When Jim first handed me the cleaned-out coffee can with all of my pieces inside I bit down on one like a prospector testing gold. The feel of Scrabble tiles without the letters, the heft of bone, each one a variant shade of beige. My tongue assessed the fine grit of something vaguely tasting of shoe sole.
“Don’t eat it!” Jim said.
“I’m not eating it.” It left a tinge of worn leather on my lips, and then I set the square back down.
“Why would you do that?” he asked.
“I’m not eating it. I’m not doing anything.” Just like I hadn’t been nudging my fingernail into a piece of stale gum, right at that very moment, stuck under the tabletop and relishing the way the gum softened its resistance. Which I had been. “So. What is it?”
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