I’ll Miss You, You Know?
By Tiel Kinsner
(Lights up on a table in a small restaurant in the evening. A man is waiting. He is about 30 and careworn. He is obviously a successful man, but ever dissatisfied. He is nervously playing with his wineglass and glancing toward the door way every few seconds. A woman enters. She is also about 30 and has the look of a once starving artist about her, though well kept now. She is quirky in her appearance. She sees the man and waves then joins him at the table. )
Boy: I didn’t know if you’d come.
Girl: Of course I came. When have I ever been the type to flake when I said I’d be somewhere.
Girl: I get your meaning. Your call was a bit outta the blue, but I would have said no if I had no intention of coming.
Boy: Yeah, I know. Frankness has ever been one of your strong suits.
Girl: And failings at times.
Boy: Big difference between frankness and tactlessness. I didn’t mean that you were tactless at all.
Girl: Still, when the shoe fits. How have you been?
Boy: I’m…Hanging in there. You?
Girl: Keeping busy; working steady, finally. Finished my novel. Got it published a few months ago and it’s doing well. Once I decided to focus, it just sorta came you know? Like actually deciding to stop pissing about and running in circles was all I really needed to do.
Boy: I’m so glad to hear it. It was really rough last time we… well… I saw your book in the store, actually. That’s part of what made me call.
Girl: Yeah, yeah. No more low-cal fat-burning food research. No more crummy basement apartment. And, and I have a couch! A real one, not a futon doing double duty as my bed. Fancy, eh?
Boy: And real silverware?
Girl: Yep, that too.
Boy: Got it made.
Girl: So I have indeed. (Laughs) Who knew it was possible?
Boy: Can’t say I ever doubted it.
Girl: Did you want to talk to me about something in particular? Why are we here?
(Lights come up on a small studio apartment with a futon and a table with books and papers in stacks and piles on the surfaces. A blanket and pillow are stuffed into a corner of the futon. Our girl enters through a door stage left and is followed by our boy)
Girl: You have a good time? Sorry, I don’t have much to offer you… There’s my couch-ton and I’ve got water. It’s tap though. Might have a bottle of cooking sherry in here somewhere… Dunno why though, I don’t cook. (goes to the kitchen area stage right)
Boy: (moving books and papers off the seats) Whatever. So, the ‘starving artist’ thing is working for you? No plans for selling out? Maybe getting a real sleeping area? Or a couch? And what the hell’s a couch-ton?
(Girl pokes her head out and throws him a look of daggers)
Boy: Foot in mouth disease. Can’t seem to shake it.
Girl: (comes back in with two glasses of water and sits on papers) I’ll forgive you this time.
Boy: I did have a very nice time, we should really try to get together more often….I miss hanging with my best bud. but that movie was crap.
Girl: What?! You were in to it, don’t lie.
Boy: No way! I feel like I just wasted hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
Girl: Oh shut it! You enjoyed it. I heard you laughing! Thanks for the ticket, by the way.
Boy: There were funny moments, but I can’t stand that guy! He’s crap and he ruined the whole thing. Don’t even tell me you thought differently.
Girl: Will it somehow lessen your opinion of me?
Boy: You’re entitled to your opinion, of course, but it won’t make me budge from mine.
Girl: It wasn’t bad at all. I was amused, and when it comes to entertainment, isn’t that what matters?
Boy: The writing was also crap.
Girl: God! You’re so critical. Are you ever satisfied with any movie?
Boy: Of course.
Girl: You are a liar! Have you ever, even one time, walked away from a movie without a single bad thing to say about it?
Girl: Once again, you are so full of it! When?
Boy: I can’t help having high standards!
Girl: There’s a huge difference between high standards and impossible standards! You don’t like movies!
Boy: I do too!
Girl: Then why do you have to rip on them all the time? Every time we talk about them you go off on what could have been better or what was wrong. I mean, you told me The Departed made you want to vomit!
Boy: Well it did! It was one of the biggest wastes of time ever shat into existence! I mean literally five minutes of screen time was spent on Matt Damon with his head in his hands! What the hell?! That’s not entertainment, that’s a director whacking off on the reel.
Girl: Oh my God!
Boy: I love plenty of movies and have nothing bad to say about them.
Girl: For example?
Boy: The Shawshank Redemption is flawless.
Girl: Made in the last year, please.
Boy: Okay, Pan’s Labyrinth.
