In the beginning, my 21-year-old father could beat all of the other Mortal Kombat gamers despite the little human bundle he held in his other arm. And there’s me, a picture of newborn innocence, watching the wails and grunts of pixelated fighters, each tearing the other apart. A macabre lullaby. Blood and fatality. As my father tells the story, I never cried. I cheered him on with goos and gahs.

I picture him. A young man thrust into adulthood. An unplanned pregnancy. Responsibility. His life forever changed with the birth of his child. How many of his youthful pastimes would be sidelined by fatherhood?

What goes through someone’s mind, knowing how different his life was getting ready to be?

He holds his one-year-old daughter against his side as he stands at the arcade machine. His right hand compensating with lightning speed. Fingers flashing back and forth between the joystick and the buttons. He beats anyone who dares challenge him. Anyone who sees me, the kid, as a weakness.

The kid watches the screen, content.

Medium: India Ink and Bristol Board (6 ft x 5 ft).

(The wall comic was adapted from the original excerpt featured above, so it does not exactly match.)

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