“And that’s, that’s how you do that jump.” Masumi stammered and blushed in the moments after the one started to loom over him. His eyes couldn’t find a place to rest on the screen in front of him, the gamepad in his hands, or the flanking screens where his first viewer resided. “Momentum isn’t a thing you have to deal with a lot in Star Allies in comparison to other platformers, it, uh,” He pinched himself on the thigh off-screen. “It’s about the gimmick! The allies. All these cute little things!”



“Ribbon’s my favorite, she’s just so cute!” He rambled as the screen moved on to the next stage and a hundred thoughts bounced around in his skull. What had been talking to an audience of himself turned into talking to an actual audience, that consisted of one person who might have been feeling just as awkward as he did. His eyes flicked to the sticky notes around his schedule book, organized in colors from most important to least.



The bright yellow one, at the very top, read to always talk. A frown flickered across his face. He slid down to the next one. Never stop playing. He fiddled with some buttons, testing out the screen.



“I know she’s not been in a lot of games, but that’s what makes her special! I might be able to show you, you all her soon!” Another level started, and he went on autopilot as he scanned the rest of his reminders. The one on the other side, in bright red, said that he should always treat them like an audience. He nodded imperceptibly at his own advice. “But maybe that’s just because I like Kirby so much!” He giggled, and it was a little shakier than he liked. Low-Life couldn’t be nervous.



“He’s jolly all the time! He’s cute and pink and he eats everything!” He scratched the side of his head and tried to focus on the leaping blob on screen, rather than the digit. “That would normally make me jealous, because I’ve got to stay in shape!” He put on a pout. It was picture-perfect, because he’d practiced it so many times. “But I just can’t be mad at the little guy. If anyone else out there has a favorite character, let me know!”



Masumi nodded with that slick invitation and watched his avatar skid beneath a rolling ball of doom. “Close one there! The thing about this game is that the controls are so slick, but they need to be or you’d be defeated too much staring at the graphics. Earlier I got a bit too fascinated by King Dedede and, well, Kirby took a few too many bruises!” He laughed softly and another tendril of dread crept along his mind.



There was no guarantee that this would be a pleasant person. They could have been a troll looking to make small...or no-audience streamers upset, because they had nobody to back them up. They could have just been a rude person looking to insult him for not playing very well.



“But mostly this game is easy, compared to the last ones and Odyssey, definitely easier than that.” Masumi hurriedly explained. “It’s just a fun game that everyone can enjoy, and it’s so nice to see all of your favorite characters.” His grip on the gamepad relaxed as he raised his shield against potential criticism and raised his Kirby over the head of the next obstacle. “I might actually switch to something else soon. I heard it’s short and I don’t want to run through the whole thing in one session!”



There was an unfamiliar beep and Masumi’s eyes fluttered in confusion. He took a look at the screen to his right and saw a message pop up.



Jellybeaner: What games do you have?



Masumi felt a distinct fluttering in his chest at the sight of somebody actually talking to him. His eyes drifted from the screen to his notes, like they would provide some example of how to talk with another human being. The screen no longer being in his focus meant a cry from Kirby on the screen.



Oops!” Masumi tittered as he struggled to regain control of the situation on screen and in his head. “Got, um, distracted for a moment there, but that’s okay! I’ve been playing a challenge run of Pokemon, Jellybeaner, but that can get so stressful sometimes!” His fingers worked overtime to carry him and Kirby to the end of the level. “Yesterday was challenge day and I’m going for something to relax to on...relaxation day!” He hit the button on his soundboard, causing a little jingle to play on the screen, accompanied by a rain of cherry blossoms. He couldn’t help but grin.



Jellybeaner: Haha wow I was going to suggest something but that smile is too cute.



The confidence granted by his own presenting was quickly muted by the rush of blood to his cheeks. And then the realization that it was going to be very visible on his guest’s screen. He wasn’t prepared to actually be complimented on his appearance. Let alone by the first person in one of their first messages before he’d even done anything.



Th-Thank you!” Masumi squeaked and hurriedly grabbed his water bottle in the hopes that it would help hide his face for just long enough to make his cheeks less pink. “It’s, that’s, that’s what we do here with Low-Life! Smile as much as you can.” He giggled and ran a palm over his chin. “But, yes, uh, games! If you want to suggest something go ahead! I have mos- I have a few games and I might have it! You never know!” He put down his gamepad as the level he was on ended, almost without note.



Jellybeaner: I like Stardew Valley. It’s relaxing.



Oh, uh, me too!” Masumi beamed at the camera and shifted in his seat. “It’s one of my favorite ones to play, I’ve got this one big farm and I planned it out and everything...” He reached out for one of his drawers and pulled it open, then shook his head and made his fluffy hair bounce. “What am I doing?” He laughed at himself. “I can just pull it up and show you! Sorry!” He bit his bottom lip as he got to work switching the feeds to the tune of various clicks and shuffles.



