K- woke to the muted, dull vibration of a call. Sprawled and tangled on and in her bed, she tried to remember where she'd left her phone. <div class="shelf">The <u>shelf</u>.</div> <div class="shelfhidden">The shelf was full of K-'s old games and consoles. An old playstation, browned with coffee-spills and oxidized plastic. N64 controllers, whose wires were bound in tight loops around the right gap of the controller's trident-prongs. Her Wii, unused and unplayed in years.</div> <div class="windowsill">The <u>windowsill</u>.</div> <div class="windowsillhidden"> <br><br><br> From the window, K- could see the shaded patios and terraced entranceways across the street. On the windowsill was a days-old glass of water, and her estradiol pills.</div> <div class="computer">Her <u>computer</u> was humming expectantly.</div> <div class="computerhidden"> K-'s desktop was a mess of unsorted documents. Months of files, tumbling down from various projects, had accumulated on the desktop like dead leaves. Screenshots of glitched out emulations. Passwords for forgotten sites. Corrupted music files. Zip archives, the discarded husks of the extracted. It all lay there, uncollected and decomposing on her desktop. An [[emulator]] was running in the background.</div> <div class="laundry">The pile of <u>laundry</u>.</div> <div class="laundryhidden"> <br><br><br> K- hadn't done laundry in over a week. The [[phone]] was still in her pockets. She had forgotten to charge it after last night's gaming.</div> <script> $(".shelfhidden").hide(); $(".shelf").mouseover(function() { $(".shelfhidden").show(); $(".windowsillhidden").hide(); $(".laundryhidden").hide(); $(".computerhidden").hide(); }); $(".windowsillhidden").hide(); $(".windowsill").mouseover(function() { $(".windowsillhidden").show(); $(".shelfhidden").hide(); $(".laundryhidden").hide(); $(".computerhidden").hide(); }); $(".computerhidden").hide(); $(".computer").mouseover(function() { $(".computerhidden").show(); $(".laundryhidden").hide(); $(".windowsillhidden").hide(); $(".shelfhidden").hide(); }); $(".laundryhidden").hide(); $(".laundry").mouseover(function() { $(".laundryhidden").show(); $(".windowsillhidden").hide(); $(".shelfhidden").hide(); $(".computerhidden").hide(); }); </script> K- answered the phone. It was her sister. "K-, Dad's gone." she said. [["Gone?" K- asked.->phone1]] The emulator was called Dolphin. It was how K- played games on her computer. The emulator abstracted the game from its disc and the hardware that read it. The emulator rendered the game into the chronological atoms of video: frames. With this tool, K- could move, adjust, and advance the game with chronomantic alchemy. She spent hours planning routes through the game, finding out how to navigate the space with frame-perfect accuracy. She spent hours shaving milliseconds off her best runs. A mistake was a small setback. Simply [[rewind->Start]] the game a couple frames and then try again. Keep sculpting until the inputs were perfect. Even with this tool, it would take a lifetime of effort string together a chain of inputs into a perfect playthrough. K- liked to chip away at it though, there's was something supremely calming about watching the emulator play through the game at normal speed. It turned the hand-crafted motion of almost-still-frames into a kind of robotic precision that made her flutter. "Left this morning" she said. "Is Mom okay?" K- asked. "She's catatonic. Hasn't left her room." she said. [["What happened?" K- asked.->phone2]] "I was making breakfast with Mom and we started talking about the holidays and how you might be coming back for a couple days and I didn't think he was listening but Dad overheard and he just erupted" she said. "He erupted?" K- said. "Why?" "I used your name." she said. [["You did?" K- said.->phone3]] "Yeah," she said. "He erupted. Starting yelling at Mom, told her she shouldn't humour you." "Hey." K- said. "I'm sorry." "Please," she said. "can you..." [["No." K- said. "You know I can't talk to him."->phone4]] "Please, for me." she said. The warmth was dispelled from K-'s face. "I can't do it." "You're being so selfish," she said. "You know Mom's incapable of askng. But... you need to help." "I..." "Just call him. [[Please->after-call]]." Immediately after the call, K- felt the urge to throw herself into last night's projects. But K- couldn't bring herself to look at her desk. The thought of tapping her finger against the monitor's small plastic button to turn it on, or of moving her mouse across the velutinous pad to wake the computer from its sleep, filled her with an immediate deep and choking revulsion. She felt it fading. The hidden part of herself that could find expression only in the wondrous, the experimental; the part of herself that could flit through time like a spindle, writing and rewriting each moment until they were sutured together in perfect grace and movement. K- felt it die. Her fingers, long and pale, ending in nails caked with broken white polish around her cuticles, were ghostly reminders: the digits of her poorly emulated femininity. She sat on the bed. The rest of her body, masked by the boyish hoody and pink briefs she'd fallen asleep in, felt cold and alien. [[She picked up the phone.->dad-call]] <div class="Mouse0"><div class="hidden0">ring...</div></a> <div class="Mouse1"><div class="hidden1">ring...</div></a> <div class="Mouse2"><div class="hidden2">ring...</div></a> <div class="Mouse3"><div class="hidden3">[["D-" he said.->dad-call1]]</div></a> <script> $(".hidden1").hide(); $(".hidden2").hide(); $(".hidden3").hide(); $(".hidden4").hide(); $(".Mouse0").mouseover(function() { $(".hidden1").show(); }); $(".Mouse1").mouseover(function() { $(".hidden2").show(); }); $(".Mouse2").mouseover(function() { $(".hidden3").show(); }); $(".Mouse3").mouseover(function() { $(".hidden4").show(); }); </script> "That's not my name" K- said. "I named you. I'll call you by your damn name." he said. "That's not fair." K- said. "Life's not a game." he said. [["I didn't say it was." K- said.->dad-call2a]] | [["What if it is?" K- said.->dad-call2b]] "Stop fucking around," he said. "You're little game, trying to be someone you're not." [["It's not a game to me, Dad." K- said.->dad-call3a]] | [["Why can't it be who I am?" K- asked.->dad-call3b]] "That's always been your problem" he said. "Thinking you can keep playing without ever stopping to consider for a fucking minute that it's not a game for other people." [["It's not a game to me, Dad. It's who I am" K- said.->dad-call3a]] | [["Why can't it be who I am?" K- asked.->dad-call3b]] "It's not who you are." he said. [["It is." she said.->dad-call4a]] "Don't play coy." he said. [["Do you feel responsible?" K- said.->dad-call4b]] *click* "I do," he said. "I brought you up, I raised you. I failed." [["It's not a failure." K said.->dad-call5]] [["It's..." K- began.->dad-call4a]]