Excerpt for A Simple Hobby by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

A Simple Hobby

It’s night time. The sky is as bright as my dead grandmother’s future. Everyone except my mother and I are sleeping, peacefully unaware of the events that are going to transpose.

“Mom, can buy this please?” a pleading childish voice exits my mouth.

“No.” my mother replies shortly and sternly.


“Because you need to focus on your schoolwork. Now go to bed, An Pham.”

“But this so slow, and the grades of me are all A!” I exclaim. I’m not going to endure this flaming pile of garbage any longer than I have to. This day isn’t going to end without my mom buying a new one.

“Well good job, but video games are a waste of time.” she explains. Video games are a waste of time? I can’t believe she just said that.

“Games are not waste of time, school is!” My mom looked at me as if she couldn’t believe I just said that.

“You can’t say that! Me and your father are getting old. You need to study hard and make enough money for us when we can’t work anymore.”

“But I want this!”

“No. Besides, we can’t afford it anyway. It’s $700!”

Can’t she just reduce the food budget? I’m willing to live off half of my current portions if it means recovering my mental stability. But I can’t say such an advanced vietnamese sentence.

“Go to sleep already.”

Seems like I’ve failed my mission, but I haven’t lost the war yet. Laying in my warm and comfy bed, I wait for the sound of my mom slipping into bed to sneak out and search for a solution. I fall asleep anyway.

It’s day time. The sky is as dark as my phone’s screen when looking at it right after waking up. Everyone’s out doing the normal. I’m in school. Now I’m out of school. I walk upstairs to my room, sit on the old leather chair, switch on the power, and wait. And wait. And wait. And finally, it gets past the Windows logo screen after 7 minutes. It feels like it’s even slower than before—but right now, finding a solution out of this frame rate hell is more important. I begin with my signature move: Googling. A result pops up, and I read someone’s comment on a tech forum.

“Just build your own, it’s way cheaper.”

It’s night time, but 2 years later. The sky is as bright as the time my dad whipped me with his hard leather belt for throwing a dart at a window. Not everyone is asleep. I can hear my dad opening the refrigerator downstairs for a late-night beer.

"Mom, can buy this for me please?” A voice breaking past puberty exits my mouth.

“Uh, what is this?” my mom asks. It’s normal to ask a question. She doesn’t possess the technical knowledge—the transcending intelligence—that I’ve worked hard to obtain.

“It list of the parts.” I confidently said.

She scrolls down the list slowly and I await her motherly judgement. There’s no way she’ll decline. I mean, it’s only $300.

“To begin with,” she starts. Well, I can already tell this isn’t going to go the way I want. “AMD processors are very weak. Mail-in rebates take too long and aren’t worth it, so these aren’t sales at all. Plus, you have to focus on your schoolwork. Now go to bed.”

Now that I’m older, it finally dawns on me that no matter how cheap it was, there was no way my mother was going to support my hobby. It was doomed from the start. All of my efforts were in vain, and this fact hurt me the most as I cry sideways into my warm, comfortable bed. Dad hears me and comes upstairs to my room to lend some of his fatherly comfort. He smells like cigarettes and beer, and even after he leaves, the smell lingers to my blanket. I hate the scent of tobacco, but right now it doesn’t matter.

“Hey Mansive, wanna play League of Legends with us?” said a friend on the Skype call the next day. It’s barely able to run both Skype and the game at the same time, but that won’t stop me. The members in the call were all friends I’ve gained from having over 3 years of playtime on a different game that wasn’t as hardware demanding. A slight smile forms on my face as I thought how I wouldn’t have met them if my mom bought it.

“Sure. I managed to finish all my homework in time.”

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