Abby drove across the city to the Friar Hotel in the afternoon. She was surprised by the accommodations. They had some useful facilities.  There was a workout room and an indoor pool; she was definitely going to check out the workout room after she got settled. Dinner wasn’t going to be for another hour and a half.

She took the elevator to her room on the third floor. Most of the room was taken up by a queen bed with a gold comforter laying across its foot. An itinerary was on the comforter. It read:

Friday Itinerary:

               4-6 PM: Check-in

               6-7:30 PM: Director’s Dinner in the ballroom

               7:30-10 PM Director’s Mixer in the ballroom 

Workout rooms always seemed charming to Abby. The mirrors for walls. The rudimentary fixed weight lifting station. The exorbitant aerobics equipment. This room was no different. “Ellen” was even playing on the tv to drive the similarities home. There were three treadmills; the leftmost one was taken by a tall, brown-haired guy with earbuds in a navy UCONN basketball t-shirt. He was tall, but he ran like a shorter guy, making small strides and keeping himself compact.

Abby took the rightmost treadmill. She wouldn’t have minded watching “Ellen,” but the boy was wearing earphones, and it would feel weird if she wasn’t too. She put them in but kept the volume down in case he had something to say. She also kept his stride in her periphery to make sure their legs didn’t sync up. She may have even bumped up the speed a little to make sure that she was taking more strides than him; his being so compact wasn’t helping.

When Abby was almost a mile in, the boy stopped, drank from his water, and wiped down the treadmill with one of the towels. Abby turned down the volume until she could barely hear the music on her iPod. He didn’t say anything though. Instead, he gave her a two-finger salute on his way out. She didn’t want to risk the dangers of saluting in stride and instead opted for a stolid head nod.

It was only 5:30 by the time Abby was all done up. She decided to spend the last thirty minutes meditating. There were no chairs, so she laid down in savasana on the bed. She used the meditation to reflect on the circumstances that led her to this hotel that day—one event in particular that took place in April. But the start of this story would logically start at the Providence Hill Diner in February.

Abby and her small cast and crew were celebrating the wrap of their short film. She wanted to go to a bar, but half the team was under 21, so they settled on coffee milk at the Hill. She also wanted the celebration to recognize the film’s future recognition in various New England film festivals. Instead, the mood exuded more of a satisfaction of completion than anticipation of impending glory. It was not a baptism; it was a funeral.

She couldn’t blame them. The production of “In the Name of Indie Rock” did not go well. She would be able to hobble a finished product together, but the product resulted of compromises, sacrifices, and mediocre execution. Most of it could be reflected back onto Abby, but they all knew they weren’t destined for much. They were trying to make a short film in the dead of winter with limited location permits and college and work schedules to navigate. Just getting the movie done was accomplishment enough.

Abby submitted the short to film festivals out of obligation to her team. She was at least going to give them the chance to achieve glory, even though none of them thought that was going to happen. That’s why the acceptance of “In the Name of Indie Rock” into the 2009 Providence International Film Festival – College Division that April caught the surprise of Abby and her team. When the initial shock passed, she surmised its acceptance was the result of the festival’s altruistic willingness to accept every film that was submitted to it, not unlike the inclusiveness of high school cross country teams.

Something felt queer about the lodging though. Directors were invited to two complimentary nights at the festival’s Friar Hotel, and their cast and crews were invited to two complimentary meals that preceded the festival’s respective screenings and awards ceremony. A festival can’t just give room and board out to the team of every mediocre submission. Abby rewatched the film in her bedroom to see if she had missed out on anything that could have made it mistaken for a serviceable picture.

She could immediately tell the movie had changed. The opening shot was no longer a follow of headphoned protagonist Ethan Smith walking down a side street but instead a crane shot of the same headphoned Smith walking down North Street, augmented by street noise ambience and the backdrop of the Providence River.

