Posts Tagged ‘short’

Moms in Mezzaroth

May 10, 2012

Lauren opened the washer hatch and she was back at Disney World, a child, bursting through the doors to the Polynesian. A micro-reminiscence inspired by the laundry gods, which usually only came when it rained a certain way in Summer. She pulled another deep breath through her nose, held it, but the memory was fading. When she exhaled, all that was left was a mountain of wet clothes and the faint hint of mildew.

The lot went in the dryer with an extra fabric sheet, and she reclaimed the overstuffed canvas bags on the floor. They were heavy, heavy enough to slow her pace as she navigated around the many well loved dinosaurs and little cars that Calvin swore he’d pick after supper, two suppers ago. On tippy-toes, crossing foot over foot, aching, forgotten muscles brought back ballet with Mrs. Finch – but it was barely a flicker. She forced a slightly off recollection of thin flats on a splintered warm up bar, and the look on her dads face at her first recital. The groceries shifted and forced her bra strap into her neck, washing the flicker away.

Thump. The dead weight on wood thud echoed out across the kitchen and into the rarely used dining room. She rubbed her shoulder, enjoying the quiet of her temporarily empty house. It wouldn’t be long now. Once the groceries and dishes were away, she could return to Mezzaroth, a place where dragons be.

She never would have guessed she’d become a gamer. But here she was thir… – twenty eight, and she spent a staggering amount of her free time playing. It started with a gift subscription: six months, to keep Sheila company while she played. Of course, Lauren knew Sheila was only playing to keep an eye on her Steven – but, hey, it’s not like he was Lauren’s kid.

They’d chat, mostly. In the tavern, it was almost like any other chat room, except for the three dimensional avatars. She’d show up, an elf goddess of all things, and they’d talk. How was your day, what are your thoughts on Shades of Gray, what are you doing over the weekend… that sort of thing. A few minutes here, an hour or two there, until boredom and curiosity took over, and they actually started playing the game. An innocent quest collecting herbs turned into a wolf attack and her untimely death. They had a laugh about that death, and a bit of a laugh at her second death. However, Lauren’s third death was followed by two weeks of not speaking… Sheila had used the wrong potion, and didn’t share the loot…

That was four months, and two deaths ago. She didn’t even think Steven played anymore – his character was forever stuck at level 30, where progress began to move at a crawl. Lauren was up to 36 herself, not that that was important to her – or so she said. What was important to her was hard to put into words. The game gave her something, something she couldn’t get in Thai cooking class, Zoomba, knitting, or any of the other activities her circle tried. It was adventure, it was escape, but it was more than that: it was a place just for her, a few hours a week, away from the burdens and responsibilities of raising a family and having slightly annoying friends. It was even starting to feel like a community: she canceled class one day to attend an in-game wedding. When Mort, a level 50 healer, and June, a 31 Dwarf, went to the trouble of sending real world invitations, Lauren couldn’t bring herself to RSVP no. Publicly, she never spoke of the event, even to Sheila, but privately she thought it was sweet, and terribly modern.

With the groceries away, she scrubbed the hardened bits of oatmeal out of Calvin’s breakfast bowl, and dumped Tom’s half cup of coffee into the dishwasher, all the while preparing for the day’s quest, high dragon Tantros. Did she have enough potions? Were her hot keys optimized properly?

She ascended the dinosaur free second floor stairs with a fruit smoothie in hand. Smoothies for lunch had become a slight necessity after abandoning Pilates.   She switched on her laptop, and the small CRT television in the corner of the media room. With the news on, she could feel somewhat productive while throwing the next two hours away.

One minute forty seconds later, the antivirus and adware were disabled: they slowed down your connection, she’d heard. The familiar trumpets sounded and the opening cut scene began to play.

Riiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiing. It was the house phone. Nobody called the land line but bill collectors and in-laws over forty-five. She ignored it, and hit F5 to skip the rest of the opening.

Log in: select character: level 36 elf goddess.

Off in the distance, she heard, “Hello this is Mrs. Sarin, head nurse at Marty Sheen Elementary. I’m calling because Calvin isn’t feeling well, and wants to come home. Please call us back when you get this message.”


Her first thought, was to take the laptop to Starbucks and pretend she never heard the message. They’d call Tom at work, and he’d probably handle it. She immediately felt bad for the thought.

“Siri… Call Sheila… Yes.”

Ring. Ri- “Hey, you almost ready?”

“…About that- Calvin’s sick, I need to pick him up,” she said.

“…Are you kidding me?”

“’Fraid not.”

“That little bastard better not be faking it.”


