Animal Crossing Pocket Camp Presents: Mrs. Dalloway
Adapted Scenes from Virginia the Wolf
Avatar Dalloway said she would craft the flowers herself. For the animals had their work cut out for them. Though what that work was, she wasn’t quite sure. Donning her fascinator, she burst open the windows and plunged into the open air. Around her, waves of sakura blossoms lapped at the chairs and tables, all meticulously arranged. The landscaping had been so expensive; 150 Leaf Tickets no less! But the price had been worth it; her campsite was distinctive; the air chill, sharp, sweet, perfumed by bubblegum petals—yet solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen.
She woke to the honks of Sir Bill the Duck, though it seemed she never really slept. Or if she did sleep, it was a restless sleep full of dreams spent repeating her waking life: hustling to collect shells and fruit and fish for her increasingly demanding houseguests, all of whom had complicated dietary restrictions.
She never meant to cohabitate with a bevy of colorful animals. And yet, she delighted in the sounds they made as they moved about the campsite. The flutter of diamond-tipped wings; the snorts of disaffected alligators; even the sounds of Merry the Cat scratching at the koto strings filled her with pleasure. Across the room, Sir Bill stirred in his stained-glass bed (part of the ‘cute’ collection). Sitting up, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and waved to get her attention:
“Thanks for letting me crash, friendo! I need a solid 10 hours. Say, you wouldn’t happen to have some fruit on you? Can’t neglect that Vitamin C, especially now.”
Dalloway rummaged through her knapsack to retrieve a Perfect Orange. It was worth 10,000 coins at least. She hesitated, then handed it to Bill. He rewarded her with 500 coins, some lumber, some cotton, and a few potions.
“If you crafted a Level 5 Harmonious Tent with these, it would really take our friendship to another level.”
Clarissa nodded, her smile not reaching her eyes. But then, it rarely did.
As she consulted her map and set off, it occurred to her that her only gift was knowing the other animals almost by instinct. If you put her in a campsite with someone, she swore she could see a bubble of desire floating above their heads; could tell whether they wanted red snappers or crucian carp or spring mackerels; fruit beetles or tiger butterflies; peaches or coconuts or cherries. What she loved was this, here, now, in front of her; Blather the Owl’s gambling parlor; OK Motors; Reece the Llama’s Re-Tail shop. Did it matter, then, she asked herself, crossing the bridge to Sunburst Island, that she must inevitably cease completely? That all this must go on without her—until the app was discontinued? Her world amounted to little more than a marketing tool designed to encourage in-app purchases, and, eventually, the real game; did she resent it, or did it not become consoling? The phones would obsolesce and return to glass, minerals, metal, fiber. And where would she be then? Somehow in the streets of Animal Crossing, on the ebb and flow of her stretch goals, here, there, she survived, Pelican Pete survived, lived in each other, she being part, she was positive, of the orchards in Breezy Hollow; the cabin there, ugly, badly furnished; part of the animals she would never unlock. But what was she dreaming as she looked into the window of Timmy’s Fortune Cookie Shop, as she read a cross-stitched sign that said: “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun. Video game characters don’t require sunscreen.”
“Avatar Clarissa Dalloway will see me,” said the dapper bird at the camp entrance. “Oh yes, she will see me,” he repeated, gliding past Beau the Buck, giving him a friendly nod. “Yes, yes, yes,” he muttered, cruising up the cobblestone path. “She will see me, alright. After five days at Lost Lure Creek, after zooming all over Animal Crossing, she will see me.”
“Who can—what can?” asked Clarissa, thinking it obscene to be interrupted at eleven o’clock on the morning of the day she was set to host a camp full of newly-unlocked animals. Now a figure came into view. Could it be? No! But oh how glad and shy and utterly taken aback she was to have Pelican Pete visit unexpectedly that morning. (Though she hadn’t opened his last parcel.)
“And how are you,” said Pete, his wings trembling, taking and kissing both her hands. She’s grown older in the past five days, he thought. Her face looked the same, and her pixels remained handsomely aligned; she gazed at him with the same expressive dark eyes, but they were rimmed with shadows now, and her hands were calloused from days spent harvesting fruit and scouring the shore for coral and pearl oysters. No, I shan’t tell her anything about it, he thought, for she has grown older and exhausted. Putting his wing in his beak, he retrieved a barred knifejaw fish and passed it between his wings. Yes, he thought, here she has been, sewing away, mending her clothes as usual; and not just her clothes, he thought, but those of the entire camp; a riot of tacky fabric; all this time I’ve been swooping all over the world, delivering packages, and she’s been mending and throwing parties and growing more and more irritated, more and more agitated, for there’s nothing in the world so bad for some avatars as marriage to a cabal of fuzzballs.
“Do you remember,” she said, “how the striped umbrellas used to flap at Saltwater Shores?” “They did,” he said, and he winced as he remembered delivering heavy packages and fishing and drinking mojitos alone. And Avatar Dalloway could have bitten her tongue then, for reminding Pelican Pete that he had proposed marriage to her at Saltwater Shores.
Of bloody course I had wanted to marry her, thought Pete; and it almost broke my heart too; and he was overcome with despair which rose like a cartoon moon looked at from a cartoon terrace, filled with cartoon furniture crafted for transactional cartoon friends—garishly beautiful and always the same.
“I am in love,” he said, though not to her but maybe to the ornate fountain. “In love,” he repeated, gathering strength, “with a girl from Lost Lure Creek.”
“In love!” she said, trying to keep her voice steady. That he at his age should be sucked under in his ridiculous post-bird’s hat by love! “And who is she?” she asked. “A married woman, unfortunately,” he said, “a beautiful elephant, the wife of a post-eagle.” She watched him and wished he would stop fiddling with that knifejaw fish. What an outrageous habit!
I know what I’m up against, thought Pete, running his fingers over the knifejaw’s scales. But I’ll show Clarissa. I’ll show all of them. I am not yet old. My wings are still steady, my beak finely polished. There’s still time for me. Not like these fussy animals wallowing away in their ostentatious garden. And then to his utter surprise, feeling the heavy bonus balloons of fate descend upon him, he burst into tears; wept; wept without shame until his plumage was soggy, and he collapsed on the polka dot sofa, animated tears running down his gossamer cheeks.