• 1.
    Seat Stealer
  • 2.
    by Gabrielle Walz
  • 3.
     
  • 4.
    On Tuesdays I go to the movies. 
  • 5.
    I go alone.
  • 6.
    I don’t eat popcorn, I don’t drink soda. 
  • 7.
    I don’t get Reese’s Pieces.
  • 8.
    I don’t think about anything. 
  • 9.
    I just watch the movie. 
  • 10.
    Just me. Surrounded by people. Alone. In the dark. 
  • 11.
    I watch.
  • 12.
     
  • 13.
    The first time he sat by me I couldn’t breathe. 
  • 14.
    I wondered how he knew where I was. 
  • 15.
    I hadn’t seen him in months, maybe a year even.
  • 16.
    My lungs burned like the first time we got high together. 
  • 17.
    I held my breath like he taught me. Held it until I couldn’t hold it anymore.
  • 18.
    Then I let go. 
  • 19.
    He didn’t say a word.
  • 20.
    I didn’t say a word. 
  • 21.
    He didn’t have popcorn. 
  • 22.
    Or a drink. 
  • 23.
    Or Red Vines. 
  • 24.
    He just watched the movie. 
  • 25.
    Just him and me. Together. In the dark. 
  • 26.
    We watch.
  • 27.
     
  • 28.
    The next time he came I was ready.
  • 29.
    He smiled at me. 
  • 30.
    I didn’t smile back.
  • 31.
    I let him have the arm rest.
  • 32.
    Can’t risk touch. 
  • 33.
    It would be much too much. 
  • 34.
    Again I wonder how he found me.
  • 35.
    I don’t ask. 
  • 36.
    He doesn’t say. 
  • 37.
    We don’t have popcorn. 
  • 38.
    But I wish I had a drink.
  • 39.
    There are no Milk Duds. 
  • 40.
    We just watch the movie. 
  • 41.
    Just him and me. 
  • 42.
    Alone. Together. In the dark. 
  • 43.
    We watch.
  • 44.
     
  • 45.
    He comes again on week three. 
  • 46.
    I smile first this time. 
  • 47.
    He sits. 
  • 48.
    He has popcorn, and the arm rest. 
  • 49.
    Touch is still out of the question. 
  • 50.
    But I eat some of his popcorn and he laughs. 
  • 51.
    It reminds me of how he would laugh at my jokes. 
  • 52.
    Even if they weren’t funny. 
  • 53.
    (They always were.)
  • 54.
    It reminds me how I cried when he left. 
  • 55.
    He just left. 
  • 56.
    I stop eating the popcorn. 
  • 57.
    I need a drink. 
  • 58.
    There are no Sour Patch Kids. 
  • 59.
    Just him and me and popcorn. 
  • 60.
    Together. In the dark. 
  • 61.
    We laugh.
  • 62.
     
  • 63.
    He touches my face when he leaves.
  • 64.
    Leans in and whispers, “I love what you’ve done with your hair.”
  • 65.
    It reminds me of the first time he slept over. 
  • 66.
    “Don’t call it that,” he teased. “Call it spending the night.”
  • 67.
    I smiled because I was happy. 
  • 68.
    He smiled because he was happy. 
  • 69.
    “I simply love what you’ve done with the place,” he said from my bed. 
  • 70.
    It was just me and him and my sheets. 
  • 71.
    Together in the dark of my room. 
  • 72.
    I watched him. 
  • 73.
    He watched me. 
  • 74.
    We watched each other.
  • 75.
     
  • 76.
    This time I save him a seat.
  • 77.
    I still don’t know how he finds me. 
  • 78.
    I don’t ask.
  • 79.
    He doesn’t say. 
  • 80.
    He has popcorn. 
  • 81.
    I have the drinks. 
  • 82.
    No one brings Junior Mints. 
  • 83.
    We laugh as we sneak vodka into our Cokes.
  • 84.
    It reminds me of the party on the beach.
  • 85.
    This time we share the arm rest. 
  • 86.
    We hold hands like we used to. 
  • 87.
    We laugh like we used to. 
  • 88.
    Back before the end. 
  • 89.
    Back before her. 
  • 90.
    Back before everything.
  • 91.
    We don’t say anything. 
  • 92.
    We just hold hands. 
  • 93.
    And drink our sodas. 
  • 94.
    And eat our popcorn.
  • 95.
    Together. In the dark. 
  • 96.
    We share.
  • 97.
     
  • 98.
    He waits for a sad movie to kiss me. 
  • 99.
    It feels like it did the last time. 
  • 100.
    But he tastes like sorry and self doubt. 
  • 101.
    I don’t know what I taste like. 
  • 102.
    Maybe I taste like indifference. 
  • 103.
    I don’t ask about her. 
  • 104.
    He doesn’t tell about her. 
  • 105.
    But I do wonder where she is and what I taste like. 
  • 106.
    I wish he didn’t wait until I was crying to do it.
  • 107.
    But he did.
  • 108.
    And that’s why I probably taste like salt. 
  • 109.
    And sadness. 
  • 110.
    Even though I am the happiest I’ve been in a long time. 
  • 111.
    Just him and me. 
  • 112.
    And our hands. 
  • 113.
    Together. In the dark. 
  • 114.
    We explore.
  • 115.
     
