Kitchen scene

(Scene: A spare galley kitchen with a Viking range in the center beneath a large stainless steel hood vent. White lower cabinets, dark tiles above. No microwave. A set of tract lights overhead sends pinpoints of brightness into the gloom. Catty-corner to the kitchen stands a tall bar stool, and in it sits a woman wearing a little black dress and a pair of thick-rimmed glasses. She’s barefoot and reading a novel in Japanese. A glass of wine sits on the countertop next to her. At the counter next to the stove, facing away, is a man. He’s tall, thin, angular, but also delicate. He’s naked, save for a gauzy cotton eyelet half-apron, circa mid-eighteenth century, knotted around his waist. It was a gift from a previous lover. He’s preparing dinner, cooking an omelet. He’s cut up some tomatoes and they glisten in a bowl next to him. Now he’s chopping an onion, and every so often he wipes his eyes with his forearm. The woman seems engrossed in her book, but also exudes a sense of awareness, of watching over his movements.)

MAN

The children will be home–

WOMAN

We’ve still got some time.

MAN

(Wipes his eyes. The woman goes back to her book. He continues to chop the onion, methodically, thoughtfully. He sniffles loudly. The woman eyes him over her book. He crumples atop the cutting board, and the woman sets down her book.)

WOMAN

Are you crying?

MAN

(Sobs.)

WOMAN

(Kindly.) Come now. We’ve got enough time. You know there’s always long enough.

(She goes back to her book as he nods and wipes his face with his apron, exposing himself. He pours oil into a pan on the stove, sets the bottle on the counter. He picks up the knife and finishes with the onion, puts the chopped onion into a bowl, and rinses the knife under the faucet. He uses his apron to dry it. He holds up the knife and the light momentarily catches it, then he rubs it on his apron again as if to polish it. The woman gives him a slight smile over her book. He picks up a zucchini from the counter and rinses it, dries it on his apron, and holds it up to the light as if to check for bruising. Now he’s smiling. This time the woman’s smile is larger. She sets her book face-down next to her wine so as to save her page and approaches him, stands facing his back. Her dark and curvaceous body is silhouetted against his. He hands her the zucchini as she lifts the knife. A sharp glint off the edge as if in warning. She swipes the zucchini once around the inside of the pan, takes it out dripping. Her moves are somewhat obscured but the tension in her arm is sufficient for suggestion. He moans, she gasps. He shudders. She laughs gently. He turns his head and they kiss. Then the mood changes. She turns to the sink, quick and businesslike in her movements, and scrubs the knife, the zucchini before handing them back to him, dripping water. She returns to her seat, takes a sip of wine, and lifts her book. The small smile remains on her face. He wipes his eyes with his arm, repeats the drying once more before turning back to the cutting board. He chops the zucchini, which he leaves in a messy heap as he turns the heat up under the pan.)

MAN

Read to me.

WOMAN

(Reads aloud in Japanese.)

MAN

(Nods as he cracks an egg into a bowl obscured by his body. He repeats the gesture eleven more times as the woman reads. He turns around, cradling the bowl in the crook of one arm, whisking with the other. His expression is thoughtful, attentive. He turns back to the stove and spills the onions into the hot oil. The scent is hot, earthy, masculine. The sizzling drowns out the woman’s reading. He stirs, adds the tomatoes and zucchini, watches over the saute. He takes out another pan, smaller than the first, and pours in oil. When it’s hot, he adds the eggs, tilting the pan over the flame. The woman’s reading falls away — she’s still mouthing the words but the only sound is the hissing of the pan. He’s humming, the man. Also drowned out.by the cooking sounds. He adds the saute to the pan of eggs, and with a few deft and practiced movements, folds the omelet and slides it out onto a platter. He sets the plate next to the woman’s wine, kisses her deeply. Elsewhere a door slams. There’s laughter.)

WOMAN

The children–

(She puts down her book.)

MAN

I’ll change.

(He wipes his hands on the apron and exits the kitchen, vanishing into the gloom.)

WOMAN

Wait–

MAN

(Calls from beyond.) Set the table.

apron

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