Chapter no 28

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

When he had booked the tickets to Tokyo, Marx had planned to go with Zoe, but two weeks before they were set to travel, Zoe received a fellowship to study opera in Italy. She claimed that she had not been the fellowship’s first choice, which was why she had been left with almost no time to pack up her California life. It had also derailed their trip to Tokyo.

Marx had left quite early to take her to the airport, considering that their house was only a twenty-minute drive. They were halfway there when traffic came to a complete stop.

“Do you think I should try to get off the freeway?” Marx asked. “Maybe it’ll clear,” Zoe said. “We have plenty of time.”

“We do,” he agreed. “We have plenty of time.”

For the next five minutes, they volleyed this phrase back and forth to each other.

“We have plenty of time.” “We have plenty of time.”

After ten minutes of saying it, they became aware of how often they were repeating the phrase, and it became a joke.

“We have so much time.”

“So much time. I won’t even know what to do with this never-ending span of time.”

“You’ll have so much time, you’ll be one of those people getting a massage in the middle of the airport.”

“I’ll be looking at the airport art.”

“You’ll probably have time to visit another terminal.”

“Another? I’ll ride that party bus and I’ll visit every terminal.” Abruptly, Zoe began to cry.

“What is it?” Marx said.

“Tension,” she said, waving her hand. “I’m stressed about leaving, I guess.”

Marx squeezed her hand.

“I’m getting off the freeway,” he said. “We can get back on closer to LAX.” Marx changed lanes.

“I think we should stay where we are,” Zoe said. “It could be worse on the surface roads, and we’re almost there. It can’t take much longer. And don’t they say that changing lanes never makes a difference anyway? It takes the same amount of time whether you change lanes or not.”

“I’m not changing lanes,” he said. “I’m rerouting us. If I’m wrong, we’ll still have plenty of time.” Marx changed lanes again. “You’ll be getting a pedicure in Terminal One before you know it.”

“I’ll be eating a sugar pretzel and waiting in the Starbucks line.” “You’ll be buying an inflatable pillow and a snow globe.”

“I think we should break up,” she said.

Once she had said this, he recognized that the strange feeling in the air between them for the last several months was denouement. After Both Sides had come out, there had been a series of mundane skirmishes. She had accused him of spending too much time at the office, something that she had never cared about before. She accused him of loving Sam more than he did her. (She did not mention Sadie.) She had yelled at him for being bourgeois—for caring too much about Danish furniture and wine ratings. (He had spent some time shopping for a dining room table, but the wine struck him as unfair—he preferred beer.) Suddenly, she seemed to loathe California, complaining about allergies and vapid people and bad theater. And then the arguments had ceased as abruptly as they had begun. A month later, she informed him about the opera fellowship in Italy. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“You don’t love me,” she said. “Zoe, of course I love you.”

“But you don’t love me enough,” she said. “What’s enough?” Marx asked.

“Enough is…Maybe this is selfish, but I don’t want to love more than I am loved. And I don’t want to be with someone who loves something or someone more than me.”

“Why are you speaking in riddles? Say what you mean. If you know something I don’t know, I’d love to be told what it is. And I like our life, Zoe. Why do you want to burn everything to the ground?”

“Like,” she said. She wiped her eyes on her sleeve, and she pushed her chin out, as if resolving something. “It’s my fault. Let’s not make this some awful thing,” she said. “We’ve had good times, right? My trip to Italy is a natural break, and if at the other end of it, it becomes a permanent one, then…”

The drive ended up taking four times as long as it usually did, but Zoe did make her flight. It was the first time Marx had ever truly been broken up with. He knew he should be devastated, but what he felt was relief. The relationship, without him noticing, had been the longest one he had ever had. He had seen no reason to end it. He had never tired of coming home to their place and finding her naked, playing some new instrument. Why end something that worked over the vague notion that he could love someone more deeply than he loved Zoe, who was by every measure fantastic? It was a strange moment in Marx’s personal development. He was no longer the boy who wanted to taste everything at the buffet, and he considered it a sign of his own maturity that he had not thought to end things with Zoe. But his disdain for his former itinerancy had made it so he could not recognize the reasons a person should stay.

