Emily on the Phone
~ an unpretentious dialogue ~
By Joel van Vliet
Jane: I can’t talk right now, I’m making dinner.
Emily: What’s wrong?
Jane: Nothing, yet. I haven’t even put it in the oven. That’s usually where I mess up. You know, the over-cooking.
Emily: You’re dodging. You know what I mean.
Jane: Everything’s fine, Emily. I — Ahhh!
Emily: What happened?!
Jane: I peeled my finger! Ow.
Jane: I peeled my finger! I thought I was peeling a carrot, but it was my finger and I peeled it a bit.
Emily: See, something is obviously wrong. You usually know the difference between your finger and a carrot!
Jane: Ouch, this really stings. I just got distracted. What do I do now?
Emily: You open up to your sister, Jane.
Jane: I read somewhere that you need to pour lemon juice on it?
Emily: No! You must have been reading what NOT to do!
Jane: Okay, I have a bandaid on it now.
Emily: Okay, good. Now–
Jane: What are you calling about, Em?
Emily: Me? Nothing. Just to talk. I was worried about you.
Jane: You don’t have to worry about me. I’m fine.
Emily: See, I know that’s not true.
Jane: If anything, it seems like you aren’t fine. You’re the one who called me. You needed to talk.
Emily: What’s wrong with us?
Jane: What do you mean by that?
Emily: With everything that’s going on, can’t we just admit that we’re falling apart?
Jane: “Everything that’s going on”?
Emily: Yes, Jane, all the garbage life just heaped on us. Am I talking to myself?
Jane: Fine, where should we start? The terror and violence that cuts deeply into our beings every time it happens anywhere in the world? This little tiny world where strangers become brothers or sisters when you hear they were just shot up outside a library and it feels like you can’t do anything to help them, save them – save humanity – that garbage?
Emily: Sure, let’s talk about that garbage, Jane. How about the starving masses, here, there and everywhere? How about the distended bellies and exposed rib cages on CHILDREN while we sit here filling our fat faces with half a sandwich – a lap-of-luxury sandwich – and throw the other half away? Yeah, that kind of garbage!
Jane: The garbage being the wasted sandwich, or–
Emily: Well, yes, but more the concept of those having more than they need not wanting to help or being able to help those in need. Probably because of a corrupt system.
Jane: Yeah, blame the system, Em. What should I put this in for, 350? 375?
Emily: I don’t even know what you’re making!
Jane: I’ll just do 450 and keep checking on it.
Emily: And this is why you keep burning everything.
Jane: Do you want to discuss sex trafficking, global warming and inexplicably rampant racism while this cooks?
Emily: I want to talk about mom.
Emily: I know you’re not okay. I know we’re both not okay.
Jane: (beeping of oven temp being set)
Emily: And yes, I feel selfish and small-minded wanting to talk about “feelings” on such a personal level when there’s so much pain in the world, but… I need to. You know, may be it’s easier to talk about how angry we are about things we don’t truly experience than to truly come to terms with what we do.
Jane: (the click of a phone hanging up)