A boy, his XBOX, and a Soccer Game


He stumbles out of the bedroom with bedhead hair and heads straight to the adjacent bathroom where he wakes himself up by splashing water onto his sleep-swollen face, and uses minty paste to brush away night air that had settled in his mouth. She hears the toilet flush before he walks into the living room. He greets her with a “Hello” before he plops down on the couch, in front of the rather large TV. She smiles, noting the mess of hair; hair that doesn’t seem to be a concern of his. Hair that he tangles some more with the addition of headphones.

IMG_7827She stands in the kitchen, organizing counter space, while watching him through the cut-out square faux window that connects the two rooms. He sits, somewhat slouched, gamer remote comfortably held by both hands, fingers grasping both sides, giving him complete control of the game. From where she stands she can see the lowercase red b engraved on his black earbuds. She knows the headphones drown outside sound when she asks if he’d like a cup of hot chocolate. He doesn’t move, doesn’t answer. She decides to leave him alone and just watch. Watch him enjoy his day off from school, playing an online soccer game.

His face twitches as he becomes part of the game. All she can hear is his side of the conversation. She hears him discuss plays he and his online, never met them before, teammates should try. He antagonizes his opponents. He laughs. He gets frustrated. “NO!” he yells. She hears him command a teammate to “CROSS! Contain him! Wow! Get the ball! Right here!” The online (pretend) stadium-crowd cheers. Loud. He’s so focused on the game that he doesn’t hear her when she asks him, again, if he’d like a hot drink. She decides later would be a better time. “Come on! Just shoot it!” he shouts. “BOO-YAAAAAAAA! I told you I was open!” he said into the mouthpiece, to a teammate. “Oh, that was beautiful! Now do a dipping curve. Nice! Line all the defenders at the post. Ah, almost!” He continued to narrate all the plays without realizing she was listening, watching, enjoying. He cheered. “Yes! Yes! We won! 4 to 3!”

She stopped watching him when he set the remote down, stood, and walked into the kitchen. She reached out the hot cup of cocoa she had prepared for him. “Oh, thanks,” he stated. “That game is so awesome!” he added, excitedly. “Oh, really?” she commented. “I would never have guessed.”

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