Had it only been a visit to his family, Marx might have canceled the trip to Japan, but he had also scheduled business meetings. Marx first asked Sam if he wanted to go to Japan with him. Sam said he didn’t want to travel, which had become Sam’s standard answer since they’d moved to California. And when Sam declined, he asked Sadie. Sadie, too, was going to decline, but then she thought, Why not go? She and Sam weren’t getting anywhere on

the new game, and Sadie had never been to Japan before. Marx thought it would be helpful for some of their creative team to be present at the meetings, which were about the possibility of Unfair collaborating with Morikami Publishing to adapt the popular Osaka Ghost School anime series into a game. Morikami was interested in working with an American partner, and they liked Unfair because of the work they had done on Ichigo, which seemed to be agreeably Western and Eastern to them.

When they arrived in Tokyo, both Marx and Sadie were jet-lagged. They slept two or three hours, and then, independently, they both woke up and passed the quiet predawn hours working, which to them often meant gaming.

For the holidays, Simon and Ant had given Sadie a Game Boy. She hadn’t had time to use it until the trip to Tokyo, and the first game she played on it was Harvest Moon. Harvest Moon is a farming, role-playing game: You are a farmer whose job is to raise crops, find a wife, make friends with people in the community. It was one of the first, if not the first, farming games. Sadie found its simplicity reminiscent of what she and Alice had liked about Oregon Trail. The game was gentle, peaceful. It was the opposite of a game like Dead Sea—it was a protected world in which nothing bad would ever happen to you.

Down the hall, on the same floor of the hotel, Marx was playing EverQuest on his PC laptop. EverQuest was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, known by the bulky acronym MMORPG. EverQuest is a riff on Dungeons & Dragons, and like D&D, its emphasis is on building characters. Marx had spent more hours than he cared to admit customizing his avatar, a half-elf bard named Hella Behemoth. It reminded Marx of his days playing D&D with Sam, though nostalgia was not Marx’s primary reason for playing it. Marx was interested in EverQuest because it was the first MMORPG to utilize a 3D graphics engine, and he was hoping the next iteration of Counterpart High would have an online component, too.

Around 5 a.m. (still too early to go to breakfast), Sadie knocked on Marx’s hotel room door. He had sent a group email about CPH2 around

4:45, so she knew he was awake. “Have you played Harvest Moon? It’s not the kind of thing we make, but I’m finding it pretty addictive.”

Marx and Sadie traded devices. “I’m trusting you with Hella Behemoth,” Marx said. Sadie sat beside Marx on his bed. They gamed companionably for maybe an hour or two, until breakfast opened. It was six in the morning, and the city was still sleeping, the only sound the occasional grumble of one of their stomachs.

At breakfast, they heaped their plates with food, and then they went to a quiet corner of the dining room to eat.

They spoke of whether Tokyo Ghost School was something Sadie and Sam would want to work on, if Morikami made them an offer. “Maybe?” Sadie said. “But wouldn’t it be better for Simon and Ant? High school is their thing.”

“Well,” Marx said gently. “Simon and Ant are busy.”

Sadie laughed ruefully. “Sam doesn’t know we’re the B-team now.” “Never,” Marx said.

They spoke of Zoe.

“Are you devastated?” Sadie asked.

“Not as much as you’d think,” Marx said.

“I’m devastated,” Sadie said. “She was my best L.A. friend.” They spoke of Both Sides.

“Are you devastated?” Marx said.

“I want to say, ‘Not as much as you’d think.’ I want to be blasé like you.” Sadie paused. “I am devastated, but more what I feel is ashamed. I got you and Sam and everyone to follow me down the road of making this. And I completely believed. I completely believed it would work. I feel like the guy who built the Titanic.”

“You are not naval architect Thomas Andrews Jr.” “I am naval architect Thomas Andrews Jr.”

Sadie and Marx laughed.

Both Sides is not the Titanic,” Marx said. “No one died playing Both Sides.”

“Just my soul. A little,” she said. “Maybe the worst part is, I don’t trust myself anymore. I’m not sure my instincts are good.”

Marx reached across the table and he took her hand in his. “Sadie, I promise you: your instincts are good.”

On the second night of their trip, they went to a Noh theater, with Marx’s father. Noh had been Watanabe-san’s idea—it was the kind of thing Japanese brought their esteemed gaijin visitors to do. The performance had come with a printed English libretto, but Sadie misplaced hers before the play had even begun, and she found herself quite lost. She understood neither the conventions of Noh nor the language. Marx would occasionally whisper poetic, cryptic commentary into her ear: “The fisherman’s ghost was killed for fishing in the wrong river.” Or “The drum is silent, and the gardener is killing himself.”

