In the Projection Booth

Imagine looking out a window at an environment that is particularly significant to you. Describe it.

It’s a dirty, badly-lit, second-storey room. Inside is a desk, a pile of movie posters, a phone, an answering machine, and a trash can. The desk holds my modes of entertainment for the night: a couple of YA books and a drawing pad in which I write and rewrite the first chapter of my story. I’ve learned to ignore the whirring of the film reels next door, but occasionally I stop and listen when the soundtrack swells through the viewing hole. Sometimes, when the phone rings, I answer it rather than let it go to the answering machine, and tell them what’s playing rather than let the owner’s recording play again. When I’m absolutely certain the owner is occupied downstairs with customers, I wedge my fingers at random into the pile of posters, lift up as much as I can against the weight, and study whatever one I’ve landed on, guessing what the movie must have been about. Once a week, I check the trash can. Every time we change the movie, the owner has to fix the new reels of film, cutting out the trailers, splicing the damaged film, connecting the reels. I collect the discarded pieces: Jack Sparrow and Peter Parker and Frodo Baggins, all sooty with cigarette ashes in the bottom of the trash can. In the summer my domain extends to the whole downtown area, and the tourist shops and docks and playgrounds are mine to explore every night. But in the winter, I have to stay inside, and if it’s a lousy movie, I only watch it twice. The rest of the time I retreat to the office upstairs, listening to soundtracks while I read. I am ten, and I take my kingdom for granted.

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