What followed was 15 minutes of cinematic mastery. To start, production looked more like it was in the temperate late spring than it was in the unforgiving New England winter. Whereas the original version of “In the Name of Indie Rock” was limited to private residences and side streets, this version made it look like Mayor Cicilline gave Abby a key to the city. Scenes were located in busy streets and major landmark locations, capping off with a sequence in Waterplace Park where Ethan’s band Reagonomics plays a concert to over dozens of extras and Ethan’s dad William.

The thematic resonance of “Indie Rock” was no longer in poor taste in this version. It was no longer a bitter accusation of Generation X and their ignorance of all alternative music between the releases of The Strokes’ “Is This It?” and Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion.” It was instead remodeled into a coming to grips with the inherent differences between generations and the cognitive effects of aging.

The climactic concert sequence doubled as the rekindling of the relationship between father and son that harkened back to the famous final scene of “Field of Dreams.” The song itself was up to par with most of contemporary indie rock, emblematic of all of the genre’s signifiers but devoid of discernible derivativeness, so much so that Abby spent half an hour getting the song from the DVD to her computer and finally onto her iPod later that afternoon. 

The credits began with “Written and Directed by Abby Mancini.” Abby took out the DVD and inspected it. The film’s inscripted title was still Sharpied onto the front of the DVD in her handwriting. The back side had neither scratches nor smudges. The DVD player also played other films normally. Still, when she played the DVD in question a second time, it played out exactly the same as it did earlier that day.

This supernatural event conjured up several questions Abby needed answered. The first one was if anyone remembered this alternate production, and, if so, who. One of the staff of Hemenway’s Restaurant, the location of one of the scenes in the alternate version, recalled the production. She also mentioned that the shooting was in May of 2008, explaining why the film looked like it was shot in the spring.

However, when Abby called members of her team, none of them gave any indication that the production was any different from the version she recalled herself. This confirmed that any knowledge of this alternate production was outside the purview of the entire cast and crew, including Abby herself. Abby had the presence of mind not to give any indication herself of any funny business to her team. They didn’t have any copies of the film, and Abby didn’t want this to get out that she may have stumbled upon works of an alternate universe, if it could even be defined as that.

The last thing she wanted to confirm was if there was any butterfly effect that may have resulted from this alternate turn of events. When she looked through her personal belongings though, her iPod, computer, notebooks, and the rest of the items were as they were: unchanged and unmodified. This was perhaps the greatest relief to Abby, and she was given some assurance that she could go about her life after this afternoon. She hid “Indie Rock”’s DVD case in the DVD stack in her closet and tried to forget about it until the film festival in June.

Abby concluded the meditation with this takeaway: the festival would be an opportunity for closure. Any loose ends related to “In the Name of Indie Rock” would tie up, and she could move on with her life.

The director’s dinner was divided by college and adult. The college division had twelve directors, six at each dinner table. Everyone at Abby’s table went around and described their movies, but the descriptions were too vague for her to get a good idea of them.

The adult directors dashed by the start of the mixer. Abby couldn’t tell if they weren’t invited on or if they simply had better things to do. There was one male director who went to her and presumably the other directors to ask “Are you in the adult or the college division?” to which she and presumably the other directors answered, “College.” He left and wasn’t seen again until the lunch the next day.

The female directors gravitated toward Abby. They all stood in a circle sipping from their punch.

The group dispersed, and Abby found herself being approached by the guy at the gym. His eyes were a light brown, like coffee milk.

“You having fun?” he asked.

“Not really,” she said.

“Me neither.” She had a feeling this was her chance to make like a hockey stick and get the puck out of there.

“I was gonna go hit the hotel bar,” she said.

“I got something better.”

He took her to a bar around the corner. It was not one of the hip bars to go to on a Friday night. It was small and sincere, the kind of bar that makes an income from a small, reliable clientele. The occupancy that night must not have been much different from the occupancy on a Wednesday afternoon. Abby got a White Russian; Justin got a PBR. They got a booth in the back by the unoccupied pool table. Classic rock was playing.