Once she resigned herself to not understanding anything, she enjoyed Marx’s commentary and the plays themselves. The theater was warm and smelled of lacquered wood and incense, and it felt like a dream to her. As Sadie was still quite jet-lagged and additionally tired from a long day of meetings, it was an effort to stay awake. She felt her eyes begin to close, and then, not wanting to be a rude white person, she would sternly wake herself.

After the show, they had dinner with Marx’s father at a nearby tempura place. Sadie had not seen Watanabe-san since that long-ago dinner to celebrate Marx’s performance in Twelfth Night.

Watanabe-san and Sadie exchanged gifts. She brought him a pair of carved wooden Ichigo chopsticks that their Japanese distributor had had made to celebrate the release of the second Ichigo in Japan.

In return, he gave her a silk scarf with a reproduction of Cherry Blossoms at Night, by Katsushika Ōi, on it. The painting depicts a woman composing a poem on a slate in the foreground. The titular cherry blossoms are in the background, all but a few of them in deep shadow. Despite the

title, the cherry blossoms are not the subject; it is a painting about the creative process—its solitude and the ways in which an artist, particularly a female one, is expected to disappear. The woman’s slate appears to be blank. “I know Hokusai is an inspiration for you,” Watanabe-san said. “This is by Hokusai’s daughter. Only a handful of her paintings survive, but I think she is even better than the father.”

“Thank you,” Sadie said.

Watanabe-san bowed deeply to Sadie when they parted. “Thank you, Sadie. Without you and Sam, Marx might have become an actor.”

“Marx was a fantastic actor,” Sadie defended him.

“He’s better at what he’s doing now,” Watanabe-san insisted.

Sadie and Marx took a cab back to the hotel. “Do you mind what your father said?” she asked him.

“No,” Marx said. “I loved being a student actor. I was fully devoted to it, and now I’m not. I think if I’d become a professional, I would likely have fallen out of love with it anyway. It isn’t a sadness, but a joy, that we don’t do the same things for the length of our lives.”

“Are you saying I get to quit making games?”

“No,” Marx said. “You’re stuck. You’re doing this forever.”

On the third morning of their trip, early, before any of their meetings, Marx took Sadie to the Nezu Shrine. The Nezu Shrine has a tunnel of red torii gates for visitors to pass through. Sadie asked what it meant when you passed under the gates, and Marx said in Shinto tradition, a gate represented passing from the mundane to the sacred. But Marx was not Shinto, so he did not entirely know. “I used to come here when I was a teenager and I had a problem I needed to solve.”

“What problems did you ever have?” Sadie said.

“Oh, the usual angst. I didn’t feel like anyone understood me. I wasn’t Japanese enough, but I wasn’t anything else either.”

“Poor Marx.”

“Don’t pass under the gates too quickly,” Marx warned. “It works best for me when I go very slowly.”

Sadie walked under the gates, one by one by one. At first, she felt nothing, but as she kept moving ahead, she began to feel an opening and a new spaciousness in her chest. She realized what a gate was: it was an indication that you had left one space and were entering another.

She walked through another gate.

It occurred to Sadie: She had thought after Ichigo that she would never fail again. She had thought she arrived. But life was always arriving. There was always another gate to pass through. (Until, of course, there wasn’t.)

She walked through another gate. What was a gate anyway?

A doorway, she thought. A portal. The possibility of a different world. The possibility that you might walk through the door and reinvent yourself as something better than you had been before.

By the time she reached the end of the torii gate pathway, she felt resolved. Both Sides had failed, but it didn’t have to be the end. The game was one in a long line of spaces between gates.

Marx was waiting for her, and he was smiling. He was standing in the center of the path, his arms held slightly open. How nice it was to have Marx waiting for her. He was a perfect traveling companion.

“Thank you,” she said. She bowed her head to him.

On the fifth night of their trip, they had dinner with Marx’s mother at her apartment. Marx’s parents were not divorced, but they lived separately. Marx’s mother was a textile designer and teacher. She wore stylish, shapeless, boldly patterned garments and had her hair cut in a severe bob. The dress she was wearing on that evening was a cotton polka-dot print that precisely matched the curtains that were behind her.

Mrs. Watanabe had gotten the wrong idea about who Sadie was. She thought Sadie was Marx’s longtime girlfriend, and that Marx and Sadie

were on the verge of marriage. “No, Mom, this is Sadie, not Zoe. Sadie is my business partner.”

Marx’s mother took a long look at Sadie, and then she said, “Are you certain?”

