on over right next door to my house. My house was mostly empty, so it lay as still as stone in the neighborhood.
“So, Dawn, come on, let’s play,” I say. I open the chessboard. Dawn sits down on the other side of the table, and says,
“I dibs on white!”
“Hey, I dibs on white!”
“Too bad. I dibs first,” Dawn says, and sticks her tongue at me. I stick my tongue back, and we both laugh pathetically.
“OK, OK, let’s start setting up the pieces.” She says. She takes the white bishops, rooks, pawns, knights, king, and queen. She sets them up one by one. “Alright! Done!” She says, after a while. She looks at her phone.
“Um….Dawn? What’s going on…??” I ask. The chessboard was glowing, all the pieces were glowing. The chairs, tables, and everything else started floating like gravity didn’t exist anymore.
“Gah!” Dawn screamed. “What the heck?!”
“Errr…!” I say. The chessboard glows more, a green light fading in and out. “AHH!” I shriek, because everything disappears! Yes, everything but me, dawn, the table, and the couch we sat on. We were in a white void of nothing!
“AHHHHH!!!” we both screamed because the ground shattered into pieces, and we all fell! I looked up, and all I could see was our floating table and couch. I blacked out when I landed.
When I woke up, Dawn was unconscious, next to me. “Dawn, wake up. Dawn.” I nudged her on the shoulder. She wakes up and asks, “Where are we?”
“I don’t know either--” I say, but someone interrupts me.
“Well, well, well.” Someone says, in a croaky voice you wouldn’t want to hear. Dawn and I quickly turned around to see who it was. But there was nobody.
An ugly man appears from black smoke. “I will be your competitor for today. But I won’t promise I’ll go easy!” He disappears into thin air with a trail of mist behind him.
Dawn and I hesitate in fear and confusion. We look around. It was a pitch-black room with one lantern right in the middle of the ceiling. Suddenly, we teleport to a life-size chessboard. Each square was just the size of the hop-scotch square! Perfect fit for our feet. I look at Dawn and gawk.
“Dawn! You’re a knight!” I say, pointing at her. She was armed, with a sword.
“Clara! You’re also a knight!” Dawn says, pointing at me. I look at my hands. I was also armed, with gloves. I had a shield and a sword, riding a mighty horse. I looked around me and gasped in awe. We were in a chess game! Thank god we were white pieces.
The strange man appeared again. The other chess pieces were normal. “Hello again.” He says. “You have opened WITCH CHESS! You have challenged me by opening this chessboard. Now you are stuck in here unless you beat the game!”
He disappears into black smoke and turns into a knight on the ground. My eyes grew wide like a tennis ball. It was from Witches Cavern! I groaned with laziness. Then he rolled his eyes and says, “I’ll explain the rules. You have to beat the game to come out. It's just like normal chess. You guys go first. You two think about a piece to move, and one of you controls it with your mind.”
Dawn and I both nod in agreement. Would it be that hard? I glanced at Dawn, to find her glaring at me. I was guessing she was mad that we- I got us stuck in a CHESS game. I sighed and moved the pawn. It seemed like I was going to be the one playing.
An hour passed, and none of us seemed to be winning. Not even close. The mystery man, who turned out to be called “Hece,” was very skilled, so I needed to focus. Dawn was still mad at me. She hadn’t changed her position. Then finally, she moved.
“Wait, Dawn- no…” I say. “If you move there, the rook will eat you!”
“Haha! Thanks for reminding me!” Hece says and uses the rook to eat Dawn’s role. Dawn didn’t get eliminated. She turned into a bishop. About another 30 minutes passed. We hadn’t gotten anywhere. Hece had eaten two pawns and a knight. Dawn and me- well, I ate 4 pawns. Finally, Dawn moved again.
“No, Dawn, you should’ve gone there! Now he has an easier chance to get to Queen!” I say. Dawn rolled her eyes. Hece moved and ate another pawn. I moved and got to eat one of his knights. “Haha!” I say.
Then Dawn moves again. The rook eats her bishop. She got turned into a pawn. “Ugh, Dawn next time you have to--”
“Gosh, Clarrise, do you have to be so bossy?” she asks, annoyed. “What has gotten into you? One, you get us both stuck in a game! Two, you keep bragging when you eat a piece! Three, stop bossing me around! Just because you're a bit older than me, doesn’t mean you can just go ‘do this!’ and ‘do that!’”
I hesitated with her sudden reply. “Well, maybe you could at least cooperate! Can’t you see I didn’t know either? Fluer gave this to me! We can fight when we’re outside the game. If you participate, at least we could even come out of this chess competition! What if we get stuck in here forever?!”
“I would’ve participated if you were more supportive! Couldn’t you have at least apologized for bringing ME into this chaos? Solve your drama!” She shot back.
