The Heavy Pour
A line drawing of a girl in cutoff jean shorts and sneakers hanging upside down from a large tree branch. She is beaming.

Extra Lives

The cover of Unwinnable Monthly #149, featuring two mechanics servicing a sleek race car.

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #149. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


Three fingers of analysis when two will do.


A line drawing of Link and Sheik from the videogame The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Title: Extra Lives. Text: Sheik’s eyes are angry, except when he plays his lyre. He’s stealthy, brave, mysterious. He teaches me songs that carry me far off places when I play them again, magic. A cowl hides most of his face. Tufts of blond hair frame his eyes – fierce eyes. He’s my favorite character in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

A line drawing of a girl in a striped t-shirt and jean shorts tethered to a TV by a Nintedo 64 console. She is playing Ocarina of Time. Text: In Ocarina of Time I play as Link, who for most of the story is a strong and silent type, your typical adventure videogame guy. At the very beginning, though, he’s just a little kid exploring a new, huge, frightening world. There are monsters and grownups and monstrous grownups with dangers surrounding each, and even though he only sees the very edges of their schemes, there’s a feeling he’s on the precipice of understanding something large, dark, and unforgettable.

A line drawing of a girl in cutoff jean shorts and sneakers hanging upside down from a large tree branch. She is beaming. Text: There’s something looming on the edges of my vision, too. I insist on wearing nothing but baggy t-shirts and ripped jeans to middle school. I tie a flannel shirt around my waist. I walk tough and don’t mind at all when people mistake me for a boy. I don’t think I want to be a boy. I know I want to stay a girl. A kid, really. I want to ride bikes, jump off swings, and carry a pocket knife up the tree in my grandma’s front yard so I can carve my initials into the place where the trunk splits into a fork. Every day I can see myself turning into a woman, and it seems dangerous.

A close-up drawing of a convenience store called Neely's. There's a sign reading "fresh meat" hung above the door. Text: On summer afternoons I walk from my house to the supermarket to waste time thumbing through gaming magazines and comic books. I pass by a field half the size of a city block that has a beat-up couch in the center of it, and a miniscule convenience store called Neely’s with a sign outside that reads “fresh meat,” even though they only sell Oscar Meyer cold cuts.

A drawing of a young girl wearing cutoff shorts and a backpack dragging her hand along a chain-link fence. Text: The main thoroughfare doesn’t have many trees and there’s an auto shop across from Neely’s that sells tires. The smell of rubber in the sun makes me think of long days with nothing to do. So does car exhaust, and the sound of litter trapped in a chain-link fence, fluttering on a breeze like dirty moths. Here’s where a man once drove his car too close to the curb, slowed down just enough, rolled down his window and sneered, “hey, slut,” then laid on his horn and sped off, cackling. I didn’t understand what was happening until suddenly I did, and I will never know what it feels like to walk unselfconsciously outside again.

A drawing of a young girl reading a comic book in the magazine aisle of a grocery store. A shadowy figure looms at the opposite end of the aisle. Text: I learn how to make my eyes fierce. My baggy t-shirt helps, too. Still slight and small, I can hunch over Electronic Gaming Monthly in the magazine aisle and pretend to be just another angsty teenage videogame geek. Everyone knows those are boys.

A line drawing of a girl in a striped t-shirt and jean shorts tethered to a TV by a Nintedo 64 console. Onscreen, Sheik has been revealed to be Princess Zelda. Text: Home safe in the world of Ocarina of Time, Link and I meet Sheik for the first time. Link can’t see it, but I know the angry-eyed boy with the lyre is really Princess Zelda in disguise. We’re both girls hiding in boys clothing, moving a little more freely in the world, a little longer.


Sara Clemens thinks too much about things, generally. They run a site called Videodame and a Twitter called @thesaraclemens.


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