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**PRINT: A GAME I ONCE ENJOYED, by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, is THE2NDHANDís 32nd broadsheet. Somerville's work previously appeared in No.24 in 2007, and this Somervilleís 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. Donít let that turn you off, though; Somervilleís 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: LUNCH HOUR SHOPPING Nikolina Kulidzan
WAY AS THE WIND Joel Van Noord

Nikolina Kulidzan

Kulidzan lives and writes in San Jose, CA. She loves and hates writing. Same goes for shopping.

She is perfectly aware that things can't make her happy. Ever. That any pleasure derived from material possessions is fleeting and will evaporate as quickly as it takes her to rip off the price tags and toss them in the garbage. That the moment the object of her desire is hung in a closet or placed into a drawer it will lose the last of its allure. And she knows that when the pleasure derived from the power to acquire wears off, all that will remain is a familiar aftertaste of regret and guilt.

Columbia College Fiction Writing Department

This understanding, deep and internalized though it is, will not stop her from spending almost every lunch hour at one store or another. She is a spendthrift and proud of it. Everybody knows this but she gets surprisingly little credit for it. As she stands up from her desk at a quarter to noon, her officemates look at her with good-humored shock and say: "Shopping again?" At home, in the evening, her husband meets her at the door, his eyes sliding to where her hands are gripping the plastic handles. "What did you get now?" he asks, but as soon as she opens her mouth to explain he starts nodding absentmindedly. As he leaves the hallway to resume a video game he paused, she thinks she might have heard him say something like: "Not really sure if it pays to have you work, you know." She ignores him and goes on to put away her new goodies. It's been a long time since either of them cared what the other one said.

The following day she tries hard to resist the familiar urge, but despite her best efforts she is out the door in time to enter a store exactly at noon. She feels it's unfair to count the commute time as part of her lunch hour, so she bends the office rules just a bit in order to rectify the inequity. She is not really paid enough for how much she works, anyway.

She like stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls because shopping there is kind of like Easter egg hunting. A part of the thrill is in never knowing what exactly she'll find. She always starts with clothes. Sometimes, she means to start elsewhere but the clothing section exercises its magic pull on her and simply draws her in.

She flips through the items in her size as if they were pages in a childhood photo album of a person she only pretends to care about. She hates it when the stuff is packed too tightly on the racks. This makes her have to push hard in order to fully see what it is that she is passing by. The pushing strains her arms, which in turn strains her neck. This is particularly so in the clearance aisles. But she understands that every good deal comes at a price, so she does what she has to.

In deciding what to try on, she takes into account everything -- the color, the fabric, the cut. She generally likes the single-colored items, but occasionally she is surprised by how flattering a certain pattern looks on her. She loves silk, cashmere, and quality linen, but even when significantly discounted such items are hardly affordable. Thank goodness that trying things on is free, though, so when the gentle touch of a silk blouse or a cashmere suit particularly delights her fingertips, she brings them to a dressing room and dons them. She strolls up and down the dressing room aisle, admiring herself from various angles, imagining what the world would look like from such a fancy suit. She prides herself on being reasonable, however, so she never buys what she thinks she can't afford.

In terms of the cut, she likes simple, straight lines. She is not much for seams, pleats, frill or ruffles of any kind. Every once in a while, though, she picks up something that she could never imagine wearing. Watching herself twirl and giggle in front of a mirror, she imagines being a different person, one who spends Friday nights on a dance floor or at cocktail parties. When she returns the item to a dressing room attendant, she does so hesitantly, as if parting with a ticket to a better life.

She always enters a fitting room with an armload. As long as she's undressing she might as well try on everything that looks even remotely promising, she reasons. She likes the dressing rooms that have at least four hanging hooks so that she can keep her own clothes and what she has already tried on separate from the pants and tops she is yet to try. Otherwise, it all gets mingled.

