Phantasmagoria

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A Game Of Another ind

Arriving home after registering at the Game Emporium is a relief. I can hear Hannah in the kitchen washing up the dishes, and I can hear the moans of Jayden losing as he is playing on his X Box. As I go through to the kitchen, I embrace my wife as she is drying her hands on a towel.

''Stop it, Nash!'' Hannah says as I begin to tickle her around her stomach. She giggles as she tries to bat my hands away. I smile as she turns to face me. I love the way she laughs.

''I am so happy to be home,'' I tell her as she looks into my eyes. She smiles at me before giving me a kiss.

''Home in time to put Jayden to bed,'' she quips. I look up at the clock on the wall above Hannah's head and see that it is 7:45pm. Wow, time really does move fast. I was at the Game Emporium for 2 hours? I relieve a deep sigh and hang my head as I dread putting my 7 year-old son to bed.

''Do I have to? Can't you do it?'' I try to give my best weakest impression, but Hannah raises one eyebrow at me and kisses her teeth.

''Me a cook fi you and me pickney and you wan' me fi mek 'im go sleep?!'' Hannah gives her best Jamaican impression. She sounds just like her mother. I can't resist laughing as she berates me.

''Wah you talk 'bout, gyal?'' I try my best Jamaican impression, but I think it falls very short of my wife's one. She grew up with a Jamaican mother, so her one is better. Hannah burst out laughing and I join in. I admit I was pretty bad at that. Hannah's a natural.

''That one was worse than the last time,'' she tells me after we finish laughing.

''What are you talking about? That was my best yet,'' I muse further. I pull her in to me so that we can share a kiss. She smells like vanilla, cinnamon and peach. Mmmm, the aroma is beautiful. I soak up the smell of her as I get lost in our embrace.

''Nash? Can I have my body back? I need to serve up your food,'' she says as she is trying to wriggle from me.

No.

I want to it to stay like this forever.

But then again, I am getting quite hungry. I free her from my grasp as she she goes to the stove. As she opens the lids of the pots to serve dinner, the room becomes filled with the beautiful scents of chicken stew, rice and vegetables. Man, my wife can cook.

''Why are you so damn perfect?'' I ask her rhetorically. She is so amazing, I don't know what I would do if I didn't have her.

''Not that perfect. I might have slightly overcooked the vegetables. Sorry,'' she replies after she serves up my food. Overcooked or undercooked, I'll eat anything she gives me.

''Whaaaat? Overcooked it? Thought you were Jamaican, Missy,'' I playfully tell her. She chuckles as she goes over to the table and places my plate on it.

''Being married to you has made my cooking go downhill,'' she says back as a joke. Very funny.

''Hah, that was harsh,'' I tell her. She rolls her eyes at me. ''Mmmm, this smells delicious,'' I say to let her know she has cooked an amazing meal. I go to sit down at the table but she stops me before I can pull out the chair.

''Er, excuse me, Mister. Go and put Jayden to bed please. He's eaten his dinner already. And wash your hands too,'' Hannah orders me sternly, pointing her finger straight at me. I look at her pleadingly but her finger isn't budging. I thought I could get away with it. Oh, man.

''Alright, I'll do it,'' I say as I saunter out of the kitchen. I go into the living room and see that Jayden is engrossed in a video game he is playing. I come up behind him and ruffle his curly afro.

''Hey! I'm playing, Dad,'' he moans as he knocks my hand off.

''Well, little man, you've got to go to bed now, you can play video games in your dreams,'' I tell him. I go over to the television and position myself to turn the console off.

''Nooooo, wait, please!'' Jayden begs me to stop.

''Come on, it's coming up to 8 o' clock. You need to rest well for school tomorrow,'' I explain to him. He looks at me in a dejected way.

''Do I have to go?'' he complains. He looks down at the ground and puts his hands under his chin, resting them on his folded legs. This guy thinks school is hard to deal with, wait until he grows up. I bend down to come to his level and tuck my fingers under his chin to lift it up to meet me.

''Yes, you do. It would make me and Mom really happy if you did. And I promise you I'll buy you ice cream after you finish,'' I bribe him. As soon as he hears those words, his eyes become larger than his face. Ah, the joys of parenting.

''Really?'' he says as he shoots up from where he was sitting. I stand up slowly and let my smile reassure him.

''Of course. I'll get you the one with two flakes,'' I bribe him further. I need him to go to bed, so I can eat my food. I'm already missing the smell.

''I love you dad,'' Jayden says as he rushes at me and hugs me. I ruffle his hair once more, and he looks up into my face with his happy bluey-brown eyes. Ah, he melts my heart.

''I love you too, Jay,'' I return as I bend down to kiss him on his forehead. ''Go brush your teeth and get changed; I'll meet you upstairs,'' I tell him before he bounds out of the room and goes flying up the stairs.

''GOODNIGHT MOM!'' he shouts from the stairs.

''Boy, where is my kiss?'' I hear Hannah shout from the kitchen. I smile to myself as I hear Jayden rush back down again. I turn to his video game, which had been left on pause. I don't think he has saved it, so I do it for him. As I save his game, I think about the game I will be participating in in less than a week. I won't be playing a character from a video game; I will be the character. My mind will be plugged in to a freely imaginative world, where there will be things that will be unpredictable.

I want to win it for the sake of my family, but am I really doing it for them? Am I really just a slave to the government? Is it a case of once a soldier, always a soldier?

No. I'm not a slave. But I am a fighter. And I will fight for my family.

''You put him to bed yet, Nash?'' I hear Hannah call to me. I turn around, go to the door way of the living room and lean my head out to reply to her.

''No, I'm going up now,'' I say. I go over to the console and turn it off, and then turn off the television. I head upstairs to Jayden's bedroom and look at him as I enter. Always ready with a book.

''Not that book again,'' I say, pretending to moan.

''But it's my favourite,'' he responds. He has a big smile plastered on his face. He knows that he is cute, and unabashedly manipulates me with it. I smile to myself as I go over to his bed. I sit down on his bed next to him and pick up the book. It's called 'The Man with Big Dreams'.

''Do you want to hear my dream, Daddy?'' Jayden asks me, looking up at me.

''Of course I do. What is it?'' I ask him back. Might be about him being Superman again. He always dreams about him.

''I dreamed I was you, and that I won that game that everybody's talking about,'' Jayden relates. He dreamed he was me? I briefly chuckle at his naivety and innocence.

''I hope you do win it Daddy. I will pray for you everyday to win it,'' he tells me. That's sweet. He has faith in me. Sounds like he has more faith in me than I do. And he has a better imagination too.

''Thank you, Jay. I hope I win it too,'' I tell him. I kiss him on his forehead and he gives me a hug in return.

''I know you will,'' I hear him whisper as he hugs me. That alone gives me the courage to want to win the game. As he settles back down into his bed, he looks at the book in my hand.

''Right. Ready for the story now?'' I tell him as I begin to open up the book. He nods at me furiously with a massive grin on his face. Guess he is ready.


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