I once found a token in the sand.
Engraved on it was “Passion”.
“Passion…” I whispered
as longing caressed me.
and my head felt on a high as I held it in my hand.
For I knew there was an arcade game,
that took Passion tokens just ahead.
I knew a single token was good for two players,
so I went to it and waited and with a little patience,
I happened upon a passing young man.
He gazed at that game with such desire
I could tell he was longing, just like me.
He needed something to set his life on fire.
I studied him as he pulled his empty pockets inside out.
No Passion tokens in his possession, so he turned away
his bottom lip protruded into a slight pout.
“Hey!” I said, and he turned around half startled.
“I’ve got a token right here and I can help you out.”
He met my eyes with a sheepish grin
and as he took my hand I heard him whisper
“Then let the game begin.”
Together we pushed in my token for two.
The screen came to life and asked what it already knew.
Player 1, Ready? Player 2, Ready?
We both pushed the button and the controllers lit up
I grabbed one with such wild anticipation
that he gently scolded me “Hold it steady.”
My avatar stopped jerking then,
no more glitches of this way and that.
“Shouldn’t we play through the tutorial?”
“Nah” He said with cool confidence,
“No one ever does that.”
Level 1. Our hearts connect.
No obstacles yet to hold us back.
Only the adrenaline of our raw emotions as they move in time
to the beat of Passion’s 8-bit theme.
This all feels so new to me, but our hearts keep advancing intertwined
For a better game, I could never dream!
“Watch out for those bullets! Keep our passion in check!”
I see the green bar bleed a bit of red,
but it’s okay.
Our passion isn’t dead.
It will never die. We’ll play this until the end.
We’ll beat the final boss. Together, we both will win.
“Your timing is off! You should not have jumped!”
His voice sings to me with slight irritation
And I interject with my own suspicious chorus
“But every bullet in sight is coming right for us!
And I didn’t jump just then when I fell off our high rise,
maybe I was bumped. You were right behind me,
so I’d hardly be surprised.”
Little green left on either bar.
We played our passion with a madness like no other,
but the first boss was tricky.
He split our hearts in two and now the screen is flashing
PLEASE INSERT TOKEN
My spirit sinks as I watch the screen countdown.
“But that was all I had! There must be more
out there to find in the endless stretch of sand!”
“Don’t worry, love” he says, holding back a tear.
“I’ll get us another one! You just wait! We won’t be defeated!”
And with that, he walks away, and I wait as the time passes
— cursing myself and feeling cheated.
My gaze shifts out to the endless sand and I know he is searching.
He’ll find another token in that barren wasteland
and he’ll come back to me and we’ll play again, and sure enough,
we’ll be unstoppable this time… not defeated.
The countdown reaches 6 and I see a shadow appear.
5… it’s him all right and he returned with the prize
4… a whole bag full of tokens, but wait–
What’s this I see before my eyes?
3… That bag is a purse with a young woman opening the latch.
2… “I’m sorry, my dear.” he says with a laugh,
1… “but with games like this you can’t be a novice with no cash,
How could you ever expect me to remain attached?”
I hear that 8-bit sound ringing over and over in my ear,
as I watch his new player pull out tokens that will last them all their years.
Tears swell my eyes as they insert token after token.
They’ll make it to the final boss…
and I’ll sit here the whole time and watch them, passionless and broken.