Author: Jackson Lanzer

“Do you ever just want to feel sad?” A young woman said, looking into the eyes of a young man.

“Sometimes it’s all I want to feel,” he responded. “Sometimes sadness is even sweeter than the purest joy.”

The man and woman strolled up to a ticket office. Their faces were illuminated by the glowing words of a marquee: “Cinema Memory.”

“Two tickets, please.”

“Same memory as last week?” The box office attendant asked.

“Yes, sir.”

The attendant handed them their tickets.

“Screen 5. And no need for a brain scan. We’ve got the memory recorded now.”

“Do you do that for all the regulars?” The woman asked.

“Not usually. But you two watch the same memory every week. We figured it’s the least we could do.”

As the man and woman walked through the theater doors, the woman turned her head and gazed into the man’s eyes.

“Are you okay?” She said.

“I’m surviving,” he responded, his eyes bloodshot and tear-stained. “I’ve been counting down the days to feel again.”

“Me too.”

The man and woman opened the door to screen 5. Silver light illuminated the room, and they sat in the back row next to each other. Every other seat was empty.

Their final moment as a couple flickered before their eyes.

“How’d it come to this,” the young woman whispered between bites of popcorn.

“Life, I guess,” the man responded.

She reached for his hand, and they embraced each other while, on the screen, the young man screamed at the young woman.

“Remember Prague?” The woman asked, looking away from the film.

“Of course. I fell for you that day.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand.

On the screen, the woman slammed the front door and marched away from the man’s house.

The film cut to the man standing at the window, watching the woman drive away. “Time in a Bottle” played over the speakers, and tears began streaming down the face of the technicolor man.

“Our favorite song,” she said.

“Our song,” he agreed with a lone tear slipping from his eye. “I usually can’t listen to it. Too many memories.”

“That’s exactly why I listen to it. When it’s playing, I almost feel like I’m getting to be us one more time.”

The man on the screen turned from the window, grabbed a half-empty bottle of wine, and walked out of frame. The screen faded to black, and the credits began to roll.

The man and woman stood from their seats.

“It was nice seeing you.”

“You too.”

“Are we still on for the same time next week?”

“Sounds lovely.”

The man waved at the woman and began walking away. He stopped for a brief moment and looked back.

“I loved you.”

“I loved you too.”