“Do you know this place?” Abby asked

“Like have I been here before? No. I just passed by when I took a walk around the neighborhood today. Then I thought ‘hey, that would be a nice place to have a beer in solitude.’”

“Well, sorry to ruin your solitude.”

“This is better.” They clinked glasses.

“Salut,” Justin said.

“How are you liking your PBR?”

“It’s good. I’m a wine guy, but I feel like this kind of bar doesn’t call for that. How’s your White Russian?”

“It’s good. I usually get it because it reminds me of coffee milk.”

“You mean a latte?”

“No. Coffee milk.” No response. “You’re not from Rhode Island, are you?”

“No. Does that matter?”

“Coffee milk is the state drink of Rhode Island.”

“The state drink. Sounds like a very Rhode Island thing to have.”

“And where are you from?


“Oh, where in Connecticut are you from?

“Trumbull?” he said with a high pitched voice that implied, “Why would you ask me? You wouldn’t know my town if I told you.” Still, she played it off like she had any understanding of Connecticut geography.

“Oh, Trumbull,” she said with a low pitched voice. “That’s close to Hartford, right?”

“New Haven, although I did go to UCONN.”

“Oh, I remember you were wearing that UCONN shirt at the gym.”

“Oh, I guess I was,” he said. He probably just threw the shirt on without a second thought. “Trumbull’s not a famous town. I mean, Chris Drury is from there; he’s on the New York Rangers.”

“The Rangers, huh? Are you a Yankees fan too?

“Big Yankees fan.”

“Must be tough being in Red Sox country.”

“It’s not bad. I’ve always had an affection for New England. Skiing in Vermont. Summering in Cape Cod.”

“Yet, you don’t know about coffee milk.”

“Fair enough. I like Trumbull though. It’s a nice town.”

“Wait,” Abby said. “You said you went to UCONN. When did you graduate?”

“Last month.”

“Okay. So how did you get into the college?”

“Well, I was in college when I submitted it, and I knew the college division would give me a much better chance to win than the adult division. I’m not sure what the exact rules are. Just try not to make the festival aware of this just in case.” 

“Your secret is safe with me. And you really think you have a chance to win the college division?” Boy, he doesn’t know what’s coming.

“I do. Hopefully it’s much more than that. The film was almost like a ‘for your consideration’ for my directing career. I have no career prospects. I majored in History. I’ve had one internship, a month in New York last summer. I just always wanted to be a filmmaker, and nothing ever seemed to top that. I figured I would go all out on this project, submit it all over, and see what happens. That’s why I drove all the way to Providence.” 

Justin described his movie with passion. She could tell he had spent a lot of time on it making it the best film it could be. He reminded her of one of the characters in the Eagles song “Lyin’ Eyes”: “On the other side of town, a boy is waiting/With fiery eyes and dreams no one can steal.”

They stayed there for an hour and a half, inviting a constant stream of discourse and alcohol. Then the transition from bar to Justin’s room went smoothly. The sex, on the other hand, was unfocused and sloppy. While the tension built throughout the evening brought about some catharsis, it did not excuse the inebriated state of both parties. In fact, sex the morning after was better, between the momentum built from the overnight cuddling, improved function of machinery, and, of course the sobered bodies of said parties.

They were officially up at 8:30. Justin asked Abby if she wanted to go breakfast “with the commonfolk.” She opted to go back to sleep. He invited her to stay while he went out. She said she was okay going back to her room. She kissed him and left.

Abby woke back up at 11:35. She felt much better, especially after taking two Tylenols and drinking half a bottle of water before she went back to sleep.

Justin and his team were already seated and eating by the time Abby got down there. Justin waved her over to his table after she got her food. Apparently, the team had driven up from New Haven that morning .They crew asked Abby about her film but mostly talked among themselves and what seemed to be their larger friend group at UCONN.

