A Remembered Argument

A man sits on the floor of his apartment, throwing a small blue ball against the wall and catching it as it bounces off.  His face is blank, and he stares off into space, not watching what he is doing.  The sound of the ball hitting the floor, the wall and being caught echoes through the apartment.

(The following scene is only heard as the man replays the events in his head.  We only see the scene through the furniture, objects and aftermath of the argument, as well as hear the sounds [shown in bold brackets] taking place around the argument.  And throughout the entire thing, we can still hear the sound of the ball hitting the wall.)

We see a dinner set up on the dining table.  The meal is over and we see one of the plates is almost empty.  There are two bottles – one champagne, the other sparkling cider – open on the table.  One  champagne flute is standing, mostly full, near the woman’s place.

MAN: [bottle popping open] And a glass of normal bubbly for me . . . [twist-off bottle opening] and a glass of non-boozey bubbly for you.  [Two glasses are filled.]
WOMAN:  I don’t get the normal bubbles?
MAN:  Not when you drink for two.  I won’t be lording it over you; this is my last drink until it’s over.  After that, we can go on a week bender.  We can bathe in the stuff.
WOMAN: Is that what all this is about?
MAN: All . . .?
WOMAN:  The dinner.  The sparkling cider.  The fact that the apartment is clean for once.

The apartment is very clean.  There are rose petals strewn across the floor and table.  On the walls are pictures of the couple: at parties, different locations, laughing, dancing, kissing.

MAN:  This apartment is always clean.
WOMAN:  The fact that I didn’t clean the apartment for once.
MAN:  I walked into that one.  I’m trying to get used to doing more housework for when your ankles are swollen and all you’ll want weird food like ice cream and mustard.
WOMAN: I like ice cream and mustard now.
MAN:  See?
WOMAN:  I’m not a blimp yet.
MAN: Practice.  You want me trying to figure out how to do this once the water breaks?
WOMAN:  Hmmm.  And is the dinner practice too?
MAN:  As well as a preemptive celebration to you saying, “I do.”
WOMAN:  Hmmmm.
MAN:  You said “a week” a week ago.  I realize it was kind of sudden, looking back on it, but seeing as we’re stuck together now we might as well, right?  . . . what?  [The ring is pushed across the table.]

We see the table from a different angle, reveiling the engagement ring that is between the bottles.

MAN:  Oh.  Guess ‘preemptive’ was the word.

We return to the man at the door, bouncing the ball.  His eyes have gotten watery.

MAN:  I mean, there’s nothing saying we have to get married; plenty of people have kids out of it.  I guess I just don’t understand.  We’ve been together eight years, lived together for five.  I just don’t –
WOMAN: Because I couldn’t.  I thought about it, I thought about it a lot, and I was having trouble breathing and  I couldn’t focus at work.  I yelled at my assistant the other day for no real reason. I just . . . I can’t.  I just –
MAN:  Okay.  It’s all right.  Umm.  I love you, that’s all that matters.  If you don’t want to get married –
WOMAN: – it’s not that –
MAN:  – if you don’t want to, that’s all right.  And it’s probably for the best.  We have a lot on our plate right now, and a wedding would just get in the way. As long as you’re here, it doesn’t matter what we call ourselves.  Maybe in a few years, thing’ll be different, maybe you’ll feel different and –
WOMAN:  No.  I won’t feel different.  That’s it.
MAN:  What?
WOMAN:  I’m . . . I’m going to be staying with Stacey for the next few nights.
MAN:  What are you saying?
WOMAN:  I’ll give you a call after that and we can figure out –
MAN:  No.  No.  You can’t do this, you can’t walk out.  [The woman gets up and takes her plate with her.]

One place at the table is empty, save the napkin that has been left.  

WOMAN:  I’m sorry –  [Running water.]
MAN:  You can’t just walk out.  Eight years, eight years together.  Were they bad?
WOMAN:  No.
MAN:  Then?  How long have you felt like this?
WOMAN:  Not long.
MAN:  Since I proposed?  [Running water shuts off.]

The woman’s plate and utensils sit on a drying rack near the kitchen sink.  They are still dripping onto the counter.

