‘Fischer vs. Spassky’ by Lara Vapnyar


Bobby Fischer

From The New Yorker:

For a long time after her husband died, Marina used to scream. She’d feel the scream rushing up from her stomach, choking her from the inside, and she’d run out of the room, stumbling over her kids’ toys, and hide in the hallway, in the narrow space between the coatrack and the mirror stand, biting down on her right forearm to muffle the sound. After the scream had passed, and she unclenched her teeth, there would be little circular marks on her arm that looked like irregular postage stamps. Those scars remained long after Marina had stopped screaming, long after she had ceased grieving for her husband altogether.

Even now, thirty years later, she could feel them tingle at random moments. She felt it when she heard Bobby Fischer’s name on the radio. She was driving down a snowbound Brooklyn street on the way to see a client. The radio was on low, but she thought she heard the announcer repeating that name. She turned up the volume and there it was: Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fischer had died. Bobby Fischer had died in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Marina turned onto a side street and started her crawl up the slippery slope that led to Elijah’s house. His empty driveway was unshovelled, so she had to park on the street between two caked mounds of brown snow. She knocked on the front door, then opened it without waiting for an answer. Inside, there was the usual picture: Elijah in his chair, tiny, wrinkled, wearing his cancer hat, while his night health aide, a chubby young woman, dozed in front of the blaring TV.

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