Power to the Players
I sat on my bedroom floor, staring at the TV screen and moving my player left and right as he tried to dodge the barrage of bullets that we’re coming his way. I liked games. I always had. But recently, I wasn’t so sure.
Games were what I used to escape real life. When I was mad, or upset, or bored; I would just pop in a game and I instantly felt better but, I couldn’t do that anymore. I couldn’t just run away whenever I felt bad about something because life wasn’t a game.
In a game, you can reset something when you mess up. In a game, you have a manual to where you need to go to get to the next level. In a game, you can die repeatedly and still be brought back to life. But in the real world, life wasn’t that easy.
When you fucked up, you fucked up. When you died, you died. When you're lost, you're lost. There was no reset to life. There was no manual to life. There was just…life itself.
I guess when you think about it, these games do have one good point to them. You have to be strong to do some of the things you do in real life. You have to think about the choices you make. So, in a way, we’re all players. We’re just not in a video game.
Hm. The power to the players really does rule all.
“Beck! Beck! Beck let me in!”
I glanced over at my door as Brandon jolted me out of my thoughts. “Hello little brother. Nice to see you too. What do you want?” I yelled through my bedroom door.
“You can’t lock yourself in here forever. Kylie told me Natalie’s been doing the same thing."
At the mention of Natalie’s name, I paused the game and quickly opened the door.
“What do you want?” I asked, looking down at him. “What’s wrong with you? You’ve been upset ever since Natalie ran out a couple of days ago. Is it the cast? Is it bothering you?” he asked, examining my arm.
I sighed, opening the door wider so that he could enter. “Brandon, I gotta tell you something. But you have to promise not to tell mom and dad because I’m not ready to tell them yet,” I said, hoping he could keep a secret.
He nodded and I inhaled and exhaled before looking back over at him. “Alright. Do you remember that talk we had when I was in the hospital?”
“Yeah. You said being with Natalie would be ‘complicated’ or whatever.”
“Right, and you do understand that being with Natalie wouldn’t be…friendly."
“Yeah, I know. She’d be your girlfriend.”
“And you’re fine with that?”
“Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be? Dad always said that if you like someone you should give it one hundred percent. If you like Natalie then what’s the problem?”
“That’s just the thing. I’m not with Natalie. I’m with Melody.”
“Melody? Your friend? But what about Natalie?”
“Don’t get me wrong, B. I still like Natalie. It’s just, I have to at least give Melody a chance. You know, to see if things would work out between us.”
“But that’s not giving it one hundred percent. You can’t go out with someone just to see what it’s like. That’s using somebody!”
“No it isn’t!”
“Yes it is! You’re using Melody and you know it! If you don’t like Natalie, just say it. Don’t make up some dumb excuse.”
“Brandon, this isn’t an excuse. I like them both!”
“But who do you like more? Who do you really think you can give one hundred percent with?”
“I’m not having this discussion with you! You’re ten. I just wanted to tell you I’m gay, now get out.”
Brandon sulked his way out of my room and I sighed. “Man, it’s sad when your own little brother has to set things straight for you,” I said to myself.
“My thoughts exactly.”
I looked at my door, noticing Lee standing there with his hands in his pockets. His eyes were bloodshot and his hair was tousled around his head.
“God, you look like death,” I groaned, frowning at him. “Thanks. I feel like death too,” he replied, walking in and laying on the floor. I rested my stomach against my bed, leaning down to look at him.
“Jessie?” I asked. He nodded slowly, groaning in agony. “I’m such a fucking idiot, Beck. I don’t know what I was thinking,” he replied.
“Yeah, you are but I’m sure she’ll forgive you if you tell her it was just a kiss,” I said. He shook his head and my eyes widened.
“Lee, please tell me you didn’t,” I exclaimed, glaring at him. “I didn’t mean to! I swear to you, Beck. Just…please don’t freak out. I’ve lost everyone. Hope won’t talk to me and I’m pretty sure she got her claws into Mark too because every conversation we have is composed of one sentence. Beck, I just really need a friend right now and I know you do too,” he said quickly, his eyes begging for me to understand.
I sighed. “I can’t believe you slept with her. After everything you and Jessie went through-”
“I know. I know. God, Beck I’ve been punishing myself enough lately. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. My friend, Michael said he saw Chase and Jessie on a date last night. A date! It hasn’t even been a full seventy-two hours and she’s moved on from me,” he groaned, throwing my pillow across the room.