WOMAN:  Yes.  No.  It was before that.
MAN:  Why didn’t you talk to me?
WOMAN:  We’re talking now.
MAN:  Before now!  This is not talking!  This is not an exchange of ideas to come to a conclusion, to find a compromise, to work it out.  You’ve already worked it out!  [She walks back towards the dining room.]
WOMAN:  Baby, please –
MAN:  Baby!  We’re having a baby together, and you’re walking out because you got cold feet about a wedding you’ve said no to?
WOMAN:  No.
MAN:  No?
WOMAN:  No, that’s not why I have to leave.
MAN:  Then , “No,” what?
WOMAN:  No.  We’re not having a baby.
MAN:  Pardon?
WOMAN:  I’m not having a baby.  [Glass breaking.]

The man’s glass of champagne is broken on the floor.  Tiny bubbles can still be seen in the liquid.  The man at the door wipes tears away from his eyes without disturbing the cadence of the ball hitting the wall.

MAN:  What did you do?  [The woman grabs a towel and walks towards the spill, and starts to clean it up.]
WOMAN:  I’m not ready to have a kid.  I don’t know if I even want to have a kid –
MAN:  So you just up and have an abort – stop cleaning that and look at me!  [The man grabs the towel and throws it across the room.  The sound of something falling, and then of breaking glass.]

One of the pictures of the couple on the way was hit by the towel and fell to the floor, breaking the glass.  The towel sits, half wet with champagne, next to the broken picture.

WOMAN: – and then you proposed, and I couldn’t stand the thought of . . . of this happening, so –
MAN:  Well, it is.
WOMAN:  I just thought –
MAN:  You thought.  You would have known if you talked to me about it.
WOMAN:  You would have just guilt-tripped me into keeping it and into staying and then three, five, eight years down the road I would have wasted more of my life –
MAN:  Wasted?
WOMAN:  That’s not what I meant –
MAN:  What did you mean?
WOMAN:  It was just too much.  If it had just been the marriage, or maybe just . . . I could have managed.  But you just laid both on me –
MAN:  [The man stands.]  Don’t blame this shit on me!  I’m not the one who killed our baby and then tried to sneak away.
WOMAN:  I’m not blaming you.
MAN:  Without one word, not ONE word with me until it was too late to do anything about it.
WOMAN:  It’s my body –
MAN:  And it was my child!  A part of me was in there.  I may not have had to carry the thing, but you can’t say I wasn’t invested.  This isn’t about that.  Yes, I wanted you marry me; yes, I wanted a baby; I would’ve have fought for either of those, would’ve been hurt if you still decided to go that way, but I would have backed off after seeing you, hearing you.
WOMAN:  Please –
MAN:  But you couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me, could you?
WOMAN:  Oh god –
MAN:  Did you terminate before or after I asked you to marry me?  [The woman walks to the coffee table, picks up her purse.]
WOMAN:  I have to go.
MAN:  Why?  Stay here.  Talk to me.  I’m upset as shit, but I can forgive.  I still love you –
WOMAN:  No, you don’t –  [The woman opens the front door.  The man grabs her and turns her around.]
MAN:  I love you.
WOMAN:  You can’t.  Not after this.  I knew you wouldn’t be able to –
MAN:  We can work through this –
WOMAN:  Let me go.
MAN:  Not until you sit down and tell me why.
WOMAN:  I told you why, let me go –
MAN:  Bullshit.  Stay.
WOMAN:  Let me go.
MAN:  Please, don’t.
WOMAN:  Let me GO!  [Slap.]

Seeing a new angle on the man, we see that on one side of his face is a red mark in the shape of a hand.

WOMAN:  I’m sorry.  I can’t stay.  You say you can forgive . . . but you won’t.  You can’t.  I can’t . . . do it myself.  I can’t stay after this, it’s too much.  Let me go.  I’m sorry.  [The door closes.]

We now see the room and the chaos that was caused.  Half of the table is empty, an engagement ring sits alone between two bottles, a broken glass of champagne spreads across the floor, a picture of the couple is broken next to a used towel.  The man continues to hit the ball against the wall.  Cut to black.man-alone-empty-room-2854988828-1s00n2u

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