Finishings

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Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

–She kissed him.

–He kissed her.

–He finally presented his screenplay to a major (okay; a minor) Hollywood producer.

–She had an orgasm for the first time, uncontrived. There was no one else present in the room.

–He learned how to parallel-park in New York.

–In the midst of a snowfall, they finally saw snow for what it was; a molecule, a piece of dirt, around which more white molecules were wrapped.

–He put a down-payment on a studio apartment.

–She learned to make, without flaw, a recipe that previously only her mother had been able to make. She thought of calling her mother but did not do so.

…Then other things; stranger things…

–One man left his apartment and began to roam the streets, searching the sky for the sign of the apocalypse. He told no one. At the end of the day, he returned to his loving family, having pretended that he had spent the whole day as a bond-trader, his real job.

–One girl discovered that she could make a lot of money from men who were sexually attracted to her feet; only her feet. She didn’t have to sleep with them even. Was it worth it though, to pay for a degree in Art History, for how could you go back to real life after that.

–One man started smoking pot and became very fat. He found, strangely, that he preferred being fat, had maybe always somehow been meant to be fat.

–One man stood in groups where teenage girls congregated, with mirrors affixed to the tops of his shoes.

–One girl took to only wearing outfits of pure white, and abstained from all dairy products.

–One man got religion.

–One girl grew obsessed with trying to draw a perfect circle on the corner of her bedroom wall.

–One men developed insomnia. When he slept, he could only dream of death and teeth and typewriters, the three somehow intertwined.

–One girl gave away all her possessions, and spoke loudly of her plans to move to Morocco; or no, maybe to Crete.

–One man became obsessed with the thought “Consider the birds of the air.”

–One girl began ritually cutting her arms, with no greater thought than that.

…These people all seemed different, but they all had one thing in common. They all thought that they were starting on beginnings, new beginnings, when really they were starting on endings, finishings. The difference between the two being so subtle, a slim line invisible to science.

But these were endings, not beginnings. If you could loop the film backwards in the projector, restring the film and play the reel backwards — but they don’t play movies like that anymore; they don’t have movie theaters like that anymore. …They were stuck with the idea of moving forth with their lives — but then, at moments, they would wake in the night, jolt awake in the middle of the night to the fizzy pop of a lightbulb, a fading lightbulb, and realize that they were staring into a finish, a fait accompli, the heart of a broken love story.

…Then they would roll over, the one or two of them would, as one must, and would go back to sleep, as one must — alone or together — and fading into sleep they could savor the simple linen smell of the sheets, but of course, the morning still awaited, with everything that that implied. TC Mark

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