Only a Movie
Written by argonaut :: [Wednesday, 26 August 2009 11:18] Last updated by :: [Thursday, 15 May 2014 16:01]
Only a Movie
by Argonaut & Brad328 (a.k.a. BW)
“Well, you must have enjoyed that,” Alison remarked as we strolled out of the movie theater. “It was just like one of those silly stories you write for that Uber Girl website.”
“Yeah, I liked it.” I stole a sidelong glance at the lobby poster, wondering if I’d be able to find a copy on eBay – and if I could get away with hanging it in my workroom.
It was after eight o’clock, but a clear twilight lingered over the small Vermont town. The tourist season hadn’t begun yet, and the main street was quiet. Our car was parked just a few yards away from the town’s one-screen movie theater.
“Thank you for the movie, O best beloved,” I said.
“Thank you for dinner.”
“Happy three-month anniversary.”
“Back at you.”
There was a Baskin Robbins across the street. “Want to get some ice-cream?”
“We’ve got some back at the cabin,” she reminded me. “Besides, you know I’m trying to lose these extra pounds.”
I wrapped my arms around her from behind and placed my right palm flat against her stomach. “Where are these extra pounds you keep talking about?” I asked. “I’ve never been able to see them. Maybe I should get my eyes checked.”
Alison turned and gave my face a light, playful slap. “Don’t you dare,” she grinned.
She got into the passenger seat. I walked around to the rear of the car and took a parcel out of the trunk. It was the size of a shoe box – in fact, it was a shoe box – wrapped in shiny red paper and tied with a white ribbon.
“What’s that?” Alison asked as I seated myself behind the wheel and set the parcel down on the seat between us.
“It’s your other anniversary present,” I told her, pulling out of our parking space.
“Ooh. Can I open it?”
“Mmmm … no. You’ll have to wait until we get back to the cabin.”
“Stinker.” Then she added, slyly, “Well, I’ve got another present for you.”
“Oh, yeah? Where is it?”
“Back at the cabin. So you’ll just have to wait, too.”
“Fair enough,” I grinned.
The tiny town was already behind us; we were passing the roadhouse where we’d had dinner a couple of hours before. I turned right, slowing to shift gears as the car began to climb the long steep dirt road that led to the cabin we’d rented for the weekend.
Alison and I fell into a companionable silence, enjoying the picture-postcard view of the northern Vermont countryside. A steep slope dropped off to our left, and a wooded hillside rose to our right, under a sky shifting gradually from blue to purple.
“So,” Alison said suddenly. “Who did you like better: Uma or Anna?”
A lesser man might have flinched, but after three months of marriage I was pretty adroit at handling a curve ball like that … or so I liked to think.
“Well,” I said judiciously. “I liked G-Girl’s costumes. They were very … stylish, and I thought Uma wore them well. But Anna Faris …” I grinned. “That blonde hair … that incandescent smile … those big blue eyes …”
Since that was an accurate description of Alison as well, I thought I’d come up with a pretty safe answer. Alison turned up a corner of her mouth in wry acknowledgment of my parry. When she’d learned that I’d spent a summer in Ireland, a couple of years before I met her, she declared that I hadn’t just kissed the Blarney Stone – I must have made out with it.
“Apparently you thought the bedroom scenes were pretty funny,” she said.
“Oh, yes – especially the one at the end, when Anna Faris pushed the bed right though the wall and into the neighbor’s apartment.” I wondered if Alison had noticed me adjusting the front of my trousers in the darkened theater. Probably she had. Something else I’d learned in the past three months: Wives always notice things like that.
Alison laid a hand on my shoulder, gazing at me in mock earnestness. “Just remember, sweetie,” she said. “It was only a movie.”
“I know, I know. But – WHOA!”
They say your whole life flashes before your eyes in a situation like this, but that wasn’t my experience. I only recall a jumble of disconnected impressions – the other car careening toward us from behind a curve in the road ahead … the steering wheel digging into my palms as I tightened my grip on it … the shriek of metal scraping against metal and the snap of splintering wood. I turned toward Alison. Her eyes were wide with terror and her mouth was open. Was she screaming? I couldn’t tell …
* * * * * *
Alison spoke first. “What – what happened?”
Riding a wave of adrenaline, I replied with calm precision. “I swerved to avoid that oncoming driver. Our car went over the barrier and now we’re caught in the branches of a tree – an elm, I think – just like the jeep in Jurassic Park.”
“Does everything have to remind you of some movie?”
“Sorry,” I said. “But I don’t have a real-life precedent for our present situation.”
“So what are we going to do?”
“Well, first of all – are you okay?”
“Yeah … yeah, I think so. I’m kinda shook up, that’s all.” Her voice was starting to quaver. “Oh my God, we could have … could have been …”
“Well, we weren’t,” I said firmly. I leaned across and gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. The car was tilted to the right, and only my seat-belt kept me from sliding against her. A bough beneath us gave an ominous creak.
