1.1.1

Darlah was a thin, middle-aged woman with a timid demeanor, but strong hands. She wore a pale blue blouse with a pair of glasses that were impeccably polished, like the stack of spotless plates she lifted into her kitchen cupboard. She glanced back at her daughter, seated at their aging dining room table.

“How are your classes Maxine?”

“Fine,” Max responded, looking down at a touchscreen device in her right hand. Her legs were crossed, resting on the table’s edge.

“Have you made any new friends?”

“Not really,” she said, her gaze locked on the display.

Darlah walked over and rested a hand on the back of her daughter’s chair. “Well I…” She paused. “I hope you do. The bonds you form in high school can be some of the strongest – at least they were back when I was in school.”

Max looked up for a brief moment. “I have friends mom.”

“Oh I know, you do. It’s just… you don’t leave the house very often, and you haven’t had anyone over in a long time.”

“…”

Her mom sat in the chair next to her.

“Have you thought about joining a club or getting a part time job? You spend so much time on Parallel playing games that –”

“Mom,” Max said. “Do you know how much money Antonio Silva makes?”

“No. Over 100,000?”

“Per race.” She paused for dramatic effect. “Six figures per race.”

Her mom’s expression was hard to read, perhaps a mix of surprise and skepticism. “You know Max… You need to do what you love. Just don’t lose sight of the important things. I just want what’s best for you. You know that… right?”

Max smiled for a moment. “I know.”

“Oh hey!” Darlah said, her brown eyes lighting up. “Would you help me pick out something to wear? Aileen’s coming over again tonight for dinner and well… She said she’d love to meet you, did I mention that?”

Max finished typing out a message to Pace and set her device on the table. She scanned over her mother. “That looks nice.”

“This? No, I’ve been cleaning up in it all day. It probably smells.”

“Well if she really likes you, she won’t care.”

Darlah flashed her daughter an exaggerated expression of doubt.

“Come on, let’s go look through your stuff.”