Charles stared his reflection while getting dressed for the movie at the art gallery. He fumbled with his tie for the third time, and then with a wave of flash anger, yanked it from his neck and flung it to the floor. Ever since Linda left him a year ago, he hadn’t been able to get the Windsor knot down pat like she did. Like she did, he thought as tears began to form in his eyes. He had wanted to marry and spend the rest of his life with her. However, she felt differently when he walked in on her and her lover, his best friend Jeremy, one night from a long day of work. Now, he was alone and he was still not too sure about it all. He fumbled with the first button on his shirt then did a quick glance over. Satisfied with himself, he slipped on a sweater, grabbed his keys and headed out to the gallery. As he drove through the neighbourhood, he continued to think about his ex girlfriend and why it was still so hard for him to be alone. After all, he was an English professor at one of the universities in town, had no late or delayed bills, and was quite the Jack-of-all-trades. Yet, he still dreaded coming home to an empty house night after night, for it meant loneliness.
His friends tried setting him up on dates; however, they failed every time. All of the women his friends had paired him with were nowhere near what he wanted in life. Come to think of it, he thought as he turned down a side street to reach the bustling traffic, Linda was nowhere near what I wanted as well. Although she was very attractive and a decent sexual partner, she did not share his passions. In fact, he stifled many of his loves just for the sake of not getting into fights with her. All she wanted to do was shop and watch soap operas. Anytime he brought her along to a bookstore, she complained during the entire time, leaving Charles more frustrated than before. Suddenly, Charles clenched the steering wheel a little tighter; all of this time, I’ve wanted to be with someone to share my life with when instead I needed to spend more time with the things I love, such as going to movies at art galleries and museums. He caught his reflection in he rear-view mirror and noticed that he was smiling. He was still smiling when he reached the gallery and parked his car. The walk to the gallery was quite delightful as Charles took in the crisp October night air. He walked in, got his ticket, then walked downstairs to the theatre and sat down.
The place quickly filled up as people started to flood in. He looked around and saw that most were in couples or groups yet there were a few single people as well. Were they single or did their partners not want to join them, he wondered then focused inward. Going to a movie at an art gallery was something that Linda would not have enjoyed doing. He grinned; no, this is something I wanted to do. Something that I enjoy. Why should I hold back that which gives me pleasure? Why was I so worried about being alone when I have so much to return to? As the theater darkened in preparation to show the movie, Charles continued to grin.
(photography by Kimberly B. Richardson, copyright)