Jacob Lawrence, "The Studio," 1977
Jacob Lawrence, The Studio (1977)
Can a Game Be Literature?

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September 2, 2002:

As a child her father would lock her in the closet, often for hours.

It was intended as punishment, but, she learned to like it. She could be alone there with her imagination. She invented fantasy worlds that over time became central to her identity.

One of these was that her hateful father was not her real father. He was secretly her stepfather. Her mother had hidden this fact from the family to protect them. Wanted the two younger boys to treat their older sister as their equal and peer. One day the real father would announce himself.

He did. She was twenty-six. A man called. "I'm your uncle. Your father would like to get to know you."

It was true. Her fantasy in real life. He was a nice guy, too. A gentle man, a pacifist. Everybody loved him. She loved him like mad. She changed her life around to be more like what he wanted. That wasn't too hard. She didn't have that much of a life outside her fantasies.

Her father died. She's spent the rest of her days dreaming in a chair. One day she'll have a house of her own. Doesn't know how, or when, just that she will.

This has been the great fantasy of her adulthood. She's never done a thing to make it happen. Never talked with a banker or a real estate agent. She could have bought ten houses, but hasn't. Maybe someday someone will call and say, "I'm your other uncle. I want you to have my house."

She's almost seventy now. Sitting in her chair dreaming about the furniture she'll put into the house she'll own one day.

There's a lot of her in me. This is what I fear, anyway. I spend my life alone like she does, writing down fantasies. One day I may stop writing them down, and then I'll be her exactly.


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