I really miss Chloe. Upon arriving at the Internet cafe, we sat down to our respective computer stations. Electronic poker, her game of choice, booted slowly on the subpar Internet connection. My MMO of choice, League of Angels, didn’t fare much better.
“You’ve got a gambling problem,” I joked while staring blankly at a seemingly never-ending load screen.
“No, I usually win. I only lost money yesterday because the game cheated. Today, I’m gonna get lucky,” she replied.
I only had six beers today, my scruffy ex-boyfriend’s voice slurred through my skull.
I just need one more Xanax, the ghost of my childhood best friend whispered in my ear.
I gotta get some dick tonight, a mirage of my college roommate chuckled.
Just one more level, a childhood memory of me whined at Dad after a 16-hour gaming binge.
“Where I have I heard that line before?” I mumbled under my breath.
Chloe snapped her fingers and clicked her tongue. “Yes! Finally! I just won 200!”
A few moments later, League of Angels finally loaded. Before I could fully immerse myself in the digital realm, I heard a loud groan coming from the desk behind me.
“Holy shit, this game cheated me again. Now I lost 400.”
Most of the people in my life are addicts. In the past, it’s been difficult to resist the temptations of all the aforementioned demons.
We continued chatting during lag times and somehow the subject of independence came up.
“I feel wrong for saying this, but I can’t connect with most Chinese girls. They act so childish.”
“It’s a cultural thing,” Chloe replied. “Even in their 30s and 40s, they continue to act like teenagers.”
“But you’re 27 and you act so mature. You’re so independent, like a Western girl.”
Chloe frowned. “It’s because I have no choice.”
We sat for a moment in silence.
“I guess I also have no choice,” I replied.
“I’m really tired of living a random life.” She sighed. “I really want to settle down and have a family.”
“Me too. Independence isn’t worth dying alone.”