Molly peeked into her father’s study, hoping to see his face light up the way it always did in her presence.
“Daddy?” She half expected him to answer, but in silence she entered, sweeping her gaze across shelves of books, the big oak desk, and model airplanes. All his beloved things.
She sighed and walked the familiar arc around the desk to his chair, the leather broken in perfectly like a great pair of jeans. Coaxed by its allure, Molly sat in Daddy’s place, petting the velvety armrests and drinking in his scent. She leaned back, a poke behind her sending one hand deep into the seam of the chair, where she retrieved a small white card. “What in the world?”
Molly turned the card upright and focused, her eyes quickly clouding behind laughter that brought tears. “Oh, Daddy.” She touched the card to her chest, remembering their last game.
“You can have Boardwalk and Park Place, Moll. I’ll take Short Line,” her dad grinned as she handed him the card. “That just leaves one more railroad. Come on, Reading!”
Never a Monopoly mogul, he typically floundered during their weekly game, leisurely collecting the railroads and utilities, while Molly snapped up the big-money properties before booby trapping them with hotels and houses.
“You’re going to owe me, big time, Daddy!” she laughed, appreciating the layout of the board. Marvin Gardens, Pennsylvania and Illinois Avenues—she had all the great real estate trios in addition to the Boardwalk bombshell.
“You never know, Moll. I might take another vacation at our local penitentiary,” he smiled. “Then who would you charge?”
“You’re just delaying the inevitable, Daddy. That little money you’ve got there …” she pointed to his meager pile, “it’ll be mine very soon.”
“Not if I get my last train!”
And so the dance played out—a dad’s valiant quest for lesser properties culminating in a predictable trouncing by his daughter. Now, settled in her father’s chair, Molly cherished the small reminder of their weekly face-offs, knowing he valued their time together more than victory. She, however, didn’t mind at all that he let her win. That, their tender exchange, became more the game than Monopoly.
“Molly?” her mother popped her head around the study door. “It’s time to go.”
She nodded, concealing the card in her palm.
Molly fell silent during the short ride, stealing glances at the secret treasure in her hands. When they arrived, she entered a stone building with her mom and sister, and walked directly to the front, to her father.
Molly leaned forward, whispering words of love into the casket, and opened her hand to reveal Reading Railroad, the card from his study. Before saying a final goodbye, she kissed the card and tucked it carefully under his tie. “Here you go, Daddy. Now you’ve got your last train.”
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