“Lee, calm down. I’m sure Jessie’s hurt too. Mark told me over the phone about her break down at Wal-Mart. She’s hurting right now. We all know Chase is just a rebound,” I said, trying to comfort him.
He crossed his legs, staring off into space. “How’s things with Melody?” he asked. “She’s happy. She wants me to come out to my parents,” I replied bluntly.
“Are you?” he asked, staring at me. I shrugged my shoulders. “I just told Brandon a few minutes ago. He seemed fine with it before he went on a rampage about how I wasn’t giving Melody one hundred percent. He thinks I'm using her,” I replied, rolling off my bed to sit next to him on the floor.
“In a way, you are Beck. I mean, don’t get me wrong, but you know you don’t love her the way you love Natalie. I saw the way you two looked at each other. All the touching. The flirting. The sexual tension that seemed to light the room on fire whenever you two were near each other. It’s only been a couple months and she already has you wrapped around her little finger. Face it. You’ve been whipped since the start,” he stated.
I thought about what he said as we stared at the television screen. Had it really been that obvious that I liked Natalie? Did everyone else see it too? Brandon saw it. Lee, Hope, Jessie, my mom; even Melody could feel the vibe between us. Why hadn’t I made a move?
“I think you’re afraid, Beck. I think you’re so afraid of giving this girl your heart that you gave it to someone that you thought it’d be safer with. But you can’t always play it safe. Sometimes, you just have to give it all you've got, play all your cards, and hope that things work out in your favor."
Lee looked at me and that’s when I realized we were having a moment. “I’m gonna get Jessie back. I know it. I’m gonna do everything in my power to make her forgive me. So Beck, I’m saying this as a friend. Think really hard about what you’re doing with Melody. Believe it or not, Natalie won’t be waiting for you forever."
With that said, Lee got up to leave the room, keeping me with my thoughts. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. Things like this never were. I got up to close my door and jumped when I saw my mother standing there.
“Beck, we need to talk."
“Why do I have to be here?” Mark grumbled, holding his girlfriend tighter in his lap. “Because Jessie needs our support right now,” Hope replied, running her fingers over Mark’s larger hand.
“But all she’s doing is picking out clothes,” he remarked, motioning toward Jessie as she rummaged through Natalie’s closet.
"Date clothes, Mark. Something she can wear to tempt Chase but also make Lee jealous,” Natalie corrected. “You know, since Lee is still my best friend, I’m positive I’m breaking some type of guy code. Like, 'don’t help you best friend’s girl pick out clothes to go on a date with another guy” he said, shaking his head.
"Ex-girl, Mark. We’re not together anymore, so you’re not breaking any guy codes,” Jessie corrected, holding a top up against her torso. “Either way, if Lee finds out about this, he’s gonna be pissed,” Mark added.
“I don’t care how Lee feels about this. I’m going on another date with Chase because I want to.” “Or because you’re on the rebound.” “Mark!”
Mark groaned as Hope frowned at him. “I’m just saying. Just because Lee and Jessie aren’t together anymore, doesn’t mean I can’t still hang with him. I mean, he’s my best friend…and the same goes for Beck,” he said, directing his attention to Natalie.
She shrugged, continuing to help Jessie. “I didn’t say you couldn’t keep talking to Beck,” she said bluntly. “I know but whenever I’m on the phone with her, you give me those death glares,” he mumbled.
Natalie quickly averted her gaze at him and arched her eyebrows. “Death glares? What death glares?” she questioned, crossing her arms over her chest. “You know that look that says ‘why are you talking to her?’ It’s a death glare."
“I don’t look at you like that!”
“When I’m talking to Beck, you do. Besides, I heard there’s trouble in paradise.”
“What?” All of the girls in the room suddenly stared over at the male and he stiffed in shock. “Uh…Beck is having second thoughts about Melody,” he answered, nervously.
“Second thoughts like how?” Natalie pressed.
“Just that, she thinks she may be making a wrong decision. I don’t know. I talked to her about it last night when she came home from Melody’s. She just kept saying when she kissed her, she saw your face,” Mark replied, timidly.
Natalie gasped before continuing her prior task. There was a small smile on her face before she let it drop. She simply said, “Oh."
Hope and Jessie shared a look before glancing at Natalie. Mark sighed, leaning his forehead against Hope’s shoulder. “Promise me we won’t ever have drama like these two,” he whispered to her.
Hope laughed to herself, leaning back against him. “I promise,” she whispered back.
Natalie tried to focus on what she was doing but she couldn’t stop thinking about Beck. Maybe she still had a chance with her after all. So harmless flirting wouldn’t be so bad right? Right.