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“Can you find me a couple of armrests?” Jake and I were on the old balcony of the theater, trying to find extra parts for the broken seats.
“I think they might be in the basement,” I replied.
“OK, I’ll go get some.” Since there was nothing else for me to do, I sat down on the dusty floor and looked out at the dimly lit auditorium. Jake was back within two minutes.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“Nothing,” I replied. He sat down next to me and my heart skipped a beat. I considered telling him how I really felt about him, but I was too afraid of rejection. I turned to him, and found him staring at me, his deep brown eyes searching my face.
“You can be so distant sometimes,” he said. “What’re you thinking about?” I fumbled for an acceptable answer in my head.
“I was just thinking of how much work it took to get to this point. I mean, just three years ago, this place was going to be torn down. And now, well just look at it.” Yeah, that would work. I looked over at him, and could tell that his mind had drifted back to when this whole thing started.
There was an old single screen movie theater in my town that I would always go to when I was a kid called the Penn Theatre. Three years ago, it closed down because of bad business decisions and was scheduled to be demolished. A group of people started an organization dedicated to saving the theater called Friends of the Penn. My parents got involved, and soon after Jake’s parents did too. We worked tirelessly for months until we finally acquired the building. Then there was the humongous task of cleaning out the theater. That alone took two months. After that, we finally opened the theater back up. I remember the first day we were open. I was taking tickets. We had over one hundred people for the whole night. That might seem like a lot, but in a theater with four hundred and five seats, it looks almost empty. Nowadays, we get two times that for one showing. At that time, we didn’t even have a popcorn popper. We sold potato chips and bottles of pop.
We’ve come a long way in the past three years. We put in a new concession counter, and a new popcorn kitchen, and are now able to sell freshly popped popcorn. This past year, we put a new marquee on the building. It now light up the whole park. Our next project will be new seats in the theater. The old ones are constantly breaking, which was why Jake and I were looking for armrests on what used to be the balcony in the first place. We had put so much time and effort into this project that the theater looks better that it did before it closed.
“Melanie. Melanie!” Jake was staring at me again.
“Oh, sorry. What were you saying?”
“The box office is about to open. We should get back to work.”
“Wow. Is it 6:30 already? I lost track of time”
“Like I said, you can be so distant sometimes.” Jake helped me down from the balcony, and my heart skipped another beat. He went into the lobby to take tickets, and I went behind the concession counter to serve the patrons. I really had lost track of time – a line had already formed. I put on my nametag, and turned to the first customer with a smile.
“Hello,” I said. “Welcome to the Penn Theatre. What can I get for you?”