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Weird fiction fragments spilling out of my notebook tonight…

He’d given her the headset as a joke — well, at least she’d thought it was a joke when he’d done it. She’d laughed and agreed to maybe try it out, understand him a little better.

She tried it on the guest profile first, assuming she wouldn’t care to save her place. But when she put it over her eyes, and the lights went down and the music came up, she found herself cheering for the unlikely troop of hero-friends parading around in ways that accentuated their attributes and character traits.

When she realized they were waiting for her to clamber on the back of the fifth giant cat, she was hooked.

She played through the trial level in two hours, and with the headset still on the upsell animation on a gentle loop, she bit her lip and gave in. Two hundred dollars and a menu screen later, she tossed the set gently onto her throw pillows and flopped onto the couch with her ‘sonal.

Hai. OK. I apologize for all the times I called you a dork for liking this game

His response was almost instantaneous: That good, eh? 😜

I didn’t say you *weren’t* a dork. Just not because you like this game. This game is awesome!!!!!!!!!

She messaged him again, just a few seconds later: Can’t wait to play it for real. Can we co-op?

She could feel the loving pride oozing out of his message. I’ve been waiting for two years to hear those words, babe.

LOL. Yes well. You win 😍

The headset ran through the theme music again, starting with those spirit-stirring horns. They sounded tinny and funny coming out of the tiny in-ear speakers, like they were made by miniature instruments. She focused on that funny little idea for long enough to chase away the butterflies in her stomach, and gripped her ‘sonal.

Now for the real question.

Since there’s only room for two profiles on this thing, can I overwrite Carina?

His response wasn’t instant, like the last two had been. She found herself swallowing panic, trying to tamp it down with logical self-reassurances: He’s probably gaming this time of night, and going through an intense combat sequence. Or he’s cooking late, like he always does on Thursdays. Or —

Her ‘sonal buzzed. The cat raised his head from where he’d been sleeping soundlessly the entire evening and stared right at the device.

She turned herself and the unread message bodily from the cat’s judgmental gaze, and opened the note with trembling fingers.

Please don’t, was all the first message said.

The other arrived just then: Erase the other one instead.

She started to respond, But *your* profile… when she remembered him saying his character’s name sort of casually over dinner once, and when she’d pressed him for details, he’d asked her politely but firmly if they could talk about something else.

She’d remembered how odd it was at the time, because he never wanted to talk about something else.

He certainly never wanted to talk about Carina. In fact, she only knew the name because she’d spotted it on some of his housing documents, and he’d explained that she was his ex-wife of several years now. That was it. That was as much as she knew about Carina.

That, and he had a profile under her name on his headset.

The cat stood up, delicately flicking the sleep from his paws. He walked purposefully across the back of the couch and perched, staring at the ‘sonal right as it lit up.

Please. It’s all that’s left of her.

Published inWriting