Chelsea Martin

MEGAN, 29, wearing a trench coat made of windbreaker material that looks like something you might step over on the street, walks through the front door. She sets a full-looking tote back down at her side. Her husband, OLAFER, 29, wearing a faded Ren and Stimpy t-shirt, walks into the room. They stand at opposite ends of the room and share a long, knowing glance.

OLAFER frowns deeply.

MEGAN drops her chin to her chest and dramatically pretends to sob.

OLAFER laughs in that way you laugh when you’re responding to something that is both adorable and sad, and walks over to embrace her.


You’re gonna be okay. We’re gonna be okay. Those losers don’t know how to run a business.


What am I supposed to do now?


Gin and tonics?


Yes, please.

OLAFER walks to the kitchen and can be heard opening cupboards, the freezer, and placing various glass items on a tile surface.

MEGAN drops to the floor by the door, near a piano. She kicks off her flats and starts deeply rubbing her left foot with her hands as if she has been standing or walking a lot, though she has not. She sat for around 89% of the day, as she does – did!- most days at her job. She calculated it one time. Maybe now I’ll get in shape, she thinks, and attempts to fantasize about hiking a gorgeous beachside trail, but then inadvertently starts thinking about taxes.

She had an urge to bite her own big toe, and she easily suppressed the urge. She was very practiced at suppressing urges.

When she was young, Megan had a large stuffed velveteen dog, and she loved biting its tail. It had a texture that felt good in her mouth. The love she had for the stuffed dog, as she matured into an older kid, developed into a minor obsession with real dogs, but her dad was allergic to them, so they never got one. She started saying she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up, so she could help dogs get better. And that’s what she though adulthood was about. Deciding what it is you love and doing it for money that you can spend on a bunch of other things you love. But then as she turned into teenager, she realized, after finally spending time with some real dogs, that she didn’t love dogs as much as she thought she did. The desire to become a veterinarian disappeared and was not replaced by any other ideas.

She went to community college, got an Associate’s Degree in English because her friend Troy said it would be a good thing to do while she decided what to actually do, and immediately got hired at Anthropologie after graduation. Her dad died and left her some money and she bought a car, which turned out to be worth a lot more than she paid for it, so she sold it and bought a different car for the same amount of money she paid for the first car. With the extra money, she paid some credit card debt she had from college when she had had to buy two computers in one year.

Anthropologie promoted her to Manager. She met Olafer at a bar across the street from Anthropologie and they started sleeping together. Eventually, Olafer ran into Megan with another man at a coffee shop one morning (it was clear that Megan and this man had just spent the night together) and he later, over the phone, started an argument, wanting to know if Megan was just using him for sex or actually had feelings for him. Megan decided to say that she wasn’t using him, omitting the fact that her feelings for him didn’t seem particularly special, and their relationship became serious. When they got married a year and a half later Olafer’s uncle Robin walked Megan down the aisle because Olafer’s mom thought it would be nice. Megan tried to pretend it was her dad walking her down the aisle but Robin’s heavy cologne made it impossible.

The Anthrolopologie that Megan managed closed down and Megan briefly worked at a Shell Station and then at Claire’s and then at GAP before getting an Assistant Manager job at Macy’s. Sometimes at night she and Olafer verbally fantasized together about visiting Tahiti, though she could never figure out why it was always Tahiti they talked about, never other places. Once, she mentioned Mexico and Olafer looked sad and said, I thought you wanted to go to Tahiti She forced herself to get really into the idea of traveling to Tahiti. She saved a few images to her desktop, including one of a woman buying a necklace on the beach, to inspire her to want to visit Tahiti.

Maybe she did it because she knew it made Olafer happy, and maybe it only made Olafer happy because he believed there was some special shared meaning involved in them going to Tahiti that she couldn’t remember, but those weren’t bad reasons for doing something. Happiness and stability have many sources.

And they did have a happy and stable marriage. She didn’t need to prove that to anyone. Although someday, perhaps, she would develop feelings for someone else, and Olafer would make her choose, the way he had made her choose after the coffee shop incident. And in the time allotted for Megan to say her choice, Megan would look at Olafer, not saying anything. Olafer, recognizing the meaning of this silence, would cry, surprising both of them, his face collapsing into wrinkles and hard lines. Megan would wonder if her silence meant what Olafer thought it meant, or if she had just gotten distracted imagining herself physically at a crossroads when she should have been thinking about whether she wanted to save her marriage or not. And that’s what adulthood was about, she now knew: letting time pass without making choices. Or letting things happen and then later believing them to be choices. She had bitten her velveteen stuffed dog so much that the stitching broke and stuffing fell out. Her dad, unable or unwilling to sew, threw the toy away. Megan cried, but only a little. She believed that new things to love would come to her easily throughout her life, that she wouldn’t still, at the end of her twenties, be thinking about how soothed she felt by a stuffed dog tail in her mouth, the crunchy end of it as the velveteen wore down and was soaked in saliva. Everything else was a blur of memorized facts.

MEGAN suddenly turns her head and looks at the piano. She extends a finger and rubs the wood.


Olafer? Do you masturbate sitting at the piano?

OLAFER, laughing and walking back into the living room with two cocktails




Because there’s semen in the under-the-keyboard area.

OLAFER walks over and sits down next to MEGAN, hands her one of the glasses. MEGAN points to the underneath-the-keyboard part of the piano, near the bench. OLAFER gets out his phone, turns on the flashlight, and points it at the piano.


That’s not semen. Why do you think everything is semen?


Because it’s crystally at the bottom. What else would it be?

OLAFER scratching the drip with his fingernail: This is probably juice.


Juice? Well then how did juice get down there?


That’s not how semen dries. It looks like wax when it’s dry. Have you ever seen dried semen?


I’m seeing it right now.


You really want to believe this is semen, don’t you?

MEGAN looks at OLAFER for a several long seconds. It appears that she is about to say something, but then just smiles. OLAFER smiles, too.


Chelsea Martin /