Unpacking the End of My Engagement Through Movie Spoilers (Mario Aliberto III)

“The opening scenes in Up, the montage where Carl and Ellie live their whole lives and grow old together, and yeah, it doesn’t go exactly as planned, but there’s love, there’s life, and they’re a team, only this is the kind of life you imagine for yourself when you propose to your girlfriend and she says yes.”

“That scene in Old School, where Luke Wilson arrives home early from work to find his wife with another couple, only there’s no blindfold, no gangbang, just your fiancé in bed with some guy who’s also her Manager at Bed Bath & Beyond.”

“That scene in Avengers: Infinity War, where Thanos snaps his fingers and turns everyone to dust, only it’s everything you’ve ever known or thought you knew.”

“That scene in I Am Legend where Will Smith cradles his dog in his arms as his dog is dying, after his dog’s been bit by a zombie and can turn rabid at any second, and there are tears dripping down Will Smith’s face as he sings Bob Marley’s ‘Three Birds (Don’t Worry About a Thing),’ holding his dog until the end, only instead of a dog it’s your heart.”

“That scene in Seven where Brad Pitt stands in the field, ugly crying and shouting ‘What’s in the box? What’s in the box?’ Only instead of Gwyneth Paltrow’s head it’s your ex-fiancé returning her engagement ring.”

“That scene in The Usual Suspects where it’s revealed that Kevin Spacey has actually been the evil mastermind Kaiser Söze the entire time, only it’s your ex-fiancé, and it’s the way she casually dips breadsticks in tomato sauce as you discuss dividing up your things inside an Olive Garden.”

“That scene in Jaws where they’re all getting drunk on the boat and singing songs, only there’s no boat, no singing, and no friends, but you’re still drunk, and life is a shark, you know, just a big, mean, ugly fucking shark coming to chew your ass up.”

“The scene in Say Anything where John Cusack stands outside Ione Sky’s window with his boombox playing their song, only it’s you banging on the door of your old apartment, and your ex-fiancé isn’t even home because she’s moved in with the Bed Bath & Beyond Manager. Obviously, the neighbors call the cops.”

“That scene in Fight Club where Ed Norton and Brad Pitt beat the shit out of each other in a parking lot, only for it to be revealed later that Ed Norton and Brad Pitt are actually the same person, and Ed Norton has been basically punching himself in the face the entire movie. That. Yeah, exactly that, only it’s you replaying every dumb thing you ever said or did for the entirety of your relationship.”

“That scene in Forrest Gump with Tom Hanks talking to that stranger on a park bench, and he says that thing about life and a box of chocolates, only it’s you begging your therapist to help you make sense of everything that’s happened, and they say something equally fucking stupid.”

“That scene in Castaway with Tom Hanks on the beach talking to a volleyball, because no one understands how alone he is, and even the volleyball tries to leave him, only it’s you with a scraggly beard and your hygiene has gone to shit, and there’s no one to talk to about how awful everything has become, you don’t even own a volleyball.”

“That scene In The Bridges of Madison County where Meryl Streep is stopped in traffic behind Clint Eastwood, and her husband is sitting next to her, but her hand is on the car door handle, and now is the chance to flee her shitty, predictable life and be with Clint, but she waits it out and Clint turns off without her, only you’re drunk texting your ex-fiance in the middle of the night to come over, but she doesn’t respond.”

“That scene in Titanic where the old lady says, ‘It’s been eighty-four years…’ but it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, because she’s still on the fucking Titanic no matter where she goes, or how long she lives, and she still loves Leonardo DiCaprio even though he’s been gone, only it’s the last six months of your life since your ex-fiancé called the engagement off.”

“That scene in The Green Mile where Tom Hanks and the prison guards are strapping Michael Clarke Duncan into the electric chair, and they know they should do something to save him, but they can’t, and all they can do is stand by and watch an innocent man fry for someone else’s crime, only it’s your ex-fiancé’s wedding to the Bed Bath & Beyond Manager, and you are Tom Hanks and you are Michael Clarke Duncan and you are both the executed and the executioner.  And yes, Tom Hanks again, because seriously, what can that man not do?”

“That scene in It’s A Wonderful Life where Jimmy Stewart is on the bridge, it’s snowing, the Savings & Loan is failing, and he’s contemplating jumping into the river because everyone would be better off without him, but there’s his guardian angel drowning in the water, and Jimmy Stewart jumps in to save him, which of course leads to Jimmy Stewart being saved instead, only it’s you sitting in your car on your lunch break at work, eating your sorry egg salad sandwich alone like you do every day, wondering if anyone would even notice if you didn’t come back from lunch, when the new woman from shipping steps outside to smoke a cigarette, and yes, she’s crying, thinking no one sees, but you see, and you’re out of your car before you know it, asking for a cigarette even though you don’t smoke, and she tells you how her manager is an asshole, and you tell her how your manager is an asshole, too, and you both smirk, agreeing that maybe all managers are assholes.”

“That scene in Casablanca where Humphrey Bogart is on the airport runway, and he says goodbye to Ingrid Bergman forever, letting her go with her new husband, and Bogart’s found a kindred spirit in the Moroccan policeman, the beginning of a beautiful friendship, only the policeman is the woman from the shipping department, and she’s stopping by your desk in accounting, seeing if you want to step outside for a smoke, and she’s the most sarcastic person you’ve ever met, and she told you a joke that almost made you laugh.”

“That scene in Jurassic World, where Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are working with a new breed of dinosaur in captivity, some T-Rex and Velociraptor hybrid monster, and this is a bad idea, because the dinosaurs are just going to get loose again, eat everyone and everything, because they are dinosaurs and that’s what dinosaurs do, especially in a Jurassic Park movie, only it’s you eating lunch in the breakroom with other people, including the girl from shipping, and you open up, just a little bit, to these people who may are may not become your friends, who may or may not be dinosaurs.”

“That scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Tim Robbins escapes prison after decades of being locked up by crawling through five-hundred yards of shit in a drainage pipe to emerge into the rain on the freedom side of the prison wall, only the shit pipe is your life and you’re counting more and more days between times you cry, and you didn’t look at your ex-fiancé’s Instagram much this week, and the woman from shipping says there are people going for drinks after work and are you free?”


Mario Aliberto III’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has previously been published with Tahoma Literary Review, The Lumiere Review, and others. He lives in Tampa Bay with his wife and daughters, and yet the dog still runs the house. 


image: Lindsay Hargrave