Cautiously, I peered out of the window on my side of the car. My insides went watery when I saw that it was a thirty-foot drop to the steep hillside below. Leafy branches were pressed against the window on Alison’s side, preventing her from seeing our predicament.
I took a deep breath. The adrenaline was starting to wear off, and it required an effort to keep my voice level. “We have to call for help,” I said. “Where’s your cell phone?”
“In my purse.” She looked around her. “Shit. Everything’s spilled out. Let me see if I can find it.” She shifted in her seat. A branch cracked and the car suddenly tilted another few degrees to the right.
“No!” I yelped. Then, trying to speak calmly, I told her, “We mustn’t move. The branch holding us might break and … well, that would be bad.”
“So we just wait here until …?”
I saw her point. Besides the one we were renting, there were maybe three or four cabins on the uphill portion of the road. Who knew when one of their occupants might drive by? And it was getting dark …
Scanning the floor for the cell phone, I saw the present I was planning to give Alison. Carefully, I leaned forward, stretching out my right arm and hooking my forefinger in the bow. I set it in my lap, praying that its contents hadn’t been damaged in our mishap.
Alison was watching me curiously. “What are you doing?”
“Opening your present.”
“Now?” She blinked, and in the fading light I could see that her eyes were brimming with tears. I knew what she was thinking – He thinks we’re going to die, and he wants me to have my anniversary present …
I slipped off the ribbon and tore away the shiny red paper. Opening the box, I peeled away a layer of bubble-wrap and carefully took out …
“A flashlight?” Alison’s voice was poised on the verge between laughter and tears. “For our three-month anniversary you went to Home Depot and bought me a frigging flashlight?”
I breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed to be intact. I turned to Alison.
“Listen, jewel of my heart. This isn’t a flashlight. I was planning to explain it all to you later, once we got back to the cabin, but … well, there’s no time for that now. This is called a Transformatrix, and it … well, long story short, it can give you super-powers.”
“Oh God, you’re delirious,” Alison wailed. “Honey, this is real life, not one of those stories on your website. Super-girls … uber-girls … whatever – they’re not real. They’re make-believe, like that movie we just saw …” She spoke in the tone a mother might use, explaining to a little boy that the scary monster he’d seen on television was just pretend …
“Okay,” I said, not wanting to waste time arguing. “Maybe I am delirious. Maybe this is just a flashlight. So what harm can it do if I shine it on you?”
Alison sighed. “Whatever makes you happy,” she said resignedly.
Under the circumstances, that was all the permission I wanted. I pointed the Trasformatrix at her and pushed the switch, releasing a faint beam of yellowish light, nearly invisible in the crepuscular gloom.
Alison’s eyelids fluttered and her head began to sway. Damn, I thought. I’d been advised that many women pass out on exposure to the rays of the Transformatrix … and that its effects might not be felt for minutes – even hours. I reached across and gently prodded Alison’s shoulder. “Alison – love of my life – don’t pass out on me, okay?”
Suddenly her eyes snapped open and she raised her head. Remember the leitmotif that played whenever Popeye ate a can of spinach? “I’m Popeye the sailor man …” I swear, I could almost hear that tune now …
“How do you feel?”
Alison shook her head and turned to me. Her eyes were shining and a broad, incredulous grin was spreading across her face.
“How do I feel?” she said. “Amazing – that’s how! Absolutely amazing!”
“So it worked?” I said. “You’ve got super-powers?”
She shook her head. “How should I know? I mean, I feel fantastic, but-”
“Well, let’s find out.” I pointed to the knob on the gear shift. “Try squeezing that.”
Alison reached out and slowly wrapped her fingers around the plastic knob …
Snap! The knob broke off in her hand. Alison drew in a sharp breath, her eyes widening as she stared at the ball clutched between her fingers. She tightened her grip. Her face broke into an incredulous grin as the knob shattered and chunks of broken plastic trickled from her hand.
I let out a sigh of relief. “See? You’ve got super-strength. And that’s not all. You’re indestructible, you can fly – just like G-Girl in the movie.”
“Okay,” she said, though she didn’t sound entirely convinced. “So how am I supposed to get us out of here?”
Good question. I thought for a moment while Alison watched me with anxious eyes. “Okay,” I said. “I guess you’re going to have to crawl through your window, lift the car out of the branches, and fly it back up to the road.”
Alison rolled her eyes. “Sure. Nothing to it. Just lift the car-”
“Alison, please.” I laid my hand on hers. “I know this must seem kind of strange to you-”
“Gee, you think?”
“But you’ve got to do this. For me, Oh Best Beloved. Please?”
