Episodic Boys

Karly Little

Karly Little

Episode I: Shawn

For my golden birthday, my seventeenth, he gave me a gold 17 necklace. He started leaving his things everywhere when his parents stopped medicating him. I glared at his boxed set of Star Wars VHS tapes on my family’s living room floor until Mom shoved them between the entertainment center shelves while vacuuming.  My junior year curfew meant we didn’t have the time to watch them in one sitting. I refused to watch the boy movies on my own. Eventually, they went into the box with an impossible number of crusty socks, crumpled cowboy hat, and his green football jersey. He knew I was breaking up with him and dropped the box the second he could see inside it. I had to step over the pile to get through the doorframe. He knocked his graduation picture off the family’s fridge when he fell against it crying.


Episode II: Chris

The computer lab supervisor of my film school got me to an artsy theater for Across the Universe under the guise of editing research. I showed him the Kenny Chesney music video that I kept on my laptop home screen—the reason I went to film school. Girls in bikinis turned cartwheels on a beach by a pier of twirling carnival lights. “You don’t want to create this; you want to live it,” he said, pointing to the video. He understood because he wanted to be a Jedi. I remember thinking that my dreams seemed more realistic. He had the geekiest habit of replacing the f-word with Star Wars. I tried to make the word swap, but it never felt natural. Adopting the habit seemed like an invitation to ask me to watch the series with him. During one stay-at-home date night, I passed out after my second goblet of Strawberry Hill Boone’s Farm. He stormed out of my first college apartment. I said, “Fuck,” under my breath.


Episode III: Addam

In the green room of our production class, I pointed out our matching blue and silver Asics running shoes. Over a shared plate at Olive Garden, we discovered diabetes ran in both our families, and we made a standing date to walk three miles per night together. With each lap around the park, I waited for him to reach for my hand. He never did. We watched excerpts of the original Star Wars in editing class. He pointed out the cables and whispered about the magic that made the hovercraft fly. Every Tuesday, he rented new releases and ran my apartment’s air conditioner at sixty-four degrees. We’d spread blankets on the floor and talk about God. I didn’t know he loved me until he filled my golden retriever birthday card with blue ink. You are such a special person, and I don’t think you understand how I feel about you, it said.


Episode IV: Adam

He was a life-long line cook at the restaurant where I worked and wore more tattoos than ordinary flesh. When Mom and Dad accidentally met him, he was two hours late for work and didn’t try to hide his hangover. The first time he kissed me in the walk-in fridge, I tripped over the cucumbers and scraped my arm against the mesh of the rutabaga bag. I asked how he felt about Star Wars, hoping he’d ask me to watch it with him so he could explain it to me. Instead, he lent me the only DVD of the series he owned, The Empire Strikes Back—his favorite. I carried it in my purse for a week and never told him I hadn’t seen the others. I tossed it in a garbage bag with all the other things he’d left at my apartment when he left me for a girl whose forearms read: Pray For Me.


Episode V: William

He added the movies to our queue without telling me. The red Netflix envelopes sat on the counter until he decided I needed to watch them. He opened A New Hope first. I leaned against the armrest and was sleeping before the thirty-minute mark. He sealed each disc of Star Wars individually. “You can never just do something I want to do,” he said and slammed the door behind him. He was right. I made a fist and stared at the protruding diamond of my engagement ring. I imagined how the black mailbox would look with the red envelopes inside and the red flag above it. Six months later, I held the ring at arm’s length. I made him take his hands out of his sweatshirt pocket to take it from me.


Episode VI: Curtis

I moved back to my hometown alone. On New Year’s Day, I sat across the table from my childhood crush on a lunch date. We’d ordered the same sandwich but different chips. He borrowed the first disc of Star Wars from his little brother and brought it to my house. I warned him I’d seen pieces of it before, but I’d try to be open-minded. The DVD player in my living room couldn’t read the disc. I hated that I felt relieved. We took the movie downstairs to my exercise room and wrapped up in blankets. With our bare feet against the surface of my taekwondo mats, we sat against the wall. He pushed play. When I fought to keep my eyes open, he hit pause.


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