Sunday, February 2, 2014

~~For Love of Minecraftia: Chapter Two--The Melted Cake~~

My mom saw when I realized what day it was. I started upright, staring at her blankly when I mouthed the words: “I’m fifteen now?”

My mom, always having been gifted with reading lips, nodded at me. “You didn’t remember?”

I slowly shook my head. Numbly, I turned and shut down my computer, making sure to save my game first. I’d gotten pretty far into my new home—the first floor had been dug out from a hill overlooking the valley, but I’d yet to dig out any more. Chances were the first floor I had dug would be the first, the rest of the rooms entirely underground, connecting to a complicated series of furnished tunnels I’d been working on for the past month. I had yet to plan anything much though.

My mom sighed, seeing the glazed look come over my eyes again. “You’re playing that game too much, Mitchie,” she said softly, looking worried. “You come home every night and do your homework in a flash, and then off you are to that world of mines and pickaxes. I really don’t understand it. When was the last time you saw your friends?”

I blinked, and said slowly, “Friends?”

“That nice girl you told me about. What was her name again? She had red hair, I think. She sits beside you in English, right?”

“She…does?” I didn’t remember. When I wasn’t paying attention to the teacher (to the best of my abilities) I was busy mapping out my creations and world. I had sheet upon sheet of graph paper where I had sketched my world, spending hour upon hour experimenting with different designs until I could find the right ones that matched the world I had. I didn’t really remember much of school, despite how annoying it was that I would occasionally need to stop my art work for class work, among other things.

My mom sighed, looking at me. “You don’t remember? A few weeks ago you were so excited that you’d made a friend, and now you don’t even remember she exists….Mitchie, I’m….I’m worried about you.”

“Why would you be worried about me? It’s not like I have any real problem. I just don’t pay much attention these days,” I tell her, frowning. God, I hated it when parents got like this—looking into your life like they had any real idea what was going through your head when they so obviously didn’t. They couldn’t possibly remember what it was like to be a kid—all the habits, the fights, the weird memory slips….They really didn’t have a clue.

As always, my mother was not privy to my inner dialogue, and so she said with an almost defeated sigh, “You do pay attention though, and that’s the problem. You don’t pay attention to the right things. All you ever seem to do is play on that computer of yours. I don’t understand it, Mitchie. I’ve never seen you like this before. All you ever do is just play and play and play. Your father and I hear you play till very, very late, and even on school nights you never seem to sleep. You have such dark circles under your eyes these days….And you’re skinny, too. When was the last time you ate?”

I shrugged. I didn’t even know.

That was the last straw for my mom. She stared at me, shook her head, and said simply, “Come downstairs. We’ll give you your cake. Then you can go back up here, unplug your computer, and give it to me. You can use the family computer for school work, but otherwise I don’t want you playing that game anymore. You spend way too much time. Get your butt downstairs, now.”

I stared at her, swallowed, and went downstairs. There, on the table, stood an icecream cake, half melted. I started crying when I saw it because it was covered in icing. Icing in the design of a creeper head.

My dad stood beside it. He smiled vaguely at me. “Hey, Mitchie Rich. How’s my birthday girl doing?”

“I’m okay Dad….Just shocked I forgot what today was,” I reply vaguely, looking at him with a bit of nervousness in my face.

He laughs. “I was the same when you were younger, kiddo. I used to get so caught up in my paintings I’d forget what year it was for a while. You’re better than I was when I was your age. Your mom worries though—you need to keep your grades up, okay, kiddo?”

I nod at him, sighing. “I’ll try dad, I’ll try.”

He shakes his head at my noncommittal reply, “No, you won’t try kid. You will. Mitchie, if I hadn’t spent so much time painting when I was younger maybe I’d have gotten a better job than I did. I don’t want you to wind up like me, kiddo.”

“But your management job at the store is good, right?” I reply, looking up at him. What did he mean? I thought it was so cool that he got to manage a store of his own, even if it wasn’t doing that great.

He shakes his head, giving a sigh. “I had bigger dreams than this….I wanted to own an art studio in New York, you know. But I could never pay for it, and none of my paintings have never sold enough.”

