Playing

When I was in college, one of the houses I cleaned was for an older woman who usually had me set up a square table for mahjong. Three of her also-elderly friends arrived around that time — one hobbling in with a walker — and they were always so darn excited about this game. I laid out a wooden box of tiles, coasters, a cut glass bowl of cashews while one of the husbands made drinks.

My 12-year-old, lover of games and puzzles, studies instructions with our tiles, piecing together patterns, possibilities, in what can only be described as our unique version of play. Need four players? We’ve bastardized that, too, and make do with the two of us.

Across the table, the bridge of her nose sparkly gold from a friend’s shared paint, her eyes glow mischievously.

Do the best that you can in the place where you are, and be kind.

— Scott Nearing

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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