There’s a fourth perspective, too, one we previously thought might belong to the person responsible for Will’s death. The new trailer, however, reveals that this perspective is actually that of Will himself, with the player listening in on his final thoughts as he walks unaware to the accident that will take him from his loved ones. It’s a twist that has me wondering what was going through my father’s mind as he drove home from work on the day he died, before his thoughts were cut short when an errant semi-truck broke across the highway median and struck him before he could react. He died instantly, or so the police told us, meaning that he was blissfully unaware of his own passing. Ironic as it sounds, I have a sneaking suspicion that Will’s thoughts will be the happiest in the game, as he is the only one not caught up in grief, and I hope the same was true for my father.
It’s a perspective not often seen in grief narratives, not only of unburdened joy, but of the deceased person themself. More often, these stories tend to sideline their “person of honor” largely as a source of characterization for others, or as an inciting incident for a larger, semi-related narrative. Think of Julia from Firewatch (who, though not deceased, is treated in a similar fashion), or countless superhero origin stories. Rather, Fragments of Him insists that this is just as much Will’s story as anyone else’s, emphasizing that he left this world having given to it more than just tragedy.
The day I turned 20-years-old, my mother slept in. She had just picked me up from college the previous day, and I assumed she was understandably exhausted from the drive. I did, after all, have to take over for her halfway through. Content that she was snoring loudly and thinking she was safe and sound, I decided to go about preparing for my birthday party, eventually leaving to pick up my birthday cake. When I came back, the house was silent.
It was the day I lost my mother.
Like the characters in Fragments of Him, I’m no stranger to seeing ghosts of loved ones. They frequently visit me in my dreams, and sometimes when I’m awake as well, taking the form of graphic flashbacks. It started in the months following my mother’s passing, and though they have become less common now, they still occasionally interrupt me when triggers come from nowhere to remind me of my pain. What follows is a series of rapid images that pierce through my mind with no control. I see myself dropping my cake and running to my mother’s room to discover her lifeless body. I see our dogs cowering in the corner of her room, scared and confused. I see myself calling 911 and thumping on her chest to their instructions, hoping to bring her back even if it was too late. I see the police coldly questioning me as if I had killed her.