“Maybe that’s because you quit painting last year?”

“I quit painting because I needed to work more. I was never cut out to be a painter, much as I wish things were different. But…..Maybe you’ll be cut out to be something, right? You’ve got my gift with colours and creativity, but you have what I never had: Your mother’s brains.” With that, he ruffled my hair, mussing up the short bed-head look I’d been cultivating. I whack him, rolling my eyes. He simply laughs at me, and says, “Come on kiddo, let’s get some cake.”

A few hours later, once we were done eating, he smiled at me. My mom was next to me, sipping at her cup of tea calmly. She didn’t notice anything going on, and my dad, seeing that, reached into his pocket and made a weird swinging motion with his arm, as if throwing something.

Less than a second later, something landed in my lap. I reached down, and touched something rectangular, made of cool metal.

It was a memory stick.

I raised my eyebrows at him curiously, and he grinned, sending me a wink. I nodded excitedly, and he put a single finger to his lips, indicating silence. I nodded, slipping the precious thing into my pocket, vowing to investigate it tomorrow at school.

When my mother finished her tea a little while later, she nodded to me, and said, “Time for your presents.” With that little announcement, she stood up, and walked smartly out of the room.

Dad rolled his eyes at me, stood up, and took the plates out to the kitchen. “Come on Mitchie, let’s go get your gifts. Your mother is just worried about you, so please….Don’t let it bother you, kiddo.”

I shrug. I wasn’t going to let it bother me—my mom and I had never been the best of pairs. Ever since I set fire to my Barbie doll in grade five, she’s kind of just been ignoring me every chance she gets. However, my dad and I had always been good together.

In fact, he’d been the one to give me the matches when I told him that I wanted to kill the Barbie doll with fire.

My mom doesn’t know that part of the story, though. She just thought I managed to make a fire myself, make a stand, and tie Barbie to a stick myself, naked, her clothes also bound to the stick.

My mom sent me to therapy after that….

But that was years ago, and the therapist swore that I was sane.

Unless I had somehow gone overly crazy in the past two years since my last therapy session, my obsession with Minecraft was actually kind of healthy. Wasn’t it good to have a hobby? Something you really did care about? I hoped it was good, because otherwise I had a really bad problem on my hands…..

I followed my dad out of the dining room, heading across the carpeted hall towards the living room. The soft carpet felt good on my toes and feet—how long had it been sine I’d really felt this? When was the last time I came out of my room?

I really didn’t know. Sighing, I walked into the dining room, blinking at the brightly glowing lights of the chandelier that dangles high overhead. I looked over at the wallpaper that coats the wooden walls, sighing as always at the horrific color combinations. Bright lime green wallpaper and dark wood? Not exactly the best idea that I had ever seen…

My mom sat at the large round table that completely dominated the entire circular room. It was ornate, a solid black marble in color, and it fit close to twenty people, depending on how good friends the occupants of it were. My dad would occasionally joke that we were the Knights of the Black Order, because of the shape and color of it. The table had been my mom’s idea, so she didn’t really appreciate the criticism of her table, but she couldn’t deny that it was maybe a bit on the overly humongously gargantuan size. Only around two feet of open space existed around the table—and, trust me, that was so not enough when my cousin Jessica came over. She was easily two feet thick herself….

But don’t ever tell anyone in my family that I said that. My dad would probably laugh his ass off, but my mom….She’d probably do worse than just ground me from my laptop.

She’d probably take my folder of blueprints, too.

And that folder of blueprints meant more to me than I doubted she would ever really understand. It meant the world to me—it was what I did at school, my dreams, my hopes, my diary. The sculpture of a broken heart that was sixty four blocks in height and around thirty across at its widest point was made after I had been bullied for being a gamer chick. The massive star shaped creation with my name dug out into it was my desire to be known by the world. The huge castle that covered the entire horizon for miles was my dream home—the only thing I could ever want to live in, where I was safest, where I was happiest.

