“Please?” I ask, handing him
the rectangular controller.
He sighs, but begins an incantation,
a spell only he knows,
or so my six year old self believes.
“Up, up, down, down, left, right,”
he recites, pressing the buttons,
muscle memory taking over, giving me life.
As we play simultaneously,
our two commandos, one red, one blue,
shooting alien technology in a jungle,
I die again and again, my tiny
fingers unable to manipulate
the stiff plastic as easily as him.
In minutes, my 30 lives have somersaulted
into 8-bit fire, or, like a confused pillbug,
rolled into pits that yawn open off-screen.
He laughs at my pathetic performance,
gunfire spraying, as the music crescendos,
explosions buffeting his impervious body.
But he forgets: I can steal his life
with the mere press of a button.
Shelly Jones, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in Podcastle, New Myths, The Future Fire, and elsewhere. Find her @shellyjansen.