Jellybeaner: You planned it on paper? That’s cool. Takes some dedication.



I love planning things like this!” Masumi gushed as the screen shifted to a view of his next game, and the muted relaxing soundtrack could be heard below his voice. “I couldn’t go into it like that, I didn’t really know what was going on! But then I realized I had to design it if I wanted my farm to work properly, so I did that! And it looks good, too, or, I think it does!” He giggled nervously as a farm filled with pink trees, fields of flowers and vibrant crops filled the screen. He let his words hang in the hope of an opinion.



Jellybeaner: That’s a very pretty farm. Are you an artist?



“Oh, I don’t do art, not as a thing more than anyone...else...does.” Masumi frowned off to the side for a moment. “What I mean is, I’m still in school, so I do art classes every week, but I don’t draw or paint beyond that...except for my face!” He punctuated his explanation with a peace-sign pose.



Jellybeaner: Haha. You look good at it. I’m surprised you’re not an artist you look delicate like one.



“Delicate?” Masumi couldn’t help but smile. “I don’t think I’ve been called that before, but, it’s a good thing too. Maybe?” He bit his bottom lip. “I do like to dance! I think that’s where my artist side really shows but, um, wow, I’m talking about myself a lot and not the game!”



Jellybeaner: Hey it’s your show. You’re the most interesting part.



“O-Oh, than-”



Jellybeaner; Not in a creepy way haha



“Oh, no, of course not.” Masumi felt a tug in his guts, and he wasn’t quite sure whether he’d have preferred more compliments or that clarification. “It’s nice! I hope you’re enjoying it too. Do you play this game?” There were a few nervous seconds that passed with the pour of a watering can.



Jellybeaner: I want to, but I’m busy a lot.



“Oh, that’s too bad! Are you a student too?” Masumi asked, as one eye on the chat and the other on the screen. He was thankful for the fact that he didn’t have to avoid anything deadly, so not focusing on the game like he was meant to wouldn’t be as obvious. Or he hoped that would be the case. The balance of his attention only made it worse when his guest, this “Jellybeaner” person took a while to respond.



Jellybeaner: I do school and I work at a library. They’re not too bad but I can’t play games while I’m there haha.



Oh, definitely not!” Masumi laughed. “We’re not allowed to have our phones out inside so you can’t play mobile games most of the time...” His thoughts flashed to how he probably could get away with it, since it wasn’t like many people paid attention to him regardless. But he tried his best to flush it away with the new, good interactions he was having at the moment. “But I get a lot of hours done anyway, since I do this all the time!”



Jellybeaner: All the time? Wow. How do you find the time for homework?



As much time as I can!” Masumi said. “Except for Sundays, when I, um, spend time with family, I stream! Six until ten, when my, when I think it’s a good time to stop so I can rest. That’s important, you know!” He giggled nervously behind his hand. “I do my homework as soon as I get home and it doesn’t build up too much. And streaming here means I get to spend time with people without having to go anywhere!”



Jellybeaner: Haha that’s a good way to look at it. You must be a pro gamer.



Masumi grinned and shook his head. “, I don’t think I can say that! I’ve been going for about a year now and there are people who play more than me, lots more! You should only watch me play fighting games if you want to see me get beaten. I normally play those on Tuesdays so, if that is what you like, that’s when to catch me!”



Jellybeaner: That sounds like fun. I’ve only had blistered thumbs when I tried fighting games.



Oh, me too!” Masumi said. “I bought an arcade stick,” He reached below his desk and narrowly avoided bumping his head as he retrieved a rectangular white bow, with a speckled red pattern and the word ‘Low-Life’ scrawled across it. “And it helps a lot!” He bit his tongue as he adjusted the focus to be able to capture it. “But I have to take my nails off when I do that...when I have nails, I mean.” He wiggled his fingers on the pad. They were pink and cut to his natural shape.



Jellybeaner: That looks pretty cool.



“Thanks!” Masumi grinned as he tucked it back away. “I bought it with the rest of my things. When I started I tried to game with fake nails and, um, my keyboard looked like something had been scratching it up.” He laughed nervously. “Oh! And, one pinged off when I was gaming once and cut my cheek. I think that’s in the archives, but, um, I’d have to find them and there are a lot...”



Jellybeaner: That’s okay haha. I’d rather see monsters getting hurt than the host.



Then we should go to the mines!” Masumi decided, as his character hopped onto a railcart and the night stretched on…


About the author


Bio: Stock art for Words on a Screen from:

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