This Movie Theater Sits on a Ley Line and We All Fucking Know It

I butter the popcorn. I clean the butter machine. I bend down to pick up the credit card that an old man just threw at me. He is upset because the small popcorn costs four dollars but when he came here last month it was only three seventy-five. His wife calls me something under her breath. After I serve them, they both spit so much into the water fountain that the drain clogs and I have to go wipe it up.

“Allison, can you change out the Pepsi when you get the chance?” Michael asks me. “It’s running low.” 

“Yeah, sure.”

“And after that, if you wouldn’t mind taking over for Zane in box?”

“I can do that.”

“Cool. It’s just that he’s been in there all day.”

“No, I get it.”

“Okay, cool. I’m going out to smoke; I’ll be back in a second.”

“Cool. See you in a sec.”

There is so much popcorn on the ground that I am wading through it. It gets into my socks. I wore my favorite today—the blue ones with the whale print. My mom got them for me a few Christmases ago. They have some holes, but I don’t really mind because they make me happy. I’ll have to clean them out later.

“Young man, would you mind helping my wife?” an old man asks me. “She is feeling very nauseous right now, she has vertigo, you see.”

“Of course. How can I help?”

“Could you bring her a popcorn bucket in case she throws up?”

“Sure.”

“We’re in theater five. Right in the back.”

I arrive too late and the puke gets on my shoes. In front of me, the woman on the screen is confessing her love to the male lead. Her breasts are visible through the thin fabric of her dress. The man is holding her like a fish. She is smiling like a fish. For a moment, they are both fish. 

“Thank you, young man.”

“No problem.” 

He slips me a twenty and then sits back down in his seat, squelching his feet into the still-sticky floor. I’ll have to mop it once the movie is over. 

“Allison, you said you would take over for Zane in box,” Michael says, catching my arm as I pace from theater five to the nearest trash bin.

“Sorry, I got caught up with something.”

“Zane has been in there all day, Allison.”

“Right. Of course. Sorry.”

“Jesus, it’s fine. Just get in there.”

“Okay.”

Zane shoots me a wink as I slide past him and take a seat at the register. There is a line to the door. 

“Thanks.” He says, a grin on his face. Brad and Chris chuckle in the back office. I haven’t seen them do any work all day.

“Uh, no problem.” I reply. My face is flushed with blood. I am very uncomfortable.

He laughs again. His hair is bleached and a little bit too long. His fingernails are painted black. He is grinning at me. They are all grinning. They are all always grinning. By the time he leaves, the old man at the front of the line is very upset with me. His wife is tapping her feet. 

“We are going to be late to the movie,” he says.

“I am sorry, sir,” I reply, “but the movie doesn’t start for another twenty minutes.”

“The one in theater five?”

“Yes. It doesn’t start for another twenty minutes. That’s what the schedule says.”

“Hmmph.” He spits onto the ground. “By the way, my wife has vertigo. She might need a bucket in the theater.” 

“Okay, ask the people at concessions for one.” There is vomit sloshing around in my socks from before. I hand the old man his ticket and I want to start crying and then Michael bursts in from behind me and asks me why I’m not mopping up theater five.

“I thought theater five doesn’t start for another twenty minutes?” 

“It’s starting now. Besides, you’ve been in box all day. You should stretch your legs.”

I get up and wade through the popcorn towards theater five. An old man and his wife drool butter at me as I pass them.

“Why do you have your hair done like a woman, young man?” he asks me.

“I’m a girl,” I tell him.

They both laugh and more butter comes out. The wife vomits up Buncha Crunch. They both look like fish. They are both fish. They are swimming in the butter. They are spilling into my socks. I look out towards the front doors and see nothing but an empty void behind them. It is deep and rolling and for a moment I think I make out a shape swimming beneath the blackness. 

When I enter theater five, the same scene is playing on the screen. The woman, now naked, is pierced by a dozen swords. She is bleeding all over her lover. He has no skin.

“We are all just bones, my darling,” she tells him, her hand caressing the muscles of his open cheek. “We are all just nothing but bones.”

The lover brings his open, lipless mouth towards her. Butter is gurgling out of his throat. He is covered in Buncha Crunch.

“This night is eternal,” she continues, “and the dawning sun will never rise.” They are now kissing. The men and their wives in the theater all smile at the screen. After they pull away from their kiss, all tongues and butter and blood, the woman turns her head towards the camera and looks at me. “You are happy here, Allison,” she says. “You are so happy.”

I shift my weight, my feet squelching into the wet soles of my shoes. The woman turns back to her lover and begins to kiss him again. The men and their wives in the theater all start clapping as the credits roll. She’s right, I realize. I am happy here. I am so happy. I go back outside, and I clean the butter machine.

 

Maxine Sophia Wolff is a twenty-one year old transgender writer from Virginia. She writes speculative fiction that centers trans characters. This is her first published story.

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