Dad likes to play car games on our Commodore 64 and he loves Out Run most of all. He pilots his big red Ferrari around the desert tracks and city streets with the joystick, grinning as it drifts round bends and whooping when he wins and the blonde lady passenger gives the man behind the wheel a kiss.
He spins around on his chair. ‘Come and have a go,’ he says, but I shake my head. It’s not that I don’t like cars, they’re okay, it’s just that I don’t understand why the game makes me drive with a girl passenger instead of a boy. But I know better than to say that. Instead, I ask if we can play Monty Mole. I can tell from Dad’s face that he knows why I won’t play Out Run and something that I’ve seen before flashes across his eyes. For a second I get scared, but he just looks at the floor and says ‘Oh, go on, then,’ and goes downstairs while I change the cassette and the game loads.
Half an hour later, Dad still hasn’t come back. I creep halfway down the stairs so I can peep into the living room. He’s on the sofa. The football is on, but he’s not really watching it. He’s just staring into the air, beer in his hand.
I go back to my room and play Monty Mole on my own.
David Cook’s work has been published in Spelk, Ellipsis, The Sunlight Press and more. He’s a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. He lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter. Tweet him @davidcook100.