Post Road Magazine #26

Tie a Yellow Ribbon

Atar Hadari

(He and She in a bare apartment. A box on the table. She's got her coat on.)

She: You've not changed much.

He: Didn't know when you were coming back.

She: Those drapes are nice.

He: I saw you looking at them once. In Argos.

She: Didn't buy them though.

He: I bought them now.

She: What's in the box?

He: They were having a sale. Actually. I saw your prints in the knock down bin. I thought, you never know. She'd have liked these, way back when.

She: Too bad you couldn't get them knocked down, way back when. It smells in here.

He: The drain's backed up. The landlord said—

She: You always blame landlords.

He: If you'd call them—

She: What do I want a husband for if I have to make phone calls?

He: Who phones for you now?

She: I leave messages. When they're shut.

He: Like what?

She: Please be advised, my heating is still on the blink. E45. I'm out all day. Feel free to use your key and fix the boiler while I'm gone.

He: Do they fix you?

She: (laughs) Do they fuck.

He: Leave another message.

She: Like what?

He: (husky voice) I'm in E45. I'd love somebody strong and competent to look at my boiler ignition.

She: I've never known you to come running at the sound of that on your voicemail.

He: You'd be surprised what a bit of quiet does for remembering what you could sound like.

She: Me?

He: I remember your messages.

She: What about? Is it full, that box?

He: Your things, among other things. I forget what it was. You left your flowers in the green grocer's.

She: You never bought me flowers.

He: Went down and fetched them for you though, didn't I? When you left them and the avocadoes.

She: I never knew you cared.

He: I cared.

She: What've you got in there? I thought you couldn't wait to get me back.

He: I couldn't keep all your clothes in the cupboard.

She: I took my clothes.

He: Not your frock.

She: You bought me that. It made me look so common.

He: It has a touch—

She: If you like your touch paid for at twenty quid a tumble.

He: It's in with your tea-pot and Gregorian chant CDs.

She: What else?

He: I missed—hearing your voice.

She: Not my touch? I forgot—you had my dress for that.

He: It's no use in the cupboard.

She: I suppose not. Do you put it on a mannequin?

He: What good would it do without you saying things?

She: What things?

He: (husky) This is 5E. I want my waterworks fixing.

She: That must be quite a frock.

He: I only wanted it for you to look good in.

She: I thought you wanted it to peel off me.

He: Some things look good whatever the package.

She: Darling—am I a toy you miss?

He: Not so far. Open it.

She: Now?

He: Be my guest.

(She looks in box.)

She: What's that—inside the dress?

He: CDs.

She: I mean the yellow hair.

He: Oh, that. Press down on this button.

She: What's that?

He: A pump.

She: You'll squirt me with shaving cream.

He: Perfectly safe, I assure you.

She: You're sure?

He: Perfectly.

(She reaches in and presses. The sound of a pump whining.)

She: Eugh—what's that?

He: Wait for it.

She: What on earth? (DOLL blows up out of the box.) My—no!

He: Yes.

She: She's hideous. And in my dress.

He: You left it.

She: You said—you said it wouldn't be worth it without my voice.

He: That's another button in there.

She: Where?

He: Go on. Press it. You know you want to.

She: Why would I want to?

He: To know what she says. To me.

She: She talks to you?

He: You'll never know if you don't reach back in the box.

(She looks at him, reaches in, between the doll's legs, CLICK.)

Doll: Darling, you won't believe this, I've left some flowers at the grocery. Be a love and rescue me. Love you. Byeee. Back before tea.

She: That. . .does it for you?

He: You used to say. . .so many things.

She: That's all it takes—my frock and a phone message?

(He reaches in—CLICK—and the DOLL deflates.)

He: What else would you have her say?

She: It's me. I'm in 5E. I've got nobody to put my fire on. Can you come home?

He: That's very good. I think I can.

She: Can what?

He: I think I can hear that.

(He reaches in and CLICK, DOLL re-inflates.)

Doll: You've not changed much. What's in the box? I need you to put on my fire. Can you come home?

She: You've been. . .recording me?

He: Only what microphones pick up this close. Every time you touched the box.

She: Does she make you happy in that dress?

(He flicks a switch.)

Doll: Come home. Can you come home?

She: That's more than I ever managed.

Doll: I've got a fire needs fixing.

She: You can keep my Gregorian chants. And this.

Doll: Come home. Can you smell the damp?

She: I'll leave the box. It's the perfect size.

Doll: Come home. Can you come home?

She: No.

He: No?

She: No.

He: What if she goes out, in the bin?

She: You've made all these sad recordings.

Doll: I only want you to bring back the flowers.

He: That dress is much too big.

She: Leave me the CDs and the pot on the front step. You can keep the box. (husky) "It's yours. You can keep it all darling." I'll keep the windows closed.


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