“Yeah, yeah, I know, he’s a freaking sweet heart. Should I expect you in about an hour then? Maris and Eggs are already waiting, it’s Tantros drop day.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Sheila sighed, “Alright… I’ll let them know. Maybe we can grind some orcs for a bit…”

“Sorry, Sheels. Really, I’m sorry. I’ll be right there.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Call Ended.

She let out a deep sigh.

Lauren took a swig of her smoothie. With a mouth half full, she said, “Siri… Call Calvin’s School…”



November 21, 2011

She opens the door and is mildly disappointed Frankie isn’t there to greet her. He’s probably curled up in a ball by the closet or, more likely, sprawled across her pillow. That mystery will have to wait.

She kicks her heels under the couch and turns on the TV. Leno doesn’t make her laugh, but she’s too tired to change it. Halfway through the monologue, her stomach growls, and she wonders, have I eaten today?

There’s some leftover Italian in the fridge. If she’s lucky, it won’t make her nauseous and keep her up all night. If she’s really lucky, it won’t be turning over in her stomach tomorrow when her mom drops hints about the three pounds she’s gained.

She could use a stiff drink, some head, and a full nights sleep, but there’s still work to be done. A young father’s just learned that regaining custody will mean “free money” every month, and free money means more meth. If our hero doesn’t get a temporary restraining order in front of a judge tomorrow morning, he’ll show up at his kids school and reclaim his daughter.

As our heroine opens her laptop, the phone rings, again. It’s her boyfriend this time. They haven’t spoken much lately. “Hey.”

“Hey baby, I missed you,” he says.

“I miss you too.”

“So, how was your day?”

Awful, terrible, shitty, dreadful, the worst, she thinks. “…long,” she says. “How was yours?”

“Eh… So, what are you wearing?”

“Just got home, still in ma’ work clothes.” I should go change, my bra is killing me, she thinks.

“That’s hot, you should take them off.”

“…I’d love to, but now’s not the best time.”

“…It never is.”

She sighs. “…Can we do this later? I really need to get this TRO done.”

“I was hoping to get something done, too…”

“Cute, baby. This really needs my attention, though.”

He sighs. “Yeah, fine. Whatever.”

She hesitates. “…I love you,” she says. She means it.

“…I love you to.”

She wants to say more: to reassure him, to tell him how much she loves him, to say I’m sorry I can’t be there for you, with you, but there really isn’t time – not if Jenna’s grandparents want to keep custody. “I’ll call you tomorrow?”

He hesitates. “…Okay, babykins. Good luck with, whatever.”

“Thanks. Goodnight, my love.”


She hangs up and returns to her laptop. She wonders how many times she’s said I don’t have time, and many times he’s heard it. She wonders how many times he’ll let her say it.

The screen becomes blurry, but only for a second – there really isn’t time for that, either. There’s only time to get back work, keeping her clients safe, and hope that he understands.

…Before Swine

September 22, 2011

Have you ever seen chicks feed? If you put out enough food, they’ll eat until their stomachs burst, literally. I learned that in fifth grade. We raised chickens from eggs until they weren’t cute anymore. I didn’t see the point in it, growing up in urban suburbia, but when I got older I realized: that’s how men are, only not with food.

I had a number of boyfriends growing up. I learned a lot from them, about how to get a man, but you can’t learn much about keeping one from a three month relationship. Most of that came from my mom. She’s been happily married for the last twenty-seven years.

At her core, my mom’s a romantic. Though, in practice, she’s a harsh pragmatist. When we read bedtime stories, she’d always quiz me on the moral before I fell asleep. I remember, after one of my summaries, she called me a pollyanna. I was nine.

I’ve been married five years. Five, amazing, difficult, years, to a sweet man whom always tries to make me happy. He’s still a man though, so I have to keep his stomach from bursting.

I work a lot, that helps. It’s easier for him to accept I’m not available if it’s for the family (we’re working on the family part). And Sunday is football in the man cave, so that’s a gimme. I always laugh when Sheila gets mad about the cave. She’ll berate her husband, endlessly, about the no girls allowed policy. Although, he usually compromises by giving her something she wants – everyone has their own way of doing things.

Keeping him hungry is a delicate balance. Every now and then I have to ring the dinner bell. If we’re overdue, or if I’m just in the mood, I’ll look at him that way, or I’ll use that voice. It’s not difficult at all. If I really want to rile him up, though, I’ll flirt a little with his friends. Not a lot, just enough to get the adrenalin pumping. The sex is usually amazing that night.

Some girls look down on playing games. I won’t do that to my husband, they’ll say. Or, I got married so I wouldn’t have to do this bullshit, they’ll admit. These women usually have unhappy marriages. I’m a feminist, through and through, don’t get me wrong. I DON’T think it’s my sole duty to please a man – but I do want him to stick around. As long as he does his part, I don’t mind rationing his food, until he isn’t hungry anymore.