Dialogue Between a Husband and Wife by Rosasharn
2nd place entry in Short Scripts: Stress

{A kitchen at night. HELEN, a woman in her forties, is sitting at the kitchen table, waiting. DAVID cracks the door, shakes out his umbrella, raises his head and sees HELEN sitting at the kitchen table with her shoulders hunched up around a mug of tea. He stamps his muddy shoes loudly on the kitchen tile and makes a fuss of unbuttoning his coat before coming over.}

DAVID: "Danny asleep?"

{Without looking up at him, HELEN puts a finger to her lips and nods. He opens the refrigerator.}

DAVID: "Anything I can eat?"

HELEN: "You don't even care what you've forgotten."

DAVID: "What?"

{He opens the cupboard, scans the items restlessly, and closes the cupboard again.}

HELEN: "Look at you, David! You don't even care what you've forgotten today."

DAVID: "All right, tell me what I've forgotten."

HELEN: "Don't you understand what I am saying to you? You wouldn't even care if you knew what you had forgotten."

DAVID: "All right, then tell me what I've forgotten already!"

HELEN: "Don't you understand what I'm saying to you? Are you even listening to me?"

DAVID: "Yes, yes, yes, I'm listening! I've just gotten back from working a fourteen-hour day and this is how you talk to me? I'm listening, now tell me what I've forgotten so we can get on with our lives!"

HELEN: "Be quiet, you'll wake Danny!"

{She slides the nearly empty mug across the kitchen table with an angry flick of her wrist.}

HELEN: "You still don't get it. It doesn't matter that you missed Danny's championship soccer game, it matters that you don't even give a damn about it! If you had just taken five minutes today just to consider what your son has been talking about constantly for the last three weeks--"

DAVID: "So it was the soccer game. Finally, a straight answer! Danny might not understand now, but he'll understand eight years from now when he can't go to the college he wants because I didn't work fourteen-hour days! You're giving me all this crap just because I'm the only one trying to get a little ahead?"

HELEN: "I'm not talking about all the work you do, I know how hard you work. I'm talking about a little consideration for how disappointed your son feels today, not in eight years-"

DAVID: "You think you know how hard I work? You have no idea how hard I work! Every day it's the same thing, all the stress I have to deal with, all the people I have to fire -- you don't appreciate how hard I have to work! All you can think about is these PTA meetings and piano recitals and how I've let down Danny once again!"

HELEN: "You're still not hearing me, David, you're hearing me but you're not understanding -- you never understand what I'm saying to you. You never even look at me when I'm talking to you--"

DAVID: "Don't go into all that again! Don't you go making this about me and my problems. You won't even tell me what I can do. What? What can I do, other than make sure there's a roof over my son's head? What? What do you want me to do?"

HELEN: "There's something more important than paying for the piano lessons and the soccer team! It's more important to be at the recital and the championship game than to pay for it!"

DAVID: "How can I be there if I'm not paying for it? It won't exist, and Danny'll be sitting here at home, a social outcast unless I make sure he can go to the drawing class and the soccer practice and the writing workshop and the junior yoga sessions!"

HELEN: "Still, it's more important for you to be there than to pay for them!"

DAVID: "How can I? How the hell can I?"

HELEN: "You're not even trying to understand me, you don't even care! You just want to win this argument, but if you win, David, if you win-" {Her voice is suddenly low and threatening.} "If you win this argument with your logic, you'll lose. Because it's not about winning this argument, David, it's not about you or me being superior over the other! For God's sake, David, it's about Danny, and if you win this argument, he'll lose!"

{David pounds his fist on the marble countertop in his frustration.}
DAVID: "You're just talking in circles, you're just saying whatever crap comes into your head to throw me off, but I will not feel guilty about what I have to do! I will not! I refuse!"

DANNY: "Mom! Mom, what's going on?"

HELEN: "It's all right, Danny. Go back to bed."

{They stand in taut silence until they hear the bedroom door close.}

HELEN: "You see!"

DAVID: "See what?"

HELEN: "How can you not see it?"

{He throws his hands up in the air.}

DAVID: "I am not having this conversation again!"

{He thumps into the hall for bed.}

Word count: 828
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