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**PRINT: A GAME I ONCE ENJOYED, by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, is THE2NDHAND’s 32nd broadsheet. Somerville's work previously appeared in No.24 in 2007, and this Somerville’s second broadsheet since the release of his short-story collection, Trouble, in 2006 marks the first since his novel The Cradle launched into the cultural imagination with coverage in the form of reviews in places as high as the New York Times Book Review. Don’t let that turn you off, though; Somerville’s work is viscerally humorous and elegantly dramatic as the best out there, as evidenced in this epic story, about a chess game whose stakes might well be higher than its players know. Also in this issue: a short from Ohio scribe Daniel Gallik.

**WEB: LIVING COLOR Stephanie Friedman
THE BITTER REDS Philip Brunetti
An excerpt from the novel HEARTLESS Eric Durchholz
MR. C.I.A. Gretchen A. Van Lente

Stephanie Friedman

Friedman is the program director for the Writer's Studio at the University of Chicago Graham School of General Studies. She lives outside the city in Berwyn with her partner, two kids and two cats.

Marilee came home from the supermarket with a bunch of russet-tinged bananas and two grapefruits with a lavender sheen. What were they spraying on the trees these days, her girlfriend Jess wanted to know? She pointed a banana at Marilee like a finger, or a gun.

Columbia College Fiction Writing Department

Outside, stop signs were deepening to aubergine like blooming bruises. A train rammed into a woman's car when she didn't know what to make of the flashing turquoise lights at the railroad crossing.

Everyone began to take on his or her own daily shade, cycling through colors like so many fiberoptic lamps, now glowing orange, pink, blue. The makeup industry was in a panic. Census takers could only tick other, other, other.

More pundits were on the radio, trying to make sense of it all. Some scientist claimed that every day the spectrum shifted and jumbled into a new arrangement.

Marilee reached out to switch from NPR to the alternative rock station. She watched her hand move toward the knob, the chartreuse skin stretching as bones and muscles flexed, orange veins slightly visible underneath.

She had never really thought about her color before. Sure, she had worried about sunburn, freckles, that mole that had gone dark and funny-shaped. This was different. She had always thought about color as belonging to other people, something to inspire guilt or sympathy. Now she had to think about it as a property her own, whatever it might mean now, whatever it might mean in the future.

At least soap bubbles were still iridescent. Marilee scooped up a handful from the sink full of dirty dishes and squeezed gently, watching the foam encase her hand.

Jess stomped through the kitchen. She was green today, too, although with more blue than yellow in the mix. Lime rather than chartreuse.

Jess said, "Why are you always moving my stuff? Why can't you leave my things alone?"

Marilee kept playing with the soap bubbles, piling them up and folding them over like beaten egg whites.

Jess came so close to her she could not look away. "I need my notes for the meeting. Where are they? When I leave something somewhere, it's for a reason."

Jess's irises were pinkish-red, like raw hamburger meat. They had been slate blue before, pale and flinty, but Marilee couldn't picture it. Jess's eyes might have always been like this. Jess the vegetarian, with meat-colored eyes.

"There's changes coming, big changes, and all you can do is lie around here and fuss with this or that. You wash a few dishes or move a few papers, like that makes any difference. At least I'm working with people to make something happen."

Marilee held up her soapy hands in front of her. A gob of bubbles plopped to the floor.

"Goddammit, wake up." Jess gave her one hard shake. Marilee looked down at the lime green hands gripping her chartreuse arms and giggled. Jess gripped her arms tighter, then released her with a suddenness that felt like an attack. Jess was out the door before Marilee realized she had not been slapped. She put her hand up to her cheek. What color would the mark have been, the blood brought to the surface, just below her skin? She could look in the mirror, but there would be nothing to see. Just a dampish trail left by her own hand.

Marilee wiped her hands on her jeans. The apartment really was a mess. Piles of books, unopened mail, scraps of paper everywhere. The jumble of shoes by the door. That sticky patch where the orange juice had spilled. She would focus on bits and pieces, picking her way through and tidying one small thing before she went back to their bed to sleep or read or just curl up. The bed was the only part of the apartment not covered in junk, although the quilt was furry with cat hair. Marilee dipped her hand into the covers to make a nest for herself, a small open spot by the pillows.

Maybe Jess was right. Maybe now was a time to strike. But was it so wrong to want to drift with the changing shades?

Marilee found Jess's notes sitting on top of the toilet tank. She flipped through the papers as she peed, looking at the spiky writing without reading what it said. Once Marilee had loved how Jess could slay dragons with her words. Now it only made her tired, the constant clashing, the bright steel.

She put the notes back on the tank so she could wipe, zip up, and flush. As she washed her hands, she also rubbed away a brown clot of dried toothpaste. She should leave the notes on the tank. Let Jess see that she was the one who had mislaid them.

Marilee laid the sheaf of notes in the kitchen sink. They floated above Jess's dirty dishes, greasy water and dying suds slowly soaking them, blurring the slashing marks to blue. By the time Jess found them, Marilee would be gone to some other bed, to wake with some unknown skin.

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