Cover Art

Blow/Refresh

by

Solomon Deep

A young man reflects on how divorce impacted his life the summer he got his first Nintendo... and his second... and his third. In the uncertain parental universe he traversed, the button on his 8-bit consoles allowed a reset in a world in which he had little control. The summer swam with refreshes in dreams, in love, and in life. This creative nonfiction piece is a reimagining of a nonfiction oral history recorded by the author.

Four

Good Character

The console sat in my basement connected to an old TV. Only a few of the games survived my moves, and my work, and my neglect. I was happy that some of the Nintendo made it. When my son turned seven, it was just about the time that he could play it. I hooked it all up in the basement for him.

It took some effort. Blow, refresh, blow, refresh, seat, reseat, refresh, reset, reseat, and the little boy that looked just like me sat patiently with his hands folded on the sofa, smiling. I had to turn to the Internet to see if there were any effects on cartridges from years in boxes (depends), moisture (yes), and radon (undetermined).

He studied my patience with his eyes. He was learning an arbitrary skill for an obsolete antique. Blow, refresh, seat, reseat, quick search online (someone actually did a Kickstarter for a new cartridge?), and eventually she started up.

This little machine held years of history inherently burned into its plastic body, and yet this child had no context for that. This little plastic box sat before him and he played Super Mario Bros for the first time. It was simple and graceful. He smiled. 

"I love these characters," he said.

History has taught us that the Nintendo did not melt my brain, and that I was not an ungrateful generation because of the Simpsons and Nirvana, Public Enemy, Double Dragon, and Goosebumps. Perspective was barely needed to learn what would ruin us - it was almost immediately obvious.

There was so much more that could not be refreshed, then. TonyLoveAnthonyCantoneseRoseSoftRockOldsmobile died. Everyone slowed down. Everyone stopped trying to do the things that couldn't be refreshed. We had our own rings, now. There was power there.

Stagnant pools of light barely moved over his brow as he quietly directed the pixels. He had my DNA. Nature chose the best parts of me and the best parts of my wife, and here they are. So insignificant, this little ball of light in this little moment dancing the pixelated plumber across the screen, and everything was everything right there.

There was no scar or confusion to hide inside his little body between the meat and the muscle. I probably could have done without that article on epigenetics I read. I could have done without having to ask the question, rhetorical in its structure and in its hollow cave that echoed answers, How could anyone?

He was a happy little puppet with dark hair. He was a little egg.

My wife came down to the damp basement. She watched, wide-eyed with nostalgia.

Dust glitter danced in a diagonal pillar of sunlight.

In the summer of this life there was so much to be refreshed after a dark spring; refreshing, restarting, and I, reviving and resetting the set and the son. Joy and filial love replaced jejune feral fortunes. As easy as it was to remember and to obsess, this was the opportunity to blow it away. To blow, refresh, relax.

Everything started over once you got to the end.

Your quest is over. We present you a new quest.

His eyes sparkled. The princess smiled in her dress.

"Daddy?"

Here is today.

"Yeah, bud."

Now.

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