A Theater for Two
In Taipei, Taiwan there was a conglomeration of small personal movie theaters that you can rent to watch a movie with a friend, called U2. On the inside of one of these small theaters was a table, just a little taller than a coffee table, that sat at the end of a couch; the couch was almost like a bed. I was an exchange student and he was too. We each had a leg stretched out straight so that our legs ran parallel and our feet were an inch or two apart. I stared at my foot as I closely moved it next to his. He was French and I was American. He smelled like cologne and I smelled like some boyish deodorant that you buy absentmindedly at the drugstore. Did he just move his foot towards mine? I thought. Could he hear my heartrate rise? I wondered, the sound of it flooding my ears.
Our big toes met and the world froze. My hearing faded into perfect silence, a silence only interrupted by the isolated beats of my heart. He turned and pulled me into him with one smooth motion. We were waves that had crashed into each other, making a larger wave, an accumulation of momentum and mass propelled forward. My heart relentlessly fought my ribcage with an intensity I never felt before. I could feel the stubble on his upper lip. I had never kissed another boy before; had he? We searched each other, two cartographers mapping a new world and recording each landmark with more pleasure until the landscape lay clearly detailed on the page. Just as quickly as it began, it was over. Soon after that, the movie ended and we left, the couch wet with relief.
“I know a café nearby, do you want to go?” I asked, as we walked through the exiting hallways of U2.
“Sure,” he replied.
We took the subway for two stops where we ran into some other exchange students that we both knew. I knew that there was a hickey on my neck that wasn’t easily concealed, but I tried to conceal it anyways. I held my hand on my neck, my palm covering the hickey suspiciously. I felt shame. I had been seeing another exchange student, a girl from Switzerland, and I didn’t want anybody to know. To know what? I asked myself. To know what I had just done and who I had just done it with, I answered myself. Why does it matter? I questioned myself further. It doesn’t, I replied. Ah…but it does matter to you because you’re hiding, I thought to myself. My internal argument would lead me in circles, so I tried my best to ignore my thoughts for the rest of our outing. At the café, I wondered if the exchange students we ran into on the subway knew, if they suspected where we had just come from and what we had just done.
“I have something to tell you,” he said abruptly, interrupting my thoughts.
“What is it?”
“You know Elisa?” He asked.
“Yeah, I know her,” I said laughing. Elisa was the girl who had taken my virginity a few months prior.
“Well,” he paused before continuing, “I’m taking her to that prom thing the Rotarians arranged for all of the exchange students.” As a part of Rotary Youth Exchange, exchange students participated in various events planned throughout the year that the Rotarians had put together, the prom being one of them.
“That’s fine,” I replied as I laughed again. Was he actually nervous to tell me about this? I questioned myself.
“I just wanted you to hear it from me,” he let out.
“I appreciate that, it really doesn’t matter,” I reassured him.
“Okay,” he replied.
Suddenly my heart sank like an anchor. I didn’t want him to go with Elisa, not because I thought that he liked her, but because I wanted to go with him. But I somehow knew that even if we both wanted that, I would never go through with it. It wasn’t until he started seeing a Brazilian boy a few months later that I realized on that day after our rendezvous in in that small theater, I had fallen in love with him. My last night in Taiwan, before I flew home to the States, I cried wishing I was back in that theater for two.
Having recently earned a bachelor's degree in English from University at Buffalo SUNY, Jonah Weiss likes to spend his time avidly reading and writing. During high school he spent a year abroad in Taipei, Taiwan and since then he has taken any chance to travel, spending extended periods of time in Switzerland, Germany, and various other countries throughout continental Europe. Jonah's writing largely draws upon the experiences he has had traveling, utilizing mediums such as flash fiction and poetry to document the encounters he has had. His work is heavily influenced by the likes of James Baldwin, Frank O'hara, and Ann Quinn and their ability to display the complexities of humanity.