I sat on the couch, Atari joystick in one hand, cold can of Tab soda on the coffee table in front of me. I should have been browsing the want ads, but it’s hard to do when I keep successfully completing levels of Ms. Pac Man. I told myself as soon as I lost a game, I’d stop and look at the paper. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be a strange kind of motivation for me. I’ve never been much good at video games, yet, here I am, two levels from complete victory, and I haven’t even been eaten by one of those little ghost thingies. Not once. I sighed and started the next level. My husband, Todd, was not going to be happy when he came home to find me, here, in my Garfield pajamas, frittering the day away with his old Atari that I found while organizing the closet—another form of procrastination. I told myself that once I alphabetized the shoes, I’d start job hunting. Unfortunately, I never got the shoes alphabetized because I found the Atari in an unmarked box in the back of the closet and immediately hooked it up to the TV.
When I first got up this morning, I told myself I’d make some calls to employers as soon as I finished breakfast. Thing is, I wasn’t hungry, so I didn’t have breakfast and there were dirty dishes in the sink, so I decided to wash those. I told myself I’d job hunt as soon as the dishes were done. Then the phone rang. It was a telemarketer. She wanted to know about my current dishwasher satisfaction. Her survey was 345 questions long. So that took a while. Then, I went to the closet to get dressed and the shoes were all out of order, and we all know what that led to.
So here I am. It’s five p.m., and I haven’t looked at a single job ad. I haven’t even gotten much house work done. Todd, who should be home any minute, was not going to be happy. Exactly one minute before he walked through the door, I completed the final level of Ms. Pac Man and immediately shut the thing off. When I heard his car door slam shut, I picked up the want ads and begin thumbing through them, trying to look very intent. When Todd walked through the door, his eyes bypassed me and went straight to the Atari.
“You found my old Atari?” His eyes glistened with joy, and he looked like he just might cry. “I thought my mom sold it in a garage sale!” He fell on his knees and basked in its 8-bit glory.
“Yeah, I stumbled over it in the closet while I was cleaning.” I turned a page. He switched the Atari on and began playing Ms. Pac Man. “I also looked at jobs today. See?” I held up the paper.
“Good for you,” he said, keeping his eyes on the TV screen. “You wanna play two player? I bet I can beat you.”
I smiled and tossed the want ads aside. Maybe this Atari was my ticket to becoming a full-time pretend housewife.
Stephanie Scarborough lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her two feline overlords. Her work has appeared in The Rose and Thorn, M-Brane SF, and A Fly in Amber. She has fiction forthcoming in A Thousand Faces and Sand: A Journal of Strange Tales. Visit her website at: http://hellostephanie.net.
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Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.