The lights go down.
The large screen illuminates the audience, settling in their seats with drinks and popcorn. As a commercial flashes across the screen, alerting us to silence our cell phones and behave appropriately, he leans down to whisper in my ear.
He tells me that he has forgotten to compliment me on how beautiful I look tonight. I smile politely and face the screen to sever the awkward tension.
As the movie opens with suspenseful music, and the audience leans forward, perched on the edge of their seats in anticipation, I settle stiffly in my seat, a good ten inches away from him. He puts his arm around my shoulders, reaching for my hands to thread his fingers between mine. I let him pull me towards him and hold my hand. With my head on his shoulder, I can hear his heart beat. It's fast, like there is a flock of tiny birds in his chest, trying to escape.
I notice absently that he talks more during movies than I do, and I feel a lump growing in my throat as I whisper to him in the darkness, and he does not scold me. Does not scowl because I talk too much. Does not chastise me when I flirt or say something rude about the movie or a member of the audience.
He does not do these things because he is not you. And when I turn to face him, I am looking for a sarcastic smirk and cold eyes that have a breathtaking spark to them when you refuse to back down from an argument. But instead I see the face of a boy who looks just like every other boy I've ever met besides you.
He smiles back. He holds my hand. He tries to play it cool, even when it's obvious that he's nervous. He admits to his flaws, and the very worst thing of all- he never challenges me.
If I were to tell him that he has insulted me, or try to argue my point, he would mend the situation immediately. He would tell me that I'm perfect, that I'm right, that he didn't mean it like that...
You would never admit to that. You fight me until neither of us have the energy to argue anymore. Unlike so many other boys I know, you are my equal. Taking every chance you get to prove me wrong, test my patience...there is no one else like you.
That's why my heart is breaking as I sit next to a truly kindhearted boy that means me no harm. I know he likes me, I know he wants to start something with me...but as he seeks an opportunity to at some point in the movie kiss me or make some sort of significant eye contact, I face forward stubbornly.
Because once upon time, I was sitting in a theatre with a boy that looked nothing like him, not on a date, not even acknowledging each other. That boy was you, and you told me to shut up, the curtains were opening. "Get your feet off the seat!" you said. "This isn't your living room." And of course, I didn't put my feet down, I simply crossed my ankles defiantly and stuck my tongue out at you. You muttered something about immaturity, rolling your eyes.
Here, with him, I sat primly, my purse in my lap, my eyes on the screen. If I decided to be flirtatious or rebellious, he would encourage it. He wouldn't tell me to act like a lady or that Jesus wasn't proud of such behavior. Because he isn't you. And you will never come back.
I miss that light in your eyes. No one else has that. If you came back, I'd beg you to stay. I'd tell you anything that would make you pack your bags and drive the six hundred miles back to San Antonio, but you wouldn't listen. You never listen to me, and that's why I don't bother anymore.
But it doesn't keep me from missing your smile, or wishing on nights like this that it was you sitting next to me instead of him.
He's a nice boy, and I'd hate to hurt his feelings. He just isn't the right one.
His eyes are brown, not blue. He doesn't care what he wears, while you choose your clothes with precision, almost as carefully as I do. His hands are strong and calloused from work on the ranch, not the artists hands I used to watch admiringly, as you wrote pages upon pages...as focused on your work as I often am.
I'm not sure if there is another person out there that I could ever feel so connected to. That could make me want to be with them every second of the day. But if there is, he's not sitting next to me.
I can only hope that one day he will be.