Chapter no 13

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Ichigo II: Go, Ichigo, Go came out in November 1998, almost a year after Ichigo: A Child of the Sea. In the second game, Ichigo’s little sister, Hanami, is lost in yet another storm, and Ichigo, now age eleven, must find her. The second game sold modestly better than the first, but it was largely seen to be coasting on the original’s reputation and strong sales. Most critics, including Sadie and Sam, thought the game was creatively a step backward. It wasn’t that the second Ichigo was a bad game, but what it felt like was more of the same. Ichigo II didn’t take the Ichigo character in a new direction; it didn’t push things graphically, technically, or story-wise.

On the night Sadie told them that she didn’t want to make a third Ichigo, Marx and Sam had just returned from a monthlong Ichigo II promotional tour. It was one of the longest separations the three of them had had since the summer when everything had begun. “I feel like the series has run its course,” she said. “I feel like there isn’t anything left for us to do creatively.” They were having dinner back at the Kennedy Street apartment that Sam and Marx still shared.

“So, what do you want to make instead?” Marx asked.

“I have a couple of ideas,” Sadie said. “But I feel like this is a different discussion.”

“We can get out the old whiteboard anytime,” Marx said.

“Hold on,” Sam said. Up until this point, he had been listening quietly. “We can’t leave Ichigo this way, Sadie. We didn’t have time to make a great Ichigo II because of Opus’s arbitrary timeline. Don’t you want to make a third game that’s great?”

“Maybe someday,” Sadie said.

“I mean, he’s our child,” Sam said. “You can’t abandon our child in a shitty sequel.”

“Samson,” Sadie said, in a warning voice. “I can.” Sam stood up, wincing.

“Are you all right?” Marx asked.

“Just tired,” Sam said. “Sadie, you don’t get to determine by yourself what we do next. If we aren’t going to make Ichigo III, which I think we should, you have to give us some idea of what it is you’d like to do instead.”

“Sam, your foot is bleeding through your sock,” Marx said. “Yeah, it’s been doing that a little,” Sam said, unconcerned. “You need to have a doctor look at that.”

“Marx, fuck off about my foot, okay? I’ll take care of it.” Sam hated when his maladies became a topic of discussion.

“Don’t abuse Marx. He’s trying to make sure you don’t end up unconscious in the street again,” Sadie said.

“I’m fine,” Marx said. “Honestly.”

“You should apologize,” Sadie insisted.

“Sorry, Marx,” Sam said without conviction. He immediately turned back to Sadie. “Seriously, don’t you want to run these ideas by me, your partner?”

Sadie began stacking dishes. “If everyone’s done, I’m going to clear.” “You don’t have to do that,” Marx said.

“I’m a guest,” Sadie said. “It’s polite.” Marx began clearing alongside her.

She went into the kitchen, and Sam trailed behind her, limping. “Don’t you want to run these ideas by me, your partner?” he repeated.

“I would,” Sadie said in a controlled voice. She set the dishes in the sink. “If you were ever here.”

“You could have come,” Sam said. “I repeatedly asked you to come.” “We couldn’t all go on vacation for two years.”

“Sadie, it was real work,” Sam said.

“I did real work, too,” she said. “I had to make the shitty sequel.”

“Well, you certainly did that,” Sam said. “Hey Sam, kindly fuck yourself,” Sadie said.

“Friends, Romans, countrymen,” Marx said, “calm down.”

Sadie walked out the door and straight back to the apartment she shared with Dov. Dov was in Israel, visiting his son and his wife, who two years later, he still hadn’t managed to divorce.

When Sadie arrived at the apartment, the phone was ringing, but she didn’t answer. Whoever it was didn’t leave a message. She knew it was Sam or Dov, and she didn’t want to speak to either of them.

It wasn’t as if she didn’t have other options. If Sam was committed to making Ichigo III, she could leave Unfair. Unfair had fulfilled its obligations to Opus, and she didn’t have an employment contract with Unfair; none of them did. She didn’t need Sam or Marx. She could strike out on her own, make a new game by herself. The phone rang again, and it went to the answering machine: “Sadie. Dov here. Pick up.”

Sadie answered the phone. They spoke about domestic matters, and then, Sadie said, “If I wanted to make a game by myself, without Sam I mean, would that be a huge mistake?”

“What happened?” Dov asked.

“Nothing,” Sadie said. “We had a fight.”

“Sadie, that’s completely normal. The best teams are constantly at each other’s throats. It’s a part of the process. If you aren’t fighting, then someone doesn’t care enough about the work. Say you’re sorry. Move on.”

Sadie didn’t feel like explaining to Dov that she wasn’t sorry, and that he hadn’t answered the question she was asking. “Okay,” she said. “Thanks, Dov.”

