This post is part of Fiction Friday, a series born out of my ongoing desire to be a novelist. These stories are meant to be read independently. They are fictional vignettes inspired by glimmers from my life.
It takes us six months to watch all the movies beginning with A, which we rent from the Video Isle downtown. Grace likes the westerns and the romantic comedies. Anything where someone saves someone else, either from a shotgun or heartbreak. I like the ones with ambiguous endings.
By October, we have Beetlejuice in the DVD player, Ben-Hur on the coffee table, and five hours until Video Isle closes.
"I give that an F," says Grace, during the Beetlejuice credits.
"Really?" I ask. "I didn't think it was so bad."
Grace starts to lose interest by the time we're mid-way through the C's. She complains that it's all we ever do anymore.
"But we never went out in the first place," I point out.
She takes me to a bar that she used to go to before I knew her. She says – over all the laughing and clinking of glasses – that what I need is a date. I say no. She says yes. She says she'll find someone for me here, fix me up. And then she's gone, vanished into some dark corner of the room.
I order a seltzer from the bartender.
Grace reappears with her hand hooked around the arm of a stranger. Grace announces that his name is Bill. She whispers in my ear, "He's a surgeon," and raises her eyebrows, like, ahem, look who just won the lottery.
"Let me buy you a drink," says Bill.
I point to the glass of mineral water fizzing on the bar.
"Oh," says Bill. "How about dinner?"
"Sorry," I say. "I have to return a movie tonight."
Grace and Bill start dating. At first, she's out with him two nights a week, then three, then five.
"You guys pretty serious?" I ask.
"As serious as you and those stupid DVDs," she says.
"Hey," I say. "You're the one who's missing out."
"Right," she says.
Somewhere around the time I finish King Kong, Grace announces that she's moving in with Bill. Her boxes are packaged by Kiss of the Spider Woman; her keys left on the linoleum countertop by Kramer vs. Kramer.
"Grace?" I call out, but no one answers.
The very last movie at Video Isle is one that Grace would have liked; I'm sure of it. I call her as the credits run. We haven't talked in years. She and Bill could be married, for all I know. She could have five kids, a house on the lake, a savings account longer than four digits.
"Grace?" I ask, when a woman answers. "Remember me?"
"Have you ever seen Zorro's Fighting Legion?"
I hear a sigh. "No," she says. "I haven't."
"You would like it," I say. "Are you busy? Do you want to come watch it?"
"Don't tell me you're going to start re-watching all those movies," she says.
"I was thinking about it," I say.
"I have to go," she says. "Goodbye."
"Come on," I say, even though I hear the click of her phone cutting off. "Don't you love re-watching a movie? Hello? Grace? You know what I mean, don't you? You always see things you didn't notice the first time. Little details, or even big things, really big things. There's always parts you missed."