The creations in those blue prints, while many had not even been built yet, had taken me countless hours of work to make them PERFECT, and then even more to clean up all the copies of the blue prints. I could no longer count how many sheets of graph paper had been eaten up by my incredible drive to be the very best I could be at everything I made.

I wish she’d understand how much this game means to me, I thought to myself as I took my seat at the table a few chairs to the left. I wish she’d see it’s what I always want to do.

But the chances of her ever understanding that? They were probably somewhere between negative ninety-eight and zero. I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell that she would ever comprehend the kind of freedom Minecraft gave me.

My dad had already seated himself, across from me. He shoots me a cheery grin, rolling his eyes around in his head, trying to provoke a laugh from me. He can obviously guess my thoughts from my face. I sigh, and give in, shooting him a miniscule, but still there, smile right back. At that, he grins even wider, and reaches under the table.

A minute later, a massive pile of parcels has been deposited on the table. I stare for a few moments at the sheer size of it—one of the gifts I could not believe that it had fit under the table, hidden by the white lace table cloth. It was a crate around two feet long by too feet tall, and there seemed to be…something moving inside it.

Curiously, I looked at my parents, but they didn’t really say anything in response except urge me to open it—my dad with eagerness, my mom with boredom. Biting my lip, I stood up and pulled it over close to me, opening it carefully. I had absolutely no idea what could be in it, but the second I opened it, all my breath just came out of my mouth with a gasp.

It was the most adorable cat that I have ever seen. I stared at the fluffiness, my mouth open insanely wide. It had massive fluffy ears, and it was a pure solid white, the fur looking like it was almost longer than the small cat. Unable to contain myself, I reached in, and touched the soft silken fur. The cat meowed softly in response, squirming at my caress, looking up at me with its big blue eyes. I whispered as I petted it, “What’s its name?”

“She hasn’t been named yet, Mitchie. You can choose a name—she’s yours, kiddo,” my dad told me. “You’ll need to feed her and all though.”

I nodded absentmindedly, staring at the fluffiness that was my new cat. I reached into the box with both hands, picked her up, and cuddled her against my hoodie.

My mom letting out a sharp inhale of breath stopped me for a second. “Mitchie, are you sure you should be doing that? That hoodie of yours was quite expensive, and it’s also black. You really shouldn’t cuddle a white cat with a black hoodie on.”

I sighed, nodding. I knew she was right, but….It’s not like I could leave such a fluffy little thing uncuddled. I stared at the cat for a few moments, holding her out in front of me, cradled gently in my arms. She wasn’t struggling—in fact, she seemed a lot calmer than any other cat that I had ever had the pleasure to handle. I thought for a few moments, trying to fit a name to the adorable blob of fluff and fuzz that was the cat.

Nikita? No….It’s too…adult for this fluff. Emerald? Her eyes aren’t the right color…..So what should I name her?

I stayed there frozen for a while until my dad said with a laugh, “Mitchie Rich, earth to kiddo! Wake up, your head’s in the clouds.”

I couldn’t help myself: I almost dropped the cat from laughing so hard. Tears were rolling down my face, I was gasping for breath, and after a few seconds all sounds stopped coming from my mouth.

My parents just plain stared at me, trying to make sense of the crazed mess that had come out of their already insanely obsessed daughter.

When I finally calmed, I stammered between gasps for breath, setting down the little fluffy ball: “That’s…her name. Cloud.”

And so she was named.

Cloud meowed at me, as if in recognition, slowly blinking her big cat eyes at me, her large downy tail flicking back and forth as if she was hunting for something. I smiled at her, and ruffled her hair, before sliding off my hoodie, trying not to shiver in my thin white t-shirt and jeans. “W-we need to get the furnaces on soon,” I muttered, my teeth chattering too much to speak very well, “This November is colder than normal.”

My dad shrugged, and nodded, “That it is. I wish it would get warmer—all these stone floors take forever to warm up, and by the time there’s actually any real heat in them it’s night time again. I wonder, should we head out for a trip sometime? Be…what’s the term…? Snowbirds.”

“That would be a great idea! Where should we go this year? We went to California a few years ago—should we go there again, or head somewhere else this year?” My mom asked, completely disregarding the fact that I was now midway through opening another gift, one that came from her.

