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When I was a kid, my cousin worshipped his super Nintendo;
Kept it on a pedestal higher than my dislocated shoulders could reach.
Some days he'd pause Mario mid-jump and grin.
Told me where he kept his legendary, second-slot controller,
Told me not to f*** up his streak.
My misguided fingers mimicked his, but backwards, and maybe a little more unsure.
I would unplug my controller and declare that I would only pretend to play.
Little did I know that I was letting him win this co-op game.
He would blow the Return of the Jedi cartridge before I could take back my resignation.
His eyes seemed to glow like red light sabers so I elected to continue pretend playing.
I always gained the force when my controller was disconnected.
It's present day, and I'm hiding behind screens thicker than Nintendo pixels.
Her eyes are exactly how I'd picture a real version of the 1988 Princess Peach,
But much, much more smaller.
And I'm still pretending to play this game that isn't exactly mine.
I'm sure he's really good at unlocking her mysterious worlds.
I guess he's earned enough skill not to lose his dinosaur to the sitting shells that morph into enemies only when I play.
I keep losing my lives, but this one I saved for her;
From all of those times that I skipped holding a controller.
I wanted her to complete my world.
Coming from a kid who never knew to randomly jump for invisible coins, this is a lot to desire.
And honestly, I'm afraid to adapt to her terrain.
I was quick to die in water, or cave, or ghost levels.
But I'm happy that this is real life;
I was never good at games.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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