by Algor Dennison
copyright 2011 Algor Dennison
Georg Fransen had been sitting on the Daydreamer’s white-scrubbed deck for three hours when the first passengers began leaving breakfast. He watched, soaking in the salty sunshine while he waited. What it was he was waiting for, he couldn’t quite remember, but it didn’t really matter. It could have been lunch, or perhaps someone to challenge him to shuffleboard or checkers. The former wouldn’t happen for a few hours, and the latter probably never, but Georg was, if nothing else in the world, a patient man.
He took a sip of his ginger beer and hunched himself forward around the checkerboard on the little table in front of him. Resting his arms on either side of it, he stared at the board and pretended to contemplate it deeply. People didn’t notice his watching if he had something in front of him. He pushed pieces around on the board occasionally, playing a slow game against himself, but he was too tricky for his own good, and he kept losing track.
He smiled each time he found himself outwitted; it didn’t bother him much. In fact, it made games like this possible, and it made good books just as good the tenth and twentieth times through, so there were advantages. What did bother him sometimes was that all the short-term things of life kept sliding away. It was hard to hold them in place, took too much effort to keep track of them all at once. The game he could let slide if he needed, while concentrating on other things: the long-term things, the things he refused to let slide away. And yet it seemed he couldn’t hold those either, really. Only in his memory.
Frowning at the checkerboard, he smoothed the creased cover of the paperback he had been reading. He wasn’t following it well. There was one phrase, though, strikingly ironic, stuck in his mind. The only thing he could actually recall from the book. Someone had said, lackadaisically, the only constant is change. That was it. Heraclitus! The book didn’t even know it, but five hundred years before Christ someone had already figured that one out.