My TV Drama

I always wanted to write a TV drama
There’ll only be two characters
I can just see themIt will be a young couple
sitting in front of the fire after dinner
It doesn’t really matter what social group they belong to
Let’s say that they’re college-educated
or they could just as well work in some bank
and have a weakness for Pavarotti, that’s quite all right
It just has to be a fairly young couple in front of the fire
They’ve rented a house in the country and there’s a fireplace
and they build a fire in the fireplace
They don’t have much real open old-fashioned acoustic fire
in their air-conditioned home
They’ve all day experienced violent natural elements like Sea
and Sun
so now they want to experience fire
and it happens that it doesn’t ignite

And they pile up log upon log
but the fire doesn’t really take hold
They take turns trying new possibilities
with new explanations and new methods
but it just won’t work
and their annoyance
slowly grows
Everyone hates not getting what they want
They begin not necessarily to argue
it doesn’t have to be like that
but irritation hangs in the room
and can at any time explode

And so to get the fire going
he grabs a newspaper
he throws the paper in
the flames catch it
now it’s burning
but it dies out quickly again
so it needs another paper, quickly
and another
and then only one paper is left, in it goes
and this one is today’s
and she asks was that necessary
“That was today’s.”
And he only looks at the fire and the flames leaping up
and it’s as though it’s not his own voice he hears when he says:
“There’s never anything in the paper.”
And he knows of course it was him who insisted on getting the paper this morning
but suddenly he realizes he likes seeing it burn
he likes to see these killings and attacks and stock quotes
and bond quotations and book reviews and car ads
just burn,
very slowly
It is just as though he takes righteous revenge
It’s as though he grows a little younger with each bit of paper
that burns up
a little lighter in his body
He feels like burning his business correspondence
he’s taken on vacation because there’s always still work to be done
and he gets it and throws it on the fire
and he smiles at her
and at the fire
and she suddenly rises and gets the novel she’s reading
and throws it on the fire
She’ll never know how it ends

but she knows there’s something else
that ends

And they burn things
and they burn things
I don’t know how much they have to burn
In fact it would take at least an evening
They burn their ID cards and their old letters
All their days are shed as though from a burnt-out life
and all the while they laugh and laugh
with great wonder
for the first time high
on the emptiness—

            —Translated by Thomas E. Kennedy