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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Berm

For Old Times' Sake

short story

It was somewhat late at night, I was organizing my room for the third time since I was a small kid. Looking for anything I might think was important. In one not-so-old box which had been relegated to the depths of a drawer, I found several receipts, movie theatre receipts to be specific. The ink was barely there but I could make out some details such as the date, they were from four years ago. Suddenly it hit me. “Ava,” I thought to myself. She was pretty much the only person I went to the movies with four years ago, those tickets probably were from the first movie we went to together. I took a picture of the receipts and sent them to Ava. She replied about 12 minutes later: “receipts?” I texted her: “AMC receipts from 4 years ago.” “No way,” she replied. “Wanna go out for a movie? For old times’ sake?” I texted. For all I knew she could be dating some dude named Kyle or I don’t know, serving in the army. “I’m free tomorrow night, I still live in the same house,” she replied. The chances of her being in a relationship with a guy named Kyle or whatever significantly decreased. My stomach felt weird just to think about seeing her again, perhaps it was the $1 burritos my friend Erick’s “burrito guy” sold me that day. I started wondering if she still felt something or if she just remembered me like I remember that Starbucks barista with blue hair who wanted to become a writer but got pregnant and had to move to Denver with the kid’s dad. I couldn’t figure out if Ava even saw me as a friend. Did I ask her out as a friend? I couldn’t answer that question if my life depended on it. Nostalgia is a powerful thing. I went online and bought a couple of tickets to the latest movie starring The Rock and went to sleep. The next day, at about 6:00 PM I drove to her house, she lived a ten-minute drive away from mine. When we were seven our parents agreed to take each other’s kids to school depending on the day, that’s how we met. Ava’s dad and my mom worked together. I texted her that I was outside, then I saw her walking out of the front door. “Nice ride,” she said, probably joking since it was the same car I had in high school. Once we got to the theater, she ordered the usual: small popcorn, medium Mountain Dew and king-size Snickers. Ava always said that there was some poetry to ordering one thing from each size category, I didn’t quite see the poetry there. The only thing I could see was that we had overpaid for the Mountain Dew but underpaid for the popcorn. I simply got bottled water, I have never been a fan of popcorn, they are great, but I hate when they get stuck between my teeth. I’m probably traumatized because of that time I went to the movies with a girl and ended up with my braces filled with whatever that mildly-hard part of the popcorn is. We sat in the last row of the theatre, and as I was about to start the conversation, an astronomically loud Samsung ad started playing; it was about a brand new feature that no one would care about in a year or less —like most things these days. I tried talking three or four times more, but it was impossible. Going out on a “catching up” date to the movies and an action-packed film of all types is, speaking from experience, a terrible idea. I believe Ava could see my frustration, and softly said: “maybe an ice cream after the movie?” Once the movie was over, we went to get a milkshake and then got into the car — just as we did four years ago— to drink while she picked the music. Ava set the volume to a low-enough-to-talk-but-not-low-enough-that-there-would be-an-uncomfortable-silence-when-no-one-spoke level. I started with the basic “How’s everything been?” Ava started talking about her work and college, eventually, she mentioned Tom, her —in Ava’s words— “guy I’m seeing but we’re nothing yet.” I told her about Kate, my ex, and how she always bought Ava up every time we argued. Ava laughed. So far the day had a feeling of an old sitcom reunion, everyone is a little older, they’re doing the same thing but it didn’t quite feel the same. I remembered a physics class with professor Stevens, he talked about the fact that you can move around however much you’d like, but if you end up in the exact place your displacement would still be zero. Ava and I went to college out of state, we were both pretty much out of it, thousands in student debt, work, new friends, her parents got divorced, her dad had a new kid named Alana, I almost died in a car accident last fall, but there we were, in the same parking lot of the same AMC, listening to some old music but mostly new music from old artists, in the same car. All of that combined made me feel at home. Yes, a lot of good things happened in those four years, but a lot of bad ones too. Feeling as if none of that happened, as if all of that was merely a dream or a passing thought, was amazing. Man, what a drug the past is, it makes us weep, but we still crave it. Ava’s face was dimly lit by my old car’s light, her eyes glimmering by the glimpse of the past. I touched her face to register if all of it was real, and then we kissed. Many things have changed, but I was glad to know her kisses haven’t. I drove her back to her house. As Ava was getting out of the car, she got a call from Tom. She acted as if it was nothing. I smiled and started driving back to the place I used to call home, but now it’s just “my parent’s house.” A few hundred feet before finally getting to the house, I stopped to let my old neighbor Mr. Smith cross the street with his dog. I checked my phone and saw a notification from the airline that my flight had no changes and was scheduled for tomorrow morning.

© Gabriel Berm

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