a literary and visual arts journal
W: Have you forgotten what day it is?
M: I have forgotten everything.
W: You have haven’t you? You’ve forgotten what day it is.
M: What day is it? Good God, what a question!
W: It’s my birthday.
M: Your what?
W: My birthday.
M: Your birthday? How can you possibly tell?
W: Allow me to know when my own birthday is.
M: Why should I allow you that? I myself am allowed nothing. Why should I allow you that?
W: Have you got me a present?
M: Where would I get a present from?
M: What’s the date of your birthday?
M: No I mean the actual date?
W: I want to say…November?
M: Does this feel like November?
W: November can be quite temperate…in some climes.
M: Not in this one.
M: Even if I concede it’s November. November! What date in November is your birthday?
W: You’re asking me to be very specific.
M: One usually is when one talks about one’s birthday.
W: The first week in November. Sometime in the first nine days to be specific. I know it’s a single digit figure because I always thought ‘that’s easy to remember.’
M: The 1st to the 9th of probably November. Do you think that’s enough for us to be sure that today is your birthday?
W: It’s the best I can do.
W: You’re spoiling my birthday. You’re spoiling my special day.
M: Well happy birthday! Many happy returns of whatever the hell day it is we’re talking about.
W: I’ve made a mistake.
M: No kidding.
W: It’s not my birthday.
M: You astonish me.
W: This feeling…
W: It’s something else…it’s more like…it’s more like…an anniversary.
M: What sort of anniversary?
W: A wedding anniversary.
M: You’re married?
W: Why shouldn’t I be married?
M: If I wasn’t a gentleman I’d tell you.
M: To whom are you married?
W: To you of course.
M: Me! How do you work that one out?
W: We’re here aren’t we? Together? Inextricably bound to each other for all eternity? We must be married.
M: We’re here alright but in no other sense of the word can we be said to be together. We inhabit the same space geographically but as to the interior landscapes of our inner lives we may as well be living on different planets.
W: Are there still different planets?
M: There must be. This cannot be all there is surely?
W: We must be married. I feel…
M: What do you feel? Feel!
W: I feel…emotionally bound up with you.
M: Then I pity you.
W: What do you feel for me?
M: The most I can realistically summon up is a mild repulsion.
W: We must be married.
M: Yes…yes…it’s like that feeling you get when you try to put two magnets together. You know that weird feeling when you try to touch them together and some mysterious force keeps pushing them apart? That strange feeling of unnerving repulsion. That’s what I feel for you. Since you ask.
W: It’s something to work with.
W: Lovely wedding it was.
M: There was a wedding was there?
M: Registry job was it?
W: Certainly not! A full traditional white wedding with all the trimmings.
M: Sounds magnificent.
W: It was. You were in a dove grey frock-coat, stripped trousers, gloves, top hat.
M: I have never ever worn a top hat.
W: You didn’t wear it. You carried it under your arm. With the gloves inside. That’s how I remember you that day. Your face turned expectantly towards me as I came up the aisle, your top hat under your arm.
M: I must have been lovely.
W: You were.
M: I slept with your chief bridesmaid the night before.
W: You remember that do you?
M: I remember nothing.
M: What anniversary is it?
M: What anniversary is it?
W: I told you. Our wedding anniversary.
M: I mean what number? How many years?
W: Well let’s see…one is Paper, two is Cotton, three is Leather…
W: Four is Fruit…or Flowers…five is Wood, then Iron, Wool or Copper, then Bronze…
M: These are coming at an alarming rate…
W: Then Pottery…
W: Then Tin or Aluminium…
M: It’s got to be Tin…that’s us…Tin…
W: …then Steel, Silk or Linen, Lace, Ivory then Crystal…
M: I haven’t heard of any of these. When’s Silver?
W: Twenty-five years.
M: Twenty-five years! It staggers the mind.
W: Thirty years is Pearl, forty is Ruby…
M: You’re scaring me now…
W: Fifty…is Golden…
W: That’s us.
M: No way! Never! I protest!
W: Today is our Golden Wedding Anniversary.
M: I don’t believe it.
M: Hold on a minute…
M: If this is your fiftieth.
W: Our fiftieth…
M: If this is your fiftieth…
W: Our fiftieth…
M: Then you must be over fifty years of age.
M: No…bear with me here…in fact…in fact…to make the whole thing legal…if you’ve been married fifty years…to make the whole thing legal…you must have been married at sixteen…at the very earliest I mean…married at sixteen…fifty years married…that makes you…sixty-six…doesn’t it? That makes you at least sixty-six years of age. Doesn’t it? Well…doesn’t it?
W: Your logic is dismal…yet irrefutable.
M: That is often the nature of logic. Are you sixty-six years old? At the most conservative estimate. Are you in fact at least sixty-six years of age?
W begins to sob quietly to herself. M’s initial satisfaction quickly turns to uneasiness. W continues to sob. M moves across to a ‘window’ and looks out.
W: It’s not my birthday…it’s not our anniversary…
M looks back at W.
M: If it’s not your birthday or our anniversary then why am I looking out of the window and waiting for the van that’s bringing your presents?
W: My presents?
M: Of course…a host of presents…in a fleet of vans…
M turn and looks out of the window again. He strains to see the vans as if willing them into existence. W turns to look at him. Hold.
W: You know…if the vans don’t come today…
W: If they don’t come today…or tomorrow…
W: Perhaps they’ll be in time for next year…for either my birthday…
M: Our your anniversary…our anniversary…yes…next year…they’ll definitely be here in time for next year…
(M looks out of the window. W looks at M.)