Marx said, “I’m too dumb for Sadie, Mom.”

“It’s true,” Sadie said. “Marx is pretty, but shallow.” Under the table, she squeezed his hand.

But Mrs. Watanabe was relentless. “Do you have a boyfriend, Sadie?” “I don’t,” Sadie admitted. “At the moment.”

“You should ask Sadie out, Marx. The window of opportunity might close.”

“In America,” Marx said, “it’s frowned upon to date your colleagues, Mom.”

“I’m American. I know that,” Mrs. Watanabe said. “But Sadie is the boss, right? It’s fine if she says it’s fine. You two would make a pretty couple.”

“Mrs. Watanabe,” Sadie pivoted. “Marx says you teach textile design.

I’d be interested in hearing about that.”

Mrs. Watanabe loved hand painting, quilting, and the discipline of woven textiles, but she worried these techniques were a dying art. “Computers make everything too easy,” she said with a sigh. “People design very quickly on a monitor, and they print on some enormous industrial printer in a warehouse in a distant country, and the designer hasn’t touched a piece of fabric at any point in the process or gotten her hands dirty with ink. Computers are great for experimentation, but they’re bad for deep thinking.”

“Mom, you know Sadie and I work in computers, right?”

“A great textile, like the William Morris Strawberry Thief, is a piece of art, but it takes a lot of time to make a piece of art. It isn’t simply design either. You have to understand the fabrics and what they can bear. You have to understand the dyeing process and how to achieve certain colors and what will make the color last through the ages. If you make a mistake, you might have to begin again.”

“I don’t think I know Strawberry Thief,” Sadie said.

“One moment,” Mrs. Watanabe said. Mrs. Watanabe went into her bedroom, and she returned with a little footstool that was upholstered in a reproduction of Strawberry Thief. The pattern depicted birds and strawberries in a garden, and although Sadie hadn’t known the name, she recognized the print when she saw it.

“This was William Morris’s garden. These were his strawberries. These were birds he knew. No designer had ever used red or yellow in an indigo discharge dyeing technique before. He must have had to start over many times to get the colors right. This fabric is not just a fabric. It’s the story of failure and of perseverance, of the discipline of a craftsman, of the life of an artist.”

Sadie caressed the thick cotton.

Back at the hotel, early the next morning, Marx knocked on her door. “I have an idea,” he said.

She surprised herself by hoping that the idea would be sex. It turned out to be business.

“I had a dream about Strawberry Thief. It was kind of a nightmare,” Marx began. In the dream, Marx is back at his mother’s apartment. His mother tells him to retrieve the stool, but when he gets it, the Strawberry Thief design is rendered in the graphic style of Mapletown. And when he walks out to the living room, his mother is wearing a Strawberry Thief dress rendered in the graphic style of Mapletown, too. And then Marx notices that the whole apartment has been digitized to look like Mapletown. His mother is an adorable Mapletown sprite. A bubble comes up over her head: Ask me about my Textiles. He dismisses the bubble, but another comes up: Did you know William Morris took one hundred tries to get the dyeing process right for his most famous print textile, Strawberry Thief?

“Is that true?” Sadie asked. “I don’t remember your mother saying that.”

“I have no idea,” Marx said. “That’s what was in the bubble.”

Marx continued describing the dream. “I walk into the kitchen to get some air, and I look out the window. Outside the kitchen window is a man- sized thrush, stealing a strawberry. The scene is quite beautiful, and I’m happy watching the bird. The bird and I make eye contact for a moment, and a text bubble comes up over the bird’s head: Go ask Sadie what it would take to turn Mapletown into an online role-playing game. And here I am. I obey the giant bird of dreams.”

Sadie considered Marx’s question. She could tell where Marx was going without him having to say. Cut out the cancer that was Myre Landing. Give Mapletown away for free, and monetize its maintenance (servers, new quests and levels) through additional purchases—upgrades for the characters, the furnishings, the residences and expansions. If people liked it, the game could be a cash cow. It could be like EverQuest, but without the fantasy story line. It could be like Harvest Moon, but less provincial and not centered on farming—just a pleasant small town in America. Let people build their own characters in the gorgeous, evocative backdrop Sam had created. Sadie could see the merit in this strategy. She knew that people preferred Sam’s world to hers. Seeing Marx in the doorway, it was clear that he knew it, too. “Nothing. Except a ton of work,” Sadie said.

