Setting: an urban coffee shop, February.
Characters: Michael, Danielle
M: The Joker is a real people person. Listen to this, "You see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?" What type of shit is that?
D [speaking without looking up from newspaper]: The self doesn't mean much when it can be recanted in a moment at the end of the barrel of a gun.
M: Or a knife.
D [sighs, bored]: Or a knife.
M [laughing]: So, if I really want to get to know you, I could...
D [looking up]: Are you sure you want to finish that sentence? You might not be "knowing" me for a while.
M [faux alarm, waving hands]: I take it back! I take it back!
D [smiling]: That's more like it.
M [settling back in chair]: Seriously, though. We haven't been through much together, when you think about all those people at Auschwitz, or in Rwanda, or...
D [abrupt laugh]: Yes?
M: I mean, you love me, right?
D [sighs]: True love is unconditional. Everything else is true comfort.
M [furrows brow]: I love you unconditionally.
D: Please! That mouth...
M: It's true.
D: You don't know the first thing...
M [tenderly]: Hey...I will always love you.
D: Oh! I'm touched. I will remember that the next time your mother asks why I'm not pregnant yet and I'm holding her by the ankles over the Hudson telling her "this is why!"
M [frowning]: Oh, you're full of it.
D: Yes. I'm full of it. I'll remember that when I'm holding you by the ankles over the Hudson. Then we'll talk about unconditional love. Or would you prefer waking up with some cold metal in your mouth?
D: Or maybe your best friend, what's his name. Getting to know him. How about then? You do go away on business quite a lot these days...
D [leaning forward]: No, Michael. Love is comfort. When we first met...you know the saying...you fell in love with your self. I was simply a mirror reflecting the dazzling image of your manhood in full swing. You, too, made me look quite good. We were perfect for each other!
M [laughing]: You admit it!
D: Then we got tired of looking at ourselves through each other. So we tried looking at each other, putting the mirror down. Needless to say, you were not the man I "fell"--that is, stumbled--in love with. No, you were something quite different.
M: How different?
D: I don't know how different. Just more real. It was very nauseating. But like motion sickness, you get used to it. I got used to it. Seeing the real you. Isn't that where love starts?
M: "Love begins when the eyes meet the soul and do not turn away."
D [laughing fitfully]: Oh! I could nail you to a wall. I can see where the Joker gets his motivation!
M: What do you mean?
D [rolling her eyes]: Let's be serious for a moment. You've heard the expression, "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?"
M: You're calling me weak?
D [sighs]: No. But think of our lives...yours, mine, the coffee boy behind the counter, the blond your eyes keep flitting to behind me....
D: It's enough. Think of our lives like a chain. Each experience is a link. Our integrity as a chain...our ability to tie up and keep out and lock in...can be compromised by a single weak link. A link that bends under stress, when we are pushed to the edge of our "love." That link is us...you, me, everyone...our weakest self. When the link breaks...the "unconditional" chain is no more. Every link will snap...with enough force. That's what I think our marriage is sometimes, all marriage....a weight that increases with time, meant to strain links and test our integrity. Make us our true self...the weakest link. The man I married is not the same man before me. Who, then, do I go to bed with?
M: I'm still the same man.
D: Men change too, Michael, believe it or not. Everyone changes. You've heard we fully reincarnate every seven years. "There's not one molecule...not one...that is in you that was there when you were ten..."
M [scoffing]: Ah...
D: Can you deny it? If ten year old Daniel walked down the street, could I say, "Daniel, come to bed son." I would be arrested!
M: What about you at ten? You were...
D: I was bad, yes, a bad little girl with the good little boys. [Laughing] Have I changed much?
M [smiling]: Not much.
D: It is okay to be a broken chain. We are all broken. Some chains are like paperclips linked together, some are like titanium. But with enough force, any metal will bend and break. The thing is, can you admit we are not unconditional chains with unconditional love? Can you stop pretending we have more integrity that we really do? After all, you just haven't been pushed hard enough?
M: So I have integrity?
D: As much as anyone. That isn't saying much. You're certainly no martyr.
D: Um, no. You and I both...we are no better than apostates that haven't been tested. Look at the Christ. Now there is a strong chain. Not one weak link. Unbreakable. Even nailed up there, he never betrayed...
M: That's a hell of a standard to set.
D [sitting back]: Well, you are the one who loves so "unconditionally." You should at least accept what comes with such a boast.
M: I do.
D: Michael, please. It's okay. I didn't marry you because you were real.
M [offended]: How should I take that?
D: However you like.
M: Why did you marry me, then?
D: Oh, Michael. For the comfort! Isn't that what conditional love is? "As long as you don't...x, y, z...I will always love you?
M: You're awful.
D [staring]: Yes, I am. I am...