Girl: You have nothing, nothing negative to say about it?
Girl: Oh my gawd! You do!
Boy: No! I don’t! I really don’t! I just had to think about it!
Girl: Why did you have to stop and think about it? You wanted to criticize it didn’t you?
Boy: No, it’s just really funny to see you all worked up.
Girl: You’re an ass.
Boy: Well, when you’re right, you’re right.
Girl: Uh huh.
Boy: So what’s the plan now? I brought some fatty brownies. You down?
Girl: Ugh, yes, you know I am.
Boy: Don’t let me twist your arm. You can sit and watch while I enjoy myself.
Girl: No, no I’ll increase the circumference of my thighs with you.
Boy: Ha ha! Yes!
(opens a bag with treats)
Girl: So. How are you, my dear?
Boy: Dandy. Work’s a mess. I hate it with a passion. Computer programming is boring and my cubical is a hell dimension squeezed into 4 feet by 6 feet and I’m falling apart, but that’s no change. Not like I haven’t been doing it since we were 18. And you?
Girl: I’m well. Not doing much at the moment but I’m working on it. As a writer, I make full use of the ‘writer’s block’ excuse when I can. My half written novel just sits there mocking me.
Boy: Like all good half written novels should.
Girl: I’ve been writing for Women’s World for like six months. You think your cubical is bad? Try writing out recipes and calorie contents for women with pounds to lose and no taste buds week after week. I hate cooking anyway, but it almost pays all the bills… Been sitting on my duff reading mostly.
Boy: Anything good?
Girl: No. Trash. But entertaining trash. I don’t have to abuse the things that amuse me the way some people do.
Boy: How’s the single life treating you?
Girl: Same as always. I’m pathetic.
Boy: Birds of a feather, you and I.
Girl: Oh please.
Boy: Don’t give me that look of incredulity. As if I wouldn’t have called to tell you if any exciting new developments had taken place.
Girl: Sometimes I wonder. How long have we known each other and still I have to prod you for personal information? You’ve got walls even I have to jump over.
Boy: They’re thin enough that you’d have heard through them.
Boy: I’m not in any place to be looking for someone.
Girl: That’s a cop out if I ever heard one. Caitlyn split like three years ago now. You need to get back into the world of the living and present.
Boy: Whatever. I’m still dealing with… my baggage. No one likes that, so I’m better off alone.
Girl: As if that qualifies as baggage. Just put it behind you.
Boy: Like it’s that easy.
Girl: It is if you put your mind to it.
Boy: Please, you make it sound as if I have a choice in the matter.
Girl: Well you’re the one that won’t get over her.
Boy: Stop it. You have no idea what it’s like. It’s a nightmare.
Girl: Doesn’t help that she’s your best friend.
Boy: Doesn’t help that she’s a big jerk either.
Boy: I know! It’s crap. Finding the love of your life is supposed to be a good thing. For me it sucks. What do I do?
Girl: I don’t know. Maybe you should be open to the possibility that there’s someone great out there even if they aren’t exactly right.
Boy: Don’t kid yourself. How can I settle for okay when I’ve found perfection?
Girl: Don’t you kid yourself into thinking she’s perfect.
Boy: No. No, I know she’s not. I’m just saying “perfectly” complimentary to me.
Girl: ….But she’s a big jerk.
Boy: And I’m sure she’d be the first to admit it.
Girl: I can’t disagree with you.
Boy: Well, I can be a real ass sometimes too.
Girl: I know.
Boy: What? I said it first.
Girl: But you have a problem with my agreement?
Boy: No. None. Nope.
Boy: Well, maybe.
Girl: You know what your problem is? You don’t give anyone the chance.
Boy: Caitlyn was someone.
Girl: She was awful. She couldn’t love anyone but herself, and proved it time and time again. And then she left you for her personal trainer, right?
Boy: Yeah, thanks. I really needed to be reminded of that. It was still a try. And it screwed me up so now I’m FUBAR.
Girl: And “Ms. Perfect” isn’t?
Boy: Well, I’m sure she thinks she is. She’s not so far gone and she’s definitely lovable. She knows I love her anyway whatever that’s worth. Not much probably.
Girl: I meant, if she’s not fucked up beyond all recognition, you’re not.
Boy: Well, then she’s delusional anyway.
Girl: Ugh. You’re being a pain!
Boy: Why? Because I’m telling the truth?
