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Congratulations, Susan Gray — second place winner of the 400-word short-short contest

“The Drama of Others” by Susan Gray

Going alone to the theatre never grew more comfortable with time. It wasn’t until an evening at the Royal Court Theatre in London that I was able to recognize the value of my own company.

I was traveling alone on business and after a day of meetings headed to Leicester Square Box Office where I purchased a discount ticket. Watching human foibles acted out onstage kept me away from the pubs and my own sorrows.

I was reading a magazine waiting for the curtain to rise when an older, well tailored couple settled into the seats in front of me.

“I guess the seats are all right,” the woman says.

“The seats are fine,” the man responds.

“Well, you don’t have to sit in front of Mr. Fathead.” 

“Do you want to switch seats?” he asks.

“No, no, it’s fine, just forget it.”

“These are great seats considering we bought them two hours ago,” he reminds her.

“Where’s the playbill?”

“It costs money,” he answers.

“Since when do you have to pay for a playbill?  

“It just so happens that in London you have to pay for a playbill.”   

“Well then, why didn’t you buy one?”   

“Because it costs three pounds.”

“How much is that in American?”

“Six dollars.”

“Give me the three pounds. I’m going to buy a playbill,” she demanded.    

“You’re going to disrupt these people again after we just got settled?”

“You should have told me you weren’t going to buy one.”

“So now this is my fault?” he asked, shaking his head with disgust.

“How am I supposed to know what the play is about? When intermission is?”

“Here, go buy yourself a god damn playbill,” he said, reaching into his pocket.

“Just forget it,” she seethed.

I was startled when she turned around to face me.

“Excuse me.”


“Do you have a playbill I could look at?”

“No, sorry I don’t,” I answered.

“Do you know what this play is about?”

“It examines whether it’s possible for passion to remain in a long marriage,” I said.    


“Yes, really,” I answered.

“It will be depressing then,” she said and turned back around.

Susan Gray is a writer and audio producer who lives in Minneapolis.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Francine Tolf on 05/24/2010 - 11:44 am.

    I really enjoyed this piece! Its author proved you can create a lively scene told in a distinct voice with wonderful characters and an ironic twist…all in 400 words or less. I’m impressed.

  2. Submitted by Lance Groth on 05/24/2010 - 07:10 pm.

    I concur with Francine. The scene is vivid and packs a punch. Well done!

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