• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 09


The film poster, encased in a glass frame attached to a wall, drew Malaize into the cinema. The poster didn’t give the film’s title, or the names of the actors and principal film crew. Instead, it showed a woman with a coral-coloured umbrella bent over, conversing with someone in a car. Malaize could see neither person’s face. Behind them, blurred, a man used what looked like a sprayer on a wall.

This isn’t an action film, Malaize thought, or a rom-com. Could be a quirky comedy.

She walked into the cinema’s empty foyer and up to a uniformed girl.

‘Has the film begun?’ Malaize asked.

‘It’ll start when you go in,’ the girl said. ‘We’re waiting for a customer. You’re the first in a long while.’

‘How much to see it?’

‘Just go in.’ The girl gestured at the foyer’s decaying décor. ‘The place is due for renovation. I wouldn’t have the nerve to ask anyone to pay.’

The girl’s remarks unsettled Malaize. She glanced back at the entrance.

‘If you leave, you’ll miss a good film,’ the girl said. ‘It’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but you’ll appreciate it.’

‘What’s it called?’

‘You’ll find out.’

With that, the girl disappeared behind a red curtain.

Malaize looked round. At the back of the foyer, she saw double doors and, beside them, the same poster as the one outside. She studied it up close.



That woman who’s talking with the car driver, she mused. The umbrella and the coat seem familiar.

She pushed through the doors. The cinema lay in darkness. She held out a hand, found a seat and lowered herself into it. The moment she sat, the screen lit up with the film’s title, black on white: 1959.

‘The year of my birth,’ Malaize muttered.

The title stayed on the screen for several minutes. Silence accompanied it.

Malaize shifted in her seat and wondered if the film had jammed. Just as she resolved to leave, the scene on the poster abruptly replaced the title. The woman with the umbrella chatted with the car’s occupant; but Malaize couldn’t hear their conversation: the splattering jet of liquid from the man’s sprayer behind them drowned it out.

The scene went on and on. Nothing changed. After fifteen minutes, Malaize decided that the film’s oddness had become self-indulgent. She rose to go.

Instantly, the woman with the umbrella straightened and turned; the driver leaned out of the car’s window; and, in the background, the man turned off the sprayer. The film’s soundtrack fell silent. All three characters stared directly at the camera.

Malaize felt light-headed. She recognised the woman with the umbrella as her mother, and the person in the car as her aunt. The man, though still out of focus, had the build of her father.

‘Sit,’ her mother ordered.

When Malaize hesitated, her aunt told her, ‘You should have brought popcorn.’

The blurred man mumbled something.

Malaize slumped back into the seat. On-screen, 1959 resumed as before.