by Rachel B. Glaser
Hattie held her dream by his narrow shoulders. She told him his name sounded famous to her and he blushed disappointedly. She was constantly comparing relationships to religion, saying they created a gripping, private culture. He spray-painted his bedroom and she felt utterly ruined by the chemical mist.
He broke up with her in Blockbuster after they couldn’t decide. She stayed after he’d left and kept scanning movies. Many people came and left with a movie. The characters on the covers stared out at Hattie from their life. At least they have lives, thought Hattie. They have life situations. She fought an urge to sit down. She leaned against a wall with no movies on it. She pretended to be engrossed by the used video games bins.
There were several boyless months. At first she read the New York Times online until she forgot who she was. Her brain became temporarily up-to-date and genderless. Then she just read the headlines, as if reading a New York Times online poem. Then she just skimmed the headlines, as if conjuring the aura of the day’s events.
She dated a business major who became unevenly brilliant when drinking. Each month they went out, she put a triumphant star on her calendar. Her sister grew ill, but still the star! for each month she stayed a girlfriend. The relationship was tumultuous. She was constantly changing her look to keep him from stereotyping her. She was constantly stereotyping him as “preppy,” and “brainy,” and “business major.” His old girlfriend came back from Europe and Hattie was transfixed by the girl’s Facebook photos. There were hundreds of photos of George and Natalie as undergrads, smoking cigarettes on awesome shitty roof decks and chasing stylishly small dogs. Then newer photos of them at parties Hattie hadn’t been told of. She unconvincingly put a star on January. She poised her mouse to make Natalie her friend.
The business major took her to dinner in a cold Asian fusion restaurant. Afterwards, they stood on the sidewalk hovering around what he was about to say. “Let’s rent a movie,” she said quickly, dragging him to the crosswalk and pressing the walk button too many times.
In Blockbuster, she leaned on the wall with no movies. Her boyfriend crouched beside her. She was going to make every boyfriend do it there, then she’d rent something afterwards. Something non romantic and non comedic. Something where Jon Cusack loses all hope in hope. Or a stranger knifes a boat. Or a criminal gets boring. And the president has bad marriages. Some movie where an igloo melts in an ice heap. The moon breaks and the teenagers were right. Or a chef feels frail. A movie where Drew Barrymore is so easy going that it’s a nuclear problem. And a boy loses his virginity to a web virus. A woman turns into “an animal” emotionally.
Hattie slowly allowed herself to slide into a sitting position. Ancient bits of popcorn stuck to the pilled, stained carpet. Blockbuster was bankrupt because Netflix was so clever, she thought. Hattie watched her boyfriend decide if he should sit on the floor or remain standing. She was going to bring every guy there to do it. Blockbuster is so lonely and irrelevant, she thought. It was boxy and prominent. It was too numerous and optimistic. Indecision sat moldy inside of it.