The Intimacy Of Being Understood

by Smrithi Senthilnathan

“Ready for our movie marathon tonight?” she asks.

I smile. “As long as you don’t put any heartbreaking movies, I’m game. Not in the mood to cry today.”

She punches me softly. “Just because I love sad movies doesn’t mean I don’t know anything else. Today you’ll meet another side of me.” She winked and smiled at me coyly. I shook my head, laughing as I followed her into my room, better known as our den.

“Today I’m choosing the first movie of the night,” I declare, closing the door behind me.

She groans. “It better not be Die Hard again.”

“One can never watch Die Hard too much,” I say and despite her annoyance, she smiles at me. A true smile that extends up to her eyes and fills up the whole room with its glow. “But fear not, I had something else in mind. You are not the only one who has a hidden side. We shall begin this weekend’s marathon with Princess Diaries. The second movie.”

She gapes at me. Blinks. Then blinks again. I stifle a laugh. “Is it really that surprising that I’d like a romance movie? Come on, it’s Anne Hathaway.”

A smile spreads across her face and my heart fills up. My favorite thing about myself is my humor, because it means I can see that wonderful smile.

“I’ve never seen the second movie,” she confesses quietly.

It’s my time to gape at her. “Traitor. How are we friends?”

She throws a pillow at me. “I loved the first one but somehow never got around to seeing the second one.”

“The second one is superior. And I am seriously considering kicking you out now because of your treason.”

Another pillow. “I can’t believe you, of all people, have seen it before me. You, die-hard fan of anything action and adventure and strict avoider of anything other than that. See what I did there?”

“My humor is rubbing off on you. Good job. I’m proud.”

I pull out my laptop and put on the movie. We snuggle into the little tent I’ve made, resting our heads on the pillows. Her head is in the crook of my arm and her left leg is on my right.

We’ve sat like this a hundred times before but something about tonight feels different. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the last movie-marathon-weekend we have before she goes off for vacation, or maybe it’s because it’s the first time we’re meeting since I turned eighteen last week, but there’s something different. Sparks fly in the air. Electricity prickles at all the places where we’re touching.

The movie starts and we stop talking. I’ve seen this movie a hundred times before though, and so I decide to watch her.

I think there’s something intimate about watching a movie with someone, watching as they watch the same scenes you’ve laughed and cried over in the past. There’s something so wonderful about watching all the places where her eyes light up, and where she grips a pillow closer to her chest. She laughs at all the places I laughed but she also laughs in a lot of other places. That intrigues me; how everything is subjective and varies from person to person. What is funny to one person isn’t funny to another person. And what isn’t funny to someone can be funny to someone else.

Eventually though she feels my stare and meets my eyes. She raises her eyebrows in question. I shake my head lightly, a smile playing on my face. She shrugs and turns her eyes back to the movie, but not before I catch the hint of a blush on her cheeks.

Maybe tonight will be the night I finally do it.

I can see that she’s trying to control her expressions, now that she knows I’m watching, but most times she fails. I watch as she gets engrossed into the movie and forgets about me and our tent and this room and everything in this world. She’s transported somewhere else, somewhere nowhere but she can penetrate.

I have a sudden desire to visit that world, see what she sees through her eyes, but I can’t so I make myself content by glimpsing that world in her eyes, the windows to her soul.

“You’re beautiful,” a voice says. It takes me a second to realize the words came from me. I start suddenly. I was thinking it, but hadn’t meant for it to come aloud.

Fortunately she doesn’t hear. “Hmm?” she says, distracted.

“Nothing,” I say and shake my head.

We stay in silence for a while. Her laugh suddenly rings around the room, slipping around the room and finally latching onto a permanent place in my heart. I’ve heard her laugh before, of course, but this time it’s so pure and untainted and makes me smile so much that I want to bottle it and preserve it for a hundred years to come. I look at the screen and see which scene made her laugh like it did.

It’s the fountain scene, where Mia tells Prince Nicholas she hates him, then they kiss. I think I might be imagining it but when I look at her, her eyes are looking up at me. I blink and she’s looking back at the screen again.

The small glance could’ve been my imagination but it makes me wonder. Does she think about me like I do her? Does she wish I would kiss her like Mia did Nicholas?

Or was it a simple glance, nothing more?

The world is filled with questions, and the lucky ones get answers. I don’t think I’ll be lucky tonight though.

All too soon the movie’s done. I watch the credits rolling across the screen with a dull face; I would’ve liked to watch her a little longer.

I look at her to see tears in her eyes. Lightly with my thumb, I brush them away.

“That was so beautiful,” she says, her voice cracking. “Thank you for making me watch that.”

I smile. I would’ve never wanted to make her cry but now I’m glad I did because she looks ethereal when she cries. And I feel proud that she’s let me see this vulnerable part of her, this part she reserves for very few. “What’s next?” I manage to say, despite everything swirling around in my brain.

“Well since you stole a movie from my genre, it’s payback time. Next up on the list is John Wick. One of my favorites from the few action movies I’ve seen. ”

I whistle appreciatively. “How do we keep choosing movies the other hasn’t watched? That’s been on my list forever but I just never watched it. This is as good a chance as any to watch it. But the next movie is a movie we both love. Mission Impossible?”

“Sure but the movie after that is one we both haven’t watched. The Princess Switch?”



If there’s something intimate about watching someone watch your favorite movie, there’s also something intimate about watching someone’s favorite movie. I love when someone offers something of theirs to me. It’s like they’re saying, I love this and I love you and I know you and I think you’ll like this and I want you to watch the scenes I watched, read the words I read, listen to the music I did. She and I have exchanged a lot of things over the course of our friendship but I don’t think I’ll treasure anything as much as I treasure this fact, the fact that she’s letting me watch one of her favorite movies.

And so as she swipes my laptop to put on the movie, I lean back and get cozy to watch the movie that she loves so much.

© Smrithi Senthilnathan

Smrithi Senthilnathan (she/her) is a teen writer from India who aspires to become a young adult author or journalist (or both). She believes everything in this world has a story and she’s made it her life’s mission to capture the unwritten stories. Her work has been published in various magazines such as Sea Glass Literary, Small Leaf Press, Flora Fiction and more. You can learn more about her on her blog.

Find her on Instagram @theunwrittenstories101

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