By eleven-thirty, Sadie was in her pajamas, teeth brushed and flossed, ready to go to bed. She wondered if this was what other twenty-three-year- olds’ Friday nights were like. When she was forty, would she lament that she hadn’t had sex with more people and partied more? But then, she didn’t enjoy many people, and she had never gone to a party that she wasn’t eager to leave. She hated being drunk, though she did enjoy smoking a joint every now and then. She liked playing games, seeing a foreign movie, a good

meal. She liked going to bed early and waking up early. She liked working. She liked that she was good at her work, and she felt proud of the fact that she was well paid for it. She felt pleasure in orderly things—a perfectly efficient section of code, a closet where every item was in its place. She liked solitude and the thoughts of her own interesting and creative mind. She liked to be comfortable. She liked hotel rooms, thick towels, cashmere sweaters, silk dresses, oxfords, brunch, fine stationery, overpriced conditioner, bouquets of gerbera, hats, postage stamps, art monographs, maranta plants, PBS documentaries, challah, soy candles, and yoga. She liked receiving a canvas tote bag when she gave to a charitable cause. She was an avid reader (of fiction and nonfiction), but she never read the newspaper, other than the arts sections, and she felt guilty about this. Dov often said she was bourgeois. He meant it as an insult, but she knew that she probably was. Her parents were bourgeois, and she adored them, so, of course, she had turned out bourgeois, too. She wished she could get a dog, but Dov’s building didn’t allow them.

But the reason she was bourgeois was so she could make work that wasn’t bourgeois. If she were cautious in her life, she could avoid compromising in her work.

The buzzer sounded. She ignored it.

She could hear Sam’s reedy voice calling from the street. “SADIE MIRANDA GREEN, I CAN SEE YOUR LIGHT ON.”

She ignored him.


Sadie continued to ignore him. If Sam froze, it was his own fault.

Sadie peeked out the curtain, and she looked onto the street. Sam had his cane, which he had been using more and more often. She could not remember the last time she had seen him without it. She buzzed him in.

“What do you want?” she said.

“I want to know your ideas,” Sam said. “I really want to know them. I love hearing your ideas. That’s my favorite thing in the world.

“And I don’t want to force you to make a sequel you don’t want to make. You’re my partner, and I haven’t forgotten what you did for me when you agreed to the deal at Opus. But I love Ichigo. I love what we made, and lots of other people love Ichigo, too. I think we should, at some point, send him out on a high note. But I can understand why you’d be tired of him for the moment.”

“Ichigo III: Sayonara, Ichigo-San,” Sadie said. Sam laughed. “It’s not that bad.”

Sam was leaning on his good foot, in the increasingly lopsided way he had to stand, and Sadie felt a swelling of love and of worry for him—what was the difference in the end? It was never worth worrying about someone you didn’t love. And it wasn’t love if you didn’t worry. “Did you at least take a cab here?”

“Yes, ma’am, I can afford them now.” “Marx let you go out in this?”

“Marx isn’t my keeper.” “But he’s the sensible one.”

“Ah, don’t blame Marx. He didn’t know I left. He went to Zoe’s,” Sam reported.

“Is he still seeing her? That’s a long one for him,” Sadie said.

“I think they’re in love.” Sam sniffed, as if the idea of it, love, was ridiculous.

“You disapprove, I take it?”

“Marx is always in love. He’s an emotional harlot. What does love even mean when you can find it with so many people and things?”

“Marx is great,” Sadie said. “I think he’s lucky.” “There is no luck,” Sam said.

“Sure there is. It’s that ginormous polyhedral die that you throw when you’re playing Dungeons & Dragons.”

“Very funny,” Sam said. “Where’s Dov anyway?” “He’s already gone for the break,” she said.

Sam studied Sadie. He was an expert in her moods and colors. “Are you still in love?”

“Was I ever?” Sadie said. “That’s bleak.”

“I adore him. I want to kill him. It’s normal. It’s complicated,” Sadie said. “I don’t want to talk about Dov.” She yawned, and she shifted over on the sofa to make room for Sam. “Well, you’re here now. You may as well stay. Marx’ll kill me if I send you home in this weather.”

Sam sat down next to Sadie. She turned on the TV, and they watched Letterman for a while. When stupid pet tricks came on, Sadie pressed mute, and Sam turned to her, waiting for her to speak. She studied Sam’s moon face, which was so familiar to her. It was almost like looking at herself, but through a magical mirror that allowed her to see her whole life. When she looked at him, she saw Sam, but she also saw Ichigo and Alice and Freda and Marx and Dov and all the mistakes she had made, and all her secret shames and fears, and all the best things she had done, too. Sometimes, she didn’t even like him, but the truth was, she didn’t know if an idea was worth pursuing until it had made its way through Sam’s brain, too. It was only when Sam said her own idea back to her—slightly modified, improved, synthesized, rearranged—that she could tell if it was good. She knew if she told him her new idea, it would instantly become his, too. They’d be walking down the aisle all over again, blithely stamping on another glass, come what may. She took a deep breath. “The game I want to make is called Both Sides.”

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