Life on Mars?

AlienEveryone has their vices. It’s kind of an unwritten human right. So long as you don’t let them consume you, you’re fine. Not that you’re happy, exactly, but who is? You know how to let reality become merely a dark star on the horizon, even just for an hour or two. You’re quite the expert, in fact.

You learnt at a young age that what happens to those little people in the shiny screens isn’t real; just life all made up with song and dance, polished and sprinkled with glitter. But it won’t stop you chasing it; whatever it is.

* * *

It was wrong to lie, but how were you supposed to get past your parents if you told them where you were really going – or indeed, that you had no friends? Either might have got you a one way ticket back to sitting on a couch which was actually red, not brown, once a week analysing shapes. They think you’re doing just fine now. And you intended to keep it that way.

There’s a trick for not paying for your tickets at the cinema. You simply walk past the usher, head up, confident as anything, as if you’ve every right to be there. There was no point trying to buy a ticket for half the things you wanted to see anyway. You were too young for the grown up films you so desperately wanted to see, with all the glamorous women and the smooth men undertaking dangerous missions or simply arguing about the bills, using bad words which made you giggle, their freedom endlessly fascinating. You couldn’t wait to be a grown up, to drive down gorgeous stretches of road in a convertible, to wear glitzy clothes you picked out yourself, to be bombarded with dinner dates from scores of gorgeous men and revel in turning them all down. One day you wouldn’t even need to go to the movies anymore. You wouldn’t need to watch so many films because you’d be so busy with the life many would kill for.

They all know you by name at the cinema now, from the ushers to the cashiers at the front to the acne-ridden kid manning the ice cream stand.

You go every week. Maybe you’re just not quite a grown up yet.

* * *

Of course, you like to talk about films, but the only other topic of conversation that can grip you is the UFO debate. People split into categories, you find; you’ve got your sceptics, born with neither imagination or sense of adventure. Then there’s the idiots, who are convinced with no evidence to back up their opinions other than a misguided article they read half of on the train that aliens are ‘out there.’ And, then there’s the pretentious moron (there’s always one) who showers an otherwise pleasant discussion with his long winded theories, the case studies he’s come across, the ‘scientific facts.’ The facts have never been important to you, though. You just like to think they’re there, sitting in their cosy spaceship, taking notes and drinking whatever Mars’ version is of PG Tips. Why complicate such a nice thought?

* * *

Videotapes unravel. DVDs get scratched up. The picture quality wanes, as if your eyes have eroded it. The soundtrack becomes sick of itself. The stories blur into one until you feel as though you could’ve written them yourself. Sometimes you’ve seen everything every cinema in town has to offer. It’s time to temporarily venture beyond the screen.
He was a bore, but you didn’t have to like him. You didn’t even have to buy your own drinks. The aftertaste was still bitter in your mouth when you let him peel off your clothes, the headache spitefully kicking against your skull before you even opened your eyes the next morning, the click of the front door as he left echoing through as a sneering reminder that you should’ve just stayed home.

* * *

You were in love once. You went to dancehalls, ballrooms, fancy restaurants, cinemas with the 1930s themes. But you couldn’t be with him all the time because he belonged to somebody else. He was somebody else’s creation, in fact; a walking talking piece of fiction, with the face of a Hollywood star and the dialogue of an unappreciated screen writer. Still, you can’t help but sometimes pretend he is still with you.

Loneliness is strange. Familiar. Sort of warm; possessive and tender. Like an abusive lover, alternating between bursts of aggression and whispered words of comfort. But then again, people are such an annoyance that perhaps it is the lesser of two evils. It must be quiet out in space. A great place to sit and think though, you’d imagine.