And now they pass through the ornate doors into the theater,
taking their seats in the center row.
Newlyweds, the man still in uniform,
the woman in a smart suit with wings over her heart.
An usher makes his way down the row, shining the flashlight
on the golden columns, arched ceiling, plaster cherubs.
For a moment, the stream illuminates her parents in the balcony.
She glimpses her father, leaning over to sneak a smoke,
her mother cradling the latest giveaway of Depression glass;
etched roses, transparent red.
She gives a short wave, they have been up there all along.

The velvet curtains sweep open, and the couple is unsurprised
to watch their lives spin forward from the clicking projector.
Their courtship, scented letters,
strolls down tree-lined avenues.
Reel after reel of their future laid out in front of them.
He reaches for her hand, a familiar action he’s taken many times,
but not in a long time.
Above them, on the ceiling of the Paradise,
more stars than they can count.

Published in Fixed & Free Anthology