I was fifteen years old the first time a boy asked me out to the movies. I was so surprised and nervous when he asked me that I forgot to say no. And that is how I found myself in the queue waiting to buy a ticket next to an awkward boy with greasy hair. He kept hopping from one foot to the other as the line slowly inched forward.
The Avengers. That is the movie we are going to see. I don’t know anything about it. We move forward another place.
The smell of popcorn is strong in the air. It makes my tummy grumble and I quickly look up to make sure Tony hasn’t noticed. He is busy looking at his watch. I see a drop of sweat roll down his neck and disappear under his collar.
He looks up. ‘We’re next. Do you want popcorn?’
He turns toward the girl behind the counter and orders our tickets. I don’t know whether I should move forward with him or not, so I just hang back.
Then I see her.
She is from another world.
I stare at her pink hair and leather jacket. Pink painted fingernails. The way she raises her eyebrow at the ticket girl. Mocking.
She turns and looks straight through me.
Suddenly I am aware of the space between us. My limp brown hair. Baggy jeans. Cracked fingernails.
I hear Tony sniff. ‘Look at her! She thinks she’s so great.’
But so do I. I want to be her. I want to know what it feels like to move so confidently through a crowd.
The line moves and then we are in the theatre.
Tony takes his seat. I sit beside him. My hands clench in my lap.
I wonder where the girl with pink hair is sitting. Who she is with.
Then she is there, in the seat next to mine.
I try to make myself as small as possible as she places a cup of Coke in the armrest holder.
From the corner of my eye I can see her smooth brown arm. Tiny little golden hairs.
I can’t stop myself from wondering what it would feel like to touch.
The lights dim and loud music fills the theatre. I try to follow the movie but it’s all happening to fast. None of it means anything to me.
I glance at the girl beside me out of the corner of my eye. She is placing popcorn in her mouth. She turns her head slightly and looks at me. I quickly turn my eyes back to the screen.
She tilts the popcorn my way, as though she is offering me some.
I pretend not to notice. Hot prickles rise beneath my skin.
Tony stretches and tries to place his arm around me but I move slightly so that he misses. He hand brushes my arm as it returns to the armrest. It makes me shiver.
I try to make myself even smaller, moving away from Tony but not too close to the girl to be obvious. I imagine her swallowing me whole. My whole body feels heavy. Foreign. Confused.
I can hear Tony breathing through his mouth. I want to run. Why did I ever come?
The girl beside me whispers something but her words are lost against the sound of the movie.
I can feel myself hurtling through space. Solar winds howl past my ears. I close my eyes, suddenly feeling nauseous.
She is still there. Watching me. Waiting.