“write something with all the emotion taken out”

A cramped working-class kitchen. Mary, 43, mother of the household, prepares breakfast at the hob; beans in a pan, bacon and sausages sizzling, eggs frying, bread toasting.

Peter, 51, father of the household, sits at the kitchen table, but may as well not be for all the attention he’s giving the small telly on the side. We can hear the football commentary coming from it.

Mary places some used utensils in the sink and fills it up with hot water and soap. Mary, back to the audience, gazes down into the sink while she waits for it to fill.

Smoke rises from the toaster next to Peter. He glances at it.

PETER
Mary.

She looks at him. Notices smoke coming from the toaster. Without urgency she taps a button on it; black toast pops up. She attempts to pick the toast out once – too hot. She leaves it, flicks the kettle on and returns to the sink just in time to turn the tap off. She moves to the hob and gives everything on the hob a nudge, a stir, a turn. She switches the hob off, dishes up four plates and places them on the table. The burnt toast is on her plate.

Mary shuffles out the kitchen to a front door we can’t see. Peter only looks away from the telly to pick up his plate and fork before turning back and balancing the plate on his knee.

MARY
(Off stage)
BREAKFAST.

She returns, now holding a copy of The Sun newspaper. Mary folds the paper under her arm while preparing three cups of tea: tea bags, hot water, one milky, one medium, one black. Black with sugar. Milky one with three sugars. The medium is hers, the sugary/milky one is Peter’s. 2. She places the black-one-sugar opposite her place at the table. Mary takes a seat and scans the front page of the paper before giving the rest a proper read. She picks up a fork and uses it as an all-in-one tool.

Alice, 22, heavily pregnant, waddles in. She lowers herself into a chair and looks at the food. She shakes her head, heaves herself back up from the seat and leaves. We hear a door click shut. We hear vomiting.

Josh, 19, struts in and sits in Alice’s vacated seat. He shovels the food into his face. Mary, not looking away from the paper, moves the black-one-sugar next to Josh. Peter looks around for his tea, picks it up, turns his attention back to the telly while giving the tea a slurp.

They stay like this until Josh finishes his meal. He pushes his chair back with a scrape and moves to one of the kitchen cupboards. He pulls out a loaf of sliced bread, takes one slice, and leaves the loaf on the side. He butters the bread, sits back down and mops up the bean and egg residue. Josh folds the bread into his mouth. He leans back and chews. Josh swallows. Belches behind his hand.

JOSH
Are you still good to give me a lift to station later?
(Beat)
Mum?

Mary gestures to Peter in an ’ask your dad’ way.

JOSH
Dad?

Peter slurps.

MARY
(Not looking up from the paper)
Peter.

Peter looks over his shoulder.

PETER
Wha?

JOSH
Are you alright to give me a lift?

PETER
Where?

JOSH
Station.

PETER
When?

JOSH
Later

PETER
When later?

JOSH
Half hour?

Beat.

PETER
(Turning back to telly)
Yeah, alright.

After a few moments Josh scrapes his chair back and leaves the room. Mary turns the page and takes a sip of her tea. Peter slurps. Alice waddles back in and sits in her original seat. Without hesitation she picks up the remaining plate and places it on top of Josh’s empty one. She picks at her breakfast.

ALICE
Can you give us a lift down Doctors, Mum?

MARY
Your Dad’s giving Josh a lift to station. H’can take you too.

ALICE
Thanks Dad.

PETER
What?

MARY
Alice needs to go to Doctors. Y’can take her when you take Josh to station.

PETER
Fine, yeah.

They sit quietly. Alice picks at her breakfast. Mary turns pages of the paper. Peter takes slurps of his tea while eating breakfast and watching footy.

MARY
(Reading from paper)
“Katie Price brands Katie Hopkins ’disgusting’”.

Alice nods, looking at her food. Slurp. The footy winds up for half time. Peter turns the telly off and swivels back round to face the others. He puts the plate and cup on the table, and leaves the room.

MARY
(reading from paper)
“Don’t give up on something just because it does not seem to be working out the way you intended. That applies doubly if you have spent a lot of money on it. Give it time and you will eventually see a return on your investment.”

Alice looks at Mary, who looks pointedly at Alice’s belly.

ALICE
Yeah.

Mary folds the paper and starts clearing the plates and mugs into the sink.

