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Diner Dialogue

Text: Janis Butler Holm
Voice: Bett Butler
Music: Joël Dilley


His voice is soft, wondering, as if he has not said this many times before. She hates it when she is fixed by his eyes.   They try to get to the bottom, try to see if every bit of her belongs to him. She feels ashamed and doesn’t know why. Her eyes hurt in looking back. She looks down. He is quiet.

Her hand on the table feels big and awkward. She puts it in her lap and reaches for her cup with the other one. He is still looking at her. She brings the cup to her lips, wants to run away but can’t. She hates it, all the more because she knows some part of her likes it. She feels his pain and looks up. His eyes are very big. They look as though they could hold everything. She can almost feel herself sinking into them.

Just in time, she looks into her cup, then feels rage at her weakness. Her mouth tightens, almost imperceptibly, but he sees, and his face closes, becomes hard. She begins to hurt, angry with herself for having hurt him and with him for having made her do it. She sets the cup in its saucer and looks at her watch. He immediately picks up the check. She reaches for it but is stopped by his eyes. He knows she doesn’t like him to pay, but he will today. She wants to say no but can’t. He counts out change for the tip as she watches.

They get up, and she pulls on her jacket quickly, before he can offer to help. His eyes are like stone. She is sick inside. They move toward the cashier stiffly, saying nothing.


Janis Butler Holm has served as Associate Editor for Wide Angle, the film journal. Her prose, poems, and performance pieces have appeared in small-press, national, and international magazines. Her plays have been produced in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

Award-winning songwriter Bett Butler’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in Weave, Feathertale, Voices de la Luna, AMP, and Fabula Argentea. Her Website is www.bettbutler.com.

Bassist/composer/producer Joël Dilley’s original music is heard in TV, film, Web, and ambient settings worldwide, including HBO, Discovery Channel, Food Network, and more. His Website is www.joeldilley.com.