Post Road Magazine #28

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.

(Blackout)

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