This is a scene excerpt from a new play I’m working on.
Lights up at a table–small and round and made to seat two people at most. Camilla is sitting with a small makeshift menu and a glass of ice water. A Chinese waiter comes up to her dressed formally. It’s a Chinese restaurant.
Cam: Uh… 再给我一分钟。
The waiter walks away. Camilla points at the menu.
Cam: How do you say eggplant?
Ellie comes in from offstage and puts down her bag across the table from Camilla. She pulls the seat out and sits down.
Ellie: Hey, thanks for waiting.
Cam: Hey Ellie.
Ellie: You come here often?
Cam: Not really.
Ellie: Nice change of pace then!
Cam: I guess so.
Ellie: You know what you’re getting?
Cam: Yeah. Sorry, here.
She gives Ellie the menu.
Ellie: Oh…this looks good. I love Chinese food. What’s the difference between knife cut noodles and hand pulled noodles?
Cam: The knife cut ones are thicker.
Ellie: Cashew chicken! Do you know if they have orange broccoli? My parents are trying to convince me to go vegetarian.
Cam: You can ask. I didn’t see it on the menu.
Ellie: What are you getting?
Cam: Um…I can’t remember.
Cam: No, you go ahead and make up your mind. It’ll come to me.
Ellie continues to look at the menu and mutters quietly to herself. Camilla whispers.
Cam: Eggplant. Eggplant. 你好，我想吃…eggplant. Ahhhh…
Ellie: Everything ok?
Cam: Yeah. Everything’s fine. I’m trying to remember something.
Ellie: What’d you forget? Sorry, bad question. You’re trying to remember it.
She laughs nervously.
Ellie: Alright, I’m all set.
She closes the menu.
Ellie: You see Jason today?
Cam: No. Should I have?
Ellie: That’s weird. He hasn’t been responding to my texts.
Cam: He’s probably busy.
Ellie: Yeah. I came across a cool riddle on my phone today, I thought you’d like it. What word begins and ends with the letter E, but– wait, let me try that again. What word begins and ends with E but only has one letter?
Cam: Only has one letter?
Cam: Is it a trick question?
Ellie: It’s a riddle.
Cam: Ok…is E a word?
Ellie: I don’t think so.
Cam: But is it the answer.
Ellie: An envelope. Get it? It starts and ends with E but it also only carries one letter!
Cam: That’s clever.
Ellie: I know, right? I have an app that gives me a daily riddle. It’s a good way to stay sharp.
Cam: Maybe I’ll try it.
The waiter comes back in.
Ellie: Sorry what?
Waiter: Are you ready to order?
Ellie: Yes, we’re ready.
Waiter: Separate or together?
Ellie: Together. // Cam: Separate.
They look at each other.
Ellie: I’ll pay.
Cam: No, please. I can pay for myself.
Ellie: I don’t eat out often. It’s really my pleasure.
She turns to the waiter.
Waiter: Ok. And what will you be having?
Ellie: I’ll have the cashew chicken with a side of yang zhou fried rice.
Waiter (to Cam): And for you?
Cam: I’ll have the, uh…
She takes a moment.
Waiter: I’m sorry?
Cam: I’ll have the eggplant.
Waiter: That’ll be all?
Ellie: I think so.
Waiter: Ok. It’ll be right out.
The waiter leaves. Cam clenches her fist.
Ellie: Eggplant, huh? I never really liked eggplant but it’s been years since I last tried it. What kind did you get?
Cam doesn’t respond.
Cam doesn’t respond. She is holding back tears.
Ellie: What’s up?
Cam: I have to go to the bathroom. Feel free to start eating without me.
Cam gets up and hurries away before Ellie sees her cry. Ellie stares after her.