It’s a hot day, and it isn’t helped by the thirty-five pounds of books in your backpack. You walk steadily away from the chaos that is the end of the school day; the swarms of cars and kids move steadily behind you, and the quiet of the deserted streets sets in, interrupted only by the occasional quip from one of your walking companions.
One by one the friends of mutual direction peel off, and you’re by yourself, walking through the empty suburbs to your house. There’s never enough trees, and you begin to accumulate a layer of sweat under your jean shorts and T-shirt.
Finally, you get home. You pad across the empty driveway and stop by the mailbox. It’s mostly junk except for the Software-of-the-month club CD. You open your front door and feel immediate relief from the AC, which has been dutifully running, though nobody has been home all day. You toss the CD-ROM on the keyboard of your PC and head to the darkened living room.
The curtains are shut against the sun and the blinds are closed in the adjoining kitchen. You ignore the stack of dishes in the sink. You plop your backpack down at the kitchen table. There’s a mountain of pointless homework inside that you know sooner or later you’ll have to do. You’re a bit burned out on the boring parts of life, though, so you let it stay safely sealed away in the protective denim of your Jansport. Besides, if you aren’t done with it by the time your mom gets home, you can probably do that instead of the dishes.
You grab a coke from the fridge and head over to the couch. You sigh as you finally sit down, barely noticing the familiar smells of your house – mostly canned Pledge. You pull off your nearly worn-out sneakers and take off your socks, then rub your feet on the thick brown carpet. You look over again at the kitchen table. The cat has already decided to lay down on your bag. It would be a pity to disturb her.
It’s like a cocoon inside – there might as well be nothing outside those windows.
You get up and turn on the TV, then flip over to the video input. You open up your PlayStation, same as always, just to make sure your disc is still in there. You slam the lid closed and hit the power button.
You are greeted by that familiar sound which first gave you goosebumps back when you got the console for Christmas from your father. The rumble of it distorts the speaker on your big TV. The cat leaps up from her nap, disturbed by the sound as usual.
You pick up your controller and sit down on the carpet, putting a couch cushion behind your back and head as you lean into the sofa. The menu music starts up, and you listen to it all the way through, imagining you are watching a group of recorder and lute players from some other world. When it ends, you let it play again.
As you stare at the menu, you have an impulse not to play. You know you are at the end of the game, but something inside is telling you not to finish. You load up your game, wondering if there is a sidequest or two you could finish up for some special items, or if you could make some gil and get geared up before the final boss, which you know will be tough.
You smile to yourself. Maybe you’ll finish today after all, or tonight after everyone else goes to sleep.
David V Stewart is the author of numerous books. Check out the latest, which is relevant for Generation Y: