A woman and a man. In an ordinary house. Not particularly chic or stylish and not particularly run down or shabby. They are sitting together on a two seater sofa, not touching.
The man is reading. The woman is watching television.
“Do you want tea?” Asks the woman.
“Nope.” Says the man.
“Oh, (pause) a beer or something?”
He looks up from the book he is reading, looks at her and says slowly after some thought.
“No, I’m fine”.
“It’s just, it was no… I was going to the kitchen anyway so I thought I’d check, (pause)
Man, again slowly, his face now back in his book. “I’m fine”.
She looks back to the television. “Well I’m going to get myself a drink”.
She gets up and leaves the room and comes back with a glass of wine. She sits back down and accidentally puts her hand on his foot. He flinches. Doesn’t look up.
“Just looking for the remote” she says then wishes she hadn’t. He nods his understanding. She finishes her drink with a cigarette. She moves towards the window, opens it and props herself on the ledge.
“Oh, it’s bin day tomorrow”. No reaction from man.
“It’s raining now”.
He looks over the top of his book at her. The television is flickering on the wall as she looks back out the window. Some time passes.
“What would you like for dinner?” Asks the woman.
“Umm… I guess some chicken?”
“So… do you want chicken then? Because we have a few bits in there.”
“Oh, well cook what you want. If you know what you want to cook then do that.”
“No I didn’t mean that. I’m happy to cook chicken, I like chicken. What sort of chicken would you like?”
Man exhales loudly, “Chicken is fucking chicken. Do you want me to cook?”
“No I’m happy to cook, unless you want to cook?”
“I don’t want to cook, but if you do chicken can you make sure you cut it like I showed you because when you don’t it loses…” he exhales again.
“Yeah, I’ll cook it like you said. You’re right, it tastes much better that way.”
The woman gets up and exits the room. The man is left alone. He picks up his book and begins to read, we watch him for several minutes. We can hear the sounds of cooking from off stage, a pot clanging, the fridge opening, and chicken being chopped. The woman re-enters the room with a board with chicken on it.
“Is this about right?” She says.
The man doesn’t look but says “its fine I’m sure”.
She hovers for a moment unsure of whether asking further is the right thing to do. She goes to leave but stops. “You didn’t even look.” She states somewhat timidly, coyly.
He sighs, puts down his book and says “I must have shown you several hundred times how to cook a chicken… and look you still haven’t done it right. You’ve cut it too small. It’s just going to dry up and taste of nothing. It’s a waste of fucking money.” He delivers this speech with little emotion; it is simply well rehearsed, bored and tired.
The woman stands, unsure of herself, unsure how to react and whether being upset will simply fan the now well-lit and dangerous flicker of his fire. He stares at her awaiting the response, what’s it to be? Tears? Offers of apology? Threats to leave him? A chopping board full of chicken in his face? No, nothing so grand.
“Um… well I’m sorry. You may have to show me again… Do you think the chicken can
He stares at her.
“Whatever I do to it won’t change the fact you have cut it too small.” He sighs and runs his hand through his hair. He takes the board from her and walks out of the room. The woman stops for a moment and then follows.
“No, don’t come in. I will do it. Honestly just go and sit down or something. Watch some T.V”
The woman reappears in the living room and looks around it a little lost; she goes to the sofa and sits carefully beside the indent his body has left on it. She sits closer than we can imagine her ever having the nerve to when he is there. She picks up the book then puts it down; she lightly places her hand on the empty space beside her. She looks to the T.V, drawn to it somehow…
By Ellie Blaney