This Would Be The Part Of The Movie
by Giles Montgomery
This would be the part of the movie where I say, “I love you,” and it wouldn’t matter that we’re soaked through from the rain because your eyes are telling me that you love me too, that you’ve loved me since the moment we first met and you’ve only been waiting for me to work through my flaws and see what was right in front of me all along. And as we lean in for our first kiss the music swells, the camera pulls back and… OH, what a moment!
But in reality, the words don’t come. Because I don’t have a script and there’s no director cueing me up (‘Remember how we did it in rehearsals, kid…’). And instead of beating every other woman to the role after a rigorous casting process, you just happened to be sitting next to me at that management training course in Swindon. There’s chemistry, sure, but are you The One? I have no idea. What if you’re just an extra? A name that eventually appears waaaaaay down the list when my final credits roll? Imagine the embarrassment of declaring my undying love to ‘woman in hat’ or ‘loud girl’. Besides, instead of an epic downpour there’s just an annoying drizzle and the only thing your eyes are telling me is that your allergies are playing up. This can’t be right. So, when your bus comes, I give you a muted farewell and say nothing about doing this again. But as your bus pulls away, I’m struck with panic. What if you really are the love of my life and I’m letting you slip away?
This would be the part of the movie where I chase after the bus, flag it down and climb on board to find you. Then, with the other passengers listening in rapt attention, I bare my soul to you in a totally improvised yet somehow perfectly articulated speech. Having said my piece I turn away, convinced that All Is Lost. But… a cranky old female passenger who’s been observing me with suspicion this whole time now wipes away a tear from her wrinkled eye and begins to slowly applaud me. Other passengers join in until the entire bus is roaring and rocking with support. The driver even toots his horn! And now I turn to you, my one true love, and I see that you are finally convinced of my sincerity.
In reality, I sit watching your bus drive away until it turns a corner and disappears. Because I don’t know my motivation. Where’s my wise old mentor figure to help me find my way? Where’s my kooky best friend whose offbeat antics inspire me to Believe In Myself? I return to my dismal flatshare in east London, where I exchange a tight nod of acknowledgement with Riz the phone shop worker before heading to my room with the beers and snacks I picked up on the way home. I watch porn, munching and slurping and pawing at myself, until I am sated. Then I go to bed without brushing my teeth and lie there hating myself and wishing I could change...
You know what part of the movie this would be? Montage! To the beat of an alt-rock classic, I completely turn my life around, going from zero to hero in under two minutes. And, once I’ve become the man I was always destined to be, I immediately meet the girl/land the job/solve the case of my dreams.
In reality I do change, but slowly. Slogging it out along polluted roads and around dangerous parks, breaking bad habits one day at a time, wheezing my way to a brighter future. I give up booze and porn. I keep watching movies, but with a certain detachment. I realise that that my life is not played out on the big screen, but across social media, CCTV feeds and PowerPoint decks. I am lit, not by an Oscar-worthy cinematographer, but by smartphones, streetlights and microwave ovens. My soundtrack is office small talk, public transport announcements and gym class bangers. There will be no convenient cuts to oxbow the boring bits, no slow dissolves to imply the passage of time. And I come to terms with it.
This would be the part of the movie where everything stops … and the hero slowly turns to stare down the barrel of the camera lens. His jaw slackens, his lips part, his electric blue eyes focus. He sees me! Living free of script and direction, free of genre and trope, free of audience expectations and studio demands. Free to live out my dumb little life in real time, wherever it may take me, until my sloppy, ill-defined character arc lands wherever and that is that, with no chance of being contractually roped into a sequel or reboot that risks tarnishing the legacy. He breaks out that shit-eating grin we all love and mutters, “Lucky bastard.”
After years of spinning his creative wheels, Giles Montgomery is finally getting traction with his writing. He recently had a piece in Storgy and was shortlisted in the Bath Flash Fiction competition, with a couple more pieces forthcoming in Spelk and Tiny Molecules. He would be delighted to connect with you on Twitter @gilesmon.