This New Day

FOREWORD by Charlie

My sister Mary is a nut job.

First of all: Fan fiction? For the first time? At age 31? Isn't that ship already sailed or something?

It's all my fault. I downloaded Final Fantasy 7 onto my PS3 in 2010 and started playing. Mary wanted to start a game too.

No, it wasn't the first try for either of us. In 1998, about a year after the game came out, we borrowed the game and a PlayStation and played it halfway. I got to somewhere in Disc 2, as did my brother, and Mary had only gotten to the Forgotten City just before the good part. Then the lousy refurbished PlayStation or memory card or something malfunctioned and we lost our games. We figured it probably wasn't worth restarting if we'd soon have to return the borrowed items anyway.

That doesn't sound like we were dedicated fans, but fate and circumstance had taken us away from Gaia for a while, so it just looks that way. Actually, we loved the previous Final Fantasy games. We eagerly awaited the next title, learning about it on the internet, etc. But the series upgraded to PlayStation, not as I expected. In fact, Mary and I had an epic debate about cartridge games versus CD-ROM games. I was stubborn and was determined to not get a PlayStation. It wasn't until I heard that Square Soft switched to PlayStation for the Final Fantasy series that I finally conceded. But by then, I had just gotten an expensive Nintendo64.

Whatcha gonna do? Nothin' for a while- In 1997, Mary went away for her freshman year in college. Her friend Etahn's roommate Günther Michael John had FF7 and showed the ending battle and other scenes to her and some friends.

Mary, who was known as shy and quiet in high school, was able to be bold with her new friends (strangers?) who didn't yet see her that way. She didn't hide her girly side when she asked John something like, "in the game, is there a romantic story with Cloud and Aeris?"

"Actually, it's really about Tifa… blah blah blah…" he responded, something like that.

Mary still doesn't know what possessed her when she asked, "do they have sex?"

John's like, "Well, it's sorta implied in this one scene…"

For years, Mary thought he was referring to the fireworks part of the Gold Saucer Date, which she knew was kind of a weak implication, and thought John was a bit too imaginative. Now we know he meant the scene under the Highwind.

Long story short, Mary comes back from freshman year in 1998 and wants to play FF7.

By the way, in 1998 I was 12 years old, and so the Honeybee Inn was an anxiety-filled experience for me. But Mary told me that in Japan, public hot springs and hot tubs were common. But still I was shell-shocked.

Anyway, back to the part I said was all my fault. So it's 2010 and we both have FF7 saved games on the PS3 internal memory. Mary goes to Google Images to look for "Cloud x Tifa." She found an image that really messed with her brain and turned her into the "nut job" I mention at the beginning of this Foreword. She explains in a post on a FF7 forum:

… I was searching images of Cloud x Tifa and saw a fan illustration of them about to kiss, and I never saw Cloud so... needy? Don't know the right adjective but it was intense. It stirred up something in me as I reflected on a past relationship where I saw us like them... I felt like Tifa and it seemed Cloud was often cold... but we had our moments. I also saw myself as Cloud, in my new attempts at relationships... like I can't be fair because I'd still be in love with someone else (at that time, I'd not yet seen [Advent Children], only previews, and thought Cloud was having an "affair" with a "ghost/memory")

10 years ago I had brain surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. One side effect that creeped up on me is/was an inability to laugh or cry. Maybe the causes are different, like depression or a coping mechanism, I don't know. But that illustration did stir me up with bittersweet feelings and by the next day my heart was light and it made me feel like I want to fall in love again. (Also got so much energy, I cleaned the house!)

Now I laugh hardy at puns, slapstick, and other stuff. Feels almost as good as... 1 hour of yoga, which feels almost as good as... 15 minutes of... it's been a few years. Guess I have to find and fall in love with my new Cloud (happy Cloud).

What a nerd. Enjoy.