Mark Owen Martin and Sarah Krouse

Music: Pavane for oboe, cello and harp by Mark Owen Martin


By Sarah Krouse

 A father and daughter sit across from each other at a table in the back of the French restaurant across from Ford’s Theater.

They order wine. The father tells him about her mother. That she was jealous that only the father would get to have dinner with the daughter. He had driven six hours from Connecticut for dinner.

“Mommy was pissy to me all week because of this,” he said with a smile. “I think she wanted to come, but it was one of those situations where you just can’t do both.”

The mother had tickets to a concert he had bought her for Christmas and wondered: Did he plan to go see the daughter without her all along?

 The daughter sits next to a man at a bar. They are friends. The kind of friends that have kissed and cried and held onto one another.

They talk about their current lovers, the ones they will probably marry. They talk about wants – he wants stability. She wants power, success.

They talk about sex – they both get enough. It’s passionate. It’s plenty.

Their legs touch under the bar with no agenda.

 Can a man and a woman’s leg touch with no agenda?

 The father and daughter eat foie gras. He tells a story of the time he was sitting in the teachers’ lounge at his school when a student was in the room making up a test. He tells the daughter about how he helped the student.

“What do you have?” he had asked. He didn’t know how to solve the problem, he said, but he knew what to ask to help the student solve it. And that, he said, is what makes a good teacher.

 The daughter remembered the father helping her with math homework.

The tears, the yelling.

“What do you have? Look at what you have!,” he screamed.

The daughter made a joke about never actually figuring out the math.

No, no, he said to his full-grown daughter.

 She got it eventually.

 There is a reason you force-feed the goose.

 The friends, the daughter and the man, are on their third round, and talk turns to the past, of drinking of watching of each others’ lovers.

“You were the one person I had to tell her about,” the man says of his current love. “The only sticking point.”

She tells him she’d started her relationship with a conversation with her lover about this friendship. That it would remain and her lover could stay or leave.

They toasted each others’ partners.

 “Thank goodness we each found people who are okay with this. To them,” they toasted.

 The father and daughter tell what they should not: “Your sister needs your mother more than you ever will.”

“Even if you are right, I will side with my sister.”

“Your mother doesn’t clean the house like she used to.”

“I will never live at home again.”

 They’ve told truths they’ve never told.

 The daughter remembers riding in the car with her mother. The rants about the father needing attention, wishing the daughters were still children.

The daughter wonders: Did the mother want to keep her from sharing truths with her father?

 The friends drink. The woman flips her curly hair to the side and catches herself.

They talk about the late nights during their teenage years when they used to drive. When he would pick her up at her house – as friends – and they would drive in circles. Around their Connecticut town. To the next town over. To the state line. To the school football field where she kissed him the night before graduation.

 The woman plays with a ring she wears, moving it from her right middle to ring finger and back.

The man leans on the bar, on both elbows, head bowed. He looks up at her and takes a sip of beer.

 The father and daughter finish a bottle of wine. The foie gras, dinner, coffee. He will get back in his car and drive six hours home. The mother will already be home, waiting.

 The friend’s father had died. After surgery, after a stroke that left his father’s speech slurred ever so slightly. The stroke in the wee hours of the morning, when she drove to the hospital, caught his mother when she fainted, and drove him to the beach to watch him yell at the ocean.

The woman had sat in the back row of the church, in black, during the funeral.  The friend’s wife-to-be sat in the front. He’d looked during the eulogy at his friend, the daughter who has been eating foie gras with her father.

 Their legs rest on each others under the bar.