Read Constellations Online

Authors: Nick Payne

Constellations (2 page)

Marianne
   Do you think I'm a honey philistine?

Roland
   Some of the supermarket stuff's all right.

Marianne
   Really?

Roland
   Yeah, some of it's fine, yeah.

Marianne
   So – And I mean don't take this the wrong way, but, I mean, are you –

Roland
   Go on.

Marianne
   You – I mean do you make a living?

Roland
   I do, yeah.

Marianne
   I mean from beekeeping.

Roland
   From beekeeping.

Marianne
   How does it – I mean how does it –

Roland
   Well. I used to, I used to work for a friend of mine. In Wiltshire.

Marianne
   Very nice.

Roland
   After a while though, decided I wanted to go into business on my own. But my, my girlfriend – ex-girlfriend –

Marianne
   I'm sorry for your loss.

Roland
   What's that?

Marianne
   No – I was – I was making a –

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   Sorry for your loss as in –

Gestures, sliding a finger across her throat, ‘killed'.

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   It was just a –

Roland
   No.

Marianne
   Anyway, you were –

Roland
   Yeah, no, so, she, my ex, she wanted to move to London. So we got this one-bed place in Tower Hamlets.

Marianne
   No wonder you broke up with her, fuck me. I'd've broken up with her if she'd made me leave Wiltshire for fucking Tower Hamlets.

Roland
   I'm still living there, actually.

Marianne
   Lovely curries.

Roland
   There wasn't any room. For bees.

Marianne
   I see.

Roland
   We didn't have a garden.

Marianne
   Bummer.

Roland
   One day I was up on the roof and I realised it was perfect. So I tidied it up a bit and I got my first hive.

Marianne
   Amazing.

Roland
   Went from one to two from two to four. We, we went away. Me and Laura. We went away to Spain and when we got back, we found that the flat had been raided.

Marianne
   Raided?

Roland
   I used to keep the honey in bin bags. You know those black, plastic bin liners –

Marianne
   Yes.

Roland
   Didn't have a lotta money, at the time, so the bin bags were just a cheap alternative. When we were away though, one of the neighbours called the police. Thought I was brewing up smack or something. They properly went for it. The police. They kicked the front door in, turned the flat upside down and they confiscated all these bin bags filled with the most amazing honey and honeycomb.

Marianne
   Did that really happen?

Roland
   Yeah.

Marianne
   You used to keep honey in bin bags?

Roland
   Yeah.

*   *   *

Marianne
   
Roland, I don't think that I can go back to work.

Roland
   
Have they told you that?

Marianne
   
They're great.

Roland
   
You've told them then?

Marianne
   
Not yet.

Roland
   
But you're going to.

Marianne
   
I think so.

Roland
   
But you haven't said any of this to them?

Marianne
   
They've said whatever I want.

Roland
   
So what about part-time?

Marianne
   
I don't know the point.

Roland
   
You mean the point of going part-time?

Marianne
   
Either I'm walking or I'm

Either I'm
          
walker

I either do it or I don't. Scares me.

Roland
   
Work?

Marianne
   
Stopping.

Roland
   
Stopping work scares you?

Marianne
   
What will I do?

Roland
   
We'll go away. We can do whatever we want.

Marianne
   
I don't –

Roland
   
I'm being serious.

Marianne
   
I don't –

Roland
   
I mean it.

Marianne
   
I
          
I don't

We can't. I have to
          
have to
          
make a

I have to have a choice.

Control.

*   *   *

Roland
   You want me to leave?

Marianne
   Not in a bad way, but yeah.

Roland
   Have I done something wrong?

Marianne
   No.

Roland
   Have I said something, have I offended you?

Marianne
   No.

Roland
   I thought we'd had a nice evening?

Marianne
   We did.

Roland
   Coming back here was your suggestion?

Marianne
   I know, but, on reflection –

Roland
   Do you wanna come inside, you said.

Marianne
   I know I know, but now I've changed my mind. I'm allowed to change my mind, aren't I?

Roland
   If I'm allowed to ask why, sure.

Marianne
   I just – I'd just rather not get into it.

Roland
   Can you at least tell me if it's me?

Marianne
   I just –

Roland
   I'm not saying specifically – Generally – Generally speaking –

Marianne
   I'm just going through some things. At the moment. And you're right, we've had a lovely evening and you're right it was my idea to come back here, but, I just, as soon as we stepped inside, I started thinking – I mean I just started thinking –

*   *   *

Roland
   You want me to leave?

