Sitting in class, her black wavy hair pulled back in a braided ponytail so tight that it separated her hair into two distinct varieties. The strands pulled together in a slick black mass all submissively laying uniformly in one direction toward a certain constricting point that at the back of her head became a thick braid of which its weight caused the braid to hang straight down like an unmoving pendulum. The majority of the hair was part of the braid but at the front of her head, just above the forehead and along her hairline going down on both sides of her face to her long girlish sideburns were free flying hairs that fell as they pleased. On the side of her face they created cute little whiskers that her grandmother would pull when she misbehaved. At the top these free stands created a thin translucent bang that appeared greyish or brownish in comparison to the definite blackness covering the rest of her head.
The cute fifth grader named Anna sat in the back of the class. Her face looked directly at the teacher. She seemed the model of an attentive student. However underneath her desk her right hand which was most completely obscured from the view of the teacher was at work raising a pet. Her Giga Pet, which she electronically cared for, was her great obsession. She fed it, walked it, groomed it and gave it water. She even gave it little electronic hugs that increased the little red hearts that flashed upon the screen signifying that it was healthy and content in its existence. “Anna, your turn” said Mrs. Tribble, fully expecting her prize pupil to have a readily accessible answer in that diligent childish mind of hers. Unaware even of the sound of her name being spoken on her teacher’s voice she continued holding her head forward as she rolled her eyes down so that they could guide her busy little fingers in their pursuits. The teacher called her name again and after a receiving no answer a second time she began moving towards Anna. Anna was still oblivious; her childish interest laser focused on the Giga-Pet. She didn’t notice until the teacher was halfway down her row of desks and could see what she was doing. In the true naivety that only a child can exhibit her body gave her away before she could even feign innocence. Seeing the shoes of her teacher nearing her and looking up so quickly that she caught just enough of a flash of Mrs. Tribble’s expression to know she had been caught, she jumped up and in a panic exaggerated the motion of putting the toy away. Her right hand jerked from underneath the desk and whacked against the metal tube that connected the top of the desk to the seat. The hollow piece of metal sang an incriminating tune that lingered in her ears even after she had managed to put the small yellow device in her pocket.
Mrs. Tribble didn’t have to say a word. She stuck out her hand with a look of anger and disappointment on her face. She stuck out her hand with palm open. Anna quickly acquiesced to the silent demand reaching into the pocket of her jeans and handing the little yellow electronic device to Mrs. Tribble. Mrs. Tribble walked back up to the front and placed the toy in the top left drawer of her desk. Then she went back to teaching the class after Anna answered the question…
It was two days before Anna was able to get her Giga-Pet back. Her father had to come out to the school after the school day was over to retrieve it. She stood beside him as the teacher lauded over her to her father with more praise than admonition. Going two nights without her toy was her only punishment. The teacher had been disappointed for a reason. Anna was a great student. She was smart and always did her homework. Honestly, she likely didn’t need that lesson. They had been reviewing that material for the past week and she had already achieved a firm grasp on it. It was the principle of the matter that forced the teacher to hold the toy until a parent came to claim it.
Anna’s father didn’t give her the toy back right away. Self-conscious about being judged by the teacher he waited until they got in the car to turn it back over to his daughter. In the car he held it up letting it dangle from his index finger by the metal hoop at the end of its keychain. At the sight of it just languidly swinging from his hand, she jumped out of her seat to grab it from him as though having it were a fundamental right of her childhood. He snatched into his palm and stopped her further advance by placing his large hand at the top of her head. “No. No. Wait.” he said. “You better not let that happen again. You hear me.” She looked up at him. Her eyes were defiant enough not to give off any hint of apology but not too defiant as to express her respect for what he was saying. He handed the yellow device to her. This time she didn’t snatch at it but held out her hand and let the toy slide off of his finger and into her open palm. Immediately she checked the hearts on the screen and the other little digitized health indicators. Her pet had not been fed in two nights and had had no socialization. Tonight she would go to her neighbor’s house with which she hardly ever played. She needed to sync Giga Pets with someone so that she could recover some health status.
The Giga-Pet gave her a long period of pleasant preoccupation. As things changed in her life the Digi- Pet remained ever by her side. She kept hers going for far longer than the other kids at school. When the fad died she still remained faithful and diligent to the health and well-being of her digital companion. In the end she earned all of the rewards possible for the toy and when the company came out with a program that let you transfer your progress with a Digi-Pet online she bought that program and continued there as well. A similar incident even occurred her first year of High School. Reading on her detention slip that she had been given after school detention in the 9th grade for playing Digi-Pets Online during computer class the afterschool detention teacher laughed. He even let her go home without staying as he had never seen her face before.
One day, and these days all come, straight braids were no longer welcomed in her hair. A time when the things of children were no longer suited for her changing interests. A time when new interests peaked, and new formations peaked across her body. A when her faithfulness was lost to the ways children and the allure of a digitized, imaginary creature no longer suited her tastes. This time is a father’s scariest. Her father looked at her and contemplated the world. He pondered time and thought “I should give her a new Digi-Pet”. So he went to Toys R Us but there was no such thing as a Giga-Pet anymore. He went to Circuit City and found that there was no such thing as Circuit City anymore. He checked online and found that he could order a newer and more sophisticated version of Giga or Digi-Pet, whatever you call them. He ordered it and presented it to his daughter on her 17th birthday. When she saw it she blushed and with the naïve and honest reaction of a child she smiled and hugged her father. Her long loose curly flowed over the his shoulder slightly sticking like Velcro in the stubble under his chin. A well of joy within him sprang forth like a geyser giving his entire body a warmth that would not see him freeze on the coldest winter’s day. She took to the game and played for hours in her room quietly in front of the screen.
Her father, encouraged by a feeling the nostalgic smile and embrace of his daughter in on that day, her 18th birthday, not hearing her voice for some time came up the stairs to sneak a night peek and his child slumbering away in bed. He turned the door to the room and there on his daughter’s bed was the back of a boy. The boy, sitting up and fully clothed, yet nonetheless in his house, in his daughter’s room in the middle of the night. He only caught that slight glimpse of them sitting side by side, faces turned to kiss for as soon as he opened the door they jumped away from each other in the childish honesty of guilty lovers. He looked at them in fiery paternal anger. Her father knew the boy. He was at the birthday party. He thought the boy was a good kid. But he snapped at the boy and yelled for him to get the “Fuck” out of the house that instant. He yelled at his daughter for a while. His wife came in to see what was the matter. She yelled as well but quickly reached her threshold for the night. She attempted to convince her husband to give it up as well but he could not. Something would not let him concede to this occurrence. After yelling and yelling his words became a circle of meaningless filler. It was as if he were filibustering to buy time so that he could stay in her room until the sun rose again. Perhaps as to assure himself that the boy didn’t come back or perhaps to make sure she didn’t try to sneak off. Or possibly to hold them at that moment forever for after this he could no longer maintain her innocence of the matter. He didn’t want to leave the room. His instincts burned for him to be guardian and jailer; protector and owner. But eventually he had to leave. Finally he understood just how inconsequential his words were at that moment. He went through one more cycle of ranting and then left heavyhearted; anxious of the days, years to follow.
That night as he lay down to sleep he couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor Digi-Pet or Giga-Pet or whatever. Now that she had moved on from her childish ways, that poor imaginary creature would be left hungry and waiting like poor Hachiko until it eventually died emaciated and forlorn in her memory.