I’m not exactly sure what it is about this game that I love so much. Why does it fit so perfectly in my hands? How does such a simple distraction give me such an amazing place to escape to? And how can something designed to be a child’s handheld video game become such a vital place of refuge? Something so important to my well-being. My survival. What would I do without it? What did I do before I had it? And why was it given to me? I’m not sure what I did to earn it. It just showed up one day in my tiny little backpack of belongings. Did I deserve it?
Maybe it was placed there by that nice man at the church we used to go visit. Sometimes when my dad would drink too much and get really angry my mom and I would leave and go there until he calmed down. The people there would always beg my mom to stay but she never would. I would have rather stayed. It was so peaceful! And there were other kids that I could play with too. Oh! That’s it! That must have been where it came from! I remember a little girl who used to play with my game. Well, it was her game then. But she must have noticed how much I liked it when I used to watch her playing it. She always offered it to me, saying that I could try it out, but my mom would never let me.
She must have slipped it in my bag the last night we were there. It was many years ago. I still remember every detail of her face though. Oh how I wish I could thank her for the game. If she only knew how significant it’d become to my very existence. That I’d cherish it forever. I wonder if she ever thinks about it; or me? Does she have any idea of the importance of the gift she’d given me? Through every argument between my parents, I could leave the real world and travel to a better place. So far away from the pain. I could close my door and drown out the sounds by losing myself inside the screen. Thousands of individual pixels working together as an army, taking control of my mind and protecting me from harm. They’ve never let me down, at least so far. But I don’t think they ever will.
I do only have one game cartridge left for it though. But at least it’s my favorite one. I lost the other two in the fire at my house. That night, when dad and mom were fighting again, somehow they ended up locked in my room by themselves. I didn’t understand why. Usually I stay out of the way, but my games were in there, so I knocked. Mom yelled at me to leave them alone. That everything was alright. I didn’t care. I just wanted my other games. So I waited in the living room all night long, until I fell asleep. The next thing I remember was waking up to the blackness of smoke. There was an orange glow coming from under my bedroom door and I was being carried out by a fireman. At least I still had my game though. I played it as I rode in the ambulance.
The years passed and I moved from one foster home to another. It could have been lonely, but I made the best of it. At least I always had my game and plenty of sets of batteries. And I’m now happily married with a couple children of my own. I love my wife and kids and can’t imagine being without them. Life is good. Every so often though, if I’m feeling down or simply having a bad day, I’ll flip the switch on my old handheld console. Some people wouldn’t understand. But I don’t care. It’s never let me down before.