Foreign Language

by Franz Pantaleon

You’ve never really experienced heartbreak until you’re forced to watch a foreign romantic-drama alone.

I remember the seat beside me being empty, and all I had in my hand was an unused ticket for the same screening. She didn’t show up at the place we had agreed to meet and I decided against making contact with her to ask if she was still coming. So I went into the cinema alone thinking it would have been a waste of perfectly good tickets.

I checked my phone every few minutes hoping she had the decency to text, even if it were just to confirm that she wasn’t going to arrive, and then I realized how easy it was to get lost in translation. The flurry of foreign tongue coming from the film did nothing to lift me from the vacuous silence my phone possessed.

I watched the film in stillness; my want for warmth slowly seeped into the recess by my side, leaving me in the cold. I was supposed to have a hand to hold on to, albeit one last time. This isn’t how goodbyes were supposed to go, but maybe romantic idealism lost its lustre during the fall, only I hadn’t noticed. And there I was, alone in the cold, holding on to a crumpled promise not the least bit useful for wiping my tears away.

Finally, after a painstaking one hour and fifty-three minutes, the film ended. I stepped outside and stretched my bones, ticket still in hand. I looked around, half expecting to either see her standing by a concession stand, waiting for me to come over, or watching her walk out of another cinema alone, but with a smile on her face. But expectations are often shot far from reality; reality being she was far from here, and I was far from having a proper goodbye.

I keep the unused ticket, all creased and stained with sweat, to remind myself why I watch French films at home. I’ve also since stopped holding my hand out with reservations others people can’t commit to. My heart is full of shards from broken promises, and it amazes me how, despite everything, it still beats as earnestly as it did the first time I fell in love.

Franz is an aspiring writer, photography hobbyist, film enthusiast, existentialist, and dreamer. In his spare time he enjoys reflecting on the deeper questions in life and romanticizing the mundane.

Thanks to Tammy Sue for her photography.