Girl: No, because you’re being dumb! Stop being an idiot!
Boy: Who’s being a pain now?
Girl: You have a very narrow vision of what the truth really is. You can’t see or refuse to admit how wonderful you are and so I can’t trust your opinion when you talk about… “her.”
Boy: Narrow because I love her?
Boy: And the other parts?
Girl: If we get into all them, you’re gonna start to get pissy.
Boy: I’m not pissy…
Girl: I can’t reason with you when you’re like this.
Boy: Like what? Honest?
Girl: No. This is not honesty by any means. This is self-hating and juvenal ranting.
Boy: Look. Do you understand how much easier it is to blame myself?
Girl: I don’t even understand how that’s logical.
Boy: If I’m the cause if my own suffering, then I can accept reality without injustice welling up in my heart.
Girl: It’s okay to feel some injustice when in reality, life isn’t fair.
Boy: Well, reality sucks a fat one.
Girl: No arguments there.
(Boy and Girl are leaning in to the tin of brownies and a moment passes between them when the come close to kissing. Boy jumps away too quickly and Girl is slightly unsettled and angry)
Girl: No, why do you always run away?
Boy: What if everything changed? What if you got tired of… me.
Girl: I’m only tired of running in circles with you.
Boy: It’s just better.
Girl: There is no better to this situation!
Girl: I’m sorry.
Boy: Stop it.
Girl: No. I still love you.
Boy: Don’t you think I know that?!
Girl: I want you to be happy and I could make you happy.
Boy: I think I should go.
Girl: Damn it! Why won’t you listen? Sometimes it hurts but pretending everything is okay between us is worse. Can we please have a little honesty?
Boy: (Pause) I’m sorry.
Girl: I know, but this is important. I need you to hear me if we want our friendship to last.
Girl: Maybe what?….No. Don’t you dare try to run away from all of this by saying it’s better if we’re not friends. We’ve been close for too long for you to even fathom it! Hasn’t the past taught you anything? Running from your problems won’t make them go away!
Boy: But it won’t hurt so badly!
Girl: That’s not true in the long run, and you know it!
Boy: I…. I just…..
Girl: How can you pretend like you give a damn about me and be so selfish?
Boy: I’m a horrible person.
Girl: No, you’re really not! So stop saying things like that!
Boy: I just….
Girl: You just want me to hate you, don’t you? You have some other stupid idea that that will make it easier for me to deal with your damned cowardice!
Boy: I’m a horrible coward.
Girl: God damn you! Do you really not see how hard you’re making everything on yourself? How much you are going to loathe yourself if you take off now?
Boy: I hate myself already, what difference will it make?
Girl: I can’t believe you! Well if you think your life will be better without me in it, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
Boy: It could never be better without you in it…
( Hesitates, starts toward the door, then hesitates)
Boy: I’m irrational.
Boy: I get scared and put on blinders or walls or something. I know I don’t deserve forgiveness and I’m not going to ask for it. You’re right about me. Historically, you almost always have been. I see whatever makes things easier in the moment and not in the long run, I’ve always relied on you to help me with that. I am disrespectful to you, and mean, and selfish. I don’t deserve your love or even to call you my friend. You’re better off without my drama so if you really believe my leaving is all to do with my own discomfort with our relationship, you are wrong. I’m breeding badness here. You should never have been put in this situation and what I regret more than anything is making you suffer through it.
(Starts to leave again and stops)
Boy: I’ll miss you, you know?
Girl: I know….
(Lights come up on the dinner table 2 years later where our boy and girl are sitting in uncomfortable silence)
Girl: So. It’s been two years. Anyone else that didn’t talk to me for two years that asked me to go to dinner out of the blue wouldn’t have even made the day planner. You’re lucky I can’t ignore the ten years before it. You must want something? Or are we just trying to pretend like everything is okay again?
Boy: God, you just go for the throat.
Girl: I think it’s stupid to beat about the bush.
Boy: I’m not trying to pretend like I haven’t been an idiot.
Boy: And I’m not going to ask for forgiveness. I know there are some things that you just don’t forgive and forget.
Girl: Ha! You know, it all just fits in with what you have done to me, to our friendship over and over again. I used to get upset at myself for being so surprised that history repeated itself. Now I just don’t give you a thought. Just gimme a heads up when you’re planning on bolting again tonight, okay?
Boy: I deserve that.
Girl: Yep… So?
Boy: I need closure.
Girl: And I should just be agreeable?
Boy: I’m not really asking for anything of you, or at least anything more. You came, we’re talking. That’s what I wanted. Some kind of end where I didn’t leave everything dangling and tattered.
Girl: So you want to put some scotch tape on what you ripped open last time?
Boy: No, but I’d like to come away from tonight with the both of us feeling satisfied in some way.
Girl: If you have some plan where that actually works, you just let me know.
(Girl rises to go, but boy stops her)
Boy: Can you just hold on for a minute? I have one more thing I need to tell you, and one I’d like to if you will hear it.
(Girl takes her seat again and looks at boy expectantly)
Boy: I have… a tumor… in my lungs. It’s spread to my lymph nodes and I’ve declined treatment. The doctors say it’s only a 30% chance I’d live and I don’t want to be sick from the chemo and radiation for the remainder of my life.
Girl: Are you playing some kind of sick joke to warm me up? It’s not funny.
Boy: I wish I were. You know I have loved you for so long. Not just as the best friend anyone could ever have, but as the one person in my life that I have held in the highest regard and respect. You have always been a solid foundation on which I ever built any happiness. I love you. I will love you until I die. And I needed to tell you that. Really tell you that instead of being an idiot about it and pretending like ignoring the truth is acceptable. And I really was…such an idiot. I ignored how badly I hurt you over and over again so that I would never risk that hurt myself. In acting in such an unforgivable manner I truly did not deserve you.
(Girl is trying not to cry)
Boy: Anyway. That’s it. You can go if you like.
Girl: I knew you were leaving me again…
(She reaches for his hands.)
Girl: I’ll miss you…you know?
Boy: I know…
(Lights come up on seventeen year old girl and boy, arms linked in high school hall way. Our young man and woman are obviously in love and very happy in each others company.)
Girl: Flynn is a dick. And he wouldn’t know decent writing if it bit him in the ass.
Boy: You’re incredibly crass for a girl of your vocabulary and literary ability.
Girl: Hey, swearing is to language as the raisin is to the oatmeal cookie.
Boy: Not the chips to the chocolate chip cookie? Why oatmeal raisin?
Girl: Well, swearing isn’t sweet and creamy so much as tart and shriveled. You know, like my grandmother.
(Laughter from both kids)
Boy: She certainly swears a lot anyway. Still, you’re so far above such vulgarity. When you’re a professional novelist, are you going to dumb yourself down like that?
Girl: Lots of brilliant writers make full use of those amazing vocabularic morsels.
Boy: Is that a word?
Girl: It is now.
(Boy looks at girl with blatant adoration)
Boy: So, he told you to cut out a third of your story?
Girl: Yep, said it was useless character development. He said “Back story is often a cheat writers use to fatten up thin plotlines.”
Boy: How can character development be useless?
Girl: Well, I get that it shouldn’t ever interrupt the storyline or detract from the plot, but he just doesn’t like back story. I mean the man can’t stand Stephen King or Charles Dickens. What kind of person goes into teaching creative writing and hates Dickens? He’s an idiot.
Boy: Are you going to cut it?
Girl: Hell no.
Boy: Even if he docks you for it?
Girl: Let him dock me. I won’t compromise my work to suit his liking.
Boy: I hope you never do.
Girl: Well, it’ll probably mean I never get published, but that’s a lifetime away.
Boy: Not really.
Girl: College first. That’s important.
Girl: Come on, you’re not telling me you’re still thinking of going to work with your uncle instead?
Boy: It makes a lot of sense. I won’t have to worry about how I’m gonna live, and Caitlyn and I can move into a place…
(A look of barely concealed jealousy and hurt crosses the girls face and she is silent)
Girl: (After a pause) She’s never going to appreciate that you’re doing it for her, you know.
Boy: I know…
Girl: You should think about your own happiness for once. You’re seventeen. Don’t make yourself grow up over night. You’ll miss out on important things….
Girl: I really want you to be there with me. It won’t be the same without you…
Boy: You’re gonna have so much going on and meet so many new people, you won’t even notice I’m gone, and we’ll still call each other all the time.
Girl: If she lets you, you mean.
Boy: What are you talking about? You’re my best friend.
Girl: She doesn’t like us hanging around each other so much. She’s threatened by me.
Girl: She should be.
Girl: I’ll miss you, you know?
Boy: I know…