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Tiny Play #7/100 (Everything Will Probably Be A Lot Like Everything Else)

March 29, 2010

This script came in fragments that got written in different places that got lost and turned out to not mean as much as I’d anticipated when they got found.

I feel like I’m writing a lot of friggin’ death and stuff around here, for which there are reasons, but that doesn’t mean I’m getting at anything interesting.  Basically, I’m having a less musical version of this argument with myself every time I start thinking about what I’ve posted on here and what’s next in line.  I’m neither as charming in my morosity as Mathias Kom nor as convincing in my optimism as Jenny Omnichord-nee-Mitchell, but that’s a pretty lame excuse for disappearing from this project for over a month.  Holy Moly.

Anyhow, it’s a radio play.  I didn’t really use proper radio play formatting for it because frankly, I find it annoying to look at, and I figured other civilians might feel that way too.  Not to mention getting all the indentations right on the blog would just be a bitch, which is basically why I use the bastardized format I’ve been using for my stage scripts.  So this is like a super-bastardization of that format and the BBC’s required format for radio drama.

La.

SCENE 1.

THIS IS A HOSPITAL.  WE CAN HEAR THAT.  WE CAN ALMOST SMELL IT.  IT IS NIGHTTIME, THOUGH, SO THE INTENTIONAL SOUNDS ARE SUBDUED, AND THE INCIDENTAL ONES AMPLIFIED.  WE ARE WITH A NURSE AS S/HE WHEELS A CART OF EMPTY PLASTIC WATER GLASSES DOWN A CORRIDOR.  S/HE IS WEARING SANDALS, SO THE FOOTSTEPS ARE ALMOST A SHUFFLE, PUNCTUATED BY THE SOFT SLAP OF THE BACK OF THE SHOE AGAINST THE TILE.  THE CART STOPS.  S/HE GENTLY SWINGS OPEN A DOOR.

SCENE 2

IN THIS ROOM THERE IS A MACHINE WHICH BEEPS IN A SLOW, LOW, STEADY RHYTHM.  THERE IS ALSO A BODY WHICH BREATHES THROUGH TUBES IN TIME WITH THE MACHINE.  THERE IS ALSO A MAN, WHO CLEARS HIS THROAT.  HIS NAME IS DANIEL HELLER.  HE’S ABOUT FORTY YEARS OLD.

NURSE: (LOW) You’re with us for another overnighter, Mister Heller?

DAN: It’s my turn again.

NURSE: Anything I can do to make you more comfortable?  A pillow, a blanket?

A KNAPSACK IS UNZIPPED; A LARGE, SOFT, SYNTHETIC MASS IS PULLED OUT OF IT.

DAN: Brought my own.

NURSE: So I see.  The Little Mermaid.  Matching set?  Looks like a collector’s item.

DAN: They’re Kiersten’s.  From when she was little.

NURSE: Cute.

DAN: I just thought maybe if she wakes up and I’m sleeping over here all bundled up in this — she’d think it was funny.  And, you know.  Something from home.  Just so it’s less like waking up in a — well, no offense.

NURSE: None taken.  That’s sweet.  Well, if you need anything, I’ll be down the hall at the nursing station, all right?  Or if her condition changes at all, you don’t want to leave her — you know where the button is?

DAN: This one right here.

NURSE: You got it.  Well, goodnight Mister Heller.

THE NURSE SHUFFLE-SLAPS OUT OF THE ROOM, CLICKING THE DOOR SHUT BEHIND.

DAN: Yeah, I got it.  I know how things work around here, what happens.  I sit in the chair getting more and less accustomed to how you breathe now with the beep the beep the beep I can erase the beep if I make it my breath too and for that I have to close my eyes and the breath goes in and the breath goes out and the breath goes in and the breath goes out and the breath goes in and the breath goes out and my breath goes in and your eyes open which lets the lake into the room.

SCENE 3

THIS IS STILL THE ROOM IN THE HOSPITAL, BUT IT’S ALSO A LAKE, AND SOMEWHERE AT THE EDGES IT’S CLEARLY A DREAM.  LET’S SAY DANIEL IS IN SOMETHING LIKE A CANOE.  KIERSTEN IS BOBBING AROUND IN HERE SOMEWHERE TOO, WITH A VOICE AND EVERYTHING.  SHE’S THE KIND OF GIRL TO WHOM HONOURS LIKE ‘PROM QUEEN’ MEAN SOMETHING, BUT NOT EVERYTHING.  SHE CAN BE MEAN, BUT MORE FOR MOMENTARY AMUSEMENT THAN ANY KIND OF CONNIVING.  SHE HASN’T QUITE GRASPED THE FULL EXTENT TO WHICH OTHER PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE TOO, BUT SHE CERTAINLY HASN’T DISREGARDED THE IDEA OUT OF HAND.  HONESTLY, HER LIFE THUS FAR JUST HASN’T CONFRONTED HER WITH VERY MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO CONSIDER THE SPECIFIC RAMIFICATIONS OF THAT NOTION.

KIERSTEN: Took you long enough.

DAN: This has already happened.

KIERSTEN: Only when you’re asleep.

DAN: But it’s not a dream.

KIERSTEN: Whatever, Daniel.

DAN: “Daddy.”  I haven’t heard that in a while.

KIERSTEN: I said Daniel.

DAN: Oh.  You don’t call me that, do you?

KIERSTEN: This is an ocean.

DAN: I think it’s a lake.

KIERSTEN: Just watch the hard consonants.  You poke a hole in the side and we’re toast.

DAN: Oh.  Of course.

KIERSTEN: You don’t have to pretend like you actually get it.

DAN: I don’t at all, do I?

KIERSTEN: Of course not.

DAN: But you want me to.  I mean you roll your eyes when I don’t.

KIERSTEN: Maybe I want to roll my eyes.

DAN: So how can I even tell when I —

KIERSTEN: You never get it.

DAN: Well that’s kind of nice.  I like constancy.

KIERSTEN: (GIGGLES) That is the oldest word in the whole entire world, I swear.

DAN: Ah foorsooth the constancy of mine unhipness is undying as, um.

KIERSTEN: Oh God, stop.

DAN: But you’ll go away.  I have to make you laugh, don’t I?

KIERSTEN: How should I know?  Anyhow, I’m basically gone already.

DAN: Shhh.  Be —

KIERSTEN: I am being quiet.

DAN: That’s not funny.

KIERSTEN: Doesn’t have to be.  It’s true.

DAN: I wish I was awake right now.

KIERSTEN: You don’t talk to me when I’m awake.

DAN: You seem more gone when I talk.  Real gone.  Because I wouldn’t talk to you if you were just sleeping.  Or if I did, you’d get all cranky and throw one of your beanie animals at me.  And I think, what if my voice covers up some signal from the machine, and they miss some chance to save you because I wasn’t paying attention?

KIERSTEN: I doesn’t work like that.

DAD: Of course not.  But I think it does.

KIERSTEN: Mom talks to me.

DAN: Yeah.  She’s good at that.

KIERSTEN: Not really.  She’s keeps telling me what every family on our block has planