Read Constellations Online

Authors: Nick Payne

Constellations (5 page)

Roland
   Heather's getting married.

Marianne
   Heather?

Roland
   My sister.

Marianne
   Heather, of course.

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

Marianne
   Did you, did you know that I was going to be here?

Roland
   What? Did I –

Marianne
   Know that I was going to be here?

Roland
   No. No, of course not.

Beat.

Marianne
   I'm learning ballroom because I'm getting married, Roland.

Roland
   No, sure.

Marianne
   In September.

Roland
   Congratulations.

Marianne
   Thank you. What about you, are you –

Roland
   I was, but, for the moment, no.

Marianne
   Married?

Roland
   Seeing someone. I was seeing someone. But we broke up. So.

Marianne
   I'm sorry.

Roland
   No, please. Don't be.

*   *   *

Marianne
   Hello, Roland.

Roland
   Marianne. Wow, shit. How's it, how's it going?

Marianne
   Well. I'm really well. Thanks.

Roland
   Great. Thass really great.

Marianne
   Yourself?

Roland
   Yeah, no, I mean, good, yeah.

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
   She just stared at me. How is everything? Business-wise.

Roland
   Good, yeah. 'Bout to start doing pollen.

Marianne
   Pollen?

Roland
   Yeah, you have to – Y'scrape it off the legs of the bees and then you ground it down. Really good for you apparently.

Marianne
   Scraping the legs of bees, or pollen?

Roland
   Had a, had an offer from Tesco of all people.

Marianne
   For the pollen?

Roland
   No, just for the honey.

Marianne
   How much for?

Roland
   Fair whack.

Marianne
   What did you say?

Roland
   Told 'em to go fuck 'emselves. I read one of your papers.

Marianne
   You did not?

Roland
   I did. I downloaded it.

Marianne
   Which one did you read?

Roland
   Something about hot subdwarf stars?

Marianne
   Were you really looking for midget porn on Google?

Roland
   What's that?

Marianne
   Subdwarf – It was a –

Roland
   Gotcha.

Marianne
   That's really amazing, Roland. Thank you.

Roland
   What did you think of the honey? From Budgens.

Marianne
   Delicious. It was completely delicious.

Roland
   It's heather.

Marianne
   Yes.

Roland
   We cart the bees up to the heather moors every August. One by one.

Marianne
   One by one?

Roland
   Hives, not bees.

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

Roland
   Yeah, no, yeah, I am, yeah. I'm. I'm actually. Engaged.

Marianne
   Oh wow.

Roland
   So. Yeah.

Marianne
   Who's the, who's the lucky lady?

Roland
   Alison. Alison O –

Marianne
   I remember.

Roland
   How about y'self, are you –

Marianne
   Just trying to lose a bit of weight. Too many late-night digestive binges. I blame the subdwarfs. The stars – The, the paper you read –

*   *   *

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 DVLA.

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, God, can you imagine. I'm being a very diligent bridesmaid. We're having some kind of mass Viennese waltz. I'm not sure I fully understand it as yet.

Roland
   So is this your first? Lesson.

Marianne
   No, second. You?

Roland
   First, yeah.

Marianne
   Well done on the comfortable trouser front. I came straight from work. Last week. Crotch was like a fucking furnace by the time I got home.

Beat.

Roland
   Mary, I'm sorry.

*   *   *

Marianne
   Well done on the comfortable trouser front. I came straight from work. Last week. Crotch was like a fucking inferno by the time I got home.

Beat.

Roland, I'm sorry.

Roland
   What for?

*   *   *

Marianne
   Well done on the comfortable trouser front. I came straight from work. Last week. Crotch was like a fucking sauna by the time I got home.

Beat.

I have to say it because if I don't I'll feel like a fraud.

Roland
   Mary –

Marianne
   Let's go for a drink. I don't know what I'm doing here anyway. One drink. And if you never want to see me again you never have to see me again.

*   *   *

Roland
   Mary –

Marianne
   Why don't we go for a drink? I don't know what I'm doing here anyway. One drink. And if you never want to see me again you never have to see me again.

*   *   *

Roland
   Mary –

Marianne
   One drink. And if you never want to see me again you never have to see me again.

*   *   *

Roland
   Mary –

Marianne
   And if you never want to see me again you never have to see me again.

*   *   *

Roland
    
I don't really know what to say.

