Jennifer's boy kneels in the living room, presses the circle button to rip out the other player's spinal cord, then presses the triangle button so his character can eat that arm like a celery stalk—like the gushing blood is Hidden Valley Ranch. From the kitchen, Jen hears a gravelly voice say, "Fatality". A second later, it says, "Challengers, forward". The kid sits there hours a day with his mouth hanging open, tonguing his molars. The reflection of guts slick with fresh blood bright in his eyes.
In the kitchen, Jen keeps the receiver wedged between her ear and shoulder, repeats "Yes, Ma", "No, Ma". She's cooking a meal that will apologize so that she doesn't have to. She's forgotten an ingredient. Her mother rattles them all off, but she can hardly hear her mother's instructions over the crunching and wailing of the living room deaths. She places the phone on the counter, goes to the doorway to yell about the volume in time to see her husband walk through the front door. She stares at the knot of his tie. His eyes turn to the screen. Opponents face each other. Challengers, forward.