You are in the process of cleaning out your closet. You're having a surprisingly good time doing this. You found some band tee-shirts you thought you lost or gave away, a couple of albums that defined your high school life, and a couple of old video games.
One of them being The Sims 3. You decide to take a break and pop it in your Xbox. You hit the "Continue" button and when the game finally loads [it has pretty long load times] you're hit with an image that stops your brain in its tracks.
You see digitally recreated versions of you and your ex-partner. You notice that her character has your last name and there's a small child that looks like a mixture of you and your partner [the digital versions, not the actual versions]. Your heart sinks into your stomach and you sink into the chair and start playing.
You start off by making breakfast for your partner. For some reason, your "cooking skill" is pretty high [in real life, you're only good at making peanut butter sandwiches], so you have a large selection of recipes to make for your significant other.
As you do that, your partner picks up your [digital] child and fixes her [yes, you have a digital daughter] a bowl of cereal. After you finish making waffles you set them on the table and talk to your partner. Even though The Sims speak in a fake language you imagine what your conversation might be like.
I wish I could stay home with you, you say.
I know you do, they say.
I love you, you say.
I love you too, they say.
After you finish breakfast, you do an awkward spin [which is the way Sims change clothes, apparently] into your work uniform. It's a beige suit because you're a Police Detective and Detectives only wear beige and old smoke from unfiltered cigarettes and have a wife and kid at home who they constantly think about whenever they pull out their weapon [at least that's what you and, I guess, The Sims think].
When you're off at work [or when the digital version of you is at work] your partner sets up an easel and starts painting. They've always been so artistic, so painting isn't something out of the ordinary for them. Every now and then, she takes some breaks to feed or change your daughter.
And as you [the real you] play the game, you can't help but wonder about what could have been. "What if...?" swirls around your head. You sit there silent and somber, remembering all the great times you and your ex had over the years. You laugh to yourself quietly because you remember the time the two of you got lost in Brooklyn. You were looking for your car [or where you parked] and in the process, you ended up in a photo booth in a grungy bar making out until you got asked politely to leave so another couple could get the chance to relive their high school years.
You were looking at your television screen but it felt like you weren't really looking at anything. All you could see were images of a past you couldn't help but miss. You felt alone and worried and scared that you made a huge mistake. You felt your hands start to shake but fortunately, it was the controller vibrating, alerting you that you [your digital version] had just gotten home from work.
You [the fake you, the you that isn't real, the you that knows what a healthy relationship is and how it works] run to the bathroom for a quick shower. And even though you had just had a long day investigating [virtual] crime, you still make dinner for your family. But not before planting a giant kiss on your daughter.
I missed you, you say.
Gurble blrrg hrfff, your daughter says [you think she means she missed you too]
You turn to your partner and give her a loving, caring, and passionate kiss. Something that you never would have done in real life and you feel something inside of you break a little bit. There is a sound, one that isn't audible to other ears, and it sounds like bones cracking. It was like your soul just stretched its metaphysical spine and every vertebrae loosened up to let out a shriek.
And that's what you did. You shrieked a little bit. You coughed in a way that would make anyone that heard you think you were coughing up phlegm or blood or some other cigarette smoking-related thing. But really, it was your body reacting to your emotions. You let out a quiet sob to yourself, put the game on pause, and walked out to smoke.
And out there, where no one could see you, or hear you [it's midnight] you cry. You really cry. And I don't mean a strong, manly, quiet cry. I mean the loudest kind of cry. A cry reserved for those who haven't been asked to Prom yet.
You [the very real, the very sad, the very remorseful you] stare at her number in your phone.
You think about calling her.