I walk through the door, and breathe in the familiar metallic, and old food smell. I walk over to my favorite game and begin to click away at the screen in front of me. I have been working to reach the highest score, but every time I get close to beating it, the same person comes along and claims a new high score. S.U.N. are his initials and I have claimed him as my enemy. I know I will beat him eventually, I just need to get better. So, I come to The Critical Arcade to practice and get the high score. This has been my routine every day, once I’m out of school I head straight to the arcade. Unless it’s the weekend, I’ll be there at 12 in the afternoon until they close at 9.

I start to let everything around me fade as I start to focus on the game. I see the patterns that I have memorized from playing for so long and I start to rack up points. Right when I’m about to break the record, someone puts a quarter on the game and breaks my concentration, making me lose the game. I slam my hand down on the console and turn to look at who it was. All angry words flee my mind as I take in the beautiful creature in front of me. I can’t help it, as my eyes skim over her. I notice everything about her, her beat up high tops, her hot pink leg warmers, her black leggings, which disappear under her hot pink skirt. My eyes pause for a second as I see the skin in between her skirt and her black crop top. She’s wearing a black bomber jacket, which has some wool on the collar, but it looks like it was cut to be cropped. Her hair, what can I say about it, it was an enticing dirty blonde color which was in a ponytail on the top of her beautiful head, a pink scrunchie holding it up. The pink makeup and black makeup outline her eyes, and I have to take a second to catch my breath once my eyes meet with hers, they’re sea green. I’ve never been one for favorite colors, but damn, I think I found my favorite color.

Her eyes squint once she notices that I haven’t moved away from the game. She puts her hand on her hip, and takes a blue lollipop out of her mouth.

“I put my quarter down, you died, it’s my turn.” She puts the sucker back in her mouth.

“Sorry, yeah. It’s all yours.” I take a step back to give her room. As she walks by me, I can smell a hint of vanilla.

She steps up, then looks at the screen, “Wait, were you about to beat the high score?”

“Yeah, it’s no big deal though. I’ll just continue trying once you’re done. It’s been my goal to get the high score. I really want to beat S.U.N.”

Her eyes squint slightly and her face scrunches up slightly, “Why?”

I hesitate, do I have a reason? “I guess because this is the game that I love to play and he has always had the high score, no matter what I do.”

“I see, do you mind if I try?” She motions toward the game. I step away from the game more, and watch as she steps up.

“At least let me put your quarter in for good luck.”

“Alright, but I don’t need luck.” I look at her confused, but put the quarter in the slot. She focuses her attention on the screen and presses start.

I watch as she starts to rack up points faster than I have been able to. As one of the arcade workers walk by, I stop him and ask, “Who exactly is she?”

He glances at her, “Her name is Serenity Nadir. She’s a regular customer. She usually comes here once we open up on the weekdays, I’ve never seen her on the weekends. She always plays that game. She’s good, from what I’ve seen. Why are you asking, kid?”

“I just met her, and never seen anyone play like that.” I walk away from the worker and head back over to watch her continue to play.

Several minutes pass and I stare slack jawed as she surpasses S.U.N.’s most recent high score. She gets a couple hundred above the score, then dies. She enters in her initials and the air leaves my lungs. She is S.U.N.

I walk up to her, “You’re S.U.N.?”

“Yep! I’m surprised you’ve never noticed. I noticed you a while ago, but I wanted to see just how skilled you were.”

“I have been trying to beat you for months, and then we meet and you didn’t tell me that you are S.U.N.!” I can’t believe everything that happened. My mind keeps trying to reject the idea.

She snaps her fingers in front of me, “I would have introduced myself sooner, but you were always coming around when I had to leave for work. Today was my day off and I saw you were playing, so I decided to say hi. Why did you think I was a guy?”

“Because S.U.N. is a guy’s name.” I look at her, incredulous.

“But that’s not my name, my name is Serenity Uri Nadir. S.U.N. are my initials.” I don’t know what to say, I just stare off into space trying to wrap my mind around what I just found out. “You know what, why don’t we go get some milkshakes sometime. I have to head to an appointment, but,” she hands me a folded piece of paper, “here’s my number. Call me, I feel like we’ll get along well.” She walks away and I glance at the paper in my hand. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“And that kids, is how I met your grandmother.” I look at my grandkids as I finished my story. They’re all dressed in black clothes and are too busy playing on their phones. I glance around, death has never been comfortable for me, but this is worse. This is my beloved wife’s funeral, and I just wanted to bring her memory back. She never wanted to be remembered by the work she did, she wanted to be remembered by that damn video game she loved. I love it too, in a way. For without it, I wouldn’t have met her. It’s just sad that the day she died was the day they tore the old arcade down.

 

Emma Olson



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The Collegian is an online newspaper written, edited, and published by students at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa.