Read Constellations Online

Authors: Nick Payne

Constellations (4 page)

Marianne
   Brighton.

Roland
   You have sex in the daytime then?

Marianne
   Yes.

Roland
   In the fucking daytime?

Marianne
   Sometimes, yes.

Roland
   During lunch is it?

Beat.

So when's he gonna move in? Mary, when's he gonna –

Marianne
   There's no date.

Roland
   But he is gonna move in?

Marianne
   Hopefully.

Roland
   Am I boring?

Marianne
   What?

Roland
   Do I bore you?

Marianne
   Of course not.

Roland
   We don't talk about space enough, is that it?

Marianne
   It's nothing to do with work.

Roland
   That doesn't make it better, y'know. If you'd said yes, if you'd said yes, it's because we don't talk about space enough, it might have made a bit more sense. I'd kick myself for not making more of an effort, but at least it'd make a bit more sense.

Marianne
   There's no linear explanation I'm afraid.

*   *   *

Roland
   Where have you been?

Marianne
   Work.

Roland
   I sent you a text.

Marianne
   I know.

Roland
   You've not texted me back?

Marianne
   I know.

Roland
   What does that mean?

Marianne
   It means I know that you sent me a text.

Roland
   I didn't know where you were.

Marianne
   Why are you being so tetchy? I was at work and I missed the seven thirty-seven and then the eight oh-four didn't turn up. What's wrong, what's the matter?

Roland
   Mary I'm really sorry but I had sex with Alison O'Connor Tuesday the week before last.

Marianne
   Alison O'Connor.

Roland
   Yeah.

Marianne
   I thought she was going bald?

Roland
   What?

Marianne
   She's going bald, Roland, she's going fucking bald. Well how many times? How many times did you have sex with her, Roland?

Roland
   Once.

Marianne
   Once?

Roland
   Tuesday the week before last, yeah.

Marianne
   What were you doing, what were the two of you doing?

Roland
   I was helping her set up a hive.

Marianne
   Is this a fucking joke?

Roland
   No.

Marianne
   You were helping her set up a fucking
hive
?

Roland
   Yes.

Marianne
   Speak up.

Roland
   I said yes. Yes, I was helping her –

Marianne
   Is it serious?

Roland
   I don't know.

Marianne
   You don't know?

Roland
   I need some time to think about it.

Marianne
   Oh you need some time to think about it?

Roland
   Preferably, yes.

Beat.

Marianne
   Does this mean you're moving out?

Roland
   Up to you, really.

Marianne
   If it were up to me, Roland, you wouldn't have fucked fucking Alison O'Connor.

Roland
   All right.

Marianne
   I beg your pardon?

Roland
   Calm down.

Marianne
   Fuck you actually.

Beat.

I've never been happier. Living with you. Just so you know.

*   *   *

Roland
   That doesn't make it better, y'know. If you'd said yes, if you'd said yes, it's because we don't talk about space enough, it might have made a bit more sense. I'd kick myself for not making more of an effort, but at least it'd make a bit more sense.

Marianne
   There's no straightforward explanation I'm afraid.

Roland
   Don't make me leave.

Marianne
   Roland –

Roland
   This is the best fucking thing that's ever happened to me, I'm serious.

Marianne
   You'll be fine.

Roland
   I don't know what I'm gonna do.

Marianne
   You can move back to Tower Hamlets.

Roland
   Is that meant to be a joke?

Marianne
   Of course it's not. I just meant that you've got lots – There's lots you can do.

Roland
   I don't care.

Marianne
   Come on.

Roland
   I don't.

Marianne
   You're being melodramatic.

Roland
   How long have you been waiting to tell me?

Marianne
   A week.

Roland
   I was going to propose.

Marianne
   Roland –

*   *   *

Roland
   I need some time to think about it.

Marianne
   Oh you need some time to think about it?

Roland
   Preferably, yes.

Beat.

Marianne
   Does this mean you're moving out?

Roland
   Up to you, really.

Marianne
   If it were up to me, Roland, you wouldn't have fucked fucking –

Roland
   All right.

Marianne
   I beg your pardon?

Roland
   I don't wanna fight.

Marianne
   Tough.

Roland
   What?

Marianne
   I said tough.

Roland
   Mary, come on, I'm telling you because I regret it, not because I want us to –

Marianne
   You regret something once; you don't regret it and then keep going.

Roland
   What's the likelihood you might be able to forgive me?