Keeping a poker face, I peeled off the last of the wrapping, and opened the box. For the second time today, my mouth hit the ground, for what was it that I saw but a large pad of graph paper, with a new and better folder.

I stared at it for a second, before raising my head and staring at my mom. She smiled at me, and said softly, “I know you’ve been going through a lot of graph paper, and I also saw how used that folder of yours was getting. Happy birthday, sweetie.”

I couldn’t help myself—I stood up, walked around the table, and hugged her really tightly. She hugged me back, laughing now. I grinned at her. “Thanks mom….This means a lot to me.”

My mom smiles at me. “I know, sweetheart, I know. I also know that you really need some time away from Minecraft. You’ve barely come out of your room since you got that game.”

I sigh, and nod. “I know mom, I know….I just….I really can’t explain how much this game means to me. I don’t even really understand it myself.”

“What’s so good about that game anyways, kiddo?” my dad breaks in. “It’s so…sterile somehow, and block-y.”

I looked over at my dad. So not even my artistic father saw how beautiful Minecraft truly could be. There was something intensely sad about that….

Sighing, I moved on to the other gifts, but none of the others truly matched the incredible meaning of the one my mother had given me. Still, it was a pretty good birthday—a lot of jewelry, a handful of games from my dad that he probably knew I wouldn’t touch for a very long time, and more socks than I knew what to do with from my mom.

Finally, with more than a little difficulty, I loaded up a large gift bag with my things, and put Cloud on top of it, securely wrapped in a soft blanket my dad had given me. The little puffball looked up at me, purring. I carried her up the cold stairs, grateful for the thick purple and black socks my mom had given me. They kept my feet from freezing solid, which was always a good thing.

I found myself in my room, staring all around at it. It was far from plain—my father and I had painted rolling hills and forests all around it, and being anywhere in my room was like living inside a painting. It was extraordinarily beautiful—even the ceiling was painted; half night sky dotted with stars and half day dotted with pure white fluffy clouds. I smiled, picking Cloud up in my hands and raising her into the air, listening to the little thing mewl in protest, her big eyes looking down at me. I bring her to me, kissing her on the forehead, holding her under her arms in my right carefully, supporting her weight with my left hand so she wouldn’t get hurt at all. She seemed to calm at the kiss on her forehead, and I couldn’t help but grin down at her. She was so cute!

And she happened to perfectly blend in with the clouds on the sky of my room.

I definitely had named her well.

Lovingly, I hugged Cloud to my chest, petting her until she purred. We stayed like that for a while, my arms holding her while my hands toyed with her soft fur, her blue eyes shut in calmness, her body rumbling with purrs. The peaceful moment was eventually broken when my mom came in, her eyebrows raised. “Can you help me take your computer downstairs now, Mitchie?”

I sighed, nodding, plopping my cute ball of fluff and fur back on the blue-covered bed. Cloud mewed in protest, before wandering around the bed, using her claws to tug the blankets into a suitable nest for her. My mom and I couldn’t help watching her play.

Eventually, my mom tapped me on the shoulder, and together we started to unplug the surprisingly small monstrosity that was my high-tech computer. I wrapped up the cord around it, and picked it up, staggering down the steps after her. I felt like my arms were breaking, but I knew how important this computer was—if it breaks, I lose every part of my Minecraft world. And that could definitely not happen.

Finally, I manage to make my way to the study a floor down and down the entirety of an extremely long hallway. My mom manages to push past me and open the door, helping me carry it to the desk where it would stay until I was no longer grounded. After that, my mom followed me back to my room, presumably to see exactly how her one and only daughter was planning to survive her punishment.

“What am I going to do now?” I say quietly, mainly to myself.

“Why don’t you go and play outside for a while? Get some sunlight—you’re pretty pale.”

“But, mom, it’s cold….I don’t want to go outside when it’s cold,” I told her, “Can’t I go outside when it’s warmer?”

