DREAMS OF A NEW BEGINNING, A NEW PAST by TIMOTHY O’DONNELL

9052392148_934d4fb670_zI think I would like to live in a video game, to exist as, like, a warrior or something. To have infinite lives. To hit restart or reload from previous save point? whenever I want. To slay dragons or just kill wharf rats or harmless sheep because I can. I think it would be fun to be a healer and cast spells that filled the life bars of adventurers who aren’t afraid to fight. Or I could buff them with spells—Courage and Stoneskin and Protection—and they would take less damage, the kind doled out in chunks of green, yellow, red. I think it would be fun to be a tank—to protect. I wouldn’t slay or heal; I’d just stand between them and a dragon and take all the damage—my life would be a sacrificial life bar—and people would laud me for it. They’d throw parades for me and my adventurer friends. They’d toss gold and gifts at us. I’d wear cool armor and ladies would wave at me but I’d say, Sorry, ladies, I’ve got a wife that I love back home.

If you wanted, you could be my game wife and live in our cottage—the one I scrapped and saved for with coins spilt from the bellies of ogres—and when you aren’t saving a village or hunting beastkin, you can cook food for us and shine our armor and regale the other adventurers’ wives with tales of heroic deeds. Oh, my husband tanked The Deep Mines and nobody died and they were all home by dinner and the other adventurer wives would say, Oh my! His armor is caked in blood, and you’d say, I just use lemon Pledge. Nothing fancy and the wives would continue: Just lemon Pledge? For an adventurer like your husband? But he’s amazing! and they’d be fantasizing about a future victory parade, waving at me from the sidelines, waving hankies and flowers and panties, Adventurer! Over here! and I’d say, Sorry, ladies, I have a wife at home, and then all the other adventurer wives would be totes jelly of you. And your lemon Pledge. You wouldn’t be just a wife though. You’d kill monsters too. You’d collect gear and we’d do loot runs together and I’d always let you get the best gear first cause I love you. I’d always step in between you and a kobold’s spear. You could heal me or do damage and I’d support you no matter what. You could even tank yourself and I’d heal you and we could reverse gender roles in our video game world and people would be on the sidelines of the victory parade, men without shirts fresh from tilling the soil and they’d whistle between dirt-stained fingers and cat-call: Oh Adventuress! I’ve got some mead and meat with your name on it, baby! and you’d say, Sorry, fellas, I’ve got a husband at home, and I could be at home cleaning your armor with lemon Pledge and telling the adventurer wives that my wife is out there kicking ass and I’m happy to be at home in our little cottage while you cake your shield in blood.

They’d tell me I’m really progressive for letting you do that and I’d say, I’m not letting her do anything. She’s her own woman, and they’d clamor oh my god or he’s so open!, etc. but it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. You tank and I heal and we both slay creatures and get gold and gear and sometimes we just sit at home while I forge iron ingots and you shine your sword and think of all the monsters who you’ve run through with that sword, when you first got that sword in the Blood Mines of Takara and how you pulled it from a treasure chest and when you first saw it you said, this is my new sword, and you named it Melanie because if we ever had a daughter you’d name her Melanie but adventurers don’t really have time to settle down. We have a cottage and a small garden and weapons and armor and rags red with blood. But we can’t have children. Not us adventurers.

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About the Author: Timothy O’Donnell received his MFA from William Paterson University. His fiction has been on the internet and in print. Plain cheese pizza is the best kind. Twitter: @ribcagefight.

Story Song: “Wizard Motor” by Mogwai

Photo Credit: Leesa Cross-Smith