Marianne
   
You don't have to say anything.

Roland
    
No I know but I want to; I want to know what to say to you.

Marianne
   
A lot of people apparently never go through with it.

Roland
    
How do you mean?

Marianne
   
A lot of people, once they've been given the green night

Night

Once they've
          
A lot of

Roland
   
It's okay.

Marianne
   
They're, they're happy enough knowing it's there.

Roland
   
How do you know that?

Marianne
   
It's on the website.

Roland
   
When you say ‘a lot' how many are we talking?

Marianne
   
I think it was something like two-thirds. Safety net. For a lot of people.

Roland
   
And is that how you're feeling about it?

Marianne
   
I don't know.

Roland
   
Would I be able to come with you?

Marianne
   
I'm going to speak to Martin. Would you want to? Come with me.

Roland
   
Would you want me to come with you?

Marianne nods. Beat.

Marianne
   
I keep thinking of Mum.

*   *   *

Roland takes a piece of A4 paper from a pocket and reads.

Roland
   There are three different kinds of bees. The drones, the workers and a single, solitary queen. The workers are all women. Their job is to forage for honey, pollen, etcetera. Their lifespan is potentially anywhere between five weeks and six months. And then they die. Drones exist solely to have sex with the queen. Each hive tends to have around a hundred drones. Once they've deposited their sperm, their penis gets ripped off and

 

they die. Honeybees have an
          

Marianne
   Roland –

unfailing clarity of purpose. Their lives are often intensely short. But in a strange sort of way, I'm jealous of the humble

 

honeybee and their quiet

Marianne
   Roland any moment a –

elegance. If only our existence

 

were that simple. If only we could understand why it is

Marianne
   Any moment a –

that we're here and what it is that we're meant to spend our lives doing. I am uncertain when it comes to a great many things. But there is now one thing I am defiantly certain of.

 

Roland folds up the piece of paper, puts it back in his pocket and – from another pocket – takes out a small black box. He kneels and opens the small black box.

Roland
   Marianne Aubele, will you marry me?

Marianne
   Roland, I've got a tutorial. You can't just turn up like this. I mean. It's the middle of the day, there's a lot going on. I need to think about it. I'm sorry. I just. I just really need some space.

Roland stands and returns the small black box to his pocket.

*   *   *

Marianne
   This is a surprise.

Roland
   Is it?

Marianne
   It's the middle of the afternoon.

Roland
   Are you busy?

Marianne
   Are you – Is everything –

Roland
   There's something I'd like to say. To you.

Roland takes a piece of A4 paper from a pocket and reads.

There are three different kinds of bees. The drones, the workers and a single, solitary queen. The workers are all women. Their job is to forage for honey, pollen, etcetera. Their lifespan is potentially anywhere between five weeks and six months. And then they die. Drones exist solely to have sex with the queen. Each hive tends to have around a hundred drones. Once they've deposited their sperm, their penis gets ripped off and they die. Honeybees have an unfailing clarity of purpose. Their lives are often intensely short. But in a strange sort of way, I'm jealous of the humble honeybee and their quiet elegance. If only our existence were that simple. If only we could understand why it is that we're here and what it is that we're meant to spend our lives doing. I am uncertain when it comes to a great many things. But there is now one thing I am defiantly certain of.

Roland folds up the piece of paper, puts it back in his pocket and – from another pocket – takes out a small black box.

Marianne
   Roland, please.

Roland kneels and opens the small black box.

Roland, get up, come on.

Roland
   Marianne Aubele, will you marry me?

Beat.

Marianne
   Roland, we talked about this. Come on.

Roland stands and returns the small black box to his pocket.

*   *   *

Marianne
   This is a surprise.

Roland
   Is it?

Marianne
   It's the middle of the afternoon.

Roland
   There's something I'd like to say to you.

Roland reaches into a pocket, but there is nothing there.

Shit.

Marianne
   What is it?

Roland checks his other pockets.

Roland
   I've left it at home.

Marianne
   Left what at home? Roland.

Beat.

Roland, is everything all right?

Other books

Ascension by Christopher De Sousa
Phoenix Ascendant - eARC by Ryk E. Spoor
With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
Darkness Eternal by Alexandra Ivy
My Vampire Lover by J. P. Bowie
The Firebrand Legacy by T.K. Kiser
A Fine Mess by Kristy K. James