I am a claw machine, forgotten and ignored at the entrance for all the comers and goers. Rumored to be fixed, and only ever visited in doldrums of irony. Still, today I have attracted a believer. They analyze me, my glass edges.
The quarters slide past my orange tongue, landing in my stomach, and, like some ancient stone guardian, my claw begins to move.
It whirs out, seeking the treasures that lay within my confines. Of course, I can’t see them myself, but the operator assures me that they are there, twists my joystick and presses me on.
My claw suspends from a grid, geometric angles seeking the formless inspirations below. It hovers around, delegating the manipulator’s pick. All else becomes nothing, my trick the sole focus of everyone’s eyes.
After hesitation, a nudge, and a bit more hesitation, my claw descends, tightening perfectly around a single stuffed bear. But just as hope begins to show, the metal fingers twitch themselves to disaster.
It is perfect logic, and infuriating denial. The claw slips empty, and rises.
I have become used to that disbelief, that common complaint, that lament of error by one or two centimeters. My chest has suffered frustrated kicks, and my feet still ache from one particular onslaught.
And they always walk away. But when that one person comes that tries over and over again, the taste of quarters floods my mouth and sickens me, until I beg them to stop. But I always regret it when they’re gone.
The empty tines of my mind invert and return to their position, waiting for another believer to play the claw game of me.