(Includes excepts from the original tamagotchi manual (1996)).


I wake up and intuitively grab for you, wading my hand under the sheets until I hit your hard plastic.

Smooth, egg like, square screen, four buttons, reset hole.

My Tamagotchi.

You're still asleep and I’m hungry. I’ll have to wait.

You were always a late riser.

“Wake up your Tamagotchi from its million light-year sleep.”

I wash and get dressed before you can see my five or so illicit pixels.

I want to save you from the mundanity of my ordinary actions : washing, picking the ingrown hairs on my leg, pulling sweat pants over stretched thighs, pushing my balls into my body.

It's important to keep secrets.

I sit on the edge of my bed and wait for you.

16 pixels - a vertical slouch, a line of water damage runs through you like a migraine or a stomach ache. A dead pixel in the center.

You haven't fed me, yet.

“As soon as Tamagotchi hatches, it will beep at you for attention.”

I don't know how it started - a joke, a set of rules you found online - absurd enough to be ironic but pursued with the compulsion of a fetish or pathology, of some desperate need for distance and proximity.

It was a mix we could never get right while living together - so we contrived something harder than the soft disgust of bodies intermingled, more rational than the neurosis of days intermixed, more rigid than care.

Wake up, look at your phone, look at me - the same thing, simplified, one smooth action, a relationship in four buttons.

Feed, play, clean, discipline.

It wasn't hard:

Separate locations, food ordered to the door, we turn on each other's computers, the toilets flush remotely, ‘pet training obedience e-collars’ ordered through amazon.

A stream of the game funded the expenses, or our welfare payments, or our diminishing savings.

Either way, we would abide by the rules we chose.

That's what a relationship is after all.

“You can determine the mood, health and behavior of Tamagotchi with the health meter.”

I have been attentive. You have been in decline.

I order you food.

When the food arrives you ignore it.

I turn on your computer and you go to it, a little victory.

I gave you what you needed, didn't I?

You stay like this for hours - not eating.

Hunger tugs at me and I stare at you, waiting for some response, for my computer to flicker on, for food to arrive - but you just sit there.

I beep for attention.

You break out of your fugue state, a gamer mother finally hearing the furtive cries of her child.

My computer springs to life.

I hear the toilet flush.

An alert lights up my phone.

Food is on the way.

You care.

A little late.

But you still care.

It's better like this.

Better than the fights I had with you.

Better than the ache I felt without you.

And besides, taking care of you was always easier than taking care of myself.

“The object is to guess which way Tamagotchi will turn. If you choose the correct direction, Tamagotchi will be happy.”

We had a rhythm, at the start.

Feed, play, clean, discipline.

I would hold you in the palm of my hand.

I would take you to bed with me.

We would discipline each other, in the dark hours of the night.

Hard shock jolts running from the neck, down the spine through to the tip of hard cocks.

Muscles tensing.

I would jerk off to the motion of your hand.

One pixel up.

One pixel down.

In escalating succession.

You would touch me, in those jolts.

In the food that would arrive at the door.

In the flushes of my waste.

Press your fingers into my body, my buttons.

Trace the outline of my reset hole.

But a rhythm, even milliseconds off, over time moves apart.

And now you touch me no more than necessary.

"If Tamagotchi beeps at you for no reason, you must discipline it."

One night I woke up, and reached for you.

You were awake in your bed.

Musical notes rising from your sprite.

A rare animation.


You used to make up little songs when we lived together.

Nursery rhymes you would invent.

Silly, and always a little sad.

It was best when you were singing.

When quiet, that song would well up inside you.

Overwhelm you, fold you into deep depression.

Its secret lyrics stuck in repeat in your head.

I was not privy to that song.

Only the still dance of your lethargy.

The days or weeks of your silence.

But that night, on the screen.

I watched the notes bubble out of you.

And wondered if I wasn't meant to see.

I wanted to sing along to that soundless music.

But could never find the words.

“If droppings appear on the screen, it must be cleaned up right away or Tamagotchi will get sick.”

You haven't fed me in three days.

But worse is the smell.

My toilet hasn’t been flushed.

I beep for attention.

You ignore me.

Hunger has already burned into a still, quiet discomfit.

I look at my options.

Feed, play, clean, discipline.

I won't press discipline, I'm a good person after all.

So I choose feed.

I hit the button on repeat, trusting the proceeds of our degradation to fund the expense.

Food cascades to your front door by a procession of underpaid migrant workers.

You don't budge.

Fine, clean then.

I flush your toilet, over and over, until the steady rhythm of the plumbing dredges you out of your bed.

A little victory.

You pace and some untranslatable action glitches across the screen.

Your health bar declines.

Is that breaking the rules?

It’s important to keep secrets.

My toilet gurgles and wetly swallows three days’ worth of refuse.

Food is ordered.

I want to reward you so I hit play and turn on your computer.

Your animation stills and you go back to bed.

"If you neglect to discipline Tamagotchi when needed, it might grow up into an unattractive, bad mannered alien."

If people were planets, I would be a meteoroid.

Gravitating around others in obsessive orbit.

A critical spiral that would inevitably collide into explosive anger.

Only you never left me.

You were useless, dark, impenetrable - I could sink into you infinitely.

Care for you, love you, hate you - you were always the same.

And if you were still, I had nowhere else to go but towards you.

"If a "skull" image appears, Tamagotchi is sick and needs medicine."

You haven't moved from your bed in a week.

My food and care was sporadic.

And then stopped.

Are you holding me?

Unseen in pixels of your sprite.

Stuck in your still dance.

Your health bar is near zero, or glitched.

It doesn't have to be like this.

I turn your computer on and off until I'm sure the date corrupts.

I want you to lose something.

I've lost something already.

Love and hate are not opposites.

Parts of each exist, inextricably, in the other.

When you hate me, you're thinking of me.

When you hate me, you love me.

So why don't you hate me?

I screamed like an animal the last time I left you.

I spat and cried and cleaned the wreckage of my little tantrum with you in exile.

I couldn't stop messaging you.

Explaining, theorizing, expanding - what went wrong, how we could fix it.

You would tell me your proposition over bubble-tea, the rules.

A neat little system, intimate and distant.

And, as in any relationship, mutually assured destruction.

“Remember, do not press the reset button too hard when using a pointed object.”

I've stopped pressing buttons.

I just look at the screen and watch.

For any sign, a pixel flicker.

Something to mean anything.

If I stick a long thin pin into you.

You disappear.

A new start.

Our game isn’t unique.

Some new girl will appear.

Take care of me.

I stare at you.

All sixteen pixels.


A line of water damage cuts right through you.

Stretched like a halo on its side.

A black hole bending light.

Dead pixel in the center.

But you're sacred to me.

Like this.

My Tamagotchi.

I close my hands around you.

And wordlessly, I start to sing.


By August Lake Cartland, 2023.