Game(Rules) Part 2

berniconsI nod, washing the oil and dirt away from my face. Waking up can be the hardest part but I got up. And I will have a piece of leftover ice cream cake as reward for level one. When I bring my eyes back up to the mirror, she stares at me. It’s a hard, well weathered stare. She tells me that I have to do this. Every day, wake up, repeat the rules, go through the day, get home, sleep and repeat.

 

You know what you did. And I nod. And for that, I live on repeat. But at least I live, I can’t say the same for-

 

You can’t say their names. Not out loud. No, never out loud. It’s not a rule but it’s Breaking something none the less. I shut my mouth and she nods at me. Yes. This is what needs to be done.

 

There’s a single mountain of ice cream cake swimming in a lake of cream speckled with the chocolate crunchy insides sitting in my bowl. Time must have past because I don’t remember sitting down to eat this slice at all. I’m late. I slurp up the cream and crunchies, toss the bowl into the sink and rush out the door. I start to form the reasons in my head. The bus was late. I forgot my cell phone. I saved a cat from a tree.

 

I go with the cell phone excuse and they seem to believe me. They care more about a game coming out in the fall and something about who they are going to date in which play through. I want to join in the conversation. I remember I used to play games like that, read books, watch movies. I liked stories. Before the breath leaves my lips, I see her in the faded reflection of the vending machine. She shakes her head. I know she’s right. It’s hard enough to keep my own Story straight. I don’t need others to confuse me.

 

I can’t help it but I’m always shocked when I hear the names. They were common enough names, people aren’t all that creative so of course I’m going to hear them. Today is a Not Good day. There’s a Matthew, an Amber and a James in the store. A group of kids that are just goofing off and chatting it up but I couldn’t help it. I jumped when I heard Amber. My coworker laughs at me and I laugh it off, saying I thought I saw a hornet or something. Game face back on. I don’t need her to remind me to do it.

 

Late lunch, more like a dinner. But it’s a sub so I count it as a lunch. I scribble it down in my notepad. If someone asks about it I tell them I’m just keeping up with my daily purchases. Satisfied that it’s not some kind of diary they leave it alone. The sub as avocado on it. It’s a nice treat. One of the few.

 

It rains on the way home but I don’t mind. I only Broke one rule today, and just barely. I get to do a little yoga and play online checkers online with strangers. People that I’ll never know and they’ll never know me so I’ll be able to rest easy when I go to bed. The clouds are heavy overhead, it’s dark. I can see her in the dark reflections of the windows I pass. I don’t want to look but I know she’s nodding in approval. Another day, another Round won. If I can keep this up, maybe… There’s no maybes. Just Rounds, just days.

 

I’m tracking rain into the hallway of the apartment building but there’s little I can do. It’ll dry up, and by the looks of it, I’m not the first person to have trudged through the hall like this. For some reason my keys are always hard to find and they never open the door well, always getting jammed. I wish they stayed jammed this time because when I open the door I look down and see a sheet of paper on the ground, laying in the place where the mail slot would have left it. Still wet from the rain outside. I know about Matthew, Amber and James is scribbled hastily on the surface. I don’t need a reflection to know she’s glaring at me.

Game(Rules), Part 1

guesticonYou play this game with yourself. It’s not a fun game – and to be fair it’s less of a game and more of a set of rules but really who’s to stop you from calling it a game in the comforts of your own head? This is a game you’re long since familiar with. Each day is a new day of play. Your game is a solitary one but then again most of your life is. You’d say you prefer it that way but that’s a lie and you do your level best not to lie to yourself, you lie to too many other people about too many other things.

 

You keep the rules of your game (your life) simple less you forget them; trying to remember things is part of the game as well. Level one goes like this (rule one:) If you get up without hitting the snooze you can eat whatever you like for breakfast, no one will judge you. Rewards are key to success, keep all rewards equal to in value to the task accomplished.

 

Level two (Rule two:) Game face must be worn from the second you step foot out the door till the second you return at the end of the day. You don’t want anyone to know that what you’re saying on the outside doesn’t match what you’re thinking on the inside. When you were younger – naive and foolish and oh so much younger – this was a hard and you lost this level a lot (broke this rule a lot). It was even harder back before when you lived with other people the space that made up “safe space” and “every place else” was a lot smaller. There was less down time, you slipped a lot, gave away things, said little things you thought were okay that were definitely Not Good. Older you, current you, you don’t live with anyone, you’ll never make that mistake again. A Good Day earns you…well this earns you nothing but the lack of stress and in turn if you fail the stress to be Better is it’s own punishment.

 

Level three (Rule three:) write everything down. Where you’ve been, who you saw, what you’ve told them, if you ate today, what you ate today, did you wear that shirt this week. Everything because details are important and getting tripped up because you can’t remember the details would be the most shameful way to get caught. And getting caught forgetting isn’t something you ever want to image the ramifications of. If you go the day without messing up, without having to confer with your notes in an obvious way – because what would be the point of keeping notes if you didn’t look at them? – you gpet to go home and do nothing. Absolutely nothing and it is the most glorious thing to do, your most favorite thing to do. If you fail however the punishment is to put yourself through your paces. To go through your notes and study, everything until you know it so well you dream it.

 

Your game is simple and it keeps your life uncomplicated and you protected. You exist within the parameters of your game and you find great comfort in knowing that these are things you’ve done and can continue to do.

 

Once back a long long time ago you tried to think of a way for your game to end. You tried slowly once to ease out of it, to do what other people seemed to do but it left you feeling….wrong. Too many comments were made, about your pyshical state of being, your mental state of awareness and really just all the things you want people not to look to hard and long at.