  • 116.
    “I can’t remember the last time I was happy,” he says on a different Tuesday. 
  • 117.
    And I worry because I am happy. 
  • 118.
    Even though I know they’re together. 
  • 119.
    He doesn’t say. 
  • 120.
    I don’t ask. 
  • 121.
    But I know. 
  • 122.
    He has his hand in my lap.
  • 123.
    It reminds me of the time we took the train into the city and he fell asleep on my shoulder. 
  • 124.
    With his hands. 
  • 125.
    In my lap. 
  • 126.
    I didn’t move the entire two hours it took us to get there. 
  • 127.
    I just sat. 
  • 128.
    So still. 
  • 129.
    “If I move it will ruin everything,” I thought. 
  • 130.
    So I didn’t move. 
  • 131.
    Just him and me. 
  • 132.
    On a train. 
  • 133.
    In a theater. 
  • 134.
    Surrounded. 
  • 135.
    Alone. 
  • 136.
    Together. 
  • 137.
    We sat.
  • 138.
     
  • 139.
    “I have to tell you something,” he says.
  • 140.
    On the last Tuesday ever. 
  • 141.
    “Not now,” I say, kissing him. “After.”
  • 142.
    He brings M & M’s because he knows they’re my favorite. 
  • 143.
    There is no popcorn. 
  • 144.
    But there is alcohol. 
  • 145.
    And I load up because I know he’s going to talk about her. 
  • 146.
    Even though I didn’t ask.
  • 147.
    He will tell. 
  • 148.
    He sits next to me. 
  • 149.
    He doesn’t touch me. 
  • 150.
    He just watches me. 
  • 151.
    I don’t move. 
  • 152.
    If I move it will ruin everything. 
  • 153.
    Except everything is already ruined. 
  • 154.
    I cry throughout the movie.
  • 155.
    He cries too. 
  • 156.
    We sit. Together. 
  • 157.
    Not touching. 
  • 158.
    Just crying. 
  • 159.
    Even though it isn’t sad. 
  • 160.
    Even though it’s supposed to be funny.
  • 161.
    Even though I have M & M’s. 
  • 162.
    I hand him a red one. 
  • 163.
    I take a blue one. 
  • 164.
    I watch the movie. 
  • 165.
    He watches me. 
  • 166.
    We watch. Together. 
  • 167.
    Chewing chocolate candies. 
  • 168.
    We wait.
  • 169.
     
  • 170.
    “She’s pregnant.” 
  • 171.
    He leans over and whispers at the end. 
  • 172.
    During the blooper reel. 
  • 173.
    Everyone is laughing except me. 
  • 174.
    And him. 
  • 175.
    Surrounded but alone. 
  • 176.
    We cry.
  • 177.
     
  • 178.
    “YOU KNOW WHAT’S FUNNY?” I want to yell. 
  • 179.
    What’s funny is he waits until I am crying to kiss me.
  • 180.
    What’s funny is he waits until I’m laughing to do something sad. 
  • 181.
    What’s funny is I never asked about her. 
  • 182.
    What’s funny is I used to love M&M’s and now I hate them. 
  • 183.
    What’s funny is I never wanted any of this, I just wanted to go to the movies.
  • 184.
    Alone. 
  • 185.
    With no popcorn. 
  • 186.
    And no drinks. 
  • 187.
    And no arm rests. 
  • 188.
    Or hands in my lap. 
  • 189.
    I didn’t want to taste anyone else’s sadness or regret. 
  • 190.
    I wanted to be left. 
  • 191.
    Alone. 
  • 192.
    In the dark. 
  • 193.
    To watch.
  • 194.
     
  • 195.
    Now I go to the movies on Thursdays. 
  • 196.
    He doesn’t come. 
  • 197.
    I don’t get popcorn. 
  • 198.
    I don’t drink anymore. 
  • 199.
    I buy myself Butterfingers. 
  • 200.
    They are my new favorite. 
  • 201.
    I don’t think about anything. 
  • 202.
    If the movie is sad, I cry. 
  • 203.
    If the movie is funny, i laugh. 
  • 204.
    If the movie is happy, 
  • 205.
    I whisper “liars” at the screen. 
  • 206.
    To no one. 
  • 207.
    Because it’s just me. 
  • 208.
    Surrounded by people. 
  • 209.
    Alone. 
  • 210.
    Without him. 
  • 211.
    Just me. 
  • 212.
    In the dark. 
  • 213.
    I am.
  • 214.
     
