Familial Memory in My Father's Long, Long Legs
by Kevin Snow
The final choice of My Father’s Long, Long Legs has stuck with me for years. The nameless narrator considers returning to her father’s old house, located “on the southern edge of a certain Midwestern industrial city.” Throughout her childhood, her father compulsively dug a hole in the basement, and these “renovations” were still ongoing when she left. The narrator, and therefore the player, must decide if she should go back to the house with her younger brother, who suggested the visit, or let him go back on his own.
Before returning, the narrator discusses each family member’s remembrance of the father: her own, her brother’s, and her mother’s, the player deciding the order in which they’re revealed. The structure is reminiscent of a camera rotating 360 degrees, focusing on each character, the tension builds, until the narrative returns to the present. Everything is viewed from the main character’s limited perspective. “There are many things about my mother I do not understand,” she admits, and she isn’t much closer with her brother.
There’s uncanny dread behind the choice. The audience knows something terrible waits in the house. It’s inevitable: the narrator and her brother both return. But if she goes with her brother, there’s a “miscommunication.” Either she’s late, or her brother goes to the house early. She can’t know which. If the latter is true, her brother’s motivation is unfathomable and horrible: “I do not wish to contemplate why that would be.”
My own father had always been abusive, and his domestic tyranny intensified after my older sister moved away. When I was nineteen, my mom and I escaped from him, and I cut contact forever. Years later, my sister reconnected with him. He had become a sad old man, leeching off his parents, manipulative but frail. Defanged. In places, my sister’s interpretation of our father overlaps with mine, but some aspects can never be reconciled.
“My brother was young enough when my father began digging that it seemed to him an indifferent fact of life,” the narrator says of her brother’s naivete. The mother escapes while her children are still young; she finds new lovers, a new life. The narrator escapes after a harrowing encounter, unable to save her brother, whose fate she can only speculate about. The hole growing underneath the household hurts each family member, but doesn’t bring them closer. They wander its labyrinthine tunnels, lost, never finding each other. ◒
Kevin Snow is a narrative designer who directs indie game projects under the name Bravemule. Most recently, they created Mama Possum, a story of two sisters—a truck driver and a housewife—who fend off a Kaiju apocalypse in the Great Smoky Mountains with their mech Mama Possum. They can be found on Twitter at @bravemule.