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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 26 page 16

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He cleared the first level with ease. Level 2 was much the same, but he did start to notice more sharpness in his execution of the meticulous moves required to complete the infamous underwater dam stage. On past occasions, certain parts of the second level required some hesitation and planning, but on that Saturday afternoon, no such hesitation or planning was necessary, as Jonathan accomplished the required moves so instinctively he felt like he was the one swimming in the maze under the dam instead of the turtle he was controlling.

As he completed Levels 3 and 4, he realized something unusual was going on. He was breezing through the levels more effortlessly than ever, with such speed and agility he was starting to believe it was actually possible that he was going to finally do it. Regardless of that illuminating feeling however, he did not even crack a smile. His concentration was too zoned in for such frivolous gestures.

With the sugar from his cereal still coursing through his body, Jonathan completed the fifth level, barely taking any damage in the process, and had now reached the sixth and final stage of the game, the stage that separated flukey amateurs from true believers. And in what felt like no time at all, but in reality had taken nearly two hours, he reached the second half of the stage, the Technodrome.

Jonathan had reached this area many times before, and every time he entered it in a state of sweaty panic and palpable fear, knowing that even one mistake would lead to his destruction. However, on that Saturday afternoon, there was no sweat in his palms and no fear in his heart. He played on.

He reached the last stretch of the sixth level: the most difficult part of the most difficult game he had ever played. He squeezed the controls a little tighter, yet his hands refused to perspire. He utilized only two of the ninja turtles, Donatello and Leonardo, while using Raphael and Michelangelo as nothing more than sacrificial pawns due to their mediocre abilities. And by using this strategy of sacrificing the weak for the sake of the strong, by using moves he believed even the creators of the game didn’t think were possible, moves that made him believe he was unbeatable by anything that didn’t possess the otherworldly skill he possessed at that moment, he did it. He reached the gateway to salvation and immortal glory, the doorway to the game's final boss, the Shredder.

Jonathan paused the game. He took a deep breath and stretched his thumbs, but he did not dare smile because there was nothing yet worth celebrating.

He went to the bathroom and washed his hands. On the way back, he peeked into his mother's bedroom and saw that she was still asleep. But just as he started to walk back to his own bedroom, he heard a sound. It was his mother. She was waking up. But Jonathan wasn't concerned because it was too early for him to be in trouble yet, so he returned to his room, closed the door, and sat on his chair, ready to fight, ready to die if need be, for the sake of doing the impossible.

Just when he was about to unpause the game and finish what he started, Jonathan's mother opened the door and walked into his room.

“How long have you been playing that game?" she said. "You know I don’t like you playing those games all hours of the day. Why don’t you go outside? You play those stupid games way too much!”

Jonathan knew she had no idea of the magnitude of what he was about to do, so he exercised self-control, knowing that one wrong word could lead to the unthinkable.

“Mom I only started playing a few minutes ago," he lied, knowing the truth would have cut him off from the quest he was achingly close to completing.

After overcoming the distraction of his mother, Jonathan was ready to finish the game of his life. Then from the kitchen he heard his mother once again calling, “Jonathan, turn off that stupid game and come eat lunch.”

<CONT...>