Ok, your life is a movie about your life, but you don’t star in it. You have a role and some lines. You ask to pet the protagonist’s dog. Later you run into the protagonist as he takes out his trash. In that scene, with the trash, you have the complex obligation of knowing the protagonist is hungover and is probably annoyed that you’ve said hello. But to leave abruptly might be rude, so you linger just a second to see if things are ok, and they are, so you walk away.

Later in the movie the protagonist discovers he has only a few weeks to make his peace with the world. You—your character—is very worried. This is, after all, your life and your movie, which may very well end upon the death of the protagonist.

You are ruined from worry, can’t eat or sleep. You lose weight rapidly and age at an astonishing pace. None of this is caught on film. You are not mentioned by any on-camera characters and your concerns are never relayed to the protagonist.

In the end, the protagonist sees a white light and goes to it, in his hospital gown, slowly walks out into mythology while the credits begin their slow descent and you—maybe banging on hospital doors long after visiting hours, or pouring yourself a highball of Drano—you wonder what might still happen. There are second chances: a flashback, a sequel if you know people, but what have you ever done worth watching? Felt up your cousin or burned down the barn? No, you asked to pet a dog that did not bite you. You put your recyclables in the blue plastic bin, like a model citizen, walked on, spoke your lines, considered, and returned to the darkness. You did that. That’s what you did. That. You did that. End.

Barbara DeCesare lives in Pennsylvania. Her work has been adapted for stage and film and featured in Poetry, North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review and others. She just quit teaching and plans to get laid a lot more.


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