Sushi: A Vignette – by Tamara K. Walker

 

CHARACTERS

A – a young woman in her early twenties, slightly plump with soft features.  She has a patient, tired, wise, responsible manner, but still acts and seems her age.

B – another young woman, also in her twenties, with very long hair at least halfway down her back, not too skinny.  B may be wearing pants or a long skirt and an unbuttoned plaid shirt over a short-sleeved V-neck top.  She consistently affects a more melancholy, contemplative vibe.

NARRATOR – never seen.

VARIOUS RESTAURANT CUSTOMERS – including two YOUNG CHILDREN around 7 or 8 years old, possibly siblings, wearing shorts and sandals.

WAITER – an enthusiastic young Japanese-American man.

 

SETTING

A mid-scale Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar.  The polished floors, overhead lights, walls, and lamps above the sushi counter are all shades of white.  Brightly lit ambiance in general.


[A and B are in the middle of a meal at a narrow table, sitting across from each other.  Assorted plates of half-finished food are strewn about in front of them, covering almost the entire table.  The same few phrases of a jazz piece play very faintly over and over again in a continuous loop in the background, giving the warm atmosphere an eerie contrasting quality.]


[B’s manner decrescendos from playful, unassuming, and familiar to distinctly sober in an instant.]:    Maybe you should lay off the raw sushi at some point.  Just in case.

A:         You’re right…[trails off, zoning out until she snaps suddenly back to attention] You’re right!  If this really is.

[A and B sit in subdued silence.]

NARRATOR [offstage, pseudo-ethereally]: Slippery rainbow streams of sashimi and elaborate rolls have barely maintained their mutually constructed parallel distraction, happy but wistful.

[The music stops.]

A or B: Well…

A:         It makes sense.  I’m late for, like, the first time ever.  Very late, I mean.  My regularity’s never been that great, but this is beyond anything before.

[B sighs in tentative agony and shifts in her chair, pushing back from the   table.]

B:         And we did do that.  Rare as it is.  [Agitated resignation struggles to emerge from her face.]

A:         Yeah.  Apartment and a rainstorm.  Stereotypical.  Hmph.
B:         I think you mean, ‘cliché’.
A:         Whatever.
B:         I was drunk.
A:         Yes.  I’m so sorry.
B:         It’s fine, we both—
[visibly uncomfortable, cutting her off]: Mm.  Ok.
B:         We’re fluid-bonded, even before.  Guess I got a little cocky.
[dryly]:    Ha.

[Pause.] 

NARRATOR [offstage]:  Pickled ginger and recent memories of hope.  It still felt so fundamentally wrong to refer to it as a ‘scare’.  B recalled the bizarre ambivalent feeling when A first told her, knowing beyond knowing that she couldn’t deal with the development but desperately wanting it anyway.  A kind of relieved gratitude when life forces your slimy little cherished hopes to be tested.

A or B:      And the hormones are no guarantee.
A or B [whoever didn’t say previous line]:    Nope.

[They sigh simultaneously.]

A:         I read about that.
[Around five seconds of silence passes.]

A:         I suppose we have to face it.  Better now.
B:         How did this happen?  [No one makes the obvious joke.] I mean, I just—[struggles briefly for words, floundering]  I’ve always thought subconsciously that if any pregnancy comes of me that I’d be carrying it, it’d be mine.  Of course I know that can’t actually—it’s hard to explain, but that’s how it’s wired…well, there’s the answer, that’s probably how this happened in the first place.
A:         I understand.  That makes sense, too, sweetie.
[A’s tenderness breaks through the stolid taut air as her hand moves to grasp B’s across the table.  They hold hands atop the table.]

B:         Please don’t hate me for this: I don’t know how to feel.

[A’s tears flow one, two, then continuously.  A erupts with an audible sob.   VARIOUS RESTAURANT CUSTOMERS at nearby tables turn their heads.  They knock over the domino keeping B’s tears gated, and she also starts crying softly.]

[sniffling, composes herself, releases A’s hand]:           No guarantee, but it’s been a lot of years.  It’d probably be my last chance, if.
A:         You said you always adored the concept of motherhood.
B:         As a concept.
A:         You have the breasts for it.
[A looks uncertain, clearly trying to be funny but immediately regretting her attempt.  She searches B’s face, trying to assess its impact.  B looks briefly startled, then smiles wryly and halfheartedly and stares deliberately off in another  direction, pointedly avoiding eye contact with A.]

B:         We’re friends, first.  We always have been.  Before we started.  [Mumbles inaudibly.]

[almost to herself]:      We better deal with it.
NARRATOR [offstage]:   They better deal with it.
B:         I need a cigarette.
A:         You don’t smoke.  Anyway maybe you should be careful, just in case.

[The YOUNG CHILDREN hover near the sushi bar.  B gazes at them and then quickly glances at the menu again.  The WAITER arrives.]

WAITER [guiltily looking down, aware that he’s interrupting a very intimate and unresolved conversation]:     Anything else for you ladies?
A:         Nothing else raw.  [glances at B quickly, who looks away] I’ll have the grilled unagi.

 

[CURTAIN, suddenly and immediately as if by accident.]

 

(c) 2014 Tamara K. Walker

~~~ ~~~

Tamara K. Walker is a writer of various forms, primarily flash fiction and experimental short stories, who lives in Colorado with her wife/life partner and blogs irregularly about writing and literature at http://tamarakwalker.wordpress.com.  She may also be found online at http://about.me/tamara.kwalker.  Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in A cappella Zoo, Identity Theory, Apocrypha and Abstractions, and a handful of poetry zines.

Contact  |  Website  |  About.Me


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