He sat alone in the darkened living room, the blank tv glowing. The sun had disappeared while he had watched the movie and aimlessly wandered the threads of the internet. The film, despite its title and promise for action and adventure, with unrivaled style and cinematography, had been a romance, another tale of high ideals, of sweeping gestures, of perfect moments that had lit up his now empty screen.
In the darkness, his consciousness slowly resurfaced, and he found himself comparing his own life to that of the film’s hero; who had somehow found the perfect moment to say the right words. Perfection: was such a thing possible?
He had struggled over perfectionism before—that need for a controlled, pristine environment at all levels. It’s what made him so good at his job, at least when he needed to be. Focus, attention to detail, artistry even, idealism—a better word than perfectionism, even if only marginally, he thought. Yes, these things allowed him the be so creative in his self concept. He could imagine an ideal world, an ideal self, just as the film had done.
But the glow of the tv screen and the quiet of his apartment reminded him that he hadn’t achieved it.
She had been magnificent, beautiful in ways he had never seen in other women—beautiful to her core, even with her makeup stripped and her hair askew. But he had so often sensed the disconnect between the world he had imagined and the one he experienced with her. They had had their moments, the kinds of things that romantic comedies can’t do justice to in their montages. There were just too many things that didn’t go as planned. He couldn’t make the broken pieces fit, and he couldn’t adjust his ideals to fit the pieces he had.
He wanted to. He wanted to wake up in the morning and just make that phone call or drive too fast at an unreasonable hour of the night just to knock decisively on her door and tell her she was the only one for him. He wanted to, but whenever these desires surfaced into anything nearing articulate thought, a tight knot in his stomach seemed to tether him to his seat. His hands would fill with lead, and a lump would form low in his throat causing him to swallow uncomfortably and breathe uneasily.
He did not fear rejection; she had made herself clear on those grounds, unequivocally so. And even though he had calculated the possibility of her changing her mind, it wasn’t the possible image of her slamming the door in his face that held him there, so inert; it was the memory of what had already been. He could still recall the sobs that came from her bedroom as he left her apartment for the last time, unable to allay her grief until he was out of earshot. Her tears: there was a pang just below his rib-cage as he thought of it. They were the sound of his guilt now. He could only remember his own failings.
There was no redemption for him, and there would be no phone call, no rap on the door. He would watch another movie, instead, and doze off against the glow of the tv.
Maybe he would stumble upon a better story soon, one that could be made better, one that didn’t have missing or broken pieces.
As the next film began, his noticeable sense of loneliness faded, and he let his conscious mind get lost in the flickering lights and familiar sounds unfolding some other reality while he slowly drifted to sleep. His dreams were full of doors; in every one he opened, she was there, or at least the shadow of her, always as if to encourage him, maybe you should go for it anyway. As this idea spread itself across his unconscious mind, he noticed that he was floating instead of being weighted down.