I Am Player 1

gameover

I’d been with Annie for the best part of three years when she decided it wasn’t working out.

I remember it pretty well. It was early morning and it was snowing outside when she walked into the living room in her dressing gown and faux-fur slippers. I was sitting on the sofa in my parka, ready to go to work and enjoying a quick game before I left.

She looked in disdain at the half eaten toast on the arm rest next to me, then sat down and picked up the second controller. She wasn’t especially good at the game when she wasn’t in break-up-imminent mode, so now she was particularly awful.

“You ok?” I inquired half heartedly, having noticed her sub-par score. She’d rarely ever tell me if there was a problem, so it was more of a courtesy rather than genuine interest that drove me. I was expecting an evasive answer. Turned out that this time was different.

“This isn’t working out” she said quickly, the ever-tired band-aid manoeuvre. The inflection in her voice made it painfully obvious it was a ‘this is over’ statement rather than a ‘we need to talk’ set up.

I sat there for a minute, dumbfounded and mouth intermittently agape.

We kept playing in silence with what had just said hanging horribly in the air between us. My on screen avatar saved hers from a swarm of monsters with a perfectly executed special move and I found myself losing interest fast.

“OK” I finally managed, a little louder than I had intended.

“ok” she reiterated quietly.

A few minutes later and the game was over. A white message on a black screen reading ‘game over’ told us so. I couldn’t feel my fingers. The boiler hadn’t been working for about a month now and the flat was freezing. I sat there, thinking over the last few weeks, looking for a reason as to why Annie had just told me that our time together as a couple had come to an end. I had no idea, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know. I didn’t want to talk about it. I couldn’t even look at her. So I stood up.

And it hit me. That horrible feeling in your chest as if production has stopped. The pressure that builds up inside you until you let it out. The backlog of feeling that the game had helped me ignore suddenly came down on me all at once and for a second, with my back turned to her, I choked. I nearly lost it then and there but was determined to get out of the house before I gave myself in to it. I looked around desperately for the gloves I’d removed to play but I couldn’t find them. They turned up on the sofa at a later date, right next to where I was sitting, but for now I was searching in all the wrong places. The desk, the floor, the shelves – all one hundred percent glove free.

“Fuck it” I said quietly to myself. Then said it again, shouted it as I swept an arm across the kitchen counter and flung a couple of plates and a glass into the opposite wall. After the crescendo ceased to ring in my ears I gave up.

Annie stood up and turned around as I made to leave.

“Noah -” she started. I don’t know what would have followed. The door was shut and I was gone.

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~ by Joseph Blame on August 8, 2010.

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