Love In The Time Of Video Games

The TV flickered with bright lights. The living room was somewhere between fluorescent and twilight at any given second. They were playing an old shooter on a last generation console. He was twelve, she was thirty; they played co op on a split screen. She was okay with him seeing blood and violence but she drew the line at online play. He didn’t need to know how terrible people can be quite so soon.

The game was going decently enough. They were both fully loaded with grenades and NATO certified munition for their M14 Enhanced Battle Rifles. It was very important to know the name of the rifle and the fact that it carried twenty rounds, not thirty. She knew this because her son told her so. She also knew this because she use to play first person shooters the first time they were popular and you always remember your favorite weapons. Kid had chops though, he was playing expert like it was easy.

Their unit came into an old beaten hotel and she got the weirdest feeling of deja vu. The enemy was suddenly all around, six stories below. Through the comm they learned that the way down was destroyed and it was too hot for air evac. They were stuck, ten thousand miles from home, strangers in a strange land. Then she saw something on a shoulder, a black 27 over a yellow V on a red field. She knew these roughnecks.

She tried to tell him, tried to explain what was about to happen but she didn’t have the words. She never talked about his father, it just didn’t come up. She had read all the forms and signed the releases but it never occurred to her that she would ever see her husband again. Sure enough, the soldier turned and it was PFC Stevens. His eyes were just that shade of blue and his hair just north of a Marine barber’s preference, like it always was.

“I guess I don’t get to go home this time. Kim if you’re out there, I always loved you, I always will.”

Then an RPG came hurdling into him. The world was white and buzzing and when Kim and Jake came to, Private First Class John Stevens was gone, just gone. He always did know how to make an exit. The checkpoint cleared, the game saved. Kim forced Jake to his room, off to do homework. She turned off the TV and the console. She clapped and the living room returned to it’s natural nicotine yellow. The game case was sitting face down on the floor. She read a blurb that said 2 million sold. At least hundred thousand people (it was pretty late in the game, on highest difficulty) knew that PFC Stevens loved Kim. Somehow, Kim loved him more.

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