Romanticism is that inescapable honey trap that all of us find ourselves entrapped in at atleast some point in our lives. In some ways, life is a collection of pursuing romantic notions, even though most of these notions turn out to be nothing but thinly veiled allusions of a reality usually not as grand or operatic as we envision/misinterpret. Pursuing one such romantic notion was Milos, a simpleton from the countryside who dreamt of nothing but moving to the city, an idea that caught his fancy when he saw a city for the first time during a film screening in his local cinema hall at the age of 5, the same place where he works as an usher now, at the age of 20.

 What's particularly curious about this romantic pursuit is that, Milos isn't particularly fond of cinema. On the contrary, not only does he detest his job, but he finds the overall concept of blowing up what is basically a series of illusions to the size of a wall-size screen and paying to witness this spectacle quite ridiculous. But still, it was those series of images of a place much more vibrant and glorious than where he currently resides that endured in his mind all those years later. 

 Sasha works as a cashier in the same cinema hall. Contrary to Milos, she loves cinema but hates cities. She makes it a point to catch every new release but the ones that are especially critical about cities and city-life in general are the films that leave a deeper impact for her while films that instead indulge in romanticism are the ones she usually walks out from.

 Now who is right or wrong is obviously debatable because, both Milos and Sasha haven't really visited a city yet, something that was about to change....soon!

 The cinema hall was acquired by one of the leading multiplex chains from a nearby city and as part of restructuring, the staff from this cinema hall were being shifted to a cinema hall in the city.

  Milos was over the moon while Sasha was contemplating about handing over her resignation. But what prevented her from even typing her resignation was......Milos.

 Milos and Sasha were what one would call childhood sweethearts. From studying at the same school to the gamut of impulsive romantic cliches one has been overexposed to at this point, Milos and Sasha have been in love ever since they laid eyes on each other.

 A few tearful goodbyes later, Milos and Sasha climb into the bus that is going to whisk them off to the land of: wonder (for Milos) and claustrophobia (for Sasha). Milos looks moony eyed through the bus window while Sasha is busy poring through an Anne Tyler paperback.

 Its been a few days since Milos and Sasha arrived in the city. The staff has been assigned a month of training at a nearby hospitality training centre that the multiplex chain has signed a contract with. Sasha has been doing great at her training, all those years of reading literature and watching cinema were paying off and already her name was being recommended for a promotion. Milos on the other hand.....was nursing a bit of a heartbreak.

 The dazzling lights on the big screen felt blinding in person, the excitement of a thronging crowd on screen felt claustrophobic in person! On the screen the city air radiated exuberance, in person it was shrouded in smog! During training sessions, Milos felt nothing more than a misfit. 

 A month passed and Milos and Sasha both joined their respective posts. Sasha felt much more confident than she did back in the countryside. She was glad that she stopped herself from typing out that resignation! Milos on the other hand couldn't look past the clutter and pollution of the city. His contempt for cinema grew even further, especially for instilling such a false notion about something in him! He began to despise his job even further, to the point where he wouldn't show up to work for days on end!

 Milos' absence from work grew to a rather problematic degree. One day the manager summoned Sasha to his office and asked her to inform Milos to start reporting to work regularly or else it might be better if he starts looking for another job!

The manager was a 60 year old man named Gordon. Gordon had joined the multiplex chain at the age of 25 and through his adept management and public speaking skills, he rose through the ranks rather quickly and by the age of 30, he was already the manager. Under his leadership, this cinema hall turned out to be the most profitable franchise in the entire multiplex chain!

 That evening, when Sasha retuned home, the following conversation ensued between her and Milos:

Sasha: Gordon summoned me to his office today. He said that you have to report to work regularly otherwise....

Milos: Otherwise what? He'll sack me and appoint some other sycophant buffoon?

Sasha: Reporting regularly for your job is not sycophancy!

Milos: The lack of honesty in forcefully making myself looking forward to another day of work is sycophancy in my book!

Sasha: Either show up or find another job!

  Sasha storms out of the room while Milos gets back to staring outside the window. 

  Its been a few months at this point. Sasha has been doing great at her job and since Gordon might retire soon, Sasha's name is being regularly recommended as the next manager, which if comes true, would make Sasha the youngest manager in the history of the multiplex chain. Milos on the other hand was dismissed from the job barely a month after joining. He is getting by through Sasha's income and the odd jobs he manages to pick once in a blue moon. Milos and Sasha's relationship is rather strained these days, something that the two of them barely acknowledge. What once used to be lengthy conversations about a myriad of subjects has now been reduced to nothing more than obligatory pleasantries!

September 14, 2020 16:18

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Rose Nelson
00:27 Sep 24, 2020

Nathan, The story answers the prompt well, and it could make for an intriguing read if the plot went somewhere more unexpected (other than their relationship falling apart). I do like that Milos and Sasha trade feelings on their jobs once they move--good twist. A few details need to be filled in as well. For example, what exactly are the new city jobs they each got? The same as when they were in the country? And if Sasha is still a cashier, how likely is it she would be in line for a managerial role after just a few months? The order in w...


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Zea Bowman
10:43 Sep 24, 2020

Hey! It's Zea Bowman, coming to you from the critique circle. I think that this was a really good take on the prompt! You did a good job on this story. These were just a couple things I noticed. "Pursuing one such romantic notion was Milos, a simpleton from the countryside who dreamt of nothing but moving to the city, an idea that caught his fancy when he saw a city for the first time during a film screening in his local cinema hall at the age of 5, the same place where he works as an usher now, at the age of 20." I would say to brea...


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