Pause.

ALICE
What are you up to today?

MARY
(bent under the sink cupboard)
This is about it.

ALICE
Sounds nice.

MARY
(Resurfacing with a pair of marigolds)
Yeah.

She dips a bare hand into the water. Cold. Mary pulls the plug out and watches the sink empty.

Josh enters, lugging a suitcase and full-to-brim backpack. Alice looks at him.

ALICE
I’m going with you.

JOSH
To Uni?

ALICE
No, Doctors. Dad’s dropping me off on way.

JOSH
Alright.

ALICE
Better go loo.

She heaves herself up and leaves at her own pace. Josh sits in the fourth chair, his back to the audience. He picks up the paper, has a look at Page 3, then goes straight to the sports pages. Mary fills the sink up with hot water and soap.

JOSH
What are you up to today?

MARY
Just this.

JOSH
Sounds nice.

MARY
Yeah.

Peter re-enters. Spots Josh’s luggage.

PETER
You ready to go now?

JOSH
I don’t have to go yet.

PETER
If I take you now I can watch more of the second half.

JOSH
Alright.

MARY
Don’t forget Alice.

PETER
Yeah.

Peter picks up Josh’s luggage and leaves the room. We hear the front door swing open. Alice re-enters.

JOSH
Are you ready to go?

ALICE
I don’t have to go yet.

JOSH
If Dad takes us now he can watch more of the second half.

ALICE
Yeah, alright.

We hear a car boot open, a pause, then shut. Keys jingling. Peter returns.

PETER
You ready to go?

JOSH & ALICE
Yeah Josh gets up.

Folds the paper under his arm.

ALICE
Can you come get me after Doctors?

PETER
Give your Mother a call and she’ll tell me when.

ALICE
Thanks.

JOSH
Bye Mum.

MARY
(Glancing over her shoulder)
Bye. See you next weekend.

JOSH
Yeah.

ALICE
Bye Mum.

Alice, Peter, and Josh leave. We hear the front door close. After a few moments we hear car doors open and shut… an engine start. The car drives away.

Mary hasn’t done any washing up. She keeps looking down into the sink, her back to the audience. A minute passes. Mary turns and looks at the empty kitchen. Marigolds on, she sits back down in her chair, head of the small, square table in her cramped little kitchen. She stares into space. Silence. Another minute passes.

Mary moves one marigold-clad hand under the table top. Some movement, some shifting of her clothes. She parts her legs. She continues to stare into space while she masturbates. After a couple of minutes, hand still going, Mary lays her head on the table, facing the kitchen door, and spreads her legs wider. She rolls her hips in the chair, her hand moves faster between her legs, her breathing gets heavier, louder. Faster. Rhythmic. Faster. FASTER. Small moans turn into unconscious grunts. And. Then. She. Cums.

Mary slumps a little, breathing heavily, head still on the table. Mary sighs deeply, pushes her chair backwards and stands up. She readjusts her clothing and returns to the sink. She dips her hands, marigolds still on, into the water. She takes one glove off, dips a bare hand in. MARY Cold. Mary unplugs the sink and watches it empty.

We hear the car outside. Engine switches off. Door opens, shuts. After a few moments we hear the front door open and close. Mary turns the tap on, fills the sink with hot water and soap.

Peter re-enters. He sits in his chair and switches the telly on. Beat.

PETER
Josh is at station.

MARY
Good.

PETER
I’ll get Alice when she’s done.

MARY
Thanks.

Peter settles in. Second half has begun.

Mary looks down into the sink, not doing the washing up. The sink overflows. Soapy water spills onto the floor. Still, Mary looks down. Still, Peter watches the telly. A minute passes. Water spreads over the floor. After a few moments Peter glances at the floor.

PETER
Mary.

She looks over at him. Notices the water on the floor. Without urgency she turns off the tap. Mary sits at the table. Beat.

MARY
Did Josh take the paper?

Pause.

Mary leans back in her chair.

PETER
(Not looking away from the telly)
What are you up to today?

Pause.

PETER
Mary.

Mary shrugs.

Peter doesn’t see.

MARY
This is about it.

Beat.

Curtain.

***

Thanks for reading! Reply with a prompt for next week’s and I’l turn it into a script or a poem or a doodle or a clunky personal piece but whatever it is you can bet I’ll leave it until Tuesday night.

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