Projectionist

From her vantage point, Rebecca can see everyone. The reflected light illuminates enough that she can see their shapes and gestures. The couple directly beneath her think they’re in complete privacy, but she knows where their hands are.

The girl hates her parents, and is consenting to this boy’s affections not because she likes him, but because being with him is an excuse to stay out of the house. The boy isn’t as aggressive as he’s pretending to be, but something in one of these movies told him he’s supposed to push boundaries whenever possible. Neither of them feel safe in the other’s presence, though they are momentarily comforted by the other’s embrace, smothering and protective.

A few patrons are actually watching the movie, some po-mo sci-fi rom-com about love and robots and narrative dissonance. An older couple is using the two hours of movie time to delay their inevitable divorce by two more hours. They don’t dislike each other yet, but they feel no affection anymore and they’ve already had every conversation they could possibly have.

Her phone rings.

“I told you not to call me when I’m at work.”

“I’m sorry, baby, I just wanted to make sure we were still on for tonight.”

“Just text me.”

A few scattered souls have come alone. They distribute themselves entropically, though they came to the theater to participate in film as an event, to feel a part of something larger. Every one of them wishes they had someone close to them, but they separate themselves into makeshift booths and silently judge the couples around them.

If they only knew how pathetic they looked from up here. Rebecca starts the second reel and reaches for another fistful of popcorn.

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