Abby and Justin sat next to each other at the screening in the conference room. In Chairs, presumably taken from the tables that were up against the walls, lined up in rows in front of the projection screen. Abby and Justin’s films were the last two of the screening, so they had to sit in nervous anticipation as they watched other people’s movies. Not that there was much competition though.

Abby expected most of these short films to be no-budget rip-offs of  “The Dark Knight.” While there were some brooding movies with incoherent action sequences, the major point of reference was not Christopher Nolan. Instead, it was quirky indies like “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Garden State,” and “Juno.”

What these films were missing was the heart and the melancholy that was the driving force behind these movies. Instead, these characters seem to be exploited by the limiting symmetrical cinematography and forced off-kilter comedy. Abby almost preferred the “Dark Knight” rip-offs; at least they seemed more sincere.

The tone shifted when Justin’s film played. While his short was rooted in the canon of independent cinema, it was fundamentally original. The film seemed to borrow from every filmmaking style, changing aspect ratios and color palettes by the scene, that it became its own thing. Abby understood what Justin meant by the “for your consideration.” He was showing Abby—and the whole audience, really—everything hhe could do.

Despite all the variation, the film came together as logically as a mid-budget adult drama. It kind of felt like how dreams are reflected on with confusion but experienced in the moment with clarity, except Justin reverse engineered that process. What felt like an enigma before the delayed admiration kicked in. It took a few seconds after the credits rolled for the audience to applaud, as if the film had put them in a stupor, but, when they applauded, they applauded, the loudest and most enthusiastic they had the whole screening.

Abby looked over at Justin. He was grinning from ear to ear. She could feel a gratification in his eyes, seeing his dreams both justified and fulfilled at the same time. But what Abby felt was worse. The two months of suppression came crashing down on her. When Justin and the rest of the crowd saw her movie, the attention was going to go to her. Justin couldn’t even have this feeling for a minute.

Abby questioned getting involved with him in the first place. She shouldn’t have made friends at this festival. It was burglary. She didn’t want to burgle from anyone she cared about. Whatever existential crisis Abby had experienced dissolved, and guilt replaced it. This new film wasn’t a burden on Abby; it was a burden on everyone else.

The filmmakers started chattering. They seemed delighted by the raw passion and amateurish sincerity of Justin’s film. In his film, they could see why they got into movies and moviemaking in the first place. If Justin won Best Film, it was like they won Best Film.

All that chattering was short-lived though; it ceased a few seconds into “In the Name of Indie Rock.” Abby could sense a wave of dread washed over the filmmakers as they saw their Best Film hopes disappear before their eyes. The technical mastery made it feel like they weren’t on the same playing field as her. The vibe reminded her of the New York Magazine review for “Infinite Jest”: “…the competition has been obliterated. It’s as though Paul Bunyan had joined the NFL or Wittgenstein had gone on ‘Jeopardy!’ The novel is that colossally disruptive. And that spectacularly good.”

The applause was delayed again, not because the audience was in a stupor but because it was in disbelief. Its applause was moderate but deep in sound. Everyone was clapping because everyone was obligated to concede. That included Justin. Not only was his smile trying to conceal despair; it was trying to conceal the fact that it was trying to conceal despair. Abby would have fallen for it too if context hadn’t given it away.

She could only think of one solution: tell him everything. The months of secrecy, the justification behind that secrecy, had all dissipated. She needed to tell him.

“Justin,” she said as the lights went up, “I need to—”

“S’cuse me,” a male filmmaker in the row in front of her said. “Can I ask you a few questions about your movie? 

“Just a second,” Abby told Justin

Several filmmakers asked her questions about “In the Name of Indie Rock.” These were difficult to answer because they pertained to a production she wasn’t present for. Finally, she and Justin were able to go up to her room.

Justin sat on the foot of the bed. Abby joined him. She took his hand. 

“I’m not being metaphorical or symbolic about this,” she said. “The movie I shot was not the same as the movie you saw.”

“What do you mean?” 

