According to Dante, the gates of hell are inscribed “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”Let that inscription lead, but not necessarily define, your piece for Friday’s link-up.
500 words or less.
Concrit welcomed (and desired).
“Brandon?” he’s pretending he doesn’t hear me again, “Brandon!”
“What?” I should expect that attitude by now, instead of flinching every time it comes flying.
“What the hell is this supposed to mean?” I can’t help but flail his binder in his direction. I bought it two days ago for the new school year, and now it has, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” scrawled across the cover in large, sloppy printed letters.
“It’s a joke, Ma. Re-lax,” he says which he then sees fit to demonstrate by slouching down onto the couch with his back turned to me, and his senses numb to the beautiful world outside our door. In one move his headset is back on, the controller is back in his hands and my son, five feet in front of me, is virtually swept away to a dystopian universe where he is fighting for his very survival with people he has never even met or seen in real life.
Since he’s distracted, I open his binder in the hopes of finding the punch line to the “joke” on the cover. What I am greeted with is a lot of work. There are at least 30 pages filled back to back with notes, diagrams and even highlighted sections. I feel the weight of the world easing it’s gravitational pull on my person until my eye catches on one conglomeration of letters and symbols that is not readable in the English language, but I recognize it immediately: G4m3r_F0R_L1F3.
That’s him. It’s Brandon, except it is not the Brandon I gave birth to sixteen years ago, that is his avatar, his virtual representation. That is not the name he would be using in his schoolwork. Which means one thing – this book contains no schoolwork. As I flip through the pages again, this time with a more critical eye, I see that all of this “work” is some sort of plan for his virtual survival in a world that isn’t real.
I’m about to confront him when he is literally saved by the bell, or , rather, the ringing of the phone. I gather my composure, answer it up without checking the caller ID.
“Hello, Mrs. Ward?” responds a polite, but unfamiliar voice.
“Yes, who’s this?”
“Mrs. Ward, I am Ms. Fere, Brandon’s guidance counselor. We need to talk about Brandon’s future here. I’m not sure he’s going to make it.”
"You know, Ms. Fere, it's funny you should say that, I was just wondering the same thing," and I couldn't help but laugh. I had just found the sadly ironic punchline of my son's "joke."