Flickering of Lights

My father used to run reels at the local movie theater. It wasn't one of those mega, multi-movie places like they have now. It was just a simple, one room auditorium with red velvet curtain and little lights along the floor. No special seating, no special effects. Just one movie at a time. We'd go Sunday after church to see Disney movies.

Life, under the lights of a huge flashing screen with full color and stereo sound, is a lot better than what it usually is. It's cleaner. It's more vibrant. It's happier. There's music to come in and rouse your emotions. For kisses, or homecomings, or deaths. When danger is lurking the music gives you good warning, enough to cover your eyes in time. Life is rarely like that. None of us know when danger, or heartbreak, is coming. It just comes.

One night my mother needed my father to take care of me for a few hours, so she took me to the movie theater and drove away. Dad and I went into a secret door and up a flight of stairs. He led me into a room full of boxes; I saw candy that I wanted but would never ask for. We walked past a large machine that was metal and robotic. It had two prongs with reels like bicycle rims--one empty, one full. I watched as he fed tape from the full one through the machine so it joined with the empty one. Then he took me to a seat in front of a small window and the room went black.

A clicking noise came from the machine. Like a train, it clicked faster and faster until something caught and filled a light beam with color. That beam shot through the small square of glass all the way to a movie screen below. Leaning close, I could see people down there. The backs of their heads bobbled while their bodies shifted. It was strange being so high above them. It was as if I didn't exist, as if I were part of the movie being sent down. If I didn't move, didn't make a sound, I could pretend I was in that movie.

For almost two hours I existed in light beams and the rhythmic ticking of cinematic suspension of disbelief.

But no movie lasts forever. Movies end, and after the credits are done scrolling, it all shuts down. The machine goes immobile, the house lights blaze. In no time, I was being led down the stairs and out the special door to my mother at the front curb. It was dark, and way past bedtime.


  1. Like living in a dream.

  2. Yes it was. Cinema Paradiso has scenes in it that remind me of this moment.

  3. Amy, I'm so sorry to hear about your father's passing. This was a beautiful vignette, very touching with lovely prose.

  4. Thank you Karen. It's been a rough week and I thought instead of posting something bitter, I'd capture the only truly good moment I had with him.

  5. Amy, that was a lovely post. You have been so much in my thoughts this week. I'm so sorry this is a difficult time for you. Much love Molly xx

  6. Amy, I didn't catch your last posting before you took it off, but I did see enough to understand its message. I'm so sorry to hear that you've lost your dad. It's always devastating to lose one's parents; it happens to all of us, and we all probably feel the same. He must have been very proud that both your music and your writing careers had begun to take off. I send you my most sincere sympathies. Bisou, Cro.

  7. Thank you so much, each of you. I truly am blessed to have such sweet friends. Blessed and lucky to know you!!!

  8. Sorry for your loss Amy.

    What lovely, vivid memories you have of your time with your Dad.

    God bless.

  9. What a poignant memory, Amy. And wonderfully written!

  10. Nice, Amy. So sorry for your loss.

    As an aside,we're still drawn to lit screens, only now they are small, individual, and hand-held... Not the same thing.

  11. True, Mirka. There's this old, one-room theater in a small town in northern Kansas. I love going there when visiting family.Wish we had more of those around here.


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