By M. K. Noble
She gave the box a tap and a shake. Crumbs dusted the white enamel, clinging until a spray of water took them. How long it had been since she had left the house? Three years had passed since Lindsey’s twenty-fourth birthday. Three years ago, the day after Lindsay’s birthday, the Gamezworld friend request appeared.
McKenna sang as she folded the pink cardboard, “So young, we’ve just begun…” Three years ago, she began her affair with Kevin of Seven, who lived near Chicago. “Or where Chicago would be if the Windy City existed in the Seventh Dimension,” he teased, “It’s windy here too, lol.”
“This ‘Kevin guy’ is hiding something, be careful McKenna,” Lindsay had warned. And she kept at it. What did he look like? He posted no picture, only an ET avatar. “Why won’t he say where he’s from? Doesn’t that bother you?”
No, McKenna wasn’t bothered. Unlike former friend Lindsey, McKenna still isn’t bothered. There were weeks of chats, games, and discussing favorite characters. Simple. McKenna and Kevin were in love. It’s sad; people feel threatened by the happiness of others.
Despite Lindsay’s attitude, McKenna had promoted her as a Gamezworlders player for the Seven D. She didn’t ditch Linds. But when there was no invite for Lindsey, McKenna was thrilled. The thought still thrills her.
Lindsey’s negativity persisted. “McKen, I don’t like this; he’s not telling you enough. Why won’t he at least say where he’s from?”
“He does, Linds. You don’t believe him, but I do. That’s the difference.”
“The Seventh Dimension, McKen?” Lindsey kept at it. “He says he lives in the Seventh Dimension, McKen, c’mon.”
“That’s why he turned you down.” McKenna was blunt. “Lindsey, I told Kevin you didn’t believe him. Uh, so now, like I’m really busy, okay? I’m a player in the Seventh D World Game.” McKenna couldn’t look her in the eye, though she knew Linds deserved the dis. “Sorry Linds, but you weren’t invited.”
Lindsey wouldn’t stop. “Why can’t I find Seven D anywhere, McKenna? Doesn’t that strike you as weird?”
“Okay so,” McKenna sighed, “Seventh D World Games isn’t found on search engines, Linds.” She hated talking to Linds like she was a child; it reminded her of Babbs, her mother. But then again, Linds was acting like a disappointed eight-year-old. “That’s because SDWG is super exclusive and private.”
When it became clear she had to choose, McKenna blocked Lindsey’s emails and avoided her calls. Despite loving her new life and staying super busy because of the meetings and all the folding, she missed Lindsay. She and Lindsey had been friends since the third grade. Kevin had sympathized, saying it was for the best, since Lindsey took time away from games and time away from folding. Folding was important.
McKenna folded the cupcake box, making it a five-fold. The ends must meet exactly. Pressing… pressing… be patient. Crease the cardboard, then fold exactly, press, crease…
She hummed a kindergarten song, “The People on the Bus.” Creasing and pressing, “All through the town,” she sang. “You’re not a box any more; you’re décor.” “Décor” was Kevin’s favorite word.
She added the five-fold to the pink tower on the window side in the living room. Stepping back, she smiled. The bakery pink made a huge difference; the wall was incredibly awesome. Pink was definitely better than the yellow. Taking out her smartphone, she recorded the change, though there was not enough room to view the full effect. The hall ended in egg cartons, useful in mapping.
Her late mother’s bedroom walls, a patchwork of colors, were covered in TV Guides and Enquirers. Kevin had remarked on their value in making intra-space assessments. He applauded her ingenuity, telling her that the videos she took of the walls in her house were an important step. “Step toward what?” she asked him.
“A step towards…” he hesitated, “contact; we are reaching out to other worlds.” He added a smiley face. She had hoped for more.
Time to check in. She looked forward to her Seventh D sessions, but hated climbing the stairs. It was too late to make a change. It might be easier if her Mac was downstairs and not in her bedroom, but after all the folding and wall décor adjustments, it wasn’t practical. Besides, Kevin had become angry when she brought it up. She didn’t hear from him for three and a half days ― sleepless days where she sat waiting, staring at the monitor. Never again.
Stairs were becoming a problem. The extra pounds she guessed, pounds added to the 315 that had been her weight on the last doctor visit four years ago. She passed under the cellophane arch and sat at her desk. The entry to her bedroom office had become an arch of tri-fold cellophane.
She frowned; a cake crumb next to the keyboard on her desk. She pressed her thumb against it. Careful. Remember the roach attack on the Styrofoam. She had created a wall of Styrofoam behind her bed. The boxes resembled oysters, common in a mermaid’s environment. Kevin had been pleased and so proud of her. He has gone on about the wall being useful in plotting a bridge map. Then the roach invasion had ruined it all.
Remembering the roaches, she berated herself again. You better not pout; you better watch out. Worms march in; they march out; worms play pinochle on your snout. Careful, what if they’re waiting… She licked the cake off her thumb.
Minute traces of ravioli, fries, orange chicken, and pizza had clung to the Styrofoam, and roaches had streamed through cracks in the wall behind the shells. Gathering an army, they dropped to the floor, traversing the worn carpet to her desk, where they scaled the oak frame like it was a high rise.
She wished the message from Kevin hadn’t come through while she was screaming. Crunching them under her feet, she swept away handfuls of twitching insects, scooping and flinging them to the floor. Fighting the urge to run, she had answered.
“Why don’t you eat them,” he asked. “Have fun and catch them as they run. Pop them in your mouth and enjoy a snack. LOL!” Kevin had laughed at her!
“No,” she sobbed, “roaches are gross.” The monitor darkened, and Kevin was gone. Minutes of silence became an eternity of loss. Waiting to be forgiven, she stared at the blank screen while pulling roaches from her hair and brushing them off her sweats. At last, seven hearts had popped up; he was back. Never again, she had promised herself. I’ll do anything, oh, please.
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