BY SAMMI BRENNAN
It was a night like any other, filled with sips of hot chocolate and nibbles of my oozing chocolate croissant as I worked on my screenplay in the Starbucks on campus. A refreshing breeze blew my violet hair back and the scattered stars in the cloudless sky winked at me as I walked back to Urso Hall at two o’clock in the morning.
I took a steaming hot shower and then climbed the wooden ladder to my bed. I snuggled into my pillow and wrapped my zebra-striped bedding around me until I was a human cocoon. My eyelids fluttered as I gazed at my pitiful alleyway view until eventually I found myself in a deep, peaceful slumber.
A commotion outside my bedroom door stirred me awake. My roommate is not prone to 4 a.m. munchies, so my curiosity peaked. Perhaps if it was daytime, and I was within a reasonable mind, my intrigue would have been masked by fear. Begrudgingly, I took wobbly steps down the wooden ladder. My door creaked as I opened it and I shuffled into the kitchen, stretching my jaw with an enormous yawn.
Rummaging through the cupboards was none other than John Boyega, more commonly referred to as Finn from the box office hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)… the black storm trooper. He wore the same tan leather jacket Poe had given him in the film. Half a shrimp chip dangled from his mouth and my packages of ramen littered the dusty floor. He retreated from the cupboard and swallowed the shrimp chip.
“Hey,” he said coyly in his thick, British accent.
“What are you doing?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “I was hungry.”
The lights were already on, since neither my roommate nor I have determined who is in charge of flicking them off, and my Attack The Block (2011) poster was sufficiently illuminated. This comedic sci-fi film was my initial discovery of John Boyega and I have been following his career ever since. He plays the character of Moses, the leader of a South London gang who suddenly has to defend the human race against aliens.
That was around the time I had officially signed up for Twitter, so I used this platform to my advantage and consistently tweeted to the Attack The Block star. And as insane and random as my tweets were, I managed to strike a chord in Finn, which prompted three responses from him. After that, I pledged to wholeheartedly support him in his endeavors.
“Is that your room?” He pointed behind me.
When he brushed by me, he smelled just like I expected: a wave of shrimp chips, sheer manliness, and his pet cat Logan. His dark, mystifying eyes wandered from poster to poster. It was then that I noticed the Finn action figure my friend gave me for Secret Santa was missing.
Unknowing of the time I had left with him, I decided it was my responsibility to give John a true Tampa tour, that is, Tampa in the eyes of a Bostonian. As a 20 year-old lacking means of transportation, my options were a bit more narrowed, but John was a newcomer to the area and was enthralled by his surroundings regardless.
First, we went to breakfast at Oxford Exchange and shared the delectable monkey bread French toast. It wasn’t too surprising that there were only a few glances and not one die-hard fan approached the table. After all, he snapchatted his trip to Times Square where he stood under his own Star Wars sign and pedestrians took him as just another tourist.
During the day, we laid out two towels in Plant Park along the Hillsborough River and watched the boats pass by. I gave him my one zebra-striped beach towel and opted to use the bleached bathroom towel that had grown rough from overuse. The sun’s reflection made the river glisten gold. He told me about his upbringing in Peckham, England and his passion for acting. His humbleness and friendly aura I had read about and seen during interviews was no façade. When two dolphins poked their smooth heads out from the river’s surface, I yearned for the day to last forever.
For dinner, we ate at one of my favorite Mexican places– Urban Cantina in downtown Tampa. Our basket of chips was refilled three times. We both had quesadillas and laughed like long-time lovers as we placed the stringy cheese into each other’s mouths. Soon, his eyes grew weary, and that John Boyega scent was replaced with cheap plastic. During our last moments together, we walked down the Riverwalk, the radiant hues of ever-changing colors reflecting in his eyes. I leaned over the railing and closed my eyes, savoring the final seconds.
My heart sank when I heard a clank. I looked at my feet and there was Finn, reverted to action figure form. I gently picked him and put him in my pocket. It was then that I realized Star Wars VIII needed him more than I did.
Sammi Brennan can be reached at email@example.com.