Julie Delpy

For four weeks Russell’s been researching rail travel, because he wants to be Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise. He’s prepared for other variations if this one won’t work, although he’s not updating Shakespeare, serenading Winona Ryder, or pretending he’s someone he’s not (unless it’s Ethan Hawke, obviously).

I try to be supportive. He asks me, ‘Where can I get a good hamburger?’ until he gets the accent right. We walk around the city, late nights and early mornings, and he keeps saying, ‘I didn’t think it’d be this cold. It didn’t look cold in the film.’ Sometimes, I swear he’s saying ‘Uma Thurman’ under his breath, but he may just be shivering.

He’s got his inter-rail pass already. I bite my lip to stop from saying, ‘This isn’t what Ethan would have, because Ethan’s American.’ I don’t relay any of Russell’s flaws back to him (he really can’t say ‘banana’) because I’m not in the habit of destroying hope.

Before he leaves I ask him, ‘Why Ethan?’ and he mumbles something about oddly tall beautiful women, whilst fastening the clips on his rucksack. I stand on tiptoes, crane my neck and say, ‘You don’t need to travel round Europe for that.’ And then he kisses me continentally, on both cheeks, as his train pulls in.

bs sunrise t

(originally published in Fractured West Issue 3, then on the National Flash Fiction Day blog)

Gone Still There (NaPoWriMo #3)

Instinctually, I check pockets
of school shirts, charity bag donations
because Mom washed Dad’s wallet
and a dollar mulch isn’t spendable
unless it’s just sweat on it.
Value isn’t learnable
a tidy room’s not bankable
because P’s Amex is the 1-Click
Amazon Prime trial.

This try out
is a contract collect
that feels like a date
you don’t have to face
but there might be a send back
get out clause. Refund.

Third try’s it
and if it’s not, don’t tell.
This is comfortably purgatory.

Hot State

Jack wants to be Ethan Hawke, has since we saw Reality Bites when we were 12, after Nicki asked us for recommendations for a Saturday sleepover we thought we’d be invited to, or I was sure. Naively sure, the way I entered each of my first eight relationships. Instead, Monday morning in Geography, Vicky and Cherry and Jo relayed how shit the film was. They’d never been more bored. My gut tore, and I wondered if my legs would work later. But they worked when the bell went, because betrayal’s not a cancer or fatal sickness, although both those betray you, betray me right now.

So Jack and I hired it, the one copy from Flicks, the store we got before Blockbuster, or iTunes, or illegal downloads, and we put it on our Dad’s card before we had our own cards, when they never even asked for digits, or proof, or telephone numbers. Or ID. And I get asked for ID now, 15 years on, and sense isn’t a self-filled bucket that’s topped up.

And we saw Before Sunrise, Sunset, him seduce Angelina before Brad did, pretend to be Jude Law in Gattaca and we read him wondering if he’d read us and we watched every thing that he crafted, when he played his own dad in the film of the book and Jack never got over and I never could get.

And once he evolves, knows every crease, repetition, ex-wife, I’ll learn every Winona Ryder line, imply that I made him the man that he is the space of an 80 minute film that Jo hates, a Smash Hits’ recommend that Kim didn’t like. But we.

Vincent Gallo

“I wouldn’t buy your soul,” Jack says, “try to save it or make you sit through a Matt Damon movie,” like that might be a chore.

“What if it was cheap?” I ask and Jack says, “That’s not the point. I mean I’ll never own you.” I tell him he’s right, that’s true, that I’ll cling to technicalities like my name, profession, by not wearing white. But I know it’s a trade, still, with its own repercussions.

“What do you think of Ben Affleck?” I ask, and there’s a pause; a soul or deflated balloon that leaves spit on your hands.