A Short Story - Popcorn For Two

Popcorn For Two 
By Heather Morse Alexander           
            Joy paid for the ticket and made her way to the popcorn line.
            Alone again.
            The concessions queue wound through the bustling lobby. She counted at least forty people in line and only three cashiers. It was going to be a wait.
            “They should add a few cashiers,” someone behind her remarked.
            Joy turned around to find a smiling man with a trimmed beard looking at her. “Yeah.” Joy said. She turned back around and took a step forward as the line moved.
            “I’m asking myself, do I really want popcorn this much?” The guy kept talking. He was tall—taller than Joy’s height of six feet. “The answer is always yes. I can’t watch a movie without popcorn.”
            “Me either.” She remained facing him then, and took a better look at the talkative guy. He had a friendly face and brown eyes.
            “What movie are you seeing?” he asked.
            “Journey Home.” Joy smiled and glanced ahead, then moved forward with the line.
            “Me too. I’ve been waiting for it to come out—so much hype. I hope it’s as good as the critics say.”           
            “Yeah, hard to tell. The professional critics are usually biased." I sound negative. I should turn around and stop talking.
            “Did you see Watson’s Landing? That was awful but the critics loved it.” The man’s front teeth were slightly crooked in the most pleasant way.
            “I agree, I expected Watson’s Landing to be much better than it was.”
            The guy was silent for a few minutes. The line inched forward.
            “I’m a Raisinet kind of guy, what’s your poison?”
            “Good and Plenty, always.” Joy hated small talk, but this guy made it bearable.
            “That’s my second choice. I love black licorice.”
             “Me too.” Why can’t I think of anything clever to say?
            “Do you come here often?” The guy laughed. “Wow, that’s a classic pick-up line. What I mean is, are you a movie fan?”
            He has the cutest laugh. Wait, did he say pick-up line? “I love movies. I actually review them on my blog.”
            “Seriously? Which one? I read several movie blogs.”
            “The Joy of Movies.”
            “You’re Joy?”
            “That’s me.”
            “I’m Ben, by the way,” he smiled and held out his hand.
            She took it. Their eyes met and locked for a moment. To Joy, it seemed he held her hand a little longer than necessary. “Nice to meet you Ben.” She glanced forward and moved with the line.            
            “I agree with your take on films about ninety-eight percent of the time. I read all your reviews.”
            Joy noted his dimple high on one cheek but not the other. “Only ninety-eight percent of the time?” She raised an eyebrow.
            “I didn’t agree with your take on War of the Gods. I like the ending. I don’t mind unfinished business and the hint of a sequel.”
            “But the way it ended was a little too gimmicky, don’t you think?”
            Ben nodded. “I’ll give you that. It was. Okay, I’ll up the percentage to ninety-nine.”
            “Thank you.” Joy laughed and held her necklace. She didn’t know what to do with her hands. Why did this handsome man keep talking to her? She glanced at his empty ring finger and noticed his t-shirt declaring, World’s Best Uncle. “So you’re an uncle?”
            Ben's brow furrowed. “Yes?” He looked down at his shirt. “The best actually, and I have the shirt to prove it.”
            “I see that. I’m the best aunt, but I can’t prove it.”
            “I’ll take your word for it.” Ben winked at her.
            Joy's heart fluttered. She glanced at the clock. “Only two minutes until it starts. I hope we make it in time for the previews. I love the previews.”
            “Me too. I wonder if there’s any good seats left.”
            “Well, there are always decent single seats. I mean, most people go to the movies with someone.” Ugh, I sound pathetic.        
            “True.” Ben stuck his hands in his pockets.
            “I mean, not that I go to the movies alone all the time.” I’m digging my own grave. Stop talking.
            “I do. I wish I didn’t though.” He smiled, his eyes met hers and she didn’t look away.
            Did he just say that?
            “You two are holdin’ up the line. Ask her to sit with you and get it over with.” An old man standing behind Ben chuckled.
            “Um…would you like to sit together?” Ben asked, as his face turned the cutest shade of pink.
            “I’d love to.” Joy watched the person in front of her walk to the counter. Finally.
            “May I?” Ben pointed to the cashier waving Joy to the counter.
            “Oh.” She smiled and stepped aside.

            “C’mon.” He walked to the counter.
            Joy followed.
            Ben pulled out his wallet. “I’d like a box of Good and Plenty, Raisinets and popcorn for two, please.”

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