As a child, Reginald wanted juice. After a while, it could only be grape juice. After grape juice, he would only eat peanut butter sandwiches, specifically with the crust cut off. After the food, he wanted action figures. A whole toy chest wasn’t enough to staff the titanic battles that took place on the dark brown rug of the apartment—the apartment where the walls always had to be white. After action figures, he wanted a bike. A red one, with gleaming metal that shone in the sun. After riding it around the parking lot for a while, it was on to video games. The outside never changed, but these presented whole worlds in bit, enemies to jump over and defeat. People, places, and worlds to save. All executed with fleet fingers moving over the controls. Hours at night, in front of the blue screen shining over his face, over the back of the wall, visible from the outside, in the dark world that always looked the same when he went outside. Inside, with the sound down so as not to wake anyone up, accompanied only by the clicking of the controls.
The games held him for a long time. Thinking about them during school, waiting to be free to return to those worlds where things happened, where dinner wasn’t the big highlight. But after he saw a band play, he wanted a guitar. By now, he noticed girls, and thought that if he knew one of those he could talk like the other boys. However, playing a few clunky, buzzing notes in the basement quickly grew old.
So to augment that, he wanted taste, and opinions. Things he could say he liked, or that sucked, to have something to say. What he really wanted was a girlfriend, but he stood against the wall at the school dances, and just imagined.
When he met Sophia, she was all he wanted. And after she said yes to go to the movies, he spent a half hour just standing in his room, amazed. He felt similarly after their first kiss, and after their first time having sex. The room was dark, her blankets a deep blue.
At college, he wanted to be the smartest, wanted to lean back in his chair and feel sure of that. His 3.03 GPA begged to differ. After college, he wanted a job. Or needed one, rather. Even though it felt better to be out with Sophia, or playing video games, all he wanted to be was home, be drinking, be anywhere but with the documents over, and over, and over again. He wondered how, after all this time, things still never moved.
Then he wanted to get married and they did. In a church with both families and all the dressing. They honeymooned in a place that was sunny, warm, and prone to hurricanes. After he got married, he wanted a house. But outside, even from his own porch, everything always looked the same, give or take some rain, some snow, or some peak foliage. The rooms looked the same, clean, dirty, or rearranged. Then he wanted a dog. But all the dog did was wake him early, need food, and sleep on the floor while they watched the same TV. So he got a nice car, plenty of cylinders, red and gleaming in the sun. He rode it around the block a few times, letting the engine growl, but mostly was stuck in traffic in it, just like the old sedan.
One day, when it was dark and he had just turned off the video game and everything still looked the same, he figured maybe a baby would change that. Maybe with that, finally, the world would seem as real as the games.