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Playing the Game
CHAPTER
1
Achievement Unlocked: Broadening Horizons
“For someone with such a broad vocabulary, I’d expect you to be better at socializing.”
The words echoed in my mind; I knew them to be jokingly said because my mom really never meant to push me into making friendly relations with other kids at school. She never cared that I kept to myself, drawing during class and eating lunch alone, so long as I wasn’t failing. She seemed to think it asinine to get me into social situations. Still, I could feel the hidden notes of concern as I ate my cereal that morning post-rant to her about one of my rare encounters with another student from the day before.
It had been some random guy that came up to me asking if I’d be his partner for a project. It had taken a few moments for me to remember that he’d just started at my school. Maybe he hadn’t quite been there long enough to get the impression that I was the oddball. I was the girl that played video games and doodled in class. It wasn’t like I was actually interested in going into the entertainment design industry, like my dad.
His job took him all over the world, playing video games for a living, seeing the characters and worlds he helped develop. That’s what I wanted to do, ever since that day when I snuck into his office to watch him play a game. It might have been what some assume to be too violent for my eight year old eyes to witness, but for me it was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
So here this kid was, tall and impish—[Is he an elf? I still wonder. . .]—asking for me to work with him on a project. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. . . Wait, no, I absolutely had the heart to curl my lips in frustration at my own lack of socializing abilities and quietly mutter, “No,” in his direction. Dang, I thought, wondering why there couldn’t be skill points for that sort of thing in life. Why can’t I merely look at the stars, scroll through a few skills, and select one to level up?
Ability to do taxes? No. Cooking? I levelled that last week, made some good bread. Making friends?
Then I could make an excuse not to level that skill up and work on pickpocketing instead. That was just how my mind worked at the time, I guess.
He wouldn’t have known that I’d already done the project the class was assigned a day before on my own anyways. He seemed to quirk his mouth to the side in a crooked grin, perhaps making an attempt not to look disappointed. I could tell though that for some reason this guy was upset not to be working with me. I’d made eye contact with him for only a moment, but in those almost shifty blue-green irises there was a hint of something I couldn’t quite place. I’d decided to let it go.
And then, it wasn’t even twenty minutes later as I innocently walked to my locker at the end of the hallway, and he was there, again. I haphazardly threw a few textbooks into the little metal box in the wall, and shut the door to it. Then there, standing beside me once again, was this elven character. I blinked and froze, my grip tight around one of the straps of my bow— I mean, bag. It suddenly seemed to feel heavier than it had before. “Uhm, hey,” he said. The boy awkwardly scratched the back of his head as he stood there before me. I was so caught off guard that I stood nearly paralyzed, looking at this guy’s face. He appeared not to have a plan for his conversing with me. That was where he and I differed apparently, in that I’m overly analytical in most situations. On rare occasions am I a little reckless. . . but we’ll get to that later.
“My name is Will Ferris,” he finally continued.
“Will?” I mumbled, a little confused.
Then he did something that, to me, seemed odd and a little insulting.
He laughed. My eyes got wide, which in turn made his smile drop and he quickly rushed to assure me. “No, I— I have two first names. I go by Will Ferris, as a whole. It’s not as uncommon as you might think, and it’s kind of a long story but, sorry I didn’t mean to laugh at you.”
My eyebrows furrowed as I looked at this boy fumbling while he tried to introduce himself to me. All that despite the fact that I was the one to make the mistake in the interaction. [Typical.]
Somehow through his awkwardness I’d regained my composure. Standing a little taller and gripping my bag moreso out of a semblance of confidence rather than fear, I looked at this boy, at Will Ferris. Thinking about it, I’d noticed this guy in the last week or so, and the way girls gawked at him. Still, he hadn’t come up to me sauntering with his brown hair disheveled in a way he might’ve thought looked good. In fact, there was something that had attracted my eye when I’d first noted him in class a few days prior, that being the comic books he read when the teachers weren’t giving lectures.
Suddenly, I felt a bit guilty for having rejected him pretty harshly before in class. Besides, it seemed he was struggling to talk to me just as much as I would have had I made an attempt to approach him. I was a bit surprised in fact to learn of these mannerisms. From the way he spoke to teachers, he seemed more sure of himself than this conversation was leading me to believe.
“I just, uhm,” Will Ferris stuttered, interrupting my thoughts. [I told you I was overly analytical.]
“I’m. . .” I’d started the sentence without thinking. I was introducing myself, right? Right, yeah, I meant to do that. I coughed and cleared my throat. Start over, is reloading a save possible? Can I do that? No, this is real life, dangit. “My name is. . .”
My mom started laughing at me. “So, you told this boy your name from a video game you play? He thinks your name is actually, Erin? Anna, come on, you’re in classes together.” She giggled at me as I shoved another spoonful of cereal in my mouth grumbling.
“Arryn, and it’s not funny, Mom.” I sighed through my breakfast, “He apparently recognized me from the name and now he knows I play Gladium, and. . . “ My voice broke off.
“And?” my mom offered with an innocent grin on her face. I thought thinking it was hard, but squeezing the words from my throat was even more of a challenge. [No, I didn’t get an achievement. Wouldn’t it have been nice if I did, though?]
“We’re hanging out together after school, tomorrow.”
Achievement Unlocked: Broadening Horizons, Anna made a friend.
Somehow.

Keep Reading

Chapter 2

Achievement Unlocked: Who Saw That One Coming?

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