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Before Yoojin could redeploy the grappling hook, she was surprised to see Morpha catch Merida in mid-air. Morpha then grabbed onto the giant’s arm and planted himself by the creature’s enormous elbow.
“Pretty good, Morpha,” Yoojin said as she started Merida climbing the giant’s arm again. Merida reached the shoulder and lunged at the creature’s head.
“We’ll do a left right head strike?”
“That’s correct,” Yoojin said.
Morpha darted off of the left arm and swung onto the giant’s right side, digging his dagger into its chest. Joey looked at the left hand corner of the screen and saw Merida swing towards the giant’s left temple. Joey propelled his Morpha towards the giant’s right temple.
Stone giants were powerful but clunky, and Joey and Yoojin had hours of experience in such scenarios. Their avatars drew swords as they approached from opposing sides of the giant’s head.
“Now!” they cried at the same time.
Their swords penetrated the giant, piercing a fresh pair of openings through its rocky skull. This move, when executed from both sides at the exact same moment, was instantly fatal. The giant plummeted to the ground like a demolished building.
Joey and Yoojin dropped to the ground and beheld their victory. Their experience points went up on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
“These giants, they’re beautiful,” Joey said. “Maybe next time we wake one up we shouldn’t kill it. Maybe we could do something useful with it.”
“So why not talking to parents?”
“Why does it matter?” Joey said, a little annoyed.
“There is problem in your life that needs to be fixed.”
Joey sat back and gave his chin a quick stroke. “You know, all the time I’ve known you we’ve never talked about personal issues. I’ve never even seen your face.”
“Not true, you have me on the Facebook.”
“Only in pictures, that doesn’t count.”
“How does that no count?” Yoojin asked.
“Let’s talk on Skype,” Joey said. Joey’s heart started to thump nervously. “Sorry I didn’t mean to make this awkward, I’ll head out.”
“Two minutes,” Yoojin said. “And I want to know why you not talk to parents.”
They both logged out of Valkyrie's Peak and onto Skype. Joey called and Yoojin answered after a few rings. The young woman he saw on screen did not resemble the fiery strategist he had come to know. Her head was lowered. Long dark hair concealed the sides of her face.
“Hi,” he said. He held his head up so she would not see the receding hairline.
“Hello,” Yoojin politely nodded.
A few seconds passed before they both laughed nervously. “Come on,” Joey said. “We’ve talked before, this shouldn’t be too hard.”
“You are right.”
Joey took a deep breath. “My parents aren’t easy to get along with. They were never around when I was a kid.” Joey gasped, realizing he hadn’t said this to anyone before. “I don’t want to know them,” he added.
“I don’t know if I could handle college.”
“But you have not tried,” she said. Joey could hear pieces of her online presence.
“What about you?”
“I go college in Seoul,” Yoojin said. “My grades starting to be low, parents very angry.”
“Because of the gaming?” Joey asked.
“Little bit,” she said. “Too much work here. It’s all we do. I hate it.”
“I guess we both have stuff we need to work on,” he said with a smile.
“I think you are right.”
“I think two minutes are up.” Joey smiled kindly, trying to conceal that he was nervous.
“I have aunt and uncle in Toronto,” Yoojin said. “I would like to visit.”
Joey took a deep breath. “Would you be up for another two minutes tomorrow?”
“Maybe,” Yoojin said.
They logged off. Joey reopened Discord. “Hey Yoojin,” he said into his headset, “We still need to redeem ourselves in a team battle.”
She laughed. “Yes, yes we do.”
“I better get some sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Okay.” She paused before saying, “I have class in two hours.” They both laughed. “Good-bye Joey.”
Joey turned his computer off and went to bed with a feeling of warmth that pleasantly surprised him.
Joey woke up a few hours later, the sun already starting to rise. He had nowhere to go but got ready anyways. He walked to the pharmacy, where he finally bought the eye drops. He was barely out of the store before he opened the box and unscrewed the bottle. He leaned his head back and put a drop in each eye. A fierce stinging sensation was soon followed with relief. Joey blinked and blissfully he could see without a feeling of discomfort or pain.
Joey got on the bus. He rode out to the lake where he got off and walked towards the peninsula. The Sleeping Giant lay across the water. Joey had a clear view of it and, for the first time in his adult life, he thought about the future.