I’m sitting at a table in our living room. My mother, my brother, and I are huddled around a curiously small coffee table, its diminutive stature emphasized by the sprawling map of our world. It sits awkwardly positioned with one edge just barely hanging off in suspended gravity, horsemen and artillery ready to plummet into the abyss at world’s end.
Much later – or was it earlier? – I’m huddled uncomfortably at the foot of my parent’s bed. My dad is losing a battle with the remote, trying to rewind a pirated VHS tape so we can watch the white skeletons invade Hoth. I want him to hurry up as I sit impatiently. My army has been assembled upon the field for days. Mines are haphazardly deployed around my flag and the rest of my cohort evenly dispersed amongst the ranks. It takes him nearly 30 minutes to place his battalion as a soldier takes his spot in the mud only to be plucked again from his perch a minute later. War doesn’t wait and neither should I.
I’m making a push into Asia. Having locked down Eastern Europe it’s time to make my move. I blast through one of my brother’s territories like German armor rolling upon Polish streets. I take my index finger and flick one of his little soldiers, the hapless veteran tumbling through the air like cannonball from muzzle. The memorialized partisan skips off the edge of the world and nosedives into the hellmouth below. I smile.
Gizmo walks along the top of the old wooden headboard, lightly purring with an ominous threat to leap from her perch and scatter our carefully positioned troops. She doesn’t belong. My dad wouldn’t find her in a parking lot until several years later. I shrug and focus on the game. My father’s brow is stuck, furrowed. I push forward with a reconnaissance maneuver testing his left flank. Suddenly his wall of plastic souls is scattered about, many troops dead and forgotten. I’m pushing deep into his backfield with my Marshall. I’ve cut a path through bombs and flesh and his flag is bare. The Ewoks are singing in celebration and I will soon join them. No. That’s not a flag but his Spy. My Marshall is dead. I fight every urge to smash the board in disgust. I grimace.
I’ve made it to the coast. My mother’s last line of defense sits, waiting to be conquered. Dammit – I’m too young to know that word but I say it anyway. The dice have turned and those under my command are cut down, piece by piece. All is not lost for I cleverly kept a handful of warriors in reserve. My mom doesn’t care. She reveals a mess of cards and amasses an army that would put a smile upon Sauron’s face. I die and I die again. The new world order crumbles and Sisyphean is smashed by his boulder. I never stop smiling.