Wrong Turn

we pretended to watch Iron Man in the back row of the local movie theater

photo credit: Kilyan Sockalingum via Unsplash

I pretended to my mother that this boy was really someone else. How close those lines blur between pretending and lying. I was an actress, high school was my stage.

Tires marked the path home — black lines cutting through the white to the asphalt below. It is always blacker in Montana. The skies are bigger there — more places for you to get lost.

He knew the way back to my house, though the wrong turn was getting in the car to begin with, going to the movie, holding his hand, holding him in the dark and pretending I was special and not only young.

How would we know if the roads were icy or just wet? Fear of anything at that age: ephemeral, fleeting, sharp icy cold, and then — with the snow — gone.

I had him park a few blocks down, lest the light from the overhead betray us as I opened the car door.

Theaters are kept dark to protect the actresses onstage. I was playing a poor role.

My mother never knew the boy himself but knew what he was supposed to be. He existed. That was enough for her, and for me.