“UGH!” I say. I was pissed. What had gotten into me? More of what had gotten into her! When did Dawn become this disrespectful? Isn’t her motto, “Respect elders?!” I wasn’t bossing her around!
The game started horribly. Dawn and I didn’t talk to each other, and we sometimes even sabotaged each other. Hece was winning, and we couldn’t do anything about it. I glanced at Dawn and gave her a glare. But then I let out a sigh. I had to say the first word.
“Um, Hece, could we have a break?” I say. I didn’t exactly know how to ask for a break, but if you secretly want to know- it’s not a break. It’s an excuse.
“Sure, whatever. I’d win anyway. I’ve already gotten your QUEEN! MUAHAHAHA!” He cackled. I sighed again. Dawn looked as depressed as I, as Hece was continuously teasing us.
“Hey, Dawn…” I say as I approach her. “We’re not getting anywhere…and because of our fight, we’re losing. We can’t afford to stay here forever, right?” Dawn looks at me. She nodded with belief and despair.
“Come. let’s go over here.” I say. We trotted along to the side of the battle room. “Look, I’m sorry. Maybe I was bossing you around. But I was just so frustrated and desperate, I guess… maybe that got between us. If you’re mad at me, that’s okay. But for now, we have to work together. It could lead to bigger consequences if we don’t.” I say.
“Okay. I guess I owe an apology too. I don’t know why my temper just burst. I just got really mad at you for getting me stuck in this trouble. But, what’s done is done. We’ve caused troubles, but what’s important is to fix them, right?” She says.
“Right!” I replied. I give her a big, bear hug. She hugs me back.
After some thinking, and discussing, we go back to the game. “We’re ready!” We say in unison. We got up and walked back to our places.
“Oh, you two little girls made up? How cute. But it’s too late! MUAHAHAHAHA!!” Hece cackles again. We just glare at him and make our next move. Then he made his.
After about an hour, we already had Hece’s two knights, two bishops, five pawns, and his Queen. “Teamwork is dreamwork!” Dawn and I say.
“UGH…” He grits his teeth with fumes rising in him. He moves his pawn.
“Ha!” Dawn and I both say. Dawn moves the rook and kills it. “Checkmate!”
“Um...um...” He says, desperate, and moves his King.
“Checkmate again!” I say. Hece moves his King to another place. “Dawn, move it here so he can't escape! And if he moves there, then we can use that pawn to eat him!” I whispered over to Dawn, so Hece couldn’t hear.
He falls for it and moves the King. I guess he was so nervous he didn’t even look out for the weakest pieces!
“Ooh, la la! Look what’s here~ a pawn~” I say. I use the pawn and knock down his King. For the first few seconds, there was just a thin line of silence.
“WE WIN!!!!!” Dawn screams, cheering.
“OH MY GOSH!!!!!”
“NOOOOO!!!” Hece complains, but before he could say anything obnoxious, he disappears into black ashes. “You haven’t heard the last of the chess master…” Hece’s voice trailed off as he gradually faded away. Even though he had disappeared, his roar echoed in the chess room. It made my hands quiver.
“Huh?” I say, still a bit frightened. Now Dawn and I were stupidly standing alone. “Now what- AHHHHH!!” We fall from the sky again. As we fell, I saw a little black dot. As we fall closer, I notice it’s a sofa! “Oof!” Dawn and I landed on the sofa we sat on playing- or trying to play the game. I look at Dawn, she looks at me.
“We beat the game!” We both say in unison and clap.
“But…Yawn…that game sure… Yawn…made me… sleepy…” I say and lay on the sofa. “SNORK…”
1 MONTH LATER…
Hi. Here I am again, Clarrise Perkins, with my best friend, Dawn Hayes. Standing straight and upright for a picture. “Click!” the camera goes. I was having another sleepover with Dawn.
“Dad! We want to talk privately.” Dawn says. Once we got some privacy, I looked at her. She glances at me. “What do you want to do? Chess?”
“Sure, why not?” Dawn replies. She sits down on the other side of the chessboard we set up earlier. “Let’s see… Bob, Jack, Joey, Jason, Alex, Dave, Anna, Eliana, Nina, Harold, Kathy, Grace, Alice, Jessica, Naomi, and Cedrick.”
She made her first move, and I made mine. We played, we laughed. I moved my bishop, she moved her pawn.
We played and played. Hours and hours. Round 1, round 2, round 3. After all, chess was both me and Dawn’s favorite.
I look at Dawn. I move my knight. Though I was happy, I could still remember Hece’s face when we had beaten him. His croaky voice still made my hands quiver.
This may have been an experience only Dawn and I will go through. Although both me and Dawns’ lives were at stake, It still felt like it was a fun adventure. With a grin on my face, I could only speak out one word.