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Nights at the movie
by George Gad Economou




We were at the movies; yes, so much I remember. Who were we? I was there, clearly; otherwise, I wouldn't remember it. Unless someone told me about it and I got confused. NO, it was me, I am most certain. I was there, and we were watching an old movie, a black and white classic. Something about old cult movies. Salt was in the air, everyone munched popcorn, it was irritating me ‘cause I hadn't bought any. Why didn't I buy any popcorn? I was full, I think. I had eaten earlier; yes, that's it, we had dinner earlier, in a restaurant. Pizza. Or pasta? It was Italian, an Italian restaurant. We watched the movie. It was good; black and white, old, classic, good. Enjoyable. But who were we? I was there, I sipped cola, and I watched the movie. Someone sat next to me, someone I knew. A friend, perhaps? Or a boyfriend? Yes, that's it, Jon, my boyfriend. He was to my right, we held hands, and we were alone. Just the two of us, we were the two of us.


How did I end up here? And what to do? Remember the movie, that's what I have to do, recall, understand. The past is the only way to understand the future; think, and understand.


We were at the movies; it was me, my boyfriend. Someone else, too. We were not alone. Or were we? It was our fifth anniversary. Or sixth? Maybe sixth. Too long, it felt sometimes. What an awful thing to say, I shouldn't think like this. He was kind, he smiled, he held my hand tenderly, and he wished to grow old with me. And I did too. Did I? Why's everything so foggy, so... there's nothing, I was happy, he was happy, and we were alone. We watched the movie, we held hands, and we didn't eat any snacks because we had had early dinner at a small, cozy, Italian restaurant. Yes, that's how it was, that's the story I need to tell myself; why do I need to tell it? Why must I remember?


To comprehend. I am here because of that night, or day, or what it now was, and I have to remember. All the minuscule details that comprised that night, the date that brought me here, wherever here is and whatever here means. I need to remember, and to forget, too, because I know it was something sad, I need to retell the story no matter how hurtful, was it really that hurtful? Yes, it was, to me, to him, and to someone else.


Was there someone else?


It was me and him; I was there, I was watching the movie - something about cowboys. Or samurais; I always got the two confused, I don't know why. It was old and black and white; samurais, maybe. And it was the two of us. And he held my hand. After the movie, we kissed, and he smiled. I smiled too, I hope. I don't remember. The kiss tasted bad, weird. I had to smile. I was happy, I was telling myself I was happy; I had to feel happy, even if I didn't. We kissed, he squeezed my hand, we walked out in the breeze and into the crepuscular night. We strolled about, holding hands. I felt good. I looked at him with admiration, with love, with affection. Yet, I was somewhere else. Or with someone else? No, I was there with him. That's it. I loved him, and that's that.


Did I? If I did, would I be here? Wasn't it something about the somewhere else that brought me here? Is this the somewhere else? No, can't be. Someone third was present. Impossible, because it was our anniversary, we were celebrating our everlasting love; we weren't alone, and it was wrong. Felt wrong, and was wrong.


We strolled about, grabbed some coffee. Still early in the afternoon, but it was winter and it was dark. We sat down, we talked about the movie some more, we laughed. We were in love, we would grow old together. That was the plan. What was wrong? We were alone, yet we weren't. Why? There's something I don't remember, a gap in my memory or in the story. What is it? It can't be significant, I’d remember it. otherwise


He dropped to one knee, suddenly. He proposed. I said yes. We were so happy, we kissed and we laughed, both in tears. We were to be married, consummate our love. We couldn't do it, my family would not accept him. He gave me a ring; I wore it with pride and joy. We promised to be together and solve all our problems. There were too many issues, but we'd fight for love; love conquers all, we used to believe. It wasn't after the movie it happened; no, it was before. I wore the ring in the movie, it was long after the ring we went to that movie. We talked after the movie, we were happy. Something was in the air; melancholy. I was missing something, someone. I can't place it. I wanted something else, I couldn't have it. I smiled at him, he smiled back. He was sad because I was sad. It made me sadder. No words to describe it. My mind was elsewhere, as it is right now. I try to remember, details are foggy.


I was elated when he proposed. I wore the ring, loved looking at it. It meant the world. Then, it didn’t. It became a reminder, a warning. I wished to take it out, I couldn't. At first, I loved it, and loved him; then, I loathed it. Did I loathe him? Sometimes. Not always. What brought on the loathing? Maybe, the same thing that brought me here, wheresoever here is.