Seat Stealer by Gabrielle Walz On Tuesdays I go to the movies. I go alone. I don’t eat popcorn, I don’t drink soda. I don’t get Reese’s Pieces. I don’t think about anything. I just watch the movie. Just me. Surrounded by people. Alone. In the dark. I watch. The first time he sat by me I couldn’t breathe. I wondered how he knew where I was. I hadn’t seen him in months, maybe a year even. My lungs burned like the first time we got high together. I held my breath like he taught me. Held it until I couldn’t hold it anymore. Then I let go. He didn’t say a word. I didn’t say a word. He didn’t have popcorn. Or a drink. Or Red Vines. He just watched the movie. Just him and me. Together. In the dark. We watch. The next time he came I was ready. He smiled at me. I didn’t smile back. I let him have the arm rest. Can’t risk touch. It would be much too much. Again I wonder how he found me. I don’t ask. He doesn’t say. We don’t have popcorn. But I wish I had a drink. There are no Milk Duds. We just watch the movie. Just him and me. Alone. Together. In the dark. We watch. He comes again on week three. I smile first this time. He sits. He has popcorn, and the arm rest. Touch is still out of the question. But I eat some of his popcorn and he laughs. It reminds me of how he would laugh at my jokes. Even if they weren’t funny. (They always were.) It reminds me how I cried when he left. He just left. I stop eating the popcorn. I need a drink. There are no Sour Patch Kids. Just him and me and popcorn. Together. In the dark. We laugh. He touches my face when he leaves. Leans in and whispers, “I love what you’ve done with your hair.” It reminds me of the first time he slept over. “Don’t call it that,” he teased. “Call it spending the night.” I smiled because I was happy. He smiled because he was happy. “I simply love what you’ve done with the place,” he said from my bed. It was just me and him and my sheets. Together in the dark of my room. I watched him. He watched me. We watched each other. This time I save him a seat. I still don’t know how he finds me. I don’t ask. He doesn’t say. He has popcorn. I have the drinks. No one brings Junior Mints. We laugh as we sneak vodka into our Cokes. It reminds me of the party on the beach. This time we share the arm rest. We hold hands like we used to. We laugh like we used to. Back before the end. Back before her. Back before everything. We don’t say anything. We just hold hands. And drink our sodas. And eat our popcorn. Together. In the dark. We share. He waits for a sad movie to kiss me. It feels like it did the last time. But he tastes like sorry and self doubt. I don’t know what I taste like. Maybe I taste like indifference. I don’t ask about her. He doesn’t tell about her. But I do wonder where she is and what I taste like. I wish he didn’t wait until I was crying to do it. But he did. And that’s why I probably taste like salt. And sadness. Even though I am the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Just him and me. And our hands. Together. In the dark. We explore. “I can’t remember the last time I was happy,” he says on a different Tuesday. And I worry because I am happy. Even though I know they’re together. He doesn’t say. I don’t ask. But I know. He has his hand in my lap. It reminds me of the time we took the train into the city and he fell asleep on my shoulder. With his hands. In my lap. I didn’t move the entire two hours it took us to get there. I just sat. So still. “If I move it will ruin everything,” I thought. So I didn’t move. Just him and me. On a train. In a theater. Surrounded. Alone. Together. We sat. “I have to tell you something,” he says. On the last Tuesday ever. “Not now,” I say, kissing him. “After.” He brings M & M’s because he knows they’re my favorite. There is no popcorn. But there is alcohol. And I load up because I know he’s going to talk about her. Even though I didn’t ask. He will tell. He sits next to me. He doesn’t touch me. He just watches me. I don’t move. If I move it will ruin everything. Except everything is already ruined. I cry throughout the movie. He cries too. We sit. Together. Not touching. Just crying. Even though it isn’t sad. Even though it’s supposed to be funny. Even though I have M & M’s. I hand him a red one. I take a blue one. I watch the movie. He watches me. We watch. Together. Chewing chocolate candies. We wait. “She’s pregnant.” He leans over and whispers at the end. During the blooper reel. Everyone is laughing except me. And him. Surrounded but alone. We cry. “YOU KNOW WHAT’S FUNNY?” I want to yell. What’s funny is he waits until I am crying to kiss me. What’s funny is he waits until I’m laughing to do something sad. What’s funny is I never asked about her. What’s funny is I used to love M&M’s and now I hate them. What’s funny is I never wanted any of this, I just wanted to go to the movies. Alone. With no popcorn. And no drinks. And no arm rests. Or hands in my lap. I didn’t want to taste anyone else’s sadness or regret. I wanted to be left. Alone. In the dark. To watch. Now I go to the movies on Thursdays. He doesn’t come. I don’t get popcorn. I don’t drink anymore. I buy myself Butterfingers. They are my new favorite. I don’t think about anything. If the movie is sad, I cry. If the movie is funny, i laugh. If the movie is happy, I whisper “liars” at the screen. To no one. Because it’s just me. Surrounded by people. Alone. Without him. Just me. In the dark. I am.

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