“What is this?” she yelled out with a jolt of amusement. He didn’t have to look in order to know what she had just discovered. He had tucked it away between Hegel’s Hauptwerke, thinking no one would ever dare touch those. But she did and found it anyway.
He had been a member of a nihilistic absurdist cult that worshiped the ’90s classic Reality Bites. They would wear flannel, start their meetings by dancing to ‘My Sharona’, and filmed everything they did on a bulky video camera, even though DSL-Rs were already readily available. A white sheet with ‘Hey, that’s my bike’ above the mantelpiece, a portrait of Gorbachev, and Paul Newman.
A reference within a reference, tucked away in a larger reference, like a matryoshka doll. They would go out in groups, and have raves on the canals, mob metro cars, and decorate the inside of a supermarket or two. They would hang out on the roof of their building, and have conversations about the lives they would never get to lead, the romances they would never get to have, and the boomers who ruined the world before they could get it started. They had a standing order with the pizza shop downstairs. Whenever they would dangle a knitted slice of pizza in front of the window of the shop, the pizzaiolo would have three pies ready for them in 10 minutes.
Soon after the world had returned to the way it had been before, so too did the cult disband. They moved on to their regular scheduled programs, became bankers, teachers, and executives, mothers, fathers, and mailmen, regular people going about their day.
She held the knitted pizza slice in her hand, circling the edges of the red pepperoni slice with her index finger.
“What was it about?” she asked.
“I still am not sure,” he answered.
LJ Kessels is a writer based in Berlin, Germany. She has a MA in Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam and has worked for various (film) festivals, events, and whatchamacallits across Europe. Her work has previously been published in Bull & Cross, Stadtsprachen Magazin, Elsewhere: A Journal of Place, and more.