Like I usually do at the end of every day, before making the climb up my apartment building’s steps, I reach into the breast pocket of my denim jacket to find my apartment key. Sifting through loose change and tangled headphones, my hand wades through my pocket until the cool brass surface of the key meets my fingertips. I make a grab for the key only to end up grazing past a crumpled receipt beneath it. The paper crunches under the key. My legs halt their campaign up the staircase. I unconsciously slip past my keys. My hand flirts with the waxy parchment for a moment. I know what the paper is. I can picture the words printed on it. Slowly I bring the receipt out into the open and uncrumple the document until each line of text is present. Through various stains of dirt and coffee the faded ink reads,
“BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO RENTAL
Good Will Hunting
Run Time: 126 Minutes
Rental Date.: 12/05/2007
Return Date: 12/15/2007
The key no longer matters. My apartment stairwell melts away in surrender to a dream. The memory has begun again– I can’t do anything to stop that now. Without consent the receipt has made me eleven years old again. I am home in my living room. Three sides of paisley wallpaper have appeared. Dad sits parallel to me on our olive corduroy couch, manning his usual position next to our cat, Patches. His Feet resting on the ottoman. I’m sitting on the hearth of our fireplace, my back to the flames. The Saturday night ritual begins. Tonight’s communion: Good Will Hunting. A light smoke rolls out of the fireplace and engulfs the room in the smell of burnt cherry tree. Mom materializes from the darkness of the kitchen, three cups of tea in hand. Robin Williams is on the on TV telling Matt Damon how he ditched the 1975 World Series because he met his future wife. Mom shoos Patches off the couch and sinks into the sofa under Dad’s arm. A light layer of sweat forms on my back from the heat of the fire. The wind howls outside, but tonight we are sheltered together, kept warm by the familiar comforts of our Saturday night rite. Matt Damon goes in to kiss Minnie Driver. Mom nudges a few inches closer to Dad. Elliott Smith’s “Say Yes” plays from the TV. I sip my tea from my freckled mug. I sip it again, and again, and again as I always will every time I revisit this flip book memory, or grab for loose change or reach for my headphones, or just want to experience a time when reality felt concrete. But isn’t that what we all want? To live in the past again, even if it’s only through a two way mirror.
My living room slowly dissipates. The paisley wallpaper, the warmth of the hearth, my parents sitting together on the couch all vanish in the smoke. I am in front of my apartment door now. The receipt is still in my hand. My phone vibrates in my pocket, with a text from Mom.
“Do you know if you’ll be spending Easter with me or your Dad this year?” I crumple up the receipt and go inside.
George Fenton is currently a senior at Saint Joseph’s University studying English and marketing. Born originally in Zug, Switzerland, he immigrated to the United States in 1996 and spent his formative years in Bucks County. He now resides in the Overbrook neighborhood of Philadelphia. George’s work has also appeared in the literary magazine Crimson and Gray. Along with writing, George also puts most of his creative energy into his band Parius.