I take myself to a movie because I think I deserve it. I go to one of those big chain cinemas downtown, the kind with the reclining vinyl chairs big enough for two and I watch whatever Adam Sandler is currently starring in. When it’s over, everyone begins to applaud as the credits roll. This somehow depresses me. When I exit the theater, I overhear an usher talking about how only morons could find a film like this funny. I think if you were here, you would agree. You wouldn’t have laughed at all. Sometimes being independent is painful. I walk to my car slowly, my feet dragging the entire way. There is longing but also a growing resentment towards the past. An illusion of what I want but don’t need rearing its ugly head.
He was standing over the kitchen sink, peeling vegetables and telling her about the crazy thing that had just happened to him. He was at the supermarket, browsing the aisles looking for the very head of lettuce he was now breaking apart with his hands, when he started to tell her about how he ran into Stacy – his unrequited high school crush, and when he said her name his eyes bugged out in this excited way, like it was this long lost discovery suddenly found, suddenly unearthed again and now, she was uncomfortably aware of every synapse beginning to fire inside of her, every molecule aching, beginning to reach out, trying to forge a connection with him that Stacy’s couldn’t match.
He made an intermission, instructing her to strain the noodles from the pot of boiling water before returning to his story, about Stacy and her new haircut and accidentally grabbing the same pepper from a pile of them in the produce section, about how they laughed about old times and even made plans to have lunch next week, about how he knows she would love her if she got to know her. And as he spoke, she could see their entire future together begin to unwind itself, the weight of a million microaggressions saddles her all at once.
He had the knife in his hand now. The way he brought it down on the cutting board punctuated the end of every sentence he spoke. He started to tell her that it’s so strange how the world works out sometimes, about how the choices we make and the chances we don’t take ultimately decide the people we end up with.
“It all feels very cosmic, you know?”
He was setting their plates now. He was asking her what she wanted to eat first but she couldn’t answer. There were so many choices and she was so far away now, in another town, in another universe where there was no her. Only him and Stacy and the entire lifetime she thought only she could give him now.
MILES PRESTON-CLARK is a Black writer and interdisciplinary artist from Atlanta, GA living in Chicago. He is the author of Even The Clowns Are On Strike (Akiba, 2017) and Joyride (Akiba, 2017). His writing has been exhibited and performed at The Poetry Foundation, Soho House Chicago, The Poetic Research Bureau, Chopin Theatre and elsewhere. His writing has been published or is forthcoming in Hobart, Metatron, Spork Press, Potluck Magazine and elsewhere. http://www.milesprestonclark.com