I’m not sure what to expect as Toby leads me towards his tent. He’s about ten tent blocks from my own and for no particular reason, I find myself glancing over my shoulder to see if Eliza is watching. To say I was shocked when Toby asked me to his tent was an understatement. I was angry since the first thing that went through my mind was he wanted to get it on with me. Eliza, who was there at the time, quickly rushed to tell me it wasn’t what I’d expect and I really should go since it was my birthday.
As excuses go, it’s not the best, but I did eventually nod and blushed at the small smile that appeared on Toby’s face.
We stop outside a tent that’s smaller than the one I’m staying with now. It’s obviously only made for one or two people, but as I step inside, I realise how homey it feels.
Toby’s not clean by any means. Stuff’s scattered across the floor and he quickly rushes around to pile it in one corner. Why he didn’t do it earlier, I don’t know, but I find myself helping much to his distaste.
“What? I’m helping.”
“Well, stop it,” he glares at me before turning back to a pair of jeans.
Sighing, I sit down on his mattress and watch him finish clean up.
The bed lies against the south wall so it’s facing the north and clothes and suitcases lie on either side. Against the north wall is his “kitchen”. There’s a box titled “food”, a gas oven and an esky.
“Please tell me you don’t use your gas oven inside,” I say as I eye it. There’s the faint smell of burnt vegetables that give it away. “You know you’re meant to use it outside, right?”
“I live on the dangerous side of life,” he declares. “Now, close your eyes.”
Obediently, I do. I get the urge to peek as I hear rustling here and there and am relieved when he taps me on the head.
“Open your eyes, Seeder.”
I open them and find myself staring at a silver contraption that immediately sets my head in a spin. I lean forward to tap a small bulb and brush my fingers against the fan-like opening beside it.
I look up at Toby who’s grinning proudly.
“Umm… what is it?”
The grin remains.
“It’s a projector, one of the newer kinds.”
Sighing, but still grinning, he sits down next to me and launches into a story.
“Back before the Chocolate Society, people used to watch movies. They’re sort of like documentaries, but are made up stories with people acting different parts. When the Society came in, they immediately scrapped the whole idea of Hollywood, where most of the movies were made, and celebrities. Since people elevated them, they had to be made like us. So for that reason, movies were put to an end.”
I think I can remember vaguely something about this in History, but the way he tells it makes it all the more interesting.
“What’s the projector than?”
“There used to be a place people could go to watch the movies called a cinema. They’d use projectors to project the film so it was really big.”
I stare at the projector with more interest now.
“Where did you get it?”
“I stole it,” he admits with a shrug and I start to laugh. “What?”
“You steal a lot of things.”
“Yeah well,” he shrugs sheepishly, “they stole my identity and I’m only trying to steal it back.”
That was probably the deepest thing he’s ever said.
“Now,” he continues and reaches behind him to get something. “I also stole two movies.”
He holds them up fleetingly and I only manage to catch the dull pink of one movie case and blue of the other before he hides them back.
“One’s what they call a chick flick called Mean Girls and the other is a romance called The Notebook. You choose which one you’d like.”
I just stare at him, feeling confused.
“A chick flick is a movie made mostly for girls to enjoy. The Notebook, however, is like that, but ten times more depressing. You will cry.”
Well, that’s nice.
“You choose,” I say and he shakes his head.
“I’ve already watched them hundreds of times so you’re choosing.”
When I don’t say anything, he shuffles the DVD’s around behind his back.
“Pick a hand.”
I quickly point to his left and he reveals the pink cover of Mean Girls.
“Perfect,” he grins. “You’ll love it.”
Minutes later, I find myself sitting at the head of his bed; eyes trained on the bright square the lights up across from us. Toby fiddles with it, trying to get the right size and mutters under his breath. Even with the screen blank, I’m utterly captivated. I could spend the whole night jut staring at it. He thinks otherwise.
“Mission achieved!” he cheers when the screen lights up again.
Music blasts out of the laptop’s speaker, making me jump to the side.
He laughs at me.
“You can’t watch a movie like this without sound. The jokes are the best.”
“What’s with the laptop?” I ask to hide my embarrassment.
“Well, the projector hooks into it. I begged Collin to lend it to me.”
“You didn’t have to.”
“Course I did,” he grins at me and with one final click, he settles down beside me. “Now shush and watch the movie.”
“Okay, Mr Bossy.”
The screen goes black only, what seems, five minutes later. I continue to laugh over the bus hitting the girls while Toby slowly unpacks everything. It’s really dark and I estimate it to be eleven or so at night since the lights outside are very dim. The dimmer they are, the later it is at night. They never fully switch off though.
“Did you enjoy it?” he asks cheerfully and I nod quickly.
“Thank you so very very much. I don’t think I’ve ever had something this amazing happen to me.”
“Oh yes. Being exposed to Hollywood is like be given a million dollars. Trust me, I was in awe for days on end.”
“It’s very understandable. Thanks for taking the time to show this to me.”
“It was no issue,” he sits down again. “Plus, it’s your birthday. What’s a better present?”
“I have no idea,” I grin.
We end up discussing the movie, sharing our thoughts on it and our favourite scenes. He tells me how the leading actor, Linda Roman or something, ended up losing it and spent the rest of her days in jail thanks to drugs and alcohol. I listen to him intently, hungry for this information.
“It’s totally horrible, but so awesome, too. I want to go back in time to see how everything was.”
“You won’t have to if our camp succeeds,” he shrugs. “No matter what, we’re always going to fight for our future.”
“I love it.”
“Me too,” he smiles back and before I know it, he leans forward to kiss me.