The following story is a fictional one based on real events.

It was a lifetime ago, October 2nd, 2011. One of those days of fall where the chill was too cold, and all the leaves were already dead, and all the beauty was gone. It was actually a lot like my life at the time. You see, my cousin, Flynn, died yesterday after fighting Lung Cancer for the past three months. “Fighting cancer,” I hate when people say it like that, it’s too positive. Anyways, he was the only person I ever opened up to in my family. When our grandparents died, he stood beside me. He always was a strong person, and always knew what to say. But I wasn’t, I just acted like I was. Flynn, and the man sitting across from me on that day were the only ones that knew I wasn’t too.
See, the man sitting across from me on that particular October 2nd was the old man I’d been going to the park to play chess with for the past year and half. We played a lot, and never went easy on each other. Even though he thought I was a naive kid, and I thought he was a forgetful old man. But today was different, I wasn’t focusing on the game, and he knew it. “Well, my mind isn’t what it used to be, but I believe that’s checkmate.” He said to me, breaking my focus. “Heh, yeah. I guess it is.” I told him while nodding my head. He sat back in his old wooden chair and asked me, “Son, is everything okay? This is the first time I’ve beat you in months.” I just sat and kept nodding my head yes, until he asked me something he asked a lot. I guess it’s just something old people say, ‘cause my grandpa said it all the time. He asked me “Son, can I give you some advice?” Normally I would’ve said no, that I had to hurry home or some other bullshit. But he had a way of making you listen every time. He told me something that changed me as a person that day, and maybe that’s why I knew I had to listen. I said “Sure.” and he started up sayin’ this, “Look, I know whatever it is you’re going through right now has to be rough, and I appreciate that. So why don’t you? You always seem like you’re trying to ignore your feelings and seem impenetrable to the rest of the world. But truth be told son, you’re a bad liar. So just tell me what’s on your mind.” I told him I had to go, and maybe I’d tell him next game, it was a long story.
But there never was a next game. A week later I got a call from the hospital near downtown telling me that someone wanted to talk to me in room 240. They said he told them I was an old friend of his. I drove down and went to room 240, and lying in bed was the old man. The nurse told me he had Pneumonia, and for someone his age, he only had maybe a day left. I walked in and sat down in the chair next to him. He looked over at me and asked “So what was wrong last week son? I don’t think I can wait until next game to hear.” I spent the next couple hours or so telling him how great a friend my cousin was, and how hard it was to deal with when he died. The old man looked at me, “So I guess my timing’s pretty bad, huh?” He laughed and I sort of chuckled, He always had a lightheartedness about him, even when everything in life was going straight to hell. Even when the last of his remaining family died last year, he made a few jokes. Anyways, I looked at him and thought about how he was my last friend. Then I started to cry, and I looked at him with teary eyes and said the last words I ever said to him, “Don’t go.” He glanced back at me with eyes just as teary as mine and said the most comforting words anyones ever said to me, “It’s my time now son. Don’t worry about me. Besides, we’ll still be able to play chess in heaven in no time. I’ll miss you until then though.” Then the monitor went flat. He smiled at me, then shut his eyes. On the drive back home I started to cry harder than I ever had. I pulled over and thought about the words he’d just said, and vowed to keep them close to my heart and listen to them. From that day on, I lived just like he told me to. Now that it’s my time, I just hope I reach heaven so I can see him again, and we can play chess, just like old times.