“My movie used to be worse. Much worse. I only submitted it here in obligation to my team. Then it got accepted. I was wondering what would have made them accept it, so I watched it again. That’s when I noticed it changed.” Justin didn’t seem skeptical about this. Instead, he looked like he was trying to get to the bottom of it.

“Was it a better version of the movie you made?” 

“Absolutely. Embellished, I guess you can say.”

“Have you tried to film anything else since?”

“Like any other short films?”

“No. Just…anything.” 

“No.” What was he getting to?

“Follow me.” Now, he was taking her hand. They left her room and made their way over to his.

“What are we doing?” Abby asked

“I brought a camera here to shoot a documentary about my film’s performance at the festival. That’s why I found that bar; I was shooting different parts of the neighborhood.” 

“Bold of you to make a documentary about your own movie.”

“I believe every narrative film should come with a making-of documentary, a video game, and a roller coaster at Universal Studios.”

Abby never had the time or daylight to appreciate how clean Justin’s room was. Every guy she had seen had at least some flair for the disorderly, but Justin seemed to make a point to keep his hotel room clean. 

This time, Abby sat on the foot of Justin’s bed. He opened one of the top drawers and took out a small camera case. He unzipped it and took out a camcorder. He flipped the screen part open, turned it on, and handed it to Abby.

“Press record.” He said. She threaded her hand through the strap; it was loose to the point where she had to grip the top of the camera to keep hold of it.

“What should I record?”

“Anything. As long as it comes from you.” Abby pressed record and put the camera on Justin’s dresser, facing it toward the bed. She sat back down.

“But this is just a shot, not a complete film. It wasn’t like every shot of my movie was enhanced before I stitched it together.”

“My theory is that that’s because whatever forces were at hand knew your project wasn’t complete. Our project will be complete with this shot.”

“But it still took some time for my movie to be enhanced. It was just as we had shot and edited it when I first watched it from a DVD.”

“I guess that’s the point of contention. I think we’re good now.”

Abby took the camera down from the dresser and hit the record button again, stopping the recording. Justin took the camera, hand fitting through the strap like a glove. He went to the camera’s library. There were frames of parts of the neighborhood. He clicked a frame from the video they shot.

To start, the file showed that the shot began not when Abby hit record but when she and Justin were both on the bed. The camera also seemed to levitate, eventually making a full revolution around Abby and Justin before the cut. Their dialog didn’t change too much, but she noticed some of the clunkiness got smoothed out.

“So it seems like there was a point in time where a switch was flipped,” Justin said. “When you first finished the movie, nothing had changed. But at some point between its completion and that time you watched it and noticed the differences, those alterations were made.”

“You seem to be very tuned in to all this.

“If you can understand ‘Primer,’ you can understand any supernatural alterations of reality.”

“I made some of my own observations, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind.” Something felt off about Justin. His disposition felt competitive.

“No one on my team had any recollection of this alternate production, including myself.”

“But what if it wasn’t an alternate production? What if the final product is showing an alternate reality?”

“Because I called the restaurant we filmed at, and they remembered us shooting there. However, there was no butterfly effect. No part of my life had changed as a result of this alternate production.”

“Or maybe it did, and you just can’t remember what happened before this switch.”

“Perhaps. This goes without saying, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone.”

“Of course not. But I gotta ask: did you have any inclination to drop out?” 

“Of the festival?”


“No. Why?”

“Well, I think the answer’s pretty obvious. Aren’t you stealing the festival from other people? It’s like plagiarism. It’s plagiarism-adjacent.” 

“I don’t know. I mean, Justin, I saw a reality I had no awareness of being played out in front of my eyes. I don’t think fairness was the first thing on my mind.”

“Maybe not the first thing, but your epiphany was…what? Two months ago?” Abby got up and walked to the window. The parking lot was visible, similar to the view in Abby’s room, just at a different angle. “You didn’t think of withdrawing at all at that time?” 