Her eyes softened as she gazed into mine. “Okay,” she said. She unfastened her safety belt and wriggled round until she was kneeling on her seat, leaning out the window. My heart gave a wild leap as the car shifted slightly to the left. I inched cautiously toward the passenger side. Alison was reaching up, stretching her fingers toward a nearby branch.
“You don’t have to pull yourself out by that branch,” I told her. “You can fly.”
“Yeah, well, I’ll believe that when – eeeeeek!”
The branch broke with a loud crack, the car gave a sickening lurch, and Alison tumbled out of the window. I scrambled toward the passenger seat, partly to try to keep the car from tipping out of the tree, partly to look for Alison. I could hear rustling and snapping in the branches below, then silence, then …
Alison was hovering just outside the window, like Anna Faris rising through the broken skylight near the end of the movie, her blouse torn, her hair disheveled, her eyes round with amazement.
“Uh … wow,” she said at last.
I swallowed. “Yeah. Wow. You see? Now – now fly round to the front of the car.”
Weaving through the maze of branches, Alison made her way round to the grille. I watched through the windshield as she reached under the chassis, squared her shoulders, and pulled …
The front of the car began to rise. Grinning, I gave Alison a thumbs-up, but she was focused on the task at hand. She stuck the tip of her tongue out of a corner of her mouth, the way she always did when she was concentrating on something …
I heard a loud crack behind me. The branch that had been bearing most of the car’s weight had broken. The car slipped out of Alison’s hands and began plunging, rear end first, through leaves and branches to the ground below …
“Yikes!” I was sprawled across the front seats, desperately clutching at the strap of the safety harness, as the car plummeted like a runaway elevator – then came to a sudden stop. Dazed, breathless, I raised myself on one elbow. The car was hanging vertically in mid-air. I squinted up through the windshield. Alison was scowling at me over the hood. It took me a moment to realize that she was saying something …
“Are you all right? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” I shouted. “Just a little … shaken up … that’s all …”
“Well, excuse me,” she snapped. “I haven’t had a lot of practice with – this sort of thing.”
“You’re doing fine,” I said hastily. I gave her what I hoped was a reassuring smile. “Just great.”
Alison was already lifting the car back up to the road. I lay back against the front seats, catching my breath and listening to the pounding of my heart, as the car rose smoothly up along the sheer wall of rock and past the broken guardrails. The rear tires settled on the road with a soft bump; then Alison began lowering the front end.
I sat up behind the wheel and pressed my shoulder against the door, but it was stuck fast in the car’s mangled frame. Alison trotted round and grabbed the handle. Tensing her muscles, she gave it a sharp tug …
Bolts snapped and metal groaned as the door flew from its frame. Alison staggered back, holding the door aloft in one hand as she teetered for a moment against the guardrail. Recovering her balance, she let the door fall to the road. I slid out of my seat and stood up on wobbly legs as Alison ran up to me …
I don’t know how long we stood in each other’s arms, but my legs had stopped shaking and my voice was steady again by the time I let go. I stepped back and looked at Alison. Her blouse had been torn to shreds by the branches. The right sleeve drooped in long tatters from her shoulder, and a single button was all that held the front together. I gazed in admiration at her transformed physique – at the sleek, rounded musculature of her arms, at the firm, subtle contours of her abdomen … and at the generous swell of her breasts, straining against the fabric of her blouse and threatening to dislodge that one remaining button.
“Wow,” she said, glancing down at her midriff. “I guess I don’t need that diet after all.”
“Or your gym membership,” I grinned.
“Yeah.” She flexed her arm, stroking the compact bulge of her bicep. But my eyes had wandered back to the front of her blouse. Alison’s gaze followed mine.
“For goodness sake,” she muttered, blushing. “Whoever invented that gadget must have been a guy.” She tilted her head and regarded me with a raised eyebrow. “So is this some kind of super-power, or what?”
“Just think of it as a … bonus,” I said.
“Okay,” she sighed. “Now what?”
“Well … I guess we should get back to the cabin – make some phone calls …”
“Sounds like a plan. I’m starved. How about making me some pancakes?”
“Sure.” I laid a hand on the mangled wreck that had been our car. “But first-”
* * * * * *
I crawled between the sheets of the four-poster bed and lay back against the pillows with a sigh. Alison was in the bathroom, brushing her teeth. It had been quite a day.
We’d walked the rest of the way to the cabin, in the gathering dusk. Alison could have flown, of course, carrying me in her arms, but after what I’d just been through I wanted to stay on terra firma for a while.
But first, I had to talk Alison into dropping our car over the side of the road, letting it crash to the ground at the foot of the tree. She thought I was crazy, but I pointed out that the car was beyond repair anyway – so unless she wanted to explain how we’d gotten it out of the tree … Finally, rolling her eyes, she agreed.