They spent the next several hours brainstorming ideas for a rebooted Mapletown. Around four in the morning, they called Sam back in California. Marx explained to him what they had been discussing.

A long pause, before Sam responded, “I like this idea a lot, but Sadie, you’re cool with this?”

“I am,” she said. “Myre Landing will still exist to those who bought the original game, but I think this is an opportunity to bring Mapletown to a larger audience. If it doesn’t work, all we’ve lost is a lot of time and money.”

Sam laughed. “Let’s do this,” he said.

They spoke with Sam a little longer, and then they hung up. Once again, it was too early to go down to breakfast. “I’m starving,” Sadie said.

He took her to an all-night conbini that was a short walk from their hotel. He bought egg salad, chicken croquette, and strawberry-and-cream sandwiches; inari; two liters of Royal Milk Tea. “These are my favorites,” he said. They took the sandwiches up to Marx’s hotel room and they spread their convenience-store feast on a towel on the bed.

The sun was rising over Tokyo.

“This is the best egg salad sandwich I’ve ever had,” Sadie said.

“You’re easy to please,” Marx said. He wiped a smudge of egg salad from the side of her mouth.

On the seventh night of their trip to Tokyo, Marx went to an izakaya with two of his closest high school friends: Midori, who was half-Japanese, and Swan, who was full Japanese but had been born in England. As was their tradition, they consumed profuse amounts of greasy appetizers, yakitori, and warmed sake. The izakaya was a dive; it was the same place they’d frequented in high school, only the guy running it now was the son instead of the father.

Marx asked Sadie if she wanted to come along. Normally, she would have absented herself from such a meeting of old friends, but since they’d come up with the idea to reboot Mapletown, she felt more relaxed and celebratory.

When they arrived at the izakaya, it became clear to Sadie that the friends, like Marx’s mother, had the impression that Sadie was Marx’s longtime girlfriend, Zoe.

“No,” Sadie said. “Sorry. We just work together.”

“Darn it,” Midori said. “We thought we were finally going to meet the girl who made Marx settle down.”

“What was Marx like in high school?” Sadie asked.

“Well, since you’re supposedly not his girlfriend, we can tell you,” Swan said. “Everyone dated Marx.”

“And Marx dated everyone,” Midori said, laughing. Sadie recognized the vaudevillian rhythm of an oft-repeated joke.

“If he’d been a girl,” Midori said, “everyone would have called him a slut, but he was just a stud.”

“He was like that in college, too,” Sadie said. “Not news to me. Did either of you ever date him?”

“He took me to a school dance once,” Midori said. “He was an excellent date, but it was a friends’ thing.”

“That’s Marx’s redeeming feature,” Swan said. “He is a great friend, and that’s why no one can ever hate him.”

“Did you ever date him?” Midori asked Sadie.

“God, no. He was friends with my friend,” Sadie said.

“She didn’t like me much,” Marx said. “She may still not like me.” “How can anyone not like Marx?” Swan said.

“What did he do?” Midori asked.

“It’s a long story,” Sadie said. “He said we could use his apartment for the summer and then he ended up staying in it.”

“Is that why you didn’t like me? I think I made up for it in the end,” Marx said.

“Well, I didn’t know that you’d be producing Ichigo until we were at dinner with your dad. Sam never told me.”

“Sam,” Marx said, shaking his head. Marx held up his tumbler of sake. “To Sam! Kanpai!”

“To Sam! Kanpai!” Sadie, Midori, and Swan repeated. “Who’s Sam?” Midori said, laughing.

They drank several rounds of sake, not enough liquor for Sadie to be drunk, but enough for her to feel pleasantly warm inside.

Midori went outside to have a smoke, and Sadie went with her. “I was so in love with him, you know,” Midori said.

Sadie nodded, because she didn’t know what to say.

“Never ever ever sleep with Marx. Whatever you do, don’t do it,” Midori warned. “At some point, he’ll look at you with those eyes and that hair, and you’ll think he’s harmless. He’s hot. I should sleep with him.”

“I’ve known him for six years,” Sadie said. “I doubt that’s going to happen.”

Ah, but Sadie Green was a gamer! In a game, if a sign warns you not to open a certain door, you will definitely open that door. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to the save point and start again.

Sadie and Marx took a cab back to the hotel. They rode the elevator up to their rooms, which were on the twentieth floor. While walking her to her room, Marx said something about twenty being a significant number and that when a person turned twenty (not eighteen, or twenty-one) in Japan, they were considered an adult. “It’s called hatachi.”

