Wordy Wednesday (“Popcorn”)

I don’t try to spam people with book recommendations too much, since I am that random college student who–so far–has still managed to find the time to read a whole bunch of books since school started this fall, but I cannot pass on the opportunity to recommend the novel I just finished reading to you.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein just gave me hope for historical fiction. I have spent YEARS avoiding historical fiction, because it’s rare that I find a historical fiction book that holds my attention. And not only did this book hold my attention, but it also made me laugh and cry and squirm and smile, and did I mention CRY? Because I cried. So hard.

I hardly ever cry over books–if my eyes even get just a little bit moist, you know you’ve done a good job with getting me to feel something–and this book made me want to sob. (Of course, my roommate was sitting just a few feet away from me while I was reading, so I couldn’t actually do that, but still. The point is that I WOULD HAVE SOBBED, if not for that. THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.)

Please go pick up this book the first chance you get. Even if you don’t like historical fiction, or books where romance isn’t a main focus, or young adult fiction (although, honestly, if you don’t like YA I don’t know why you’re on my blog right now 😉 ), I am telling you that you have to read this book. They’d better be teaching it in schools soon, because it’s one of the very few books I have ever read that I want absolutely everyone to read, and I think absolutely everyone should have to read it at some point in their life. It is so powerful, and important, and beautiful.

I’d have to write a whole ‘nother novel to tell you properly how much I love Code Name Verity. So please, just go read it. I promise that you won’t regret it, and by the off chance that you do, I will gladly recommend you for a mental institution pay you back the $20.00 or so it costs to purchase a hardcover copy of the book. (Someday. When I actually have money.)

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a short story I wrote my senior year of high school for the Figment/Seventeen Magazine 2011-2012 Fiction Contest (judged by Maggie Stiefvater), which went on to become a finalist and later was featured on Figment’s homepage. Also, because my mom–who is much braver than I am–told a certain NY Times bestselling author that I had been a finalist in the contest when we went to her book signing this past fall, Maggie Stiefvater totally wished me luck on my writing career too.

Yeah. I know.

Anyway, here is “Popcorn.”

**********

It was in the glow of a projector, playing a silent film, that we locked eyes. I was the only other person in the theatre, so I was surprised when he sat down beside me and offered his popcorn.

“No thanks,” I blushed. “The grease makes me break out.”

I immediately wondered if there possibly could be anything more embarrassing for me to say, especially to a boy I’d never met.

He laughed and my cheeks flushed even warmer.

“What?” I asked, squinting at him through the flickering shades of grey light. I couldn’t make out his features well — just the swoop of his straight, pale hair and the relaxed smile in his eyes — but I knew he saw me well enough to realize I was offended.

“I’m not laughing at you,” he said quickly. “It’s just that there’s no butter. I can’t have it, either.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I reached for the bag he held out and pulled a handful of popcorn to my lips.

A while later, we were talking again.

“I usually go to contemporary movies because that’s what my friends enjoy,” I explained, “but I like the appeal of the black and white. It’s so different.”

“Is that why you’re alone?” he asked, grabbing a handful of popcorn. “And having a conversation with a stranger?”

I rolled my eyes, but when it became apparent he was actually waiting for a response, I stopped to think.

“In modern movies, there’s so much going on that you don’t have a choice but to sit back and watch. But with a silent film, they leave so much up to the audience — you have to fill in the color and dialogue and everything yourself.”

“You feel alive after watching it,” he concluded knowingly, giving me a smile.

“Exactly,” I said.

Shhh,” he joked, “I can’t hear the actors.”

Just then, an older couple entered the theatre and took seats down front, glancing back at us.

He held a slim finger to his lips, still parted in an amused smile, and I nodded, settling into my seat and facing front again. Silence reigned in the theatre.

When the lights came up and color returned to the world, the boy and I walked to the exit together. Although now I could see that his hair was the color of sand and his eyes the ocean, I still found myself thinking in terms of black and white.

“You lied about the popcorn,” I said, crossing my arms. “There was definitely butter.”

“You lied about the zits,” he countered. “You just didn’t want to take a stranger’s food.”

I blushed and looked down at my feet, but he wasn’t angry.

“Thanks for sharing the movie with me,” he continued on.

“It was colorful.” I met his eye.

With a toothy grin and a nod, he stepped outside, walking away. It wasn’t until he was out of sight that I realized he never told me his name.

**********

24

 

~Julia

PS. Now go get started on Code Name Verity before I sic the hounds on you!

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