Back at the cabin, I phoned the police, and a car-rental agency in Burlington, and I left a message with our insurance company, while Alison sat at the little table in the kitchen, gobbling down stack after stack of blueberry pancakes as fast as I could slide them off the griddle onto her plate.
A pair of police officers arrived just as Alison was tucking into a pint of ice cream from the freezer. We gave them a suitably edited version of the night’s events. I explained how I’d swerved to avoid an oncoming car, how our own car had gone through the guardrails and into the branches of a tree, how we’d managed to get out before the car crashed to the ground …
Hey, it was mostly true. We just left out a few things.
The officers drove me back to the scene of the accident and looked around for a while with their flashlights, asking me a few more questions before driving me back to the cabin.
“The two of you were pretty lucky,” one of them said as I got out of the car. “Walking away from a situation like that.”
“Yes,” I said. “I suppose we were.”
Now, lying in bed, gazing up at the rafters, I smiled contentedly. Like I said, it had been quite a day.
“Honey?” Alison’s voice came from the bathroom. “Remember that other present I mentioned?”
Hmm? Then I remembered. She’d said something about “another present” when we were getting into the car, after the movie. That seemed like a long time ago …
“What about it?” I asked.
“Well, would you like to see it?”
“Gosh – I don’t know if I can handle any more surprises.”
“Oh, I think you’ll like this,” she said, stepping into the bedroom. She was wearing one of my flannel work-shirts. The sleeves were rolled up to her elbows, and the hem lay about half-way down her thighs. I grinned. Alison always looked so adorable in my shirts and jerseys.
“So where’s the surprise?”
“Right – here!” She grabbed the lapels of the shirt in both hands and pulled. Buttons flew every which way, ricocheting from the walls and ceiling, as she tore the shirt open. One button whizzed past my ear and bounced off the wooden headboard.
“Hey!” Involuntarily, I averted my head, raising my arms to shield my face from any more flying buttons. Then I turned to look at Alison …
My jaw dropped. What I saw was an image right out of one of my stories. Alison was standing at the foot of the bed, smiling, confident, in a familiar blue and red costume. I let my eyes run slowly up her pretty legs, past the tiny blue skirt, across her taut abdomen. The long-sleeved blue top clung to every contour of her toned arms and magnificent chest. A red cape hung from her shoulders, stirring slightly in the draft from the open window, and emblazoned across the front of the costume was the letter “A,” inscribed in a circle. “Well?” she grinned, lifting the hem of the cape and turning round slowly.
“Uh … wow …” That was all I could say.
“I figured you’d get a kick out of it. I was only planning to wear it on … special occasions. But now – well, I hope you like it, mister, because I guess I’ll be wearing it a lot from now on.”
“Fine by me.”
“So,” she said, looking down at the emblem on her chest. “What should the ‘A’ stand for?”
“Awesome?” I suggested. “Amazing? Adorable?”
Blushing, Alison unfastened the cape and let it drop to the floor. “You know,” she said slowly as she rose toward the ceiling and began pulling off her boots, “I couldn’t help noticing your reaction to a couple of scenes in the movie.” One boot dropped to the floor with a thump, then the other. “You know which ones I’m talking about?”
I nodded automatically, gazing transfixed as Alison removed the rest of her costume and let the pieces fall to the floor. “Uh-huh,” I managed to croak.
Naked, Alison spread her arms and flew round the bedroom in a graceful loop. She hovered for a moment, face down, near the ceiling, then descended slowly to the bed. “Well,” she whispered, pinning my shoulders against the pillows and brushing her lips lightly against mine. “Shall we?”
“Uh … sure …”
Alison slid under she sheets, grinning down at me as she straddled my body. “Are you r-r-ready?” she purred.
“Oh, yeah … I’m ready …”
Alison drew back, thrust forward …
WHAM! Alison let out a stifled shriek as the headboard slammed against the bedroom wall. There was a loud splintering noise, a sudden jerking motion, as the bed crashed through the wall and shot half-way across the porch.
For a moment, we were too stunned to say anything. Stars twinkled in the velvety darkness around us, and the silence was broken only by the chirping of crickets. I shivered slightly in the cool night air.
“Omigosh!” Alison gasped. “Sweetie, are you all right?”
“Yeah, I’m – I’m fine.”
Alison turned round to stare at the jagged hole in the wall of the cabin. “So much for our security deposit,” she said ruefully.
“Let’s not worry about that right now,” I told her. I reached up and drew her close. “Let’s just stay out here. Don’t you love sleeping out under the stars?”
“Honey, you’re shivering.”
“I’m fine,” I repeated. “It’s just a little chilly, that’s all.”
“Really?” she said. “I hadn’t noticed.” She giggled as she rubbed her nose against mine. “I guess I’ll have to do something about that, won’t I?”
I grinned happily. Only a movie, my ass.