In April 2020, I wrote and released Bear, a solo tabletop role-playing game (available here.) It is a game that allows the player to tell an ongoing story that they can revisit at any time (with the player imagined as a magically empowered patron of an adventurer in another world), and I’ve decided to write down the story I’ve been telling whilst playing it here.
Bear stumbles through the desert – an ashy, rocky desert, dotted with trees that are husks. She struggles, her mind thinking on how to honour those that went before her. Knowing she needs to make a promise.
One of the things Bear’s sister said to Bear when she left, was asking her to promise not to be scared.
In the middle of desert, the middle of nothing, away from her training ground, away from home, entirely alone, she is. She breaks her promise, because it’s untenable to keep it.
She collapses, stops walking. Almost stops moving. Screams that she’s scared, bellows it into almost nothingness.
She gets back to her feet, up off her knees. Keeps walking. She still screams, saying this doesn’t mean she’s not scared. But Bear keeps going. That is what is important. Knowing she’s scared but still going.
She knows why she thinks so much about honouring those who have gone before. When her sister was saying Bear couldn’t stay for her sake. That was – a ghost. Maybe not a literal ghost. A memory manifest, echoes of a person, the tricks of guilt, or fondness, or nostalgia. But she is not alive. And Bear walking away from her reinforced that.
Bear has to handle this on her own. Someone might be able to watch from a distance, know what Bear’s going through, but to intervene wouldn’t be right here.
It is okay. Bear is walking. To where other people are.