Best when left alone, it works like a circle in the snow, tracing out the very heart of the matter. That is why it is so alive, because even from this frozen plain it rises up and gives life to what was never there.

In the mind it becomes a forest without trees. One can see the horizon without realizing it is there. The trees conspire to bring life to the untamed earth. The man without a compass seeks direction from the footsteps that he takes.

Thunder is always louder when one listens to it alone. It combs the hair of the wicked and sprinkles spice on the thoughts of the innocent. When the change comes, everything stays the same, but one is forced to look at it from a different direction.

Victoria did not know how to dance, save for a few random white girl moves she forced herself to undertake out of necessity. She preferred to sit on the porch drinking beer from a brown bottle while watching the cars fly past her front door. She took many lovers, but none of them held her interest for more than a few weeks. It was better when they left before she was ready to let them go. That left a hunger that needed to be satisfied and allowed her a reason to cry when most of her life was a monotony without excuses. She had lived in this house since her fourth birthday and had no plans to move anytime soon. The fact that her mother lived in the downstairs bedroom and padded around in the pantry every morning kept any of Victoria's lovers from trying to stay too long. It gave her a reason to feign sainthood, as any outsider might think she stayed to take care of her mother. Revelling in reality revealed that her mother was neither sick nor lonely. It was the daughter who needed the companionship.

Colors can sometimes be appalling. Too much color can induce madness. Too many colors can overwhelm the senses. Rain washes away colors and adds new colors of its own. The stray dog knows before the storm arrives. The man in the sports car with a cell phone and a lab top forgets where his windshield wipers are.

On the third Thursday of every month, Victoria attempted to wrangle with a new diet. It was a pattern of which she was unaware, as her entire life had become a repetitive pattern with only token variations. As she became older it was more difficult to find new lovers, in part because she never left her small hometown and in part because so many people were coupling and joining together. In a way, Victoria considered it a conspiracy of which she was the intended victim. Why would anyone enter into marriage or a long term commitment that could not be readily escaped from? Did these people not get bored with each other? Why would they trap themselves in such a way? Victoria wondered these things as she sat on the porch sipping her beer and waiting for her mother to return so they could begin the Sunday night ritual of watching two rented movies and having dinner between the double feature.

In the dirt one can draw a line. The line can be straight or the line can curve. There are no rules when it is just a stick and some sand.

When one finds their way to the other end of the checkerboard someone makes them king. When they return back to their own end they become a peasant again. Time changes the pieces but the rules secretly remain the same.

Sometimes, in the quiet sadness of her room, Victoria would question her life's path. Change was the enemy, as it disrupted the control she exerted over her environment. She kept the same job for many years, even as she complained about how miserable it was. She lived in the same house, in the same room, without having so much as rearranged the furniture in seven years. The only thing she could not control were the people around her. The only constant was her mother, who lived a quiet, spartan existence of going to work and reading endless novels about lives that were more exciting than that of her and her daughter. Victoria noted the patterns of her life and the way they wound themselves throughout her family bloodlines. Her Aunt Vivian had lived with her own mother, Victoria's grandmother, for more than half a century. Change was but a dream reflected in the long, desperate letters Aunt Vivian wrote to her niece weekly. "There has to be something better out there, but the world is too cruel of a place to face alone."

Vivian had her share of lovers as well, although the stream had long since run dry. The men she met now were usually retired widowers who were more interested in undertaking little home improvement projects in exchange for a home cooked meal. The adventure of having lovers had passed, and that eventuality was something Victoria did not want to accept as possible. One of the few things that kept life interesting was keeping her Friday night friend from realizing she had been entertaining someone else on Wednesday. They did not need to know. After all, despite their promises of love and fidelity, they would never last because they could never be the man Victoria believed could not exist. They could never be everything her father was not. She always found a little of him in every man she met. To give all her love to such a man and have him desert her like her father had deserted both Victoria and her mother was not acceptable. She never wanted to acquire the emptiness she saw in her mother's eyes, because she never saw it in her own when she brushed her hair in the mirror.

A reflection is nothing but a lie. It reverses the nature of everything that is. No one can assess an honest picture of themselves as they are perceived by the world. The world can never make an honest assessment of who we are. Somewhere they are making kings on a checkerboard, but somewhere there is a circle in the sand that is being worn away by the ravages of time.

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