My mom sighed, and shrugged. She didn’t reply, seeming to be deep in thought. Eventually, she just says, “You have a point, Mitchie. I just want you to have some fun outside of the game for a while. It’s partly why I’m so glad your father suggested we go on a trip sometime soon—he always was a very bright man. I’m definitely quite glad I chose to marry him.”

“Chose to marry me? I thought you married me because you were p—“ my dad says from the hallway, stopping his speech when my mom shoots him a death glare.

I look between them for a few seconds, feeling more than a little confused—and wondering how far out of the loop I actually was. I didn’t know very much about my parents’ love lives—and I was pretty much keen on leaving that the same way for the rest of my life. I could care less about what my parents did when no one else was around—but there was something I was now wondering about…..What was my dad going to say about why my parents got together? It sounded like they were going to say preg—

“I’m a bastard?”

It takes me a minute to realize I was the one who had just said that. My parents stared at me, before staring at each other. With that awkward sentence, both my parents slowly turned and walked out of the room—one of the very few synchronized connected moments I had ever seen them do. Out in the hall, I heard them talking among themselves as they practically sprinted from my room.

Well….Now that I found myself alone, I might as well start work on continuing my blue prints. What should I make next? I had been tinkering with the plans for a massive maze—several floors high, all done in every material imaginable. I knew it would be impossible to get all of the materials for a long while, it would still definitely give me something to work towards. And a dream to chase.

I had always loved having dreams to chase….Ever since I was younger, I had crazy plans that flooded my head and ran through my mind. I would spend hours fully obsessed with my creations—whether they were drawings or paintings or even some poetry. Of course, that was all before the arrival of Minecraft and the addiction and obsession that followed almost automatically. Up until now, my obsessions tended to bounce from one to another within days—I had never, and I mean never, been so obsessed with one thing for so long.

Maybe that was why my mom was so startled by the strength of which I was obsessed with this game? It had no predecessors before, and it likely would have no way of ending unless something huge happened. I and my family had undergone many of smaller obsessions before—things that definitely paled in comparison when you so much as caught a glimpse of the folder I now held in my hands. It was filled to bursting with sheet upon sheet of “organized,” graph paper, each sheet painstakingly sketched and labeled with many symbols to show different materials, and each sheet accompanied by a Master List of materials needed for each creation. Diagrams of the three-dimensional creations, made with painstaking patience and a large amount of time spent with a headache, were scattered among it as well.

I was officially obsessed, and obsessed with something that I doubted I would ever get over. I was planning on continuing with my Minecraft world until the day I died, and if someone even put an estimate on how long it would take to make the creations I had already drawn and planned, I wouldn’t be surprised if it would take hundreds of hours to get anywhere close to finishing this thing. But…..I somehow knew it would be worth it. I loved this game more than anything else in the world, and I personally could not believe spending my time any other way than this.

Sighing, I plopped myself on the bed, and eyed the random pile of parcels that lined my bed.  Now what was I going to do? It was not actually like I could sleep here with this mountain of things, nor could I get comfortable. Shrugging, I pulled out my cell and opened it up to the Minecraft forum, looking at all the scattered pictures of Minecraft creations.

A few hours later, my phone died, and I was left in the bed with nothing to do. Standing up, I almost stepped on something extremely soft and fluffy. Gasping in shock, I fell back on the bed, staring at the little ball of fluff that now gazed up at me with massive blue eyes. “I’m so sorry, Cloud!” I yell, picking up the kitten and hugging her tightly to me.

The cat meows sleepily at me, seemingly not noticing how close the poor thing had come to becoming a very fluffy pancake. I sighed, petting her gently, feeling how soft her fur was with a smile. Cloud purred at me, nuzzling into my chest. Wanting to make my new pet as comfortable as possible, I climbed into the bed as best as I could and lay down, curling up with my little kitten. Cloud nuzzled into my small breasts, proceeding to use them as pillows and falling asleep in them. I petted her, smiling softly to myself, not minding how comfortable she seemed to find me.

I had only lain there for a few moments when I drifted off into sleep, a sleep that would start me on the craziest journey I would ever take….

Into the world of Minecraftia.

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