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My name is Mr. Ben. I'm a college student. I go to college at a college. It's a very adult matter, I would imagine. I have a very good friend at college and her name is Anawa Emerson.

Sometimes, though, when he has a break, Mr. Ben -- that's me, I'm Mr. Ben -- likes to do kid things, like play video games and eat omelets. Omelets are good. He doesn't like omelets very much but he is stupid because they are very good. Since I don't like omelets -- though I should -- I like to eat other kid things, like cereal. Cereal is good too, I guess.

One day, on my "Spring Break," which is the break I get during the spring, as I sat browsing this thing called the Internet on my portable happy box, I found an interesting file. I was a connoisseur of video game ROMs at the time, and from what I had heard of it -- which I don't remember -- this file was a top-notch game. It was released only in a place called "Sha-bang" or something, and not in this other place where I was, which was called "Murr'ka," so the ROM would be my only way to play it. I leapt at the chance to give it a go.

From the instant I saw the title screen, reading "MOTHER 3" in big, bold letters, I had fallen in love with the game. It followed the adventures of a young boy -- an incredibly ugly and stupid one, if I do say so myself -- I mean, not myself, but himself -- if I do say so himself -- if he does say so mine -- if I does say himself so me. I'm Mr. Ben. Mr. Ben is who I am. I'm a grown-up college student because I'm Mr. Ben. Stop asking questions.

The boy, he lived in Tazmily Village. There were a lot of trees and there was a great big forest nearby too that had some weird creatures in it. The poor boy, his mother had died. She had died and his brother Claus had gone away and Dad was never at home, and they all left him all alone. He deserved it.

The game followed his adventures with his dog Boney -- he was a good dog -- and a thief named Duster, who smelled funny, and a princess named Kumatora, who wasn't very nice but would tend to grow on you. There were these ghosts and they were spooky but actually they were pretty nice. One of them gave me a funny-sounding red snake that Duster could use to swing across gaps.

I played Mother 3 for several days, completely engrossed in the game -- but not gross, just engrossed, because engrossed sounds like gross but it's really not the same -- did you know that? There was a monkey that was pretty silly. He had a master who did really mean things to him but I don't remember what. There were funky-looking talking pigs that were trying to make everyone happy with boxes and take over the world or something and I knew I had to stop them. Saving the world would be a nice bonus but really I had to take back Claus, I had to take him back. The stupid pig things didn't want me to find him. Maybe they took him. They took him, they did.

When I was far into the seventh chapter of the game, my party washed up on the shore of Tanetane Island, mortally wounded, clinging to their lives. We saw a frog in a snake's belly. Then there were big purple mushrooms that restored all the party's HP and PP and QP and all-the-other-letters-of-the-alphabet-P, and best of all they tasted really good. I think they were bad mushrooms because then everything was pink. There were pink trees all around, laughing trees, crying and moaning and branches that went all the way up into the sky trees and wanted to cut us up into bits. All the grass was blue and dried up, like it was suffocating, and it was so pitiful I didn't want to step on it.

We saw Claus. Claus, we saw him. We found him and it was really him, and he said Hi, and he said Touch my heart. And we touched his chest and it was really him because he was breathing and his heart was beating. His eyelids and lips puffed up and turned black, and his eyes slowly started to ooze into one continuous eye. There was Claus with one big nasty eye and a big happy black oozing dripping smile, and I was so happy to see him smile because he didn't appear for most of the game and now he was here smiling to see us.

Suddenly the battle screen started. It read, "An Eerie Smile blocked the way!" but I didn't want to fight. I didn't want to fight Claus but he made us do it. I even tried to run using the "Run" option but the game said, "Couldn't run!" It wasn't Claus's fault. It wasn't his fault. We fought long and hard and all my guys were running out of HP so I kept having to use the kid to heal them but finally I killed him, and he was dead and it was all because of me.

We kept moving because we had to find this needle that a creepy drag queen told us we had to pull out of the ground because only we could do it, because apparently the kid had some kind of special magic. There were all kinds of mailboxes with lovely surprises inside, like dead rats and fresh feces, and mean lies telling my healer kid that he "learned some bad magic" and was "bullying animals." There were more people we knew who had weird faces and tried to hurt us. Then we saw Mom. I knew she was really an enemy, I knew it, but I just walked up to her and stood there, wouldn't move. Even when her face twisted up and she attacked I wouldn't move. I just stood next to her, cuddling her.

She hit us and yelled and laughed at us, and tried to set us on fire but I wouldn't move. I had to be close to her. That was all that mattered.

My guys all died and I lost the battle. I had already saved so I decided to turn the game off and take a break. I took a look at my homework. Adult things. More adult things. Boring math. Okay. I went up to the very organized bulletin board on the front of my door and wrote under the "Mr. Ben" sign: "is out." I shut the door and locked it and headed out for a walk.

I saw Anawa on my way out and we passed each other in the hall and she smiled. She was carrying plastic bags and I think she was cleaning her room because adults do that. As I was heading down the stairs to check my mail, I thought I heard footsteps behind me, but I ignored them and whistled.

I opened the mailbox and took out a few letters. There was one from student financial services that read something along the lines of "whine, whine, complain, complain." I would get them their money soon because I would go to work at my job as a person who works. I was very good at being an employee.

Another letter. It was from my mom. She was reminding me how much she missed me and I missed her very much too.

Another was from the college headmaster, reminding everyone to take a moment of silence today to honor the recently deceased Anawa Emerson. I stared at the letter for a few moments before discarding it. Must have been a misprint.

The last letter didn't have a return address. I opened it. It was an awful waste, I thought, to use so much paper if they were going to leave most of it blank. I finished unfolding the mostly blank paper to read the message at the top.

"Couldn't run!"

I raised an eyebrow and threw the letter away. Lousy spam. As I turned back around, I saw Anawa again, but something was wrong with her face...

I awoke with a start. I looked around my room, a nice wooden cabin area. I sighed and rested my head on my soft pillow. Another weird dream. This time I had dreamed I was a college student playing a video game. It's funny because where I live we don't even have colleges. We have video games, but I've never bought any of that stupid stuff.

After regaining my composure, I turned to the photo I kept of my mom and my older brother on my nightstand. I kissed it good-morning and curled back up under my covers to sleep a bit longer.

It had been a year and a half already since the last incident. "Why do I still have these nightmares?" I asked myself. "After all this time." I didn't really wonder, because I already knew the answer.

I grabbed the photo from the nightstand, nestled it into my sleeping posture, and closed my eyes. Some things you just never forget.

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