She had entered the store with trepidation and reserve. The draw was there, but so was the foreboding otherness. With hesitant steps she ventured further in, gauging each step with analyzed precaution. Eventually, she settled on a position which allowed her a secure niche from roaming eyes; but, it also afforded the allusion of having her own eyes to transfix on a large amount of merchandise. Her body remained stiff, but she lost her focus enough to properly absorb the sights.
The rows of games stared back at her, numerous titles and colors all vying for attention in organized displays. Hours of entertainment encrypted in shiny disks or little plastic cartridges just waiting to be unlocked by the right systems and the talented fingers behind them – none was she fortunate enough to be privy too. She was drowned in the sea around her, the lack of water leaving her short of breath and more in over her head than a dolphin in a fisher’s net. Still she stood there as the ugly duckling, and longing to find her place.
Unlike her friends, Sammy was not a gamer, and she felt the matter stemmed more from circumstance than choice. Then again it seemed unfair to blame family for the lack of communication on her part. As a child, she was raised with the idea of being grateful for the blessings in life like, friends, family, and good health. Somewhere along the line it became unnatural for her to ask for specifics.
Years later, she now realized the unnaturalness of anticipating any of her family to know she had an interest in starting video games if she never expressed interest aloud.
As the only child in a small family for most of her youth, she was free to entertain herself. Books became her main getaway in the stead of games, from whom she had no one to learn. Games became an element in her life only when her friends did. Now, she had many friends who all played at least a game or two in common, or they had game systems even if it was only the Wii.
Sammy had none.
Assassins Creed, Bio-Shock, Dragon Age, Mario Bros. and so many others she could more or less at least identify by cover. But then, what system did one need to play each game? Dragon Age mocked her from its cardboard pedestal. Her friend Janice played it constantly, and it looked like fun; she was so immersed. Was this the first in the series of games? The third? Did it matter what game you started with? It was marked down, so maybe it was a used copy. Not like it mattered anyway, she didn’t have a system to play it on in the first place. Most new game systems were expensive. She didn’t have that kind of money.
Her friends had the game. She could ask them if she could try it. They always seemed busy using their systems to play through their own games, though. It would be rude to ask for hours on someone else’s system and prevent them from playing. Sammy did not have a clue how to work a controller anyway. Half the time, Janice referred to a controller or its parts, and she was totally lost. Most of the time, Sammy was just happy she could jump and kick in the right direction when handed the controller for one of those K.O. games. Her strategy comprised of jamming buttons like a spaz and trying to stay behind the opponent.
“Excuse me miss. Do you need help finding anything?” The sudden presence of a Game Stop employee had her flushing and her heart thudding like a startled gazelle.
“No, thank you. I’m just looking.” She managed to say all the while froze up like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Only after the employee had walked away was she able to make her brisk exit, feeling like a fool the whole way. All she wanted to do was cry as she headed back to the safety of the book store. A public break down was out of the question, and what’s worse is she had lost track of Janice who had left the Game Stop long before her. Finding a big comfortable chair to rest in she sat pulling her knees up to rest her forehead so she could refocus and gain control of her panic.
Minutes passed. Self-disappointment was a common emotion; it was rather close friends with her anxiety. She wondered if she’d ever manage to make progress from where she was now. It seemed she’d been here a long time, waiting and struggling for change. Nobody was ever so harsh on her as she was on herself.
Heart only half in it, she reached for her phone, telling herself she would call her friend instead of message to find out where she’d gone.
“I knew I’d find you here.” Sammy’s eyes were drawn up to her friend as she approached, taking the seat beside her. “Their call must have been strong today.”
Her face must been stamped with confusion, because Janice elaborated. “The books, they call to you as friends much older than I.” She gestured grandly with a smirk out the corner of her eye, drawing a small smile from Sammy as well.
The smile didn’t reach her eyes, but that was just one of many things she wanted to change.