‘The Glitch’ by Rebekah Frumkin
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo, 1998
Edward Jonathan Phillips was spending the morning slumped over the screen of the Hackintosh he’d recently built, darkening once again the e-door of a Reddit Ask Me Anything whose URL he could’ve typed from memory. The AMA read: ‘I am a gay man who was married to a straight woman for twenty-eight years. Ask me anything.’ The question Edward Jonathan Phillips wanted to ask was: ‘Did you ever play house with your male friends in grade school and suggest that you be the mom and/or that there be two moms?’ But the question didn’t seem relevant to the AMA and asking something that personal would, he was sure, humiliate him unspeakably.
Edward Jonathan Phillips (Fucken Eddie to enemies, EJP to friends) had the unique daily pleasure of being exactly like himself. Whereas someone more normal could probably go to high school in Braxton, Mississippi and float by relatively unnoticed, any under-the-radar deformities (big teeth, Judaism, lack of a gun licence, liberal parents, fascination with Satan) earning them at most a nickname and some light ostracism, there was something about EJP’s battleship board that was utterly transparent and embarrassingly conspicuous at all times. Today was the day Joey Gipson had very solemnly warned him not to come to gym class, but EJP had to go to school and he had to show his face at every period because last week he’d been truant for the last time he could be before the school district would get involved, which meant his parents would be getting a call and then they’d get suspicious and raid his room for the truancy notices he’d been stockpiling there.
It was 5:43 a.m., which was a good time for it to be. He wouldn’t have to involve himself in breakfast preparation until 6:45 a.m. He began pulling on a few strands in the grey patch of hair just above his right ear. He was starting to grey on his left side, too, and he’d overheard his mother asking his father – who was Alexander to everyone but EJP’s mother, who called him ‘Dad’ – about it one night while EJP was walking stoned past their bedroom to the bathroom on the other side of the hall. It wasn’t really a time to eavesdrop – he had messy, load-blown hands, the fingers of which he couldn’t really feel because of the rare California medical in his bloodstream – but his mother was saying, ‘Maybe we should move,’ to which Alexander said in response, ‘I think the hair’s genetic. There’s no way he’s greying from school.’ And then his mother hiss-whispered, ‘Of course he is! You’re not even grey now.’
‘But,’ said Alexander, ‘my dad was completely grey by the time he was forty. That’s pretty unusual.’