09 Jan Thomas Molander
Alex and Tyler sat in cheap camping chairs in the living room. A movie was being projected onto the white wall and Alex was watching it. Tyler was wearing NoNoise earplugs and was facing Alex, who was holding a small whiteboard and a dry erase marker.
“Some sexual activity is implied, mainly through sexual moans and facial expressions,” Alex wrote on the whiteboard in his loopy handwriting.
Tyler looked at the board. His eyes closed and his face became blank as he imagined the sexual moans, and then an expression of recognition came over his features and he nodded.
Alex shook the whiteboard to get Tyler’s attention again.
“A man is punched several times during a road trip,” he’d written.
Tyler grimaced and snatched the earplugs from his ears, throwing them onto the ground.
“I don’t know,” he said, “it’s better just to watch a movie as it is meant to be watched I guess. I don’t know where I got that idea about how it’s better to have something described to you than to experience it yourself. Maybe the movie is already like someone describing an experience, not an experience in itself.”
“I was enjoying writing on the whiteboard,” Alex said. “I think it enhanced my engagement in the movie. Oh, did that date with the woman from the dating app go the other day?”
“Very bad, she didn’t like my hair I think. We ran into her ex-boyfriend and he had short hair. I’ve never felt so stupid. I keep feeling lonely and thinking about Justine. I shouldn’t have made up that story about that nightmare scene unfolding on St. Laurent. I could have just told her something nice that happened to me that day. I could have made up a story that was nice.”
They sat and watched the movie on the wall. Occasionally, the projection would fade and the colours would weaken, as if the projector were running out of power. When this happened, they would instinctively lean forward, until the projector seemed to regenerate itself and the picture would be bold and sharp again. The movie seemed to be nearing a close; there was an orchestral ballad playing in the background while an NFL player was slowly dancing with a man who may have been his coach.
“Oh, I know,” said Tyler, pulling his phone out of his pocket and opening the online dating app.
He clicked on his profile and then clicked “edit.” He changed his personal bio to “I’m looking for a nice haircut.” He uploaded two photos to his profile to provide women with more information: a picture of his long, tangled hair covering his face to show the current haircut, and a cast photo from The Outsiders to show the type of haircut he might want.
“Put a picture of me on there too,” Alex said. “If anyone asks ‘who is the other guy who isn’t you’ you can say ‘that is my nice roommate,’ and if they inquire about me further, you can give them my number.”
“Why would I do that?”
“It’s extremely minimal effort for you, and it’s no effort for me. But it could get me a date. These tiny ingenuities could change our lives.”
Tyler turned from the projection of the movie’s credits to face Alex, who was holding up the whiteboard again. On the whiteboard was written these tiny ingenuities could change our lives.
“Smile, then,” Tyler said, and took his picture.
Thomas Molander has published fiction in The Paragon Journal, Tracer, and Queen Mob’s Tea House. He studies English and Creative Writing at Concordia University and is Fiction Editor for Bad Nudes magazine.