Writers (in order): S. Lee, Emily Hwang*, Rylie Gardiner, PK Williams, Furbz, Meithepoet, Martha Ssuna. Editor: Ms. Wilson.
*Wrote more than once
The audience was still cheering. Some were standing and clapping their hands.
Even though Jiwoo was fighting against Kyle and had lost, he knew that they would make good friends. It was just hours of a chess tournament, but he could see that Kyle was such a nice guy.
But the other part of him, the part that loathed losing, seethed at the man. Jiwoo felt rage coursing through him.
Had he not worked hard enough? Had he done something to deserve the loss?
The other man had the audacity to smile, to smile when all Jiwoo had worked for was crashing down on him. He felt his head spin and struggled to keep up his public smile. Kyle was turning towards him.
The other man was glowing with happiness and it was too much for Jiwoo. He looked around for an exit, putting his hand in his pockets to clench them. Hopefully he could keep it together long enough to get out of the cameras’ eyes.
“Jiwoo! Good job!”
His mother waved furiously from the other side of the hall, cheeks flushed, a heavy tote bag clutched in each hand. Jiwoo shrank with embarrassment but walked toward her anyway.
“Why are they leaving? Break?”
“Nah, the tournament ended. I got second.”
“Ai yi yi, second is still good. I know you did your best.”
Jiwoo smiled painfully. “How do you know?”
“You’re my son.”
As they descended, Jiwoo’s mother chattered to him all the way about a finicky customer she’d been having and what her friend had told her about the girl three doors down. He focused on the rise and fall of her voice, desperately trying to ignore his bubbling anger. What did Kyle know about chess, anyway? Sure, he had experienced the thrill of victory, but what about the pain of loss, the countless sleepless hours spent visualizing possible moves?
Jiwoo’s mother came to a stop as she saw two figures approaching them. It was Kyle, and next to him, a middle-aged lady.
“Juwon, I haven’t seen you since our high school reunion,” the woman said arrogantly, with belittling eyes. “Not only were you always second to me in the rankings, but it seems your son is destined to be as well—second to my son, no less.”
“Layla, not only were you so mannerless and spoiled when we were children, but it seems your son has grown up to be a brat as well.” Jiwoo’s mom, Juwon, wiped the smile clean off of Layla’s face.