A long time from now, in an assisted living facility not so far away, four old women sit around a card table.
“Jessica, it’s your turn.”
Jessica didn’t respond. She stared at her hands instead. Gray hair never bothered her, nor did the wrinkles in her face, but her hands looked old.
Drea was getting upset. Jessica shuffled through the cards in her hands. Normally she kept her hands hidden, the large puffy veins and prominent bones embarrassed her. This game makes no sense. Why are we playing it, she thought to herself.
“What am I supposed to do, again?” Jessica asked.
Drea snorted loudly, and grabbed the cards out of Jessica’s hands. Jessica dropped her hands into her lap, below the table.
Drea hardly knew how to play herself, though, and the other two women were no help. Jessica couldn’t remember their names. She blamed the lack of memory on her age, but the truth was she’d never been good with names. The younger looking of the two picked up the tattered copy of “Bridge For Dummies” and unhelpfully read the same passage she read a minute ago.
“In bridge, four people each place a card face up on the table, and the highest card in the suit that has been led takes the trick.”
The other woman interrupts, again, and says, again, “That’s called the trump, right?”
They argue while Drea hands Jessica back her cards and says, “Just play this one,” pointing to the Queen of Hearts.
Jessica puts the card down while singing,
“Playing with the queen of hearts,
knowing it ain’t really smart
The joker ain’t the only fool
who’ll do anything for you”
The other women, even Drea, start laughing.
“O-M-G!” the youngest one says, spelling out the letters, “That song was already an oldie when I was a child!”
“I think it was from the seventies, the nineteen seventies I mean.” Jessica said. When the last two digits in the years started to repeat, one had to be more explicit when naming dates. “I remember my mom singing along with it on the radio.”
“So, you can remember the lyrics to a song almost a century old, but you can’t remember how to play a simple card game?” Drea said.
“There is nothing simple about bridge, and I’ve never played it before in my life, and neither have you.”
Drea snorted again but didn’t argue, adding, “I was more a fan of Magic the Gathering, back in the day.”
The younger looking woman, Heather maybe? said, “Oh! My brothers played that game all the time! They had stacks and stacks of those beautiful cards. I loved looking at them.” she sighed then looked to her friend, “Susan, didn’t you play that game, starts with a D or something?”
Susan smiled shyly, “Yes, Dungeons and Dragons. I was the only girl in my school who played. Wow, what memories I have of those days! But that wasn’t a card game, it was more of a dice game.”
Jessica felt a rush of excitement, “Do you remember any of it, could we play it now?”
Drea grinned, “Did any of you ever play World of Warcraft or Ever Quest?”
Susan and Jessica exclaimed at once, “WoW!” Then turned to look at each other, eyes shining.
Heather shook her head, “What a bunch of geeks you all are!”
Drea scooped the cards into a pile. “Well then, I believe I know what game we are playing next.” She waved the robot attendant over and asked it to bring out four laptops.
Jessica frowned, “Drea, those games aren’t around anymore. All the games now are full VR immersive, like we use for our exercise classes.”
“AH ha! You are wrong about that! Happens that I am a member of a guild in a old MMORPG called Star Wars, The Old Republic. A bunch of the old coders brought the game back a few years ago. My,” she paused and swallowed, “My brother worked at the company that made the game. Just before he died, they got it working again.”
Jessica saw the tears in her friend’s eyes, but knew better than to acknowledge them.
“But I never played any of those games,” Heather said, “I can’t…”
Jessica leaned over and took her hand, “Don’t worry.” Heather’s hand felt light and brittle in Jessica’s stronger grip, but didn’t look as old. Jessica wondered if all those years playing WoW in her thirties and forties made her hands look so old. Right hand on the mouse, left on the keyboard, taping and clicking for hours and days and even weeks when she could get away with it. If so, then she should hold up her hands with pride. They were gamer hands.
“I’ll help you. You won’t believe how much fun it is.”