Gray skies have been threatening storms all day. The air is thick with the promise of thunder. Trees shake in the wind. Windows ramble. A cat nestles firmly beneath the sofa convinced that he will remain safe in the right hand corner while toying with the dead mouse. She is exhausted. Her jeans smell of paint thinner. She struggles to keep her hands still. Starring out the window she speaks,”What if I am not what I imagine myself to be?”
“Complete nonsense. What else would you be?” Marvin sighs.
“Something else. Someone else.”
“Who the hell else?”
“A nightmare…a failure…”
“You imagine yourself a tragedy? You are crazy.” Standing exactly 7 paces from Erin, Marvin puts his hands in his pockets.
“I imagine myself ridiculous.”
“This conversation is ridiculous.”
“Then why are you gone?”
“I’m gone because I can’t stand these damn conversations!”
“It’s my conversation that has pushed you away?!” Erin turns, her eyes damp.
“It’s you and your insanity that pushes everyone away!”
“I’m insane?” She crumbles.
“This is ridiculous,” raising his hands above his head, Marvin contemplates leaving.
“So I have failed even at demonstrating sanity.”
“How can you be sane when all you talk about is how you failed?! How you don’t measure up? Who the hell wants to be around that level of disappointment all the time?” He is trapped, the storm starts. There is no leaving now.
“I’m around that level of disappointment all the time…”
“Because THAT is insane.”
“I am not insane. I’m honest.”
“Honesty and cruelty are not one and the same,” Marvin leaves the living room and heads to the kitchen.
Erin follows. “How do you know?”
“I know because-”
“You know because what?”
“I know because I have meet honest people who don’t suck the life out of every room they enter.” A drink of water will help clear his head. A drink of water will help him get through this.
“So NOW I suck life out of rooms?!?!”
“Yes.” Where are the damn cups? Marvin searches all the known locations. Coming up empty handed, he turns to Erin frustrated.
“Am I sucking life out of this room?!?” Erin reaches in the cabinet above the stove. She hands Marvin his stars and stripes mug.
Marvin takes the mug and fills it with cool water from the refrigerator. “Yes. You exhaust me.”
“SO I suck life out of rooms AND I exhaust you?” Erin steadies herself on the kitchen stool. Leaning in she gives Marvin her full attention.
Marvin takes a sip of water before answering, “You suck life out of rooms and you exhaust me BUT that does not make you a failure.”
“It doesn’t make me a failure because apparently I am an extraordinary emotional vampire?”
“There you go with names again…”
“Names?! You’re the one calling names! Telling me I’m an air sucker and exhausting!” Erin storms out of the kitchen. Squatting she takes a seat on the stairs.
Marvin stands in the doorway facing Erin.”Those are not names,” he remarks.
Erin’s hands, no longer under her control pull at her hair. Exasperated she asks, “What the hell are they?”
Sadly, Marvin admits, “Observations.”
“And you say honesty isn’t synomous with cruelty!” Rising Erin goes up the stairs.
“I am not cruel,” Marvin calls after her.
Turning, Erin is in his face. “You left,” she hisses.
Nodding, Marvin admits softly, “I did.”
“That was cruel.”
Marvin backs away from her then. He must not touch Erin. He must keep her hands to herself. Quietly, he says, “That was self preservation.”
“So, I’m killing you?”
“This conversation is killing me…”
“How can a conversation kill?”
His breathing has quickened, Marvin goes to sit on the stool Erin abandoned, “I can feel my blood pressure rising…”
“So, you’re going to have a heart attack right now because you’re talking to me?”
“It’s very possible.”
“It is not possible.”
Taking a drink of water and inhaling sharply, Marvin answers her, “Yes, it is. It is possible that my pressure will rise so rapidly and severely just at the mere action of conversing with you that I will die tragically of heart failure right now at this very moment in this room.”
Erin is silent.
“What?” Marvin looks at her.
Frustrated, Marvin repeats,”What?”
“What!” Marvin stands.
Pointing her finger, Erin tells him, “You didn’t die.”
“You are not funny,” Marvin says and returns to his seat.
Erin walks over to him taking the opposite stool, she says,”Well you said that you would. You said that in that very moment – because the moment has now passed – that you would die from a heart attack brought on by conversing with me. It’s a lie.”
Looking at her, Marvin asks, “What’s a lie?”
“That you would die by talking to me.”
“This conversation is ridiculous.”
She scowls, “What element of this conversation is ridiculous?”
“But you aren’t dead?”
“Not yet. Keep talking.” Needing another drink of water, Marvin rises.
“So it’s not that you would die in THAT very moment…It’s that if i keep talking you will die?”
“No one has ever died from conversation. You’re being ridiculous.”
“Now you know how I feel.”
“How you feel about what?”
Marvin is pointing now. Wagging his finger, he explains,”How I feel about talking with you when you are talking about being a failure and your life not making sense and whatever other types of nonsense comes out of you.”
Her arms across her chest, she huffs, “I am not ridiculous.”
“Your conversation is ridiculous.”
“Well if my conversation is ridiculous by extension you’re saying I am ridiculous.”
“No, there is a difference between you and your ridiculous conversation.”
“What what is the damn difference?”
Marvin inhales deeply and sighs,”You are extraordinary.”
Quietly, Erin questions,”What the hell?”
“You are extraordinary. Your conversation is ridiculous.”
“So if I just stopped talking…”
“If you stopped talking…”
“If I stop talking.”
“You’d be listening.”
“And what? What would I hear?”
“That I love you.” His hands are in Erin’s hair. Gently he strokes the length of her locks.
“That you love me?” Turning to face him. Erin is perplexed.
“That I love you,” Marvin repeats.
Her voice barely above a whisper, she asks, “And what?!”
“And I want to come home.”