Joshua Timlen – University College
There’s an extra place set at the dinner table, yet no one sits there.
It’s not that she didn’t come,
But that I haven’t invited her yet.
It’s a small table,
So I’d be fine eating by myself.
That leaves me two options:
Invite her in, or
Put away the extra set of utensils and close the door.
I hear repeated striking of upbeat chords on a piano.
The tension in the pianist’s fingers is reflected in this self-conscious tune.
Dancers warily move their feet back and forth in fear of what the piano may say.
The downtown bar had received a moderate amount of comers-and-goers today, with a few stayers as well.
I am in my house.
I stand behind my door in wait. I stand there, shoes tied, hat on, jacket all buttoned up save the top two buttons, my t-shirt peeking out just enough to show the color.
I stand there watching a door open ten minutes in the future.
Watching it happen in the present wasn’t as easy.
The pianist hits a jarring note and apologizes to the dancers.
Thick gray shirt with sleeves that just reach the forearm.
I didn’t pay attention to shoes.
My eyes follow the bangs, then the full length of the hair, brought back to the face, curving over the delicate brow, falling into the eyes, and then resting on the lips.
“So what would you like to do?”
“Whatever you want.”
I don’t really know.
“Whatever you want.”
“I’m bad at decisions.”
I don’t want to make a wrong one.
“I am too.”
“Are you hungry?”
“I’ve had a snack, are you?”
“I can survive.”
We decide on going out to eat.
Split the check.
Water for drinks.
Small pizza with ham and pineapple.
Finished eating, and with it the feeling that I’m now bothersome to the restaurant.
“Would you like to walk around?”
“Whatever you would like.”
The pianist notices only a few people remain and begins to relax.
He strokes through the piano keys.
It’s time for a slower dance.
A violinist joins the floor, picking up the tempo from time to time.
The music pauses for debate in a change of song.
“Which way should we go now?”
“All the decisions for me, huh?”
Hopefully no wrong ones.
“That’s my plan.”
“It’s scary. I can’t refuse that plan.”
The violinist leaves for another engagement.
The pianist stays, but his energy dwindles with the amount of time remaining in his performance.
Back to the door, and time to present an invitation. A wandering guitarist starts plucking at strong, tense strings, trying to give bystanders the courage to join the fry and dance.
“I’ve been debating with myself to ask you this, so I might as well just do it.”
Fade from black to a shot of the front of a pizzeria.
An orchestral swelling can be heard as the camera pans from behind my head to the right, bringing into view the face of who I’m with.
The shot changes to a side view of the table, panning from the end that I sit at to the end she sits at.
Close-up of her mouth moving.
Close-up of my eye, showing visible flinching.
There is now a transition into black and white.
As conversation reaches towards the past, so should color.
The camera is focused on me, slowly panning from the right of my face to the left, emphasizing the erratic movements I make with the corners of my mouth and eyes.
The camera catches her reaction as she replies, showing a stillness in her face.
The visuals of the scene return to color, unfiltered.
The camera switches between my face and hers as we continue conversation, the shot slightly different with each alternation.
First panel shows a close-up of our eyes when we notice each other, a lightning zig-zag between us to show the unwanted spark of this encounter and the borders that separate us.
Maybe I can draw in a sharp little star coming from our eyes to further emphasize the surprise.
This event doesn’t have many different movements.
It’s perfect for graphic form.
Our eyes should display a difference in aesthetic.
To show how I view myself in comparison to this other, my eyes will feature more calm, soft lines.
The other one’s eyes will be made of jagged, rough lines.
Now for the second panel.
There will be a quip of dialogue in this panel.
The other will have the first speech bubble, saying, “How are you?”
To conserve space, I skip “hello”s and “hey”s.
They weren’t even needed in reality anyhow.
Both of us were past that.
I get the second speech bubble.
It was impossible for me to have the first one since I wouldn’t have voluntarily started this conversation.
My speech bubble is small and wimpy.
The other person is seen standing over me in this panel.
In reality this person isn’t tall enough to effectively stand over me, so this is a creative liberty.
My head is hanging low over a table, wary of eye contact.
Now for the last two panels.
It’s better to state them together since they couldn’t exist without the other.
The first is the other one’s lips, open for a speech bubble.
The second panel contains the image of my own lips, a speech bubble branching from them as well.
I don’t write out “Fin” or “The End”
“Good-bye” is enough of an end.
I sit on my bed as my friend sits on a chair.
Music plays, but it didn’t matter what it was.
That isn’t part of this story.
“How is she?”
This isn’t meant as small talk.
I’m actually curious.
“She’s doing well, and I’m happy with her. It’s the rest of my life I can’t be happy with.”
My response doesn’t matter.
I forgot it anyhow.
“There’s stuff I’m getting sucked into that I don’t want, should I aim to impress, or just be true to myself.”
It wasn’t a question.
Didn’t have the inflection of a question at the very least.
Either way, I answered it as though it was a question.
My answer is an important part, but my answer was wrong.
Fake and true are equal in value.
In how the fake strives to be and puts effort into imitating its real counterpart.
It surpasses it.
Such as how the true one is effortless in its execution of self, since that is what it really is.
It doesn’t need to put effort into being since it already is.
I am me, I don’t need to try to be me since I already am me.
I’m not a genius, writer or artist.
Because of that I have to try to be.
I have to put effort into it.
This was not the answer I gave though, but maybe giving the wrong answer was the right response to a question that was never asked.