“Maybe if any of my team was coming, but…I guess I wanted to see if this all played out. Maybe the movie would go back to normal when I had my screening. I’m still trying to make sense of all this.”

“Abby, this may be a study to you, but those are real people you’re competing against. They worked for their movies, and you’re just gonna go and take the glory from them?

“Come on, Justin. You can’t say you have any bias in this too, right? You’re one of those real people.” He got up but didn’t approach her.

“I am. I totally am. I’m probably gonna be the runner-up. And that’s why I feel qualified to express my grievances. You don’t have that perspective. This is it for me. This movie is going to determine my future. And I was so close. I could see my future playing out for me. You might as well have not told me about this at all. Then I could at least believe I lost fair-and-square.”

“I don’t think a film festival in Providence, Rhode Island is gonna be your ticket to stardom.”

“Maybe not the ticket, but it could help me pay for the ticket.”

“I wanted to tell you this because I thought you had the right to know. I felt bad.”

“If you feel bad, why are you arguing with me?” That seemed to disarm Abby. She should have taken the culpability here. But she had one last point to make.

“Justin, this isn’t like you.” That seemed to disarm him. She could tell this wasn’t the version of himself he wanted to be. “I think we should cool off.

“Me too.” He was looking at the floor.

“I’ll see you at dinner.” She went back to her room and meditated. She played the conversation back a few times. They were both at fault for this fight. He was too aggressive; she was too defensive. She had forgotten what she learned earlier: the burden was on everyone else, not herself.

Abby got to the ballroom early. She got her food and took a seat closest to the door. Justin and his team came in soon after. He branched off to go to Abby. She stood up. 

“I’m really sorry about that,” he said.

“Me too,” she said

“I’m really embarrassed about what I said. The writer in me would cringe at the lines I said to you.”

“It was a first draft.”

“Can this be our final draft?”

“That’s a good idea.”

Abby finished her dinner with Justin and his team. Whereas she got little attention all lunch, dinner was all about her. Everyone there was still asking her questions about making “In the Name of Indie Rock.” Luckily, she had been in this position before. She was able to B.S. her way through the questions with more ease this time around. There were a couple where Justin laughed at the more outlandish lies. They were still asking questions by the time the awards ceremony started.

It became apparent early on that the festival was spreading the wealth. It seemed indicative of college film festivals. They’re not necessarily recognizing the objectively superior as much as they are rewarding each film that made it there, just in the form of “Best Actress” or the abhorrent “Best Concept.” Abby was sure the filmmakers hoped they didn’t get an award early on because it would lessen their chances of getting Best Film.

That was working for Justin. He did seem like the frontrunner for winning Best Film until Abby crushed the party. But Best Director was nothing to sneeze at either. Sure enough, the winner for Best Director went to Justin Ross. The cheer resembled that at a college football game. Everyone was happy he was able to get a win like this, especially Abby. She was probably cheering the loudest.

Justin rushed to the stage to accept his award, one of those small trophies people get for participation in soccer. She could see the fire in his eyes all the way from her seat. He hadn’t changed. He was still the boy from “Lyin’ Eyes.” No one—or no supernatural event—could steal his dreams.

“Oh my God,” he said. He looked at the trophy like it wasn’t used for youth soccer. “This means everything to me, and I’ll tell you why.” The crowd let out a giddy laugh. “If you couldn’t already tell, I put everything into this film. There was rarely a moment during the process, pre-production to post, where I wasn’t thinking about this film.

“So to be rewarded like this, to be awarded for the best director for a film that feels like a fever dream at times,” another giddy laugh, “it means the world to me. Which is a synonymous cliché to it means everything to me, right? Thank you to my cast, crew, the ‘PIFF.’ I think you say it like that, right? And thanks to my fellow nominees.” He came off to an even larger cheer than he went up to. Abby kissed him on the cheek.

