Sunday Stories: “In this fantasy Keanu Reeves saves me from myself—”

Story illustration

In this fantasy Keanu Reeves saves me from myself—
by Leonora Desar

I was just over at Alyssa’s. I thought this would be a nice alternative to going to the beach with Kate, since for the most part me and Alyssa would be watching movies. This would satisfy my urge to be social while also setting an invisible timer. After about 15 minutes, after my urge to be social had died away, or been fulfilled, there would be only about a half hour left before I could say—hey Alyssa, how about that movie? It’s not that I don’t like Alyssa. I do. I like her a lot. It’s just that being social exhausts me. I have a charger but it’s: a) embarrassing plugging yourself into the wall b) most people don’t understand it. Therefore, it’s just easier to watch a movie.

We went to Shake Shack and then we went back to Alyssa’s house. I was fiddling for my charger when Alyssa said something that perked me up. She mentioned my favorite word, actually, my favorite two words: anxiety disorder. She mentioned that she had one at one point and went to see a therapist.

How did it go? I asked.

It went ok, but at some point my insurance ran out and I had to stop seeing the person.

So what did you do then?

I woke up one day and decided that enough was enough; I was done. I would cut out all those people who made me feel bad (loose paraphrase).

I realized then or fully realized the extent of the problem. My problem wasn’t other people. It was me. It had always been me, and how do you “cut yourself loose?” 

I looked around for a pair of scissors; there weren’t any. I asked to use Alyssa’s bathroom. I fiddled around in the medicine cabinet but still couldn’t find any. I looked under the sink and behind the toilet and even in the tub. Then I put a foot in. Another foot. I turned the water on. I stood there and let it all fall over me. I let it. I listened to Alyssa in the other room. She was turning the TV on. I stood there a minute longer and then I turned the water off and went to join her.


The first movie we watched was Speed, with Keanu Reeves. In the first part of the movie he rescues a bunch of people in an elevator; a bomb is about to go off and he has to save them. He positions the elevator in a way where he can crack the doors, and the people can come out. They do. Each and every one of them—except for one. A woman.

She says, I can’t do this—

Keanu looks at her. She looks back. He says—

Look at me, and take my hand. Or, step forward and take my hand. He also looks really hot, though this is probably not the point. Or maybe it is. I decide I need to draw Keanu Reeves. I need to print him out from the Internet and draw the words—

Step forward and take my hand.

Instead I ask Alyssa if I can use her bathroom. Luckily she’s used to this. I go in there and shut the door. I turn the water on. This is to evoke the sound of pee; I turn it on slightly until I get that pee sound. Then I google. I sit there, staring—


—Keanu. Oh, Keanu

I mouth the words, then I say them a second time. Then I walk across the room; it’s a bathroom so it’s really short. Then I walk back. I sit; I sit and I sit and imagine the elevator of my life, which truth be told really isn’t that bad. It’s not my life; it’s my brain. It always has been. I imagine it soaring to grand heights—crashing. Keanu’s there, he says, step forward, and take my hand. He even has an itinerary:

How to fix Leonora’s life/brain—

—spend more time outside

—take the stairs

—ditch that charger and take a yoga class—

I smile at him and even flirt with him (in my brain). He says, you’re really hot, now step forward and take my hand. 

I say, really, I’m hot?

He grins, now sternly: Step forward and take my hand.

I get up. Then the door opens. Alyssa stands there, staring, and I am holding air.


Leonora Desar‘s writing has appeared in Black Warrior Review, River Styx, Passages North, Mid-American Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf and Wigleaf’s Top 50, and elsewhere. Her piece “My Father’s Girlfriend” (matchbook) was selected for The Best Small Fictions 2019. Three of her pieces were chosen for Best Microfiction 2019. Once, she saw Keanu Reeves at Cake Shop on the LES, but was too chicken to say hello.

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