Shoot the Moon

by Ann Bogle

I changed my mind about what had taken place: I had failed improperly, not, as I at first believed, won every heart.   The hearts were in the field.  The hearts, our hearts, our two tall hearts, our too-tall friendship, too tall for men, our hearts in our eyes, at a level, to the side, our hating to do this: to win, we lose.


The Queen of Spades had not won every heart, but it was not in her heart to realize it, and now:  What difference did it make?  She had reported her gain.


            Did her face require so much studious fascination?  I had looked at the side of her face more ways than one—the sort of face she wore but also the face her parents had given her, ancient bone structure, judge's eyes.


I was not “best.”  I was better and “sincerely.”


She bore herself like a “widow.”  Men edged up to her kinetic circle, wanting to touch him: her father, to meet him, to know him, to test for his riches, but they'd already had her, and he, not hearing all this ridiculousness, girl-to-woman, woman-to-man, serenely born, knew her as a girl!


Neither of us thought of real winning.  We set about brilliant losing, dark angel forms of luck and greed, the desire, the craving, the need to lose so strenuous that one wins; we tied at thirteen.  She was 26 when she faked her victory.  I was 29 when I lost mine.