The evening started off on a normal note. He buzzed the apartment, was let in, and walked through the door. No hug, but his hands were full. After a few moments passed and dinner was laid out before us, it became apparent that something was seriously wrong. When asked, he said that he would tell me when he was finished eating, but warned that "it was nothing good." As my appetite had fled, I began reading any writing I could find within the kitchen. Funny how the Qwest bill can be fascinating when all else fails.

When he had finished eating, I was ready for anything, or so I told myself. I was not ready for this. What I anticipated as a "problem-solving discussion" turned into a game of verbal chess. Feeling lost and out of my element, I listened in disbelief.

There are those who believe that if you care enough about something, you will fight for it. As my stomach tightened and my chest began to hurt, it seemed as if, yet again, that belief was proving to be idealistic and naive. My head reeled as I moved my first piece.

One by one, pieces are struck from the board. There are only three ways this can end: win, lose, or accept a stalemate. Each player has been deeply wounded by this point in the game, and the clock is against both. They look up occasionally to find tears in the eyes of a loved one. This game has become a fight to the death, with neither wanting to strike the final blow.

They have realized that they can both survive if they call a stalemate, and with two minutes left, they concede. Emotionally drained, one player leaves the arena, leaving the other to contemplate the placement of the final pieces. There are ways she can spare her opponent, leaving herself completely vulnerable to the blade. It is the blade that both frightens and draws her close. Falling upon the blade would allow her partner his chance to evaluate both his playing and the outcome. Shying away from it allows the players to decide whether a new game is to begin or whether the pieces should remain where they fell.

As the minutes pass by, she cannot take her eyes from the chess board. It was a game she had not endeavored to play, yet there is no backing away now. Placing a gauze square over the hole in her heart, she ponders her next move. Knight to...