Ernie’s just unlocked King K. Rool in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate when Jan finishes downloading.
“What’s up?” he asks, and joins us on the floor of Theo’s bedroom, where we, the Runt Squad (now in its entirety), have assembled around Ernie’s continental mass in what one might refer to as an impromptu pile or huddle.
Theo hands Jan a Joy-Con. “Nothing. You?”
“Hi, Jan,” I say, waving.
“Hi, Eva,” Jan says, waving back.
“Enough chatter,” Ernie grunts. “Pick your character, Pixels.”
Jan chooses Cloud.
The next match begins, conversation giving way to the subtle symphony of us working our Joy-Cons.
“I hate when people say that,” Beta murmurs after a while.
Mini, his mitts ineffectively handling his Joy-Con, asks, “Say what?”
“Right?” I agree.
“Something’s always up. It’s never nothing.”
Theo nods. “True.”
“Even if you’re not doing anything specific or going anywhere in particular, you’re always doing something. Breathing, for example.”
“Listening,” Jan offers.
“Feeling,” I say.
“Compiling,” Theo adds.
“Farting.” Ernie rips a big one.
The huddle fractures, separates—all but Beta, who’s either stupider or braver than everyone else, I’m not sure.
“‘Nothing’ would be dead,” he continues.
“Yeah. ‘Nothing’ would be dead,” Theo agrees.
“And even then, the fact that ‘nothing’ can be defined at all suggests that it is, in fact, something—if only a means of classifying the absence of something.”
Mini goes all wide-eyed. “That’s heavy, guys.”
I pull my shirt over my nose as the putrid tendrils of Ernie’s funk tousle my hair. “Is this what we’re doing, guys?”
“Spending the last hours of 2018 talking about nothing and inhaling toxic gasses?”
“Happy new year, bitches!” Ernie cackles.
“Happy new year,” I mutter back.