Stale (Screenplay)

EXT. TOKYO BAR

TAKAI and AIYA are sitting outside a bar, beers in hand. Aiya is the more sophisticated of the two, dressed elegantly in a simple black dress. A cigarette dangles carelessly sexily from her mouth, and she is looking out at the road, where the occasional traffic will pass by to add some company to their lonely sojourn.

Takai is dressed more plainly in a worn suit, sans tie. He is a man who is fuelling the melancholy atmosphere. He’s sad, but not depressed, reflective but not lost. His hands are always fidgeting with something when he is thinking hard about something. In this case, the beer in his hand is constantly rotating with every thought.

TAKAI

How long have we done this dance Aiya?

AIYA

Long enough to know to we should stop.

TAKAI

So why don’t we?

AIYA

(looks over at him puzzled) Stop?

Takai nods seriously. Aiya considers the ramification of his question in silence for a moment.

AIYA

(shrugging) I’m unhappy, I suppose. That’s why I don’t want to stop. Why do you ask? Do you want to stop seeing me?

TAKAI

No, of course not. I guess I’m just wondering whether this whole thing is really worth all the trouble for you. Am I worth it?

Aiya reaches out to Takai and stops his hand from fidgeting with his beer. They look at each other poignantly. There is a quiet moment between them, where Takai is unable to meet her confident gaze.

AIYA

Of course you’re worth it. I have a lot more fun with you than Yoshi.

Takai falls silent at the answer. He isn’t particularly pleased or upset at the response. He lets go of Aiya’s hands and goes back to fidgeting with his beer and staring out at the road.

TAKAI

Do you love me Aiya?

AIYA

(pauses) Why do you ask Takai? What has gotten into you just now?

TAKAI

I’m not sure to be honest with you. I guess it’s the music and the time of the night (looks at his watch). Yeah, it’s definitely the time. I always start feeling a bit melancholy around this hour. I’m sorry Aiya, I know we’re supposed to keep things light between us.

AIYA

(gives him a pitying look) If it makes you feel any better Takai, at the moment, I am more in love with you than Yoshi.

TAKAI

(rolling the words off his tongue) at the moment ….

AIYA

(an exasperated sigh) I mean it Takai. I do love you more right now than Yoshi. But I think you already knew that this dance between us was always meant to be temporary. You know me … I will always want another dance partner. Even Yoshi knew this before he agreed to date me.

TAKAI

Have you always struggled with staying with the same partner?

AIYA

I suppose so. I’ve never been lacking for boyfriends. I guess it’s easy for me, which is a lot more than I can say for other girls. But they don’t have to deal with something I call the stale factor.

TAKAI

The “stale” factor?

AIYA

Yeah. I first started noticing it, when I dated my first boyfriend in high school. We were together for nearly 2 years. It was nice, but empty at the same time. We used to make love in the lockers when no one was there. I loved the way how he played with my neck. It was the most sensual massage I’ve ever gotten from a man.

Aiya pauses as she looks reflectively off into the distance, sipping her beer. Takai looks at her thoughtfully, his eyes intrigued and thoughtful, fingers still playing with his own beer.

AIYA

I thought I loved him. But then the stale factor came through. Everything he did bored me. I couldn’t make love to him any more, without feeling like it was a chore. Even the way how he played with my neck started to feel perfunctory.

TAKAI

When did the stale factor kick in?

AIYA

About a year in.

TAKAI

Is it always a year?

AIYA

Sometimes more, sometimes less. I suppose it is always around a year.

TAKAI

Can you describe more what makes a person stale? I suppose my time is coming around the corner soon.

AIYA

(reaches out to steady his fidgeting hands) Relax Takai. You’re still a while away. But being stale is a lot like listening to your favourite song too many times, that it loses its power. The melody doesn’t stir you anymore, and the rhythm is too predictable.

When you listen to it again, you start to question why you liked the song in the first place. And with each repeated playing, you can’t get rid of that question. It starts to be linked to the song and so whenever you listen to it, or hear it out on the street, the question gnaws at you.

So I have to end it. Because at some point, I will never get the answer to that question. That’s the stale factor. I can’t shake the question away from the music or the lack of love from the man.

Takai nods solemnly at Aiya. He can sense his time is around the corner. Already Aiya is starting to lose interest in him. He has signs of the being stale. He takes out his wallet and puts some cash down on the table.

TAKAI

I’m going to head home. Thanks for letting stay over last night Aiya. I’ll see you soon?

Aiya merely nods, understanding how he feels and takes another drag from her cigarette before realising her manners and standing up and kissing him gently on the cheek.

AIYA

I’m sorry Takai.

Taki shakes his head and kiss her gently back on the cheek, before squeezing her hand sadly. Hailing a taxi, Takai jumps in, looking back at Aiya, who is now alone, sitting with a beer in her hand, a cigarette in her mouth.

Just as the taxi pulls away, Takai sees a random man approach Aiya and she gives him the same disarming smile that entranced Takai when he did the same months ago.

Author’s Note:

Inspired by my latest read through of a short story collection, First Person singular by Haruki Murakami, I wanted to try and convey some of his dialogue in film format.

I’m not quite sure I struck the right tone of melancholy, reflective and whimsy, but I was oddly impressed by how smooth writing this was. So I’m quite pleased with it overall.

Hope you enjoyed it!

~ Damocles.

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