Marianne
   Not in a bad way, but yeah.

Roland
   Have I done something wrong?

Marianne
   No.

Roland
   Have I said something, have I offended you?

Marianne
   No.

Roland
   Then I don't understand?

Marianne
   I'm not asking you to understand, I'm asking you to leave.

Roland
   Bit fucking rich, isn't it?

Marianne
   I'm sorry?

Roland
   This was your idea.

Marianne
   Charming.

Roland
   I'm just saying.

Marianne
   Okay –

Roland
   It's rude.

Marianne
   Yeah I'd like you to leave now.

*   *   *

Roland
   I should probably make a move.

Marianne
   You don't – I mean don't feel you have to.

Roland
   I've got a really early start.

Marianne
   How early's early?

Roland
   Six.

Marianne
   You could – I mean you could – Not in a like ‘welcome to my lair' way or anything, but – If you wanted, you could. Stay.

Roland
   I should probably head back.

Marianne
   Well, look, I mean – Thanks for a really lovely evening.

Roland
   Likewise, yeah.

Marianne
   We should – I mean whenever you're free, we should think about –

Roland
   Definitely, yeah.

Marianne
   The ‘lair' thing was just a joke by the way.

Roland
   Come again?

Marianne
   Sofa just folds out. You wouldn't have to stay in my bed. Stop talking, Marianne.

Roland gently kisses Marianne ‘goodbye' on the cheek.

*   *   *

Marianne
   Not in a bad way, but yeah.

Roland
   Have I done something wrong?

Marianne
   No.

Roland
   Have I said something –

Marianne
   No.

Roland
   I thought we'd had a nice evening?

Marianne
   We did.

Roland
   Coming back here was your suggestion?

Marianne
   No, I know, but, on reflection –

Roland
   Do you wanna come inside, you said.

Marianne
   I know, but now I've changed my mind. I'm allowed to change my mind, aren't I? I just – I'd just rather not get into it.

Roland
   I went on another date a couple of weeks ago. Almost exactly the same thing happened. So I'm more than happy to leave you to it, but if it is me –

Marianne
   It's not.

Roland
   I'm not saying you have to be specific –

Marianne
   It's not you.

Roland
   If you had some feedback –

Marianne
   Feedback?

Roland ‘
   Feedback''s not right, but –

Marianne
   Okay, look, I just. I'm just going through some things. At the moment. My, my mother. She's been ill for a really long time. And. I can't tell whether I want you to stay because I want you to stay or whether I just don't want to go to sleep on my own.

Beat.

Roland
   I'm really sorry.

Marianne
   Why don't we just speak in a week or so?

*   *   *

Marianne and Roland are a little drunk.

Roland
   Friend of mine said to me when I told him that I was going on a date, he said, ‘What does she do?' –

Marianne
   And what did you say?

Roland
   I said I don't really know but I think it's something to do with space. And when we were talking about your job earlier on I was nodding along pretty much the entire time but when we stepped through your front door I realised I hadn't really understood a single thing you'd said.

Marianne
   Most of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer.

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   Inputting data.

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   Cosmic microwave background readings.

Roland
   Okay.

Marianne
   Radiation left over from the big bang.

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   Cosmology. Theoretical early universe cosmology.

*   *   *

Marianne and Roland are a little more drunk.

Roland
   I said I don't really know but I think it's something to do with space. And when we were talking about your job earlier on I was nodding along pretty much the entire time but when we stepped through your front door I realised I hadn't really understood a single thing you'd said.

Marianne
   Most of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer.

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   Inputting data.

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   Quantum cosmology.

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   Do you know much about theoretical physics?

Roland
   Pass.

Marianne
   Quantum mechanics?

Roland
   Pass.

Marianne
   Quantum mechanics focuses on the quantum realm. Atoms, molecules.

Roland
   Right.

Marianne
   On nuclear and atomic scales, gravity is pretty much insignificant. But in terms of General Relativity, it's vital.

Roland
   Okay.

Marianne
   So you've these two theories that are completely at odds with one another. Relativity covers the sun, the moon, the stars, while quantum mechanics takes care of molecules, quarks, atoms – that sort of thing. We've effectively asked the same question twice and come up with two completely different answers.

Other books

The Doctor Takes a Wife by Laurie Kingery
Mercy Me by Margaret A. Graham
LuckySilver by Clare Murray
Private Tasting by Nina Jaynes
Hieroglyphs by Penelope Wilson
Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block
The House on the Shore by Victoria Howard
The Book of Bastards by Brian Thornton