The first three lines of this piece are from John Berger's novel King: A Street Story (p. 102). As an exercise in my fiction workshop last semester we were told to begin a dialogue exchange using these lines and then to proceed with it however we saw fit (paying no mind to the characters, story, etc. from Berger's piece).
Untitled Dialogue Exercise
Where is she?
She's walking between the trees. Her name is in the air.
I can't see her, he says.
No, you wouldn't. Not yet.
You take jabs at my eyesight now?
It's something different. This isn't about seeing or not seeing.
Tell me she'll be here soon. We miss her so much sometimes, don't we?
You do. I do. Yes, we miss her. How could we not?
No, but it wasn't always like this. I say sometimes because there were other times before now when it wasn't so easy to miss her. She would go and we wouldn't wait. Our expectations, they were lower then.
But now they are higher?
They have to be. We depend on her now. My eyesight, your compassion, she doesn't have such weaknesses.
Maybe that is her weakness, though.
We don't need to talk. We can just wait until she's here and then things will be fine, they'll be back to normal and we don't need to fill the air with this – this shit we say to keep ourselves company.
It's you, always you, who starts in with this “shit.” Free me from the blame and I won't speak anymore.
First the blame and then what? What will you ask to be freed from next? I can only do so much. We count on her, but sometimes I have to count on you too. Don't get any ideas. You're pardoned this time only. That's it.
You can speak, he says. I know what I said, but go ahead. She still isn't here and we could use the company, couldn't we? Go ahead now.
Sometimes I don't know if I should apologize to you or just drop it altogether.
You don't need to do that. Either one.
I wouldn't mean it if I did.
That's good. That's why I like you. It takes someone special to be honest about their disingenuity.
I couldn't lie about that, no. You'd know right away.
Exactly. You aren't a very good liar, he says. That's an admirable trait, lying poorly. Some people spend their whole lives trying to and still everyone believes them. Some people, some people. Some people like me.
You're selling yourself short. You do this again and again and you wonder why we have to rely on her, why you have to rely on me. Don't sell yourself short. You're a terrible liar and she loves you for it.
Flattery, flattery. I wonder how much longer. How much longer she'll keep us waiting. You say she loves me and then she keeps me waiting, keeps us both waiting.
We keep ourselves waiting. We've made her too important to us and now we haven't got any other choice.
I suppose we could leave if we wanted to. Just us two and maybe she'd catch up to us or maybe she wouldn't, but we would prove that we can do it. Make it just the two of us, like we did before her.
As you said, though, your eyesight, my compassion. Before we didn't know how weak we were.
Again with my eyesight. You don't relent.
Somewhere in the forest? Where is she?
No, somewhere else. I can't pick her up. I wonder –
She's still coming.
I can't say.
You have to, though. After what I've just said about counting on you and now you'll deny me this?
She's stopped. I can't say anymore. I can't taste her. The air grows thick.
This is unlike you. Usually so alert, so adept. And now this.
There's nothing I can do.
You can lie.
Okay. She's still coming. Okay?