Headlights like Diamonds in the Dark of the Matinée
Written by EvanC
This work was last updated February 8, 2018
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I never liked the way she drove. It’s not that I didn’t feel safe. She had a level of unpredictability. I never really knew what she was going to do next. Her turns were sharp and her speed varied depending on the mood. It didn’t help that I’ve always had the habit of acting like a driver. My eyes are always on the road even when in the passenger seat. I shoulder check with the driver, and push my right foot into nothingness wishing when they braked.
The sun was in front of us. I lowered the visor and kept my eyes forward. I mostly ignored what we passed and where we were, only focusing on the impending road. The conversation was simple and unremarkable. Nothing worth remembering and soon forgotten. The only memory left would be that we must’ve kept driving to get from point A to B.
Or maybe I would remember. Maybe it would be one of those useless random insignificant memories that would stay with me to the coffin. Like the memory of that argument with Dan. We were in grade 1, back when we sat in tiny chairs that would be impossibly small to sit in now. We were arguing over what the largest number was. Always one upping each other with a higher number.
“Ten thousand,” Dan would say dramatically.
“No ninety thousand,” I would retort.
It continued on like this. Eventually we were in a disagreement whether infinity could be called a number. I don’t remember how it ended, nor do I remember what shirt I wore or what shirt Dan wore. I guess I don’t remember that much after all.
Why do I remember that insignificant conversation from decades ago? And why don’t I remember any of the important things? Why couldn’t I remember the number of chromosomes even though I studied so hard for the exam? Why couldn’t I remember such a simple thing as my parents plan to come home on Saturday night, not Sunday night during that hot summer?
Dan was my best friend during grade 1. He was my best friend for a while. As the years passed however I barely knew him. By high school I must’ve only said three sentences during those four years. Now I just occasionally see a post on Facebook when he changes his profile picture. I wonder how he’s doing, thought I never wonder enough to actually message him.
We were still in the car. The road curved and splintered, but in the end it was mostly straight. The sun was now behind us.
I decided I was done looking at the fore coming road. I turned my gaze through the side window and watched the passing houses, trees, people, and all sorts of sights. It was strange. I’ve been on this road numerous times but never really noticed what was around. The houses were well designed and it was a nice change in architecture compared to the usual suburban wildlife of middle class houses. People walked in the snow, their cold necks hidden in the warmth of their collars and scarves. A crowd waited for a late bus. A group of kids raced on the sidewalk. A dog pissed next to a tree as the owner patiently stood by. And so many people walked alone, their breath visibly escaping in the cold air. So many lives passing by in seconds as we drove.
The car was shifted into park. The engine turned off. Doors opened. Snow crunched underneath our boots. Other doors are opened. Tickets are purchased. Snacks are smuggled in. Seats are taken.
It’s a winter picnic for those who don’t like the cold. We unloaded our bag consisting of two plastic cups, a large bottle of Cola, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a bag of cheap popcorn, and several packages of dollared candies.
We toasted in the more or less empty theatre as commercials played. I rested my hand on her thigh as I listened to her, waiting for moments to insert wit to get a laugh from her. Oh that beautiful laugh.
We shit-talked the commercials, gave approved nods to the trailers, and hushed at the beginning of the featured film.
The movie was typical. I must have seen this film ten times, or at least films that may as well be the same. Quick jokes, gory violence, and forced romance. Yet it was still fun. Nothing spectacular, just simple entertainment.
Such a high cost for two hours of entertainment that was soon to be forgotten. Millions of dollars, years of production, a life time of careers, and hopefully a significant amount of time dreaming up the story. All of this squandered to become two hours of cheap entertainment and then quickly forgotten.
What a strange thing the movie industry is. So much investment for so little payoff. One would think it’d be better spent elsewhere. Has a movie ever impacted me more than a book or charmed me as much as song?
I guess the phenomenon of watching a movie designed for me and her to enjoy ourselves together is enough.
On the screen the main protagonist gripped his lover by the shoulders. He’s yelling. She’s crying. I decided I was done looking at the boring scene. I turned my gaze to her at my side. The light from the screen was enough to show the outlines of her beautiful face. Etc. etc.
I thought of kissing her neck but that’s a bit rash. She’d be annoyed by such a horny act. Maybe simply holding her hand would be good. My mind searched for excuses before deciding on: she doesn’t want to be distracted from the movie.
I tried to think of what she wants. What goes on in her complex mind? Perhaps she did desperately wish for me to kiss her neck. There’s nothing as complicated and dumb as trying to interpret someone else’s thoughts. Oh how I wondered how the girl felt.
So in the end I didn’t make any choice. I did nothing. I stayed still and stared at her face. It’s etc., etc. How often do I stop and just observe what’s there. To take in the moment and see the beauty around, instead of worrying about losing what I don’t even know I have. To just take comfort from being with her in the darkness of that cinema.
That was a year ago.
Now all I do is look in the side mirror. I don’t know where I’m going or even where I am right now. I just watch the dust behind me and discover the places I’ve already left.
I see her on Facebook. I wonder what she’s doing. Is she chatting to a new boyfriend, complaining about life to her best friend, or mindlessly scrolling through the feed until it’s acceptably late enough to go to bed?
Maybe she sees that I’m online too, wondering what I’m doing, hoping that’d I’d message her to catch up and see how things are going. But I don’t kid myself with that possibility.
I don’t message her. Instead I close Facebook and I try to forget that moment. The moment of being next to her in the dark of the matinée.
I open Facebook and message Dan.