When Abby won for Best Film, the applause was no longer a solemn recognition. Whatever time the other filmmakers had to grieve had passed. This applause was a recognition of greatness. It reminded her of what Justin said: he was better off not knowing about what actually happened. She could feel that in the applause. They were blissfully ignorant of any foul play, and they were better off for it.

“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you to my team and my fellow nominees and the Providence International Film Festival. Thank you to my team especially. I didn’t win this award. This is the Best Film award, and I’m just here to accept it. The director doesn’t even accept Best Picture at the Oscars; the producers do that. I’m very humbled by this. I’m surprised the film came out the way I did, and that was to no credit of my own. I guess you can chalk it up to my team. And the magic of the movies. Thank you.”

She came off to a standing ovation. She could finally rid herself of “In the Name of Indie Rock.” The speech went exactly as she had hoped. She went the humble route. She thought the “magic of the movies” part was a nice touch. Seeing Justin smiling and shaking his head, he must have felt the same.

They stayed the night together again. Justin had an 11 o’clock train to New Haven, and Abby joined him. They went to the train station Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. They found a table up against the glass wall looking out to the rest of the station.

“You can put your stuff down,” she said. “I can order.”

“You sure?”

“Of course. You’re traveling. Take it easy.

“Okay. Can you get me a sausage, egg, and cheese and a medium cappuccino?” he asked. He took out his wallet and gave her a ten.

“Sure,” she said. She turned around.

“Wait,” he said. She turned back around. “Instead of a cappuccino, can you get me a coffee milk?”

A few moments later, she was up to order.

“Hi,” she said. “Can I get two sausage, egg, and cheeses and two coffee milks?”

“Sorry,” the barista said, a blonde girl about Abby’s age, “We don’t have coffee milk on our menu.”

“Oh I guess not,” Abby said, scanning the menu. “Can you just make a couple anyway? I’m sure you have ingredients. I can pay you extra.”

“Sorry, but our corporate policy says we can’t make anything not on the menu.”

Abby took a breath and changed her tone.

“Do you see that guy over there by the window?” They looked over to Justin. He was looking out the window, lost in deep thought. “He’s leaving today, and he’s never had coffee milk before.” Abby and the girl made eye contact. In that look, the girl could tell the situation Abby and Justin were in.

“Anything else?”

Abby looked intently as Justin had his first sip of coffee milk.

“Ooh,” he said. “It’s really good.”


“I’m upset I never heard about this until this weekend.”

“Don’t be upset you never heard about it before; be happy you know about it now.” He smiled.

“So what are you gonna do now?”

“What do you mean?”

“For filmmaking. Everything you make now is gonna be embellished. Unless you get your team to sign non-disclosure agreements or something, I don’t know how you’re gonna be able to direct without word of this getting out.”

In her meditation on Friday, Abby concluded that this was going to be an opportunity for her to do away with this part of her life. Little did she realize it was only the beginning—or the beginning of the end, for that matter. It wasn’t a tragedy. It wasn’t like she was Justin, attached at the hip with filmmaking. But she liked it as a hobby, and it was sad she was going to let it go.

And with technology being more advanced and YouTube and phone cameras, she didn’t know what role this would have in her life in the future. Did it apply to still photography? Would she always have to let someone else take a picture for her? She wasn’t sure. The only thing she was sure of was that, in 15 years, the filmmakers at the 2009 Providence International Film Festival – College Division were going to wonder about what happened to Abby Mancini.

Abby walked Justin to his platform. She was carrying his luggage, but he felt obliged to carry his own, so he ended up carrying hers. They stopped toward the end where there was less of a crowd.

“Don’t take my bag,” Abby said. They switched bags. “Let me know when you’re in Providence sometime.”

“I will.” A lesser writer would say the final product would look no different if that kiss was recorded.

“Bye,” Abby said

“Bye,” Justin said. He took his bag up to the train car and disappeared to the right.

The train left a few moments later. Abby was still making her way up the platform. By the time she was about to exit, the train was chugging its way to Connecticut.