*   *   *

Marianne
   Where have you been?

Roland
   Pub.

Marianne
   I sent you a text.

Roland
   I know.

Marianne
   Why didn't you text me back?

Roland
   Dunno.

Marianne
   What does that mean?

Roland
   It means I dunno. Means I didn't think it was urgent.

Marianne
   I didn't know where you were.

Roland
   I just told you.

Marianne
   Now, you just told me now, but I wanted to know –

Roland
   I was playing tennis. I was playing tennis with Tony and then we went to the pub. What's wrong? I'm sorry. What is it, what's wrong?

Marianne
   Roland, I'm really sorry.

Roland
   What, what is it?

Marianne
   James and I had sex.

Beat.

Marianne
   Roland, did you hear what I –

Roland
   I know.

Marianne
   What?

Roland
   You had a message from him while you were in the shower. I read it.

*   *   *

Roland hits Marianne. Beat.

Marianne
   Yeah you need to leave.

Roland
   Make me.

Marianne
   What?

Roland
   I said make me.

*   *   *

Marianne
   
I keep thinking of Mum.

Roland
   
In what way?

Marianne
   
Before she died.

Roland
   
Right.

Marianne
   
When she said she didn't want any more food.

Roland
   
Yeah.

Marianne
   
Do you remember?

Roland
   
I'm not sure we ever really talked about it?

Marianne
   
I thought we did?

Roland
   
Bits and pieces maybe.

Marianne
   
Well she said she wanted them to stop the IV, did we talk about that?

Roland
   
I think maybe we did yeah.

Marianne
   
They asked me to leave. I went back the next day and she was starting to look like a ghost. It takes an enormous amount of strength. When you're like that. To keep going. I'm not sure I have it.

Roland
   
You don't know. You don't know that.

Marianne
   
Sinking feeling.

Roland
   
Mary listen to me –

Marianne
   
I'm so tired. I'm so tired, Roland. Before people had face

Before they had
          
face

Face
          
before they

FUCK.

Roland
   
Okay.

Marianne
   
God.

Roland
   
God?

Marianne
   
People's lives were their own. Before
          
it became skin

Skin, it became

Skin

Roland
    
Skin?

Marianne
   
Mum wasn't scared of dying, she was scared of being kept alive. You know?

Roland
   
Yes.

Marianne
   
That wasn't what scared her.

*   *   *

Roland
   Hello, Marianne.

Marianne
   Roland. Wow, hi – Hello. How are you?

Roland
   Yeah, I'm fine, thanks.

Marianne
   Oh good. Good, that's really good.

Roland
   How about y'self?

Marianne
   I bought some of your honey.

Roland
   Oh really.

Marianne
   From the Budgens in Crouch End.

Roland
   Yeah, right. They're really great.

Marianne
   I said to the girl on the till, I said I used to know the man who made this honey.

Roland
   What did she say?

Marianne 
…

Roland
   I read one of your papers.

Marianne
   You did not?

Roland
   I did. I downloaded it.

Marianne
   Which one did you read?

Roland
   Something to do with the XMM Cluster Survey?

Marianne
   That's really amazing, Roland.

Roland
   What did you think of the honey?

Marianne
   Delicious. It was completely delicious. Are you, are you here for the ballroom class?

Roland
   Yeah, no, yeah, I am, yeah.

Marianne
   Really.

Roland
   Heather's getting married in a couple of months, so.

Marianne
   The PE teacher?

Roland
   What's that?

Marianne
   He was a, he was a PE teacher, wasn't he?

Roland
   Right, no, I see. They called it a day. New bloke's a something-or-other for the Office for National Statistics.

Marianne
   Wow.

Roland
   I've been ordered to sort out my two left feet or else. How about you?

Marianne
   Similar, really. Wedding.

Roland
   Your own or –

Marianne
   No, mine, yep.

Roland
   Congratulations.

Marianne
   Yep.

Roland
   Is your. Fiancé, is he –

Marianne
   Held up. He's. Been held up.

*   *   *

Roland
   Hello, Marianne. It's Roland.

Marianne
   Roland.

Roland
   How are you? Hope I didn't scare you?

Marianne
   No. A bit. Maybe. I mean, a bit.

Roland
   Sorry.

Marianne
   Are you, are you here for the ballroom class?

Roland
   Yeah, no, yeah, I am, yeah.

Marianne
   Ballroom, really?

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