We started playing monopoly in bed at night when we canceled cable and tired of the
DVD’s we owned. The TV loomed in the dark hanging above the dresser.

I always picked the shoe, you the car. I let you be the banker once, but it took you so long
to count change, I relented and took over. I think it isn’t that you can’t count change quickly, but
that you prefer to let me take the role that demands more labor.

For the last three nights in a row, you win monopoly by purchasing every property you
land on, even when this seems unwise. Last night, when I turned out my light, I whispered into
the newly dark room, “I’m never playing monopoly with you again.”

I hate to lose. You know this. Tonight, I try your strategy. I buy everything I land on: Park
Place, Marvin Gardens, Pennsylvania Ave, Illinois, the electric company, and two railroads. I
think I’m off to a great start until I see the spread of cards littering your side of the bed. When
you hit free parking right after I get stuck in jail, I know I’m beat.

You have enough paper cash over there to start stacking houses and hotels on the triplet
of pale blues and that annoying pair of purple you managed to acquire by chance.
I wait three turns before I ask, “Are you letting me win?”

“No,” you say. But I think you are lying because you grin when you say this. “Playing
cautious,” you say when I roll my eyes. “Because it looks like you’ve got a good chance.”

I know you are lying when you say this too because you can see the cards and the money
dwindling from under the board on my side of the bed. “Don’t let me win,” I say.

You buy hotels the next turn. When I roll an eight, I throw up my hands and stomp to the
living room. You get me to return by telling me, “It’s chance, love.”

“I don’t need you to tell me how the game works,” I mutter while I follow you back to
the bedroom.

The next night, when I open the box, the car is missing. You say, “I don’t want to play if I
can’t be the car. I’m always the car.”

“Just be a different piece. The hat or the dog?”

“No,” you say. You suggest a list of other games I don’t want to play because I want to
beat you just once.

We settle on backgammon, because it’s quick and we’ve wasted half an hour. I beat you
three times before we turn out the lights and I know you tried. It was you who threw up your
hands in the last game when I had you skunked with two pieces still on the bar.

I find the car a month later when I’m vacuuming under your side of the bed. I think about
placing it back in the box, inviting you to play tonight. I rub my fingers over the bumps and
grooves. I’ve beat you in nearly every game since we quit monopoly. I’m stingier with strategy
than you.

When the car plunks into the toilet, I think about how you said “It’s chance, love.” I tip
the handle and watch the car swirl out of sight.

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Kari Treese is a writer and math enthusiast currently living in Middle Tennessee. Her work has appeared in CHEAP POP, Hobart, Pithead Chapel, Lunch Ticket, BULL, and others. She tweets @kari_treese.