How Pokemon, Harry Potter, And Halo Taught Me To Read

When I first started playing Pokemon Cards with my friends I didn’t really read all the text. Of course, I knew all the Pokemon by heart, so I didn’t need to read their names, but the different abilities they had, I did need to read. However, I found key words that told me what they did, without reading the whole description. Words like” flip, coin, energy (and there would be a symbol for energy near the word, typically), retreat, poison, paralyze, and a number of other conditions, all made it easy for me to cheat when reading these cards. But that was more reading than I’d ever done before–and the fact that I could read at all was a step forward.

Then, when I was in 7th grade my parents got the first three Harry Potter Books for me for Xmas. My dad had thought it was a bad idea, just another reminder that I couldn’t read. But my parents read all three of them to me, and I didn’t want to stop there. I asked them to read them to me over and over again. I could really see myself as Harry, I think most people could, that’s why the books were/are so popular.

Waiting for the release of books has never been more painful. Each Harry Potter book release was like a birthday, except even more rare–they only came once every 2-3 years!

Harry Potter showed me how exciting reading can be. It showed how much fun it can be to lose yourself in a book, even if that book was read to you by a parent.

One year later, 8th grade, something monumental happened for me. Microsoft released its first ever Xbox and with it the video game, Halo. Halo was so much fun, I loved the game play and characters. My friend had it and I spent Monday nights at his house while my parents were at work late that night and early the next morning. Which gave us both time to play through Halo, over and over again. This friend, he was reading a spin off book from the game, a prequel that was much more heavy on story than the game was. Once my friend finished it he told me about it, and I was so interested in the game I picked it up and began a year long journey to read my first novel ever. I was in 8th grade.

5/20/15 Stories in Water

Stories in Water

 

1)

It all started with the screech of tires, a thump, a gasp, and the cracking of ribs. A lump in Theo’s throat as his mother fumbled frantically to extricate herself from the car. His breath leaving a receding fug on the living room window from where he watched the scene unfold.

It was a little thing–the last-time breath the dog ever took–and Theo didn’t cry. He was never much of weeper. He always felt his mother did enough for the two of them. In many ways it was similar to the day his mother finally realized Dad wasn’t coming home.

The light rain pattered the pavement as Theo ran down the driveway. His mother only stood over her, the little pooch, just stood over the white dog and watched. When Theo bent to run his hands through the fur, they came away oily and wet, smelling of life.

 

Can we take her inside, he asked, looking up at his mother, whose eyes were rimmed red.

 

How did she get out? was all she said.

 

Theo slid his arms under the cooling body and he hoisted her up. He walked slowly back to the house. Theo placed Dottie in the small dog bed near the fireplace and sat with her as his mother parked the car along the street. He noticed she didn’t come in for a long time.

 

2)

Dottie was gone the next day. Theo woke up to find his mother had left, presumably with the dog she had killed. The small dog bed, that Dottie had so often occupied over the years, drew his eye as if the body were still there. Then, two weeks after the incident Theo arrived home from school to find his mother beaming, Dottie curled in her bed. But she wasn’t the same.

 

Do you like it? his mother had asked. Her freckled cheeks were a bit too shiny and something glossy was hidden behind her eyes that were framed by her straight raven hair–dyed with some noxious smelling stuff the week before.

 

She looks like she’s sleeping, was all Theo could say.

 

I know, I know, cooed his mother. I wish we could have saved her.

 

Theo nodded. He understood the weirdness of the situation, and the weirdness of his mother. It was like when she had surprised him on his tenth birthday with a stethoscope and a pair of elbow length latex gloves.

 

Now you can be a surgeon, like your father, she had told him.

 

He humored his mother every day of her life. He loved her too much to tell her the truth–that he didn’t want to be a surgeon, he didn’t want to see Dottie anymore. He humored her because she did her best; it was just unfortunate that her best was much worse than other people’s.

Even though Theo didn’t want to see Dottie like that, he still held a morbid curiosity for his dead pet. Where had she gone? Was it possible that she was still in there? Somewhere? In the middle of the night Theo crept down the hall, stethoscope around his neck, and press the diaphragm to the place he knew her heart had once been. The silence within was strangely comforting; how could he find something so sick and twisted to be so beautiful?

2/8/15

The gravel path ended at a curb and Doug stepped down onto the paved road. He hated this part. It was like the walk of shame he’d made girls go through when he’d been young. When he wouldn’t give them cab fare when they left. But their decisions the night before hadn’t ruined them. Yeah, sure, maybe they hated themselves for about a week or maybe two, or maybe the reason they’d came home with him in the first place was because they hated themselves all together–Doug didn’t know then and didn’t know now. But this walk was, he suspected, much, much worse than any walk those girls had done back in their college days–just up the hill. Because the new apartment buildings were flawless. Their brick and mortar walls and perfectly cleaned glass windows that lead onto the lobbies and the metal cones that stood in front of the little stip on each side making sure no cars could drive through all spoke of money, which was power, which Doug had none of.

He adjusted the garbage bag of clothes on his back and looked up at the stacked buildings. One on each side, long, thin. The apartments on the ground floor had long green doors and the shades of each were pulled denying Doug even the chance to imagine what those lives might be like. He cast his head down at his feet. Someone was walking toward him. Being pathetic was the best way to not be noticed or harassed. His eye caught something green on his right. The small patch of grass in front of a window–but it wasn’t quite right. There was something weird about it. Something about the—. He reached down to feel it. The person walking toward him stopped. He could feel it. He couldn’t hear them walking, and he thought they hadn’t gone inside. His hands tried to dig into the grass but couldn’t. The ground was too hard. The grass wasn’t grass, it was turf that reflected the light like grass didn’t. So that was what they had come to? A petroleum product that was suppose to trick our senses into seeing grass where there was none.

“Yeah,” said a voice. “It’s fake.”

Doug straightened, but not too much. He didn’t want to look too proud.

“That’s why you touched it, right?” It was a girls voice, he thought now. But it was hard to tell, as he turned around.

“I mean, yeah,” he said, and the words felt thick in his mouth. He hadn’t spoken to anymore for more than a day. The woman standing in front of him wasn’t much of one. Or he didn’t know if she was a she, or a he. Kids were doing that a lot these days. Her (he suspected) voice was just low enough to be confusing to Doug. Her jaw just wide enough.

“It’s weird isn’t it?” she asked.

“Yeah,” said Doug, not meeting her eyes.

“I’ve seen you around.”

“I gotta go,” said Doug.

“K,” she said.

Doug turned away, he wasn’t sure about that grass but he was even less sure about that young woman/man. Was she in her twenties or thirties. Doug couldn’t tell anymore. He was all fucked up. Doug had done this to himself and loved every moment of it. He was just all fucked up.

Behind Doug the young woman stepped over the fake grass and up to the long green door and she must have had a key because when Doug looked over his shoulder the door was shutting. Locking him out.