Mists of Time

As the mists swirled around them they joined hands and staggered forwards....or was it backwards?


4. A Game of Chess

The next day Mai was in the library as usual. It was her domain, a place where she felt safe and secure. Here she was surrounded by her great passion in life, books. Ever since she could remember, her mum had given her progressively more difficult reading material. She believed that books were truly doors to other worlds, that they provided escapism from the harsh realities of true life.  

When she'd first arrived at Stockby High School, she'd sought out the library. She knew that's where she'd find friends. Over the years her family had had spells in the US and other parts of her native Malaysia. The first place Mai always went to was the school library. Stockby High was no different. Mrs Collins, the school librarian was a little batty. However like all school librarians, she really liked the students and was passionate in wanting them to read more. 

After a brief talk with Mrs Collins, Mai went and sat in the comfy seats and got her book out of her bag. She loved most types of fiction but loved the work of Marcus Sedgwick. She had recently received a copy of his latest book and was determined to finish it. As she turned to the place she was in the book, she heard someone sit next to her. She glanced up to see Tom sitting there. On his lap was one of the chess sets. Mai blushed. Why was she so like this when she saw Tom. Usually she was really confident around her peers, but around Tom she became tongue tied and awkward. Deep down she knew it was because she liked him. 

'Fancy a game' asked Tom indicating to the chess set. 

'Ok' she said. The book would have to wait.  

For the next few minutes there was silence between them as they set up the board and went through the motions of their first moves.  

'Are you coming camping with us this weekend?' Tom asked after he took one of Mai's pieces. 

Ouch thought Mai, I must concentrate on this game. She thought for a moment about her next gambit. She smiled inwardly as she realised that Tom had left his Queen unguarded and in a couple of moves it could be hers. Maybe he wasn't concentrating. She moved a pawn before answering.  

'I don't know. My mum doesn’t like me mixing with boys too much.' 

'Oh', said Tom looking slightly dejected. Mai looked at him. He was really a nice person. She had feeling for him, that she didn't quite understand. It was a weird sensation. It wasn't like the feelings she had for her friends or even her family. It was an gut wrenching type of feeling. It filled her consciousness and affected her immensely.  She thought that it was probably the first stirrings of love. At 13, Mai wan't that experienced. She'd had crushes with boys in the past. All nice and wholesome, but this was different. Maybe, just maybe Tom had the same sort of feelings for her? 

Mai moved her piece to capture his queen. The look of disappointment on his face melted Mai's heart. How could she be so ruthless, after all it was only a game. 

Just at that moment the door of the library was swung open. Sinead and Sarah burst through the door arm in arm rather noisily. 

'Oh there you are Mai, should have guessed you'd be with Tom' Sinead said. 

Mai and Tom both blushed.  

The girls plonked themselves down on the seats next to the others.  

'Mai, I meant to mention to you earlier in French, my mum wants you to come to tea with us tonight. Sinead's coming so please come along, should be fun. She wants to try her curry out on you.' Sarah said. 

Mai's face wrinkled up. Just because she was from the east, people thought she was like an expert on all things curry. the truth is, she was hopeless at cooking. Her mother tried her best to get her to cook, but somehow it never turned out well. 

'I'll ask my mum' Mai answered. 

'It's OK, my mums talked to your mum and blah blah', Sarah said gesticulating with her hands. 

They arranged to meet after lessons on the road outside. A few minutes later Sarah and Sinead stood up and left. Sarah was off to play football, and like usual Sinead was off to watch her. 

When they left, Tom looked across at Mai. 

'Your move Mai' he said 

She looked at the board. She was in a strong position. In a few moves, she could win. She remembered the look on his face earlier when she had took his Queen. She'd be merciful this time. She moved her queen into a position where it could be taken. Tom eyes lit up. He took her queen and put her in check. 

Mai smiled inwardly. Now the game would be close. She'd saved his honour. 

Ten minutes later lunchbreak was over and the game had descended into an honourable stalemate. 

Shaking hands over the board, Tom looked directly into Mai's eyes, holding her grip for a tad longer than normal 

'Come at the weekend, please' he asked.

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