“I was twenty when I met you,” Sadie said. “Indeed.”

They were standing outside her door, and he turned to go to his room. “Marx?” she called. “I’m not looking to get into a relationship right now.”

“No, me neither,” Marx said.

“But I do think it would be a good idea if we slept together,” she said. “We’re in a different country, and the sex you have when you’re away doesn’t have to count, in my opinion.”

“I’m unfamiliar with that custom.” He walked back to her door.

Sadie had often reflected that sex and video games had a great deal in common. There were certain objectives that needed to be met. There were certain rules that shouldn’t be broken. There was a correct combination of movements—button mashes, joystick pivots, keystrokes, commands—that made the whole thing work or not work. There was a pleasure to knowing you had played the game correctly and a release that came when you reached the next level. To be good at sex was to be good at the game of sex. Sadie did not remember much about the first time she had sex with Marx, but she remembered afterward how profoundly comfortable she felt, how easy. His body molded naturally against hers; his scent, barely there, just soap and clean skin; the feeling that there was the right amount of companionable space between them. I am here with you, his body seemed to say, but I acknowledge that we are separate beings. But in the end, she did not know if these feelings were attributable to Marx himself, or all the

sake and yakitori she had consumed, or the crisp white hotel duvet, or the fact that she was 5,500 miles from home.

She closed her eyes for a second, and she imagined herself back under the red gates of Nezu.

A gate and a gate and a gate.

And at the end of all the gates, Marx. Marx, in a white linen shirt and rolled-up khakis and a silly straw fedora that Zoe had bought him at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. He takes off the hat, and he tips it to her.

She turned onto her side to smile at Marx in bed. “I love this city,” she said.

“Maybe we could live here someday?” he said.

They flew home the next day, and they said their goodbyes, as working Angelenos do, by the baggage carousel. There is always a point where one despairs of one’s luggage ever arriving, but not long after the siren, Marx’s bag came. He asked Sadie if she wanted him to wait for her, though this was mainly a formality. Marx’s meeting was at a gaming company in the Valley, and Sadie was headed back to Venice, in the opposite direction. After customs and the shuttle to long-term parking, Marx would barely make his meeting in the Valley as it was. Sadie told him to go on ahead. He kissed her on the cheek. Friends, he said. Always, she said. A half hour later, Sadie’s suitcase was the second-to-last one on the conveyor belt. Everyone else was gone except an old Japanese couple, whose powder blue vinyl suitcase marked the actual end.

Sadie dragged her big suitcase through customs. When they asked her if she had anything to declare, she repeated the things she had listed on her customs form: a silk scarf for Freda, a necklace for Alice, packaged sweets for her parents. She always felt as if the customs agents were trying to catch her in a lie.

“What kind of work are you in?” the customs agent asked her. “I make video games,” she said.

“I love video games,” the customs agent said. “Would I have played anything you made?”

“Ichigo,” Sadie said.

“Nope, haven’t heard of it. I mainly like racing games. Like Need for Speed. And Grand Theft Auto. Even Mario Kart. How do you get into making video games anyway?”

Sadie hated answering this question, especially after a person had told her that he hadn’t heard of Ichigo. “Well, I learned to program computers in middle school. I got an eight hundred on my math SAT, won a Westinghouse and a Leipzig. And then I went to MIT, which by the way is highly competitive, even for a lowly female like myself, and studied computer science. At MIT, I learned four or five more programming languages and studied psychology, with an emphasis on ludic techniques and persuasive designs, and English, including narrative structures, the classics, and the history of interactive storytelling. Got myself a great mentor. Regrettably made him my boyfriend. Suffice it to say, I was young. And then I dropped out of school for a time to make a game because my best frenemy wanted me to. That game became the game you never heard of, but yeah, it sold around two and a half million copies, just in the U.S., soooo…” Instead, she said, “I liked to play games a lot, so I thought I’d see if I could make them.”

“Well, good luck to you,” the customs agent said. “Thanks,” she said. “Good luck to you, too.”

Sadie dragged her suitcase out to the cab line, and was about to get in it, when she saw Marx.

“What are you still doing here?” she asked.

“Well, it’s a funny story,” he said. “I got all the way out to my car in long-term, and I was about to drive away, when I decided to turn around and drive back. I’m in short-term now.”

“So, why are you here again?”

He reached for the handle of her large suitcase, and he started rolling it toward the parking lot. “I thought maybe you’d need a ride home.”

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