She made snow angels in popcorn spilled from the steel kettle she'd tilted until it barfed up bright yellow blossoms. Managers tried to take hold of the pretzels and keep their hands at ten and two on either side. She screeched in response to the beeping and whirring of the nut machine, the quarters flying from their drawers shattered her moment of insane bliss spun to the classical soundtrack played above. Crowds of disgruntled guests climbed over the counters, crushing the candy displays in their wake. They demanded refills and popcorn chicken, shoving soiled bags to be pumped up with canola oiled Styrofoam (which they command to be saltless but have it blanketed with a snowfall of salty seasonings). They shook their fists full of hundreds and rang up reasons she’s failing: unequal amount of pepperonis on the pizza; drinks were supposed to be the ones they didn’t ask for; ice cream cones have nuts on them; guest is on the phone (how rude of her to interrupt them!). She grabbed their money, their bags and cups, their disrespect, their smiles real and fake, their sniffling children, their subterranean desire to never be late to a movie but show up five minutes into the trailers. She was to blame for all of this; yelling was encouraged. She wound around to the box office counter, a broom for each hand cradling crumpled bird of paradise napkins napping on the lobby floor. She fended off grumbling heads with movie passes and signatures to be official, because ALL THINGS MUST BE OFFICIAL!!! Headset snakes coiled their wires at feet, their mouthpieces whispering help us. The people keep asking us to tell them what they want. We don’t want to think for them. She answered the call and hung up the phone, then threw that phone through the glass window. Fractured fragments danced between stanchion polls as employees popped through the spacious frames, finally freed from their bondage to the movie house. And she, she rested atop a fountain of trash, satisfied with the drowning cheers of the liberated. She stayed behind, tied by sanitized rags and a saintly devotion to the job. Ending credit music played as she curled up in the recycling bin, dreaming of the filmy stars above her.

When You’ve Worked at a Movie Theater for Three Years and Nine Months

 

M.K.C.

“M.K.C.” is the author name of Morgan K. Cummins. Her grandpa would always sign his artwork with only his initials, and Morgan does the same with her writing in honor of him. Morgan's best friend is Jesus. When not doing homework, Morgan can be found listening to RWBY songs, hanging out with friends and family, or walking her dog in the morning. Morgan is currently an intern with the literary journal Waxwing.  
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