level 1

“How’s she doing?” Bob sat down on the park bench and clicked in.  He saw the waves crash gently against the rocks and a kid waddle across the sand pulling down on his soppy diaper.

When Bob clicked the unit on the roof of his mouth it felt like a present.  He loved dialing in with Alfonso and the others.  He could hear them now but he didn’t want to lose that wave image, it was nice. So he just listened.

“Not so good man, not so good…” Alfonso chimed in while the others chattered happily in the background.  How they could be so happy with so many things to dial in was beyond him.  He thought of Wrodrina and all the happy spaces they had made for her in the game.  She had an arcade to go to (right down the street!) a park with two swings, a nice two-level condo, 3 cool friends, nice leggings, the food (high quality), even the arcade was straight from the early nineties with all the retro games she liked.  Bob sighed.

“Ok, fill me in.” he said.

Alfonso sucked in a bunch of breath.  “Man, uh, maybe you should just click all the way in and look at it, I don’t know…”

“No, I’m looking at the shore right now, don’t need to bother, just tell me.” he said.

Alfonso took another deep breath and began, “Okay, so she seemed fine and was writing mediocre poetry and not many tears and everything seemed on the up and up.  She went to Fred’s to play guitar last night at, let’s see, oh okay, around 8:40ish p.m.  The day before she did her chores, today she was up and at ‘em at the regular time… but then, it’s weird.  All of a sudden she just came through the door and fell to the floor… holding her keys and everything and just started like, sobbing or whatever.” Alfonso paused.

“I see.  How long was she there?” Bob asked.

“At home? Let’s see… 6 hours-“

“No, how long was she on the floor?” Bob asked and noticed the little grungy kid waddling his way.  He tried to break eye contact to discourage him.  He looked at the birds.

“Um, let me see, oh here it is- five hours.”

“What?”

“Yeah, I thought it was pretty excessive.”

“No way, check the record again.  Can’t be.” Bob tried making a little fortress around him with the sand but the kid kept coming.

“Oops.  I was wrong.  Looks like about 30 minutes…”

“That’s not so bad.” Bob kicked sand in the kid’s direction.  It landed on his shoe, but he kept coming.

“What is she doing now?” Bob asked.

“Pasta.” Alfonso turned his receiver up a bit and laughed.  “Pasta.”

“She’s doing pasta. Sounds interesting…” Bob chuckled.

“Seems she won’t stop eating it now. It’s getting out of hand.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll click in.  I have to see this.” Bob thought of the waves and the kid and figured it was the perfect time anyway.

 

“There.  All better.”

He looked around at the scene.   There were empty containers and old pots with pasta bits in it and green pesto stains on the counter and it was worse than he thought.  He looked at Wrodrina and noticed about 5 or 6 extra pounds.  He sighed.  They’d have to use about 1500 extra units for the trips to the gym.  What the fuck? He thought.

“How long has this been going on, Alfonso?  And why didn’t you update me?”

“Hey! I thought she was fine.  She seemed fine.  No one thought to check interval cache.  It looked good.”

“Get the pasta outta there.  Pronto.”

“You got it, boss.”

“I’m not your boss.”

“Well you’re acting like it.”

Bob watched as Wrodrina stretched her arms and yawned and ambled chubbily over to her couch.  She texted Terry.  //Gonna take a nap. ttyl//

As soon as she closed her eyes the containers started glittering in the cube frame.

“Make em, er, make em bananas.”

“That’ll be hard to pull off, Bob.”

“Just do it.”

The tins and bins glittered into banana shape forms and he even threw in a few gnats for extra measure.

Other things happened.

Wrodrina woke up.

She yawned and a single soupy tear ambled down her cheek, finding the perfect groove and puddling.

“It won’t stop.” Alfonso whispered.

“Fuck.” Bob sighed. “Bring in the big guns.”

A knock came on Wrodrina’s door.  She opened it and saw three local firemen standing on her stoop.  One of them was bare-chested wearing only suspenders and a smile.  He winked at her.

“Sorry ma’am.  Must have the wrong house.  We got a call about a cat… but hey… can I ask you, if I’m not too forward, to maybe have dinner with me tonight?”

Wrodrina pulled a tin of French pasta from a hiding place underneath the hallway junk table.

“No, thanks.”  She pulled a fork out of her pocket and started shoveling the long tasty strands into her mouth.  “I’m busy,” she mumbled and tapped the corners of her mouth with a white handkerchief.

“Oh, well I’ll leave you my number just in case you change your mind.”

Wrodrina lifted her eyebrows and tapped the prongs of the fork on the door jamb.  She tried to make a song.

“Wait, are you crying?” one of the other firemen asked her.

“No.”

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