He was talking to me, my boyfriend, and I wasn't listening; what was he saying? I was lost in thoughts, in dreams(?), my mind raced. The person I wanted to have a future with talked, and I wasn't listening. I saw his lips moving, I sensed the words being enunciated, but it was noise. Irritating noise I wished to tune out. I couldn't, not entirely, but I was far away, someplace else. Why? I don't know; that's what I have to remember. Whatever it was, he was talking, mentioned something important, he looked solemn, and I wasn’t paying attention, I didn't care. He looked miserable; I knew it was because of me, and I didn't care, I just didn't give a damn. What was wrong with me? I knew, back then I knew; now, I don't. I wish I did, I can't recall. I don't want to recall, maybe? He kept on talking, and I kept on not listening. It went like this for hours; I'm exaggerating, I think, but it did last for a long while. Finally, we left. Returned home; an apartment we shared. It was home, yet it wasn't. It had felt home, in the beginning, then it became a prison. I'm an awful person; I loved him but couldn't stand his mere presence. I slept next to him, and I hated it. We kissed, we slept together, and I... I was what? That's the key, I was somewhere else, all the time. Where? He would be inside me, I'd close my eyes, and I... what? Think something else, someone else. That's it. It wasn't someplace else, it was someone else. I wanted someone else, not my boyfriend. But who, and why? I shouldn't, I was happily engaged, sort of, and I wanted a family with him; who's him? Jon, or the someone else?


Is this why I'm here? Because I was with one and wanted another? Did I really think of someone else, while we kissed and slept together? Yes, I did. It's what I had to remember. I was never unfaithful, only in my mind, and it brought me here. Was it always in my mind? Are only the thoughts and the dreams to blame for my being here? In this state of decay, in this... prison? Is this a prison? A cell for unfaithful girlfriends? Punishment for kissing one set of lips while wishing they belonged to someone else?


Who's the someone else? Did I ever kiss him? Really kiss him?


I held someone's hand. On a couch; a blue one, old, dirty. He held me close, my heart palpitated. He offered comfort, safety. I took it. He smiled at me, I was overwhelmed with warmth. Nothing more, nothing less. He embraced me, I cried on his shoulder. Was this all? Yes, I'm sure. Nothing else happened. He comforted me when I needed it. I loved him for being a great friend. I crashed on his couch when I had to get away from home; nothing else happened. I slept, then I left in the morning, met with Jon, we reconciled. We had a fight? More than once, admittedly. Yes, I had run away, for a night, needed time to think. Slept on an old couch, and he comforted me. I returned home, and it was alright. He was a good friend, a faithful friend, and I loved him. Platonically. It was mutual.


That was it, then why do I fret over it? Only an embrace, a friendly hug, a kiss on the forehead. I crashed at his place one night, but we didn't sleep together. We never did. Is this true? What am I forgetting? Why am I forgetting it?


Are the memories truly so painful, so devastating, so horrible?


The movie was good; it was not black and white, it was a new one, Hollywood. It was raining outside, and we walked. We took a stroll on the harbor, we watched the light rain land on the calm water, the cool breeze fell on our faces. We held hands. We kissed. We talked about the movie; he didn't like it. Too mainstream, he said. And I listened. My mind was all there, I was all there. Nothing else in my thoughts. I was feeling guilty. For being there, for being attentive, for listening. I loved everything about him, about the situation, I hated myself for being right there and only there. Why?


The movie, a classic, and he wasn't talking about it. Something else. Important, I could tell by his eyes. They were dark brown; I encountered a pair of hazel eyes. I was scared. He was talking about us, about our home and our relationship, and I wasn't listening. I thought of a blue foldout couch, why would I do such a thing? And why were his eyes changing color? His beard was changing too; he had short hair. No, he had long hair. One moment, his hair was red, the next dark blond, and long. What was going on? The movie was black and white, about samurais. It was new, mainstream, an action film. We were drinking coffee, it wasn't raining, and it was awful. It was raining, we were at the harbor, a cargo ship docked, and it was brilliant.


It's raining now, too. Or is it something else? I can hear the sound. It's rain, I'm sure. It's raining. And someone's crying. I hear that, too. Why are they crying? Where am I? I have to keep on going, the story has an ending, it’s what brought me here. Hard to remember. My memories are gone, only images remain. They are entangled, interweaved, no distinction.


We walked to the bus stop; heading home. No, we were heading to his place, which felt like home. Sometimes, it did, and it felt bad, ‘cause it felt right. We returned home, I went to bed early, unwilling to talk; he was talking, I didn't know what he was saying, and I closed my eyes, I had to dissipate into sweet dreams of elsewhere. We sat on his couch, we had a long and varied conversation; we kissed. I slept in his arms, it felt safe, warm, comforting. I was smiling in my sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, a beautiful dream turned into a nightmare, and he was next to me, blissfully asleep in the double bed his mom had bought for us. Morning came, we were crammed in a single bed, where so many had slept before me, and I grinned when he got up to take his medicine. I kissed him, he smoked a cigarette in the kitchen and brought me my tea. We ate breakfast together. I ate breakfast alone, he was already gone. I felt trapped, but it was home. I felt good and safe, but it was not home.


Where are the lines? Is all real, some false, is it real? How much did I experience, how much did I dream?


