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Shining Prelude

Graph paper is a terrible thing to waste.

This short story/anomaly happened as I was trying to write the Shining in the Darkness review. And when I say ‘happened,’ I mean it just poured out of me.

It’s weird and cute and I like it more than I should. I know it’s not a Sega review, but I’m not sure where else to post this! I hope you like it too.


A son walks up to his physicist father and asks for a stack of graph paper. The boy is ten years old and has never once shown interest in math, let alone the type of math that requires graphing. Outwardly, the father keeps his composure, but inside, he’s elated. Finally, he thinks, my boy is taking after me. The man walks into his study, finds a spare 55-sheet pad, and hands it to his son. “Don’t use this all at once now,” the man chuckles. The son smiles, says “Thanks Dad!” then runs back to his bedroom and slams the door.

The physicist moves to his study, a ripe smile plastered on his angular face. He sits on his cushy leather chair, takes out a tobacco pipe and some utensils, and begins to clean it. Such a day calls for a celebratory smoke, he muses. At long last, and seemingly out of nowhere, my boy is embracing math. He packs the pipe with some Virginia Gold Black Cavendish and lights up. The smoke swirls around in his mouth, like a soft fog rolling through the moors. It tastes like victory.

For years, the physicist had tried to make his son interested in math. Ever since he was in kindergarten, the boy showed a clear aptitude for equations beyond his years. And yet, whenever the man surprised his son with a thick book of algebra problems, the boy always responded with disgust. The physicist loved his son, but he never understood him. Until today.

The physicist jumps up, pipe in hand, too excited to sit at his desk while his son gorges himself on quadratics, factoring, and polynomials. He reaches his son’s closed door. No, he thinks, I should respect his privacy. But… I have to ask. What changed his mind? What made him want to pursue math and become a physicist like me?… Woah! Where’d that one come from? One day at a time, Bill.

Bill the physicist knocks on his son’s door. “Go away! Busy working!”

“I know you’re busy working, son, and believe me, I don’t want to distract you. I just have to ask…” Bill slowly opens the door. “What changed your mind about ma-”

Inside the boy’s room, Bill sees his son on the floor, drawing lines on the graph pad while looking at his television. “Daa-ad! I didn’t say you could come in! I told you, I’m busy.” The boy starts to shut the door on his father, but Bill pushes past him to get a closer look.

“Wait… what is all this? This isn’t math. This isn’t math at all!”

“Dad, it’s Shining in the Darkness. You bought it for me yesterday, remember? It’s really hard to play this game and remember where to go without graph paper. I’m not doing math problems, I hate that stuff. Now please… leeeeeavvvveeee!”

Bill’s son pushes Bill out of his room, but before the boy shuts the door, Bill says, “Wait! Henry!” Henry stops and looks at his physicist father. “I thought… when you said you wanted graph paper… you really don’t like math?”

Henry knows how much him loving math means to his father, but Henry hates lying more than he hates letting people down. Henry steps out of his room and looks up at Bill, his father who had devoted his life to exploring physics. Henry doesn’t even know what physics is. He just knows that he hates math, even though he’s awesome at it. He always gets his math homework out of the way so he can play video games. One day, maybe, he hopes to make a video game. Maybe a game as awesome as Shining in the Darkness. Hopefully his dad will understand this, but if he doesn’t, Henry still has to go his own way.

“Dad, I really, really hate math.” Bill sinks into the floor. His pipe burns out in his drooped hand. “But I’m really, really glad you bought me Shining in the Darkness. If you want to watch me play and make maps with my graph paper, you can.” Bill hears his son’s words, and he realizes he has a choice: embrace the words that hurt, or watch Henry use graph paper in new and unusual ways.

Bill sighs a deep eternal sigh, then looks at Henry. The boy is the spit of him. Whipsaw cheekbones. Brown, piercing, overly intelligent eyes. Thin lips. As skinny as they come. He’s only ten. He has his whole life ahead of him. Bill smiles and remembers his love for math, even at Henry’s age. That feels like such a long time ago now.

Bill clears his mind, straightens himself, then puts his hand on Henry’s back. “Alright, son, show me this game of yours.”

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