Illustration © Eric N. Peterson

 

One More Role Playing Game

In our twenties, because we could and because that’s the age
of trying on—we sewed scraps of leather and fur into costumes,
painted our skin in stripes and carried blunted weapons. We wanted
the romance of the Renaissance Faire without the constraints
of guilds and corsets. The battles were staged, sure, and we didn’t think

much about plagues or disease or about how poor sanitation led
to the early deaths and lost histories of the people we imagined
ourselves to be. We were not strict in our imaginings; witchery
was both herbal and sizzling and the only unforgivable sin was
disloyalty. We thought this was the grown-out game we’d started

as middle schoolers on our grandmother’s wooden table. Backstories
conjured, dice rolled so that chance had her say, and several
alignments tried on for fit, before we settled into the role
the others would come to expect. Sure, some of us were more
constant in this. Some of us spent a time with cards instead. Some

of us gave over to jobs and cars and kids. This is the way it goes
when you manage to live past childhood. As we survivors sit here
now, in a new age of disease, where even post-medieval plumbing
can’t keep us from mass graves, from the threat of contagion
that has built moats around housing developments and turrets

on hospital towers—we take those old dragon-covered books
from the shelves where we’ve been saving them for our children
and buddy-up online. Where are my fractured heroes of revolt
and service—those who reject abject neutrality and evil and the sway
of both chaos and law—my warriors who can live in a world fiercely

hostile and unknown—There’s a need in this world right now, for
the mischief of you, my brother, driven by the joy of chaos, and for me—
not the paladin you thought I’d become—not the wild woman in furs—
but the girl who survived her grief at your bedside—who knows
what it is to lose someone—to something so simple as a bad cold.

 

Sherre Vernon is an educator, a seeker of a mystical grammar, and a 2019 recipient of the Parent-Writer Fellowship at MVICW. She has two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings (prose) and The Name is Perilous (poetry). Readers describe Sherre’s work as heartbreaking, richly layered, lyrical and intelligent.

Eric N. Peterson is from Atlanta, Ga. He’s been drawing cartoons all his life. He leans towards the absurd, imaginative, and the surreal, as that’s where all the flavor is.

 

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