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Unwinnable Games



Sandbox game? The hell is that? Some kind of kiddy game, Maximilian mumbles at the dinner table.


Though it is rhetorical he should’ve known Reuben would seize the opportunity to expound thoroughly, given any chance to chat about his newest obsession: some online game where you play as a little Lego man wandering around a 3D island building things out of blocks, fighting monsters that emerge only at night.


As he fills him in on every facet of the game, he watches Rubia pretending to listen. Pretending to care. Emilia staring at her soup while Alex changes the track on his iPod, pushing those bright green ear buds deeper into his canals.


What is the point of a game you can’t win? Max interrupts the boy.


His answer: To be anything you want. Whatever you choose. To be something you're not. And to provide your own meaning.


Pffft. How he wishes his son would choose to be something other than the obese embarrassment he is now, pouring all his hours away into an unwinnable game with the same frequency he pours off-brand cola into the same teeth-marked cup with a disgusting glug. Hopefully football will change him. Bring out the competitor in him.


Sensing that no one cares for his newfound virtual hobby, Reuben changes the subject, suddenly straightening up in his chair. I think I’d like to be an architect, he confesses, watching for his father’s eyes to light up.


Architects don’t fail geometry, Max says, crushing a fistful of saltines into his soup.


Reuben would say nothing after that.


He’d sit there, spearing mashed potatoes with his fork, slipping food to the dog under the table and waiting to be excused.


Large as he was, he would never feel smaller.

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