Line of Sight

F. C. Brown Cloud

Photo Credit: van Ort (CC-by-sa)

Photo Credit: van Ort/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

When I fell in love with the actor, it wasn’t because he was beautiful. He was, of course. Hollywood puts only beautiful men in the movies. But I’d convinced myself that he had real warmth. Those expressive eyes! His smiling mouth! And I never could believe that all the things he said were screenwriter-penned lines. I believed in him, as a person, a unique individual with whom I’d developed a genuine connection by watching him onscreen.

His part is prominent for the first third of the film but then he’s inexplicably absent for the remainder. With each viewing I have forty minutes, more or less, before he disappears and the movie drags on for another hour and a half. I’ve seen it so many times. With later viewings I hoped to spot some detail that would explain why he was gone. Although it’s true that, in the beginning, for my first three or four times, let’s say, I hardly noticed how strange it was for his absence to go unremarked. In one scene he walks out of the camera’s line of sight and that is all for him.

As I watch again today I have to pause during that scene, the final scene for him. I freeze the action onscreen and say, “Please, I know you’re going to leave, to disappear until I have time to watch the entire film again. Could we share at least one parting kiss before you go? Something to mark this moment and make it special, instead of letting it slip like sand away?”

He turns to look at me. He nods without speaking. I step toward him and reach out my arms and he falls into them and we kiss, tentatively at first but within moments open-mouthed. I see a tear glide down his cheek. He knows as well as I that soon I will press “play” and he will step off screen and that, for whatever reason, will be the end. As long as the movie lasts we will not see each other again. Maybe I’m squeezing a little bit too tightly because I know that this is fleeting.

pencilF.C. Brown Cloud received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Stanford University but, grasping at happiness, abandoned research and now writes full time. He has published articles in The Journal of Cell Biology and Molecular Membrane Biology. Brown Cloud lives in Bloomington, Indiana with his wife, an award-winning science teacher, and young daughter. He can often be found running with a pack of adolescents in his capacity as volunteer coach at the local high school. Email: fcbrowncloud[at]