The Woman in Black
Nobody I knew thought I could do this. Not my parents, not my (now ex) boyfriend. Well. When I was ordering the catering for tonight, I made sure there was a nice big plate of pies. In my head, they’re filled with hand-made mincemeat, and humble. Sweet, sweet humble.
My Dad couldn’t understand why I left a perfectly good job in the Council Planning Department, and spent the money I’d been saving for a mortgage not on a nice 3-bed semi, but on the Bijou, a dilapidated movie theatre. Truth be told, I knew it was crazy. A huge risk, after a lifetime of being careful. It was terrifying, and utterly, utterly liberating.
If my manager hadn’t eaten a salad in Magaluf, it might never have happened. But she came back with a wicker donkey and a hearty dose of food poisoning, and I was told to go and look at the site, with a view to buying it to build council housing.
When I got there, already tapping notes on my PDA, she was standing in the doorway, staring at it. An old woman, in black. It made her look pale. I asked her what she was looking for.
“He took me here the first time he took me out,” she said. Then, turning to look at me, “Wilfred. My husband. A shame they want to tear it down. We had so many happy nights here…” her eyes lit up, “he used to love the back seat, even when we had retired. Such a romantic. But such a shame- I see these young couples all over town and I think, ‘what they need is somewhere with lots of happy memories.”
So I went home, I did my research, and a month later, I talked the bank manager into a loan. I guess I got lucky- it was his anniversary, he must have had romance in mind.
It was a simple plan, really: where the seats had been ripped out, I had some custom-made. They were still movie seats, but made for two. Show old romantic movies. Get a license and serve wine. It worked so stupidly well, I was amazed nobody had thought of it.
And now it’s been three years, and they’re re-releasing one of my favourite old films. And the PR department called me to see if they could have the launch party here. Hence the pie.
I have that 3-bed. But it’s in the part of town that my Mum always wanted to live.
And the woman in black? She comes in every week, for the Silver Screen showing. At first it was on her own, now it’s with an ever-increasing number of friends.
And she looks a little more alive every time I see her.