Resuming the audiobook narration for Nightblade: Episode Six on my vloganovel show.
Don’t tell me you “understand” why I’m vegan. If you understood you’d be vegan, too.
Understanding doesn’t equal agreement. I understand why Walter White started to cook meth, doesn’t mean I’m gonna buy an RV and a barrel of methylamine.
A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
Martha Jackson’s steps echoed in the hollow theater, unimpeded by any whispers or the crunch of popcorn. No curious eyes followed her trek up the aisles.
She paused near the center row and looked around. “I hate trying to find a seat in a crowded theater.” Her voice came startling in the empty space, but after the shock she smiled. She’d made the joke a thousand times, a private laugh with her daughter before Annette grew up and moved out of the house.
Martha slid sideways down the row to the middle seat and plopped down. Her fingers plunged into the bag of popcorn — still warm — and took a quick sip of her coke before sticking it in the cup holder.
The lights dimmed, and the screen glowed black. Martha always wondered at that, the difference between a blank screen and a screen upon which they theater projected blackness. Did they think the audience couldn’t see the difference? Couldn’t they just withhold light, rather than try to fake it? But then, she didn’t know how film worked. Annette could probably have explained it to her.
Long, lazy piano notes floated from the speakers. A logo flashed on the screen a few moments — Living Art Productions — and then the film began. The title ghosted into being: “Ambivalence.”
Despite herself, Martha pursed her lips and clucked her tongue. She’d never enjoyed art house films, with their obscure plots and pretentious names. But she’d promised to give this one a chance, no matter how painful the experience might be.
Sun broke on the screen. Dawn rising in the east. Another crummy metaphor. Martha wished she could ignore it, just lean back and enjoy the film. She couldn’t. It wasn’t in her.
Then the girl appeared on the screen. Thin, wasted, curled in a hospital bed. Her body lay wasted with healing, a patient clearly suffering from chemo.
Martha didn’t gasp, her hands didn’t fly to her throat, and no tears came. She kept control. She always kept control, now, at least outwardly, because to do the other thing would mean the end of her. But in her mind, the girl on the screen became Annette.
They’d never had any warning. Neither Martha nor her husband had ever had cancer, so doctors wouldn’t think to check their daughter until she’d turned at least 35. But biology, or fate, or maybe damn shitty luck had struck more than a decade before that. Struck hard, and gone straight for the jugular. It had been painful, but Martha still thanked God that it had been somewhat brief.
She sat in silence and endured. The film played on. The dialogue didn’t make sense, all filled with double meaning and no one line playing off any other. The actors spent too long looking soulfully off into the distance. Trying to find something praiseworthy, Martha could only think that at least the cinematography seemed nice enough. Crappy editing ruined it, though, with shots lingering long enough for her to start seeing flaws.
A torturous experience indeed, but she’d promised to watch it.
The difficulty of her endurance threw out all sense of time, but she sensed the change as the film edged toward an ending. A tonal shift in the music, less lingering looks, more smiles. Then at last, after a final conversation of metaphor and meaning, it ended. Did the girl survive? Martha had stopped paying attention.
THE END appeared on the screen.
Martha rose in a hurry, shuffling down the aisle toward the exit. She didn’t want to spend a second longer in that place than she had to. But just as she reached the aisle and hurried for the door, more words appeared on the screen, the ones she’d hoped to avoid. And control, outward or otherwise, became impossible. She froze in her tracks, eyes glued to the screen.
Written and Directed by
Martha clutched the handrail. Her fingers squeezed so tight she feared they’d break. Three deep breaths. Then three more. That was the key. She’d learned how to control this. She’d learned.
The credits rolled on. Martha took a shaky step, and then another. By the time she reached the door, control had returned.
Her nephew Walter met her at the theater’s door. He held his hand out as she stepped into the dim lights of the lobby, like Martha was some feeble old woman who needed a cane or a walker.
"You all right, Aunt Martha?"
"I’m fine, Walter. Thank you."
"I hope I did okay by her. I did the best I could."
"I know. Thank you for finishing it. I know Annette would have appreciated it."
That might not have been the whole truth. But Walter had promised Annette he would finish the film, out of some delusion that being a theater projectionist qualified him to do so. Just like Martha had promised she would watch it, out of some delusion that being Annette’s mother qualified her to do so.
Now she would go home and forget — or try to. Whatever Annette had thought, the film wouldn’t be her legacy. Her legacy would be the years and years, two and a half decades, of life that came before — and hopefully not the months of suffering at the end.
i hate when i lose things at school like my pencils and papers and life ambitions
Thoughts on the future of movies in response to Vee’s fear that movies won’t be around in a century.