She also has a strong opinion about the lighting -- the dimmer the better. The logic that making women feel ugly in the dressing rooms might lead to more purchasing is deeply flawed, as far as she is concerned. She has in the past gotten so exasperated by the bumpy surface of her cellulite-afflicted thighs and her nonexistent waist that she has stormed out of the store without a single purchase. Had the lighting been just a bit dimmer she might have at least bought that top that flattered her chest.

Music, on the other hand, is a definite plus. Sometimes, when a song she likes comes on she'll break out into a little dance. This is likely to make her feel sexy, and the feeling may be associated in her mind with whatever item of clothing she has on at the time. In hope of recreating the sensation, she might decide to take the item home.

Knowing deep inside that buying will never satiate the gaping hole she feels, she sometimes hopes that the things she brings into the fitting room will not actually fit. She hopes to find a missing button, a lipstick stain, a loose thread, all easy enough to fix, if only she found any of the hastily purchased items worthy of the extra effort that repairing a minor defect would require. So each time a pair of jeans gets stuck around her bottom, a t-shirt fits too snugly or a blouse neckline turns out to be too wide, promising to make her hyperaware of whether her bra is showing, she feels a sense of relief.

To be fair, most of what she brings into a dressing room will ultimately be rejected on either aesthetic or functional grounds. Almost always, however, there is at least one thing that she feels would be silly to pass up. A pair of black slacks, for instance, which would go with just about anything and would make her mornings so much easier. A long-sleeve, light green cotton V-neck that would be a perfect match for that brown skirt she always struggles to pair up. A narrow snakeskin belt that would single-handedly transform a plain outfit into a unique and stylish one, and would give her just that boost of confidence she needs around her impeccably dressed colleagues. And who can blame her for buying something she needed, anyway? And for twenty bucks? And what's another $20 on her credit card?

From time to time she actually has an excuse to go shopping -- a friend's wedding, her husband's birthday, a colleague's daughter's graduation. But shopping for others is hard. She thinks she knows their style, but the bottom of her closet is full of clothes other people thought was her style. She can never be sure if the person has grown. Has she gained weight? Does he still hate brand names? Was it her who never liked pink? That sounds right, but that is unfortunate, because this pink shirt is so pretty. So pretty, in fact, she must try it on. . .

As soon as she is done with clothes she scans the shoe section. She has learned the hard way to value comfort in footwear. There was a time when she believed that "cute flats" was an oxymoron, but having once actually found such a combination she has been unable to settle for less.

Next, she looks at jewelry, for which she has no distinct taste and which she rarely buys yet never stops shopping for. Her ears bleed at anything less precious than silver and her conscience at anything more, so she limits herself to the sterling section, but everything there is either too big and dangly, or too modest and unnoticeable.

She moves on to the makeup aisle. There are so many different palettes of eye shadow, and suddenly she wonders why she never tried a combination of orange and ochre. She reminds herself that she, in fact, very rarely wears makeup, but decides that this very purchase is going to change that.

Next, she looks at the kitchen utensils and household appliances. Though she has several drawers' worth of kitchen tools she never ceases to be amazed by what's all out there that she still doesn't have. She is not much of a cook and the stuff her husband makes certainly does not require a removable bottom pan. But for such a long time she has wanted to learn how to make French tarts and now that she can save five dollars on this pan she might as well start pursuing this lifelong interest.

On the way to the cashier she passes the kids' section. She looks away. The urge to stop is strong as always, but she forces herself to keep on walking. Too many times a soft infant romper has become her handkerchief.

As the cashier takes his time ringing her up she glances at the clock on the wall and she can't believe an hour had gone by just like that. While her credit card transaction is being processed she beats her foot against the floor and irritably taps the end of the pen against the counter. She almost rips the bags from the cashier's hand as he lazily hands them over and she lets his "You have a nice day, now" hang aimlessly in the air between him and where she used to stand. She is already halfway back to her car. The bags swing unevenly by her side and hit her as she steps along, adding to her irritation for being late to work, having spent the money she doesn't have, having to face her husband's accusing eyes, and not having the one thing she really wants.

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