MY NEW BOYF TOOK ME TO WATCH A DISASTER MOVIE • by Elisa Dominique Rivera

I low key wanted him to book that indie movie with Timothée Chalamet, but my bubble burst when the opening orchestra music of Apocalypse 2035: The Wave After Tomorrow shook the theatre. I should’ve told him there was a reason I only watched arty farty, mellow movies.

Good thing the lead, a single dad, Brett, oozed salted-caramel appeal. I could taste him in my popcorn. His two children, Stella, henceforth called Lay-Lay, and Cam (now Cam-Cam) were living their best lives in the first few minutes of the movie. Lay-Lay was a bookworm, bless her heart. Cam-Cam still had his baby fat and was asking to be squished. I knew I was hooked on this fam from the very first frame because my fingers were fidgeting asf. My boyf took my left hand in his as my hyperactive brain lit up with the realisation: the fam needed protecting at all costs.

My fingers twisted the smooth, round, bottom button on my cardigan until it came undone. Inside, my head moved puzzle pieces and unanswered questions — in tandem with my ragged breathing. It dawned on me that my babies might get hurt. My teeth started gritting through the popcorn kernels, calculating how far their school was from Brett’s work up in the mountains, in case something happened. Who would take my Lay-Lay and adorable Cam-Cam to safety? How about the rest of their school, which by the way was on a nice cliff overlooking the water?

I was all sweaty while my left leg was supersonic-shaking. To distract myself I focused on Jen, a mum who was flirting with Brett during school drop offs. She was so mid, and I wasn’t as invested in her. Who was I kidding? When Jen got on a boat for her work as a marine biologist, I started doing my box-breathing because I couldn’t imagine her escaping whatever was about to go down — alive!

“Jenny, babe, go back to land. Take a day off!” I heard the acappella of shooshes, and maybe even felt a popcorn or two on my head. My boyf looked like that punk’d meme — eyes wide with a long face. No time to wallow in that.

As the first signs of disaster were roiling underneath the beautiful sea just off where all my babies were having normal days at school, my boyf pulled his arm from my clasp saying something about my nails digging in. I shouldn’t have watched this movie, I thought. At the same time asking, “How about the children?” He pretended not to hear me because Brett finally discovered something was not right as he zoomed down through the mountain; I was hiding my face under my shirt, rocking in my seat hoping Brett wouldn’t get in an accident on his way to warn everyone (how the hell was it that communication lines were the first to go in these movies). Not looking at the big screen at that point was worse because I started imagining how Lay-Lay and Cam-Cam would be when the earthquake-slash-tsunami hits; so my stomach felt every turn in that narrow mountain road; the camera cutting — to Brett driving — to Lay-Lay and Cam-Cam playing with friends — to the sea tremoring. It felt like being in one of those rides where it spins so much that the centrifugal force slams you up against the curved wall, unable to move, biting my lips… meanwhile, my boyf was leaning away from me because of nail digging — the crescendo was too much to bear — I stood upright when the waves hit the shore and I heard boos from the others behind me, but I needed to leave or else I’d howl, like these people don’t even care about the pain the little ones felt when the ginormous waves crash into the shore. I threw the rest of my popcorn at them, which got us kicked out of the cinema.

And that’s why I could never watch a disaster movie, my new boyf found out.


Elisa Dominique Rivera is a writer living in Boonwurrung Country, Australia. Her superpower is being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. She studied fiction-writing during strict Melbourne lockdowns in 2021; and won a prize for the second Writers’ Playground Competition for her speculative fiction, “Free Range” in 2022. Her poems have been published in FromOneLine Anthologies, and Musing Publication’s “The nuances of new-age feminism”. Her micro pieces have been included in 101words.org and ParagraphPlanet.com. She has been nominated for the 2023 Pushcart Prize for her micro “Inheritance: A story in pseudo programming language” by NFFD’s UK Write In.


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