I woke up, the day after the movie. I was happy; my body ached, for the bed was small and hard, but I smiled. He made me tea, while he smoked, and we ate breakfast. He left his cigarette half-smoked, so he could share breakfast and a joke with me. He was tired. I ate alone; he sat in front of his computer. He said good morning, absentmindedly; he seemed distraught, in despair. It was my fault. He was smiling, he kissed me, he hugged me. He was happy, euphoric; it was my doing. I smiled, I wished to kiss him, to tell him it's alright. I couldn't, ‘cause nothing was alright. I hugged and kissed him. I felt great, nothing was alright. I left, took the bus, went back home. I cried on the way, I wanted to go back. I was imprisoned, suffocating. I couldn't walk away, there was nowhere to go. I had to stay, I couldn't. I ought to leave, I didn't want to. One place was home, the other felt like home. And now, I am home, wherever it is. The memories get more complex, I can't distinguish fact from fiction, reality from dreams, true from false. I hugged him tight and he smiled. He tried to kiss me, I backed away; it felt wrong. We watched a movie on his couch, and I lay in his arms and felt safe. He took me in his arms when I burst into tears, and I backed away, couldn't stand the sight of him any longer. No matter what I did, where I was, I always felt bad. A heart sinking into despair, regardless of where and whom I was with. Nothing could save me. I remember.


I am where I belong, away from everyone and everything. I hear the raindrops; I am where I am, can't escape. There’s no escaping this and I deserve it all. Let memories fade, and I hope they can forget too. All the pain, the tears, the devastation. It's over. For me, for them, for him, and for him. I am done for, and I know where I am; I don't remember. Oh, I do.


I knocked on the door, paying him a surprise visit. Is he home? He opened the door, smiled, taken aback. He embraced me, I couldn't let go. I loved him. I told him it's over. We cried, but we knew it. It was hopeless to try. My heart belonged to both and to neither. His heart belonged to me. I hurt him, again. More than once. He cried, begged me to return. It was a month later. I refused. I told him I couldn't be with him, too much of a commitment. He asked me what I want. I had to lie. I wanted him, but couldn't admit it. He told me to fuck off. I did. I stayed home. I was alone, single. I partied. It felt wrong. I wanted him; he called me, once. He tried to remind me of the six years. I didn't want to remember. He never called. He didn't care, despite the eight months. I let time fly. I didn't care.


What brought me here? I know what it is, now I do. I feel it happening. The memories fade away, faces and names disappear. Soon, I shall vanish, too. I must remember. Last call, last song. For my soul’s sake, I must remember for one last time. I loved him, once. I truly did. He was the one, the soul mate. Then, it perished. I loved him, too. Too much, perhaps. We couldn't be together. I was stupid; he was unable to understand. We grew distant. And I must remember.


I was alone; no one to call, to talk to. Friends came by, we laughed. I felt empty. He would still call, desperate to get me back. He was lonely, couldn't find another. He never called. He could find anyone, no trouble replacing me. I was all alone. It was raining. I remembered the movie. It was raining then, too. I grabbed something; swallowed something. Not during the movie, not that night. My last night. Blue pills; no, white. Doctor's prescription. One per day. I took the bottle. Twenty of them.


I wanted him and couldn't have him. I didn't want him and he tried to get me back.


I popped them all down, then laid down. I wrote him something. Goodbye, I love you. Yes, I think that was it. Did he ever reply? I never found out. I texted him, too. Sorry. He did reply. For what? He asked. It was too late. He never sent me anything. I faded away, succumbed to the darkness. Maybe, he's crying. He doesn't care, probably. Why would he?


Memories, recollections. The moments, they come back. Flashlights, I see the light. He's there. Waiting. I see the figure, recognize him. His voice reverberates into the nothingness. Invites me over for dinner. I want to go. I shouldn't, he trusts me. I want to go, to hold him and see him. He thinks it's innocent, he has no clue. The light grows more refulgent. He cooks for me, I do the dishes. He kissed me, I ran away. He had another; he said he'd fix it all. He did, for a while. He promised a rose garden; delivered a wasteland. I aided in turning the garden into a deathtrap.


Lambent light. I'm going there.


Dinner. He cooked, I did the dishes. He kissed the back of my neck. My knees gave way.


We embraced. First night in our new home. We slept together. I cried afterward.


We slept together. I almost cried because he was holding me tight; I was warm, safe.


He tried to kiss me. I stepped back. I couldn't. I dreamt of other lips.


He kissed me. Ignored the ring. I kissed him back. Ignored the promises.


The light; the dinner. His voice. His figure. I'm coming.


It ends, I am there.


I kissed and hugged him.


In a dream.


That's it.


It's all a dream.


He was always there, he was never here.


And I was everywhere.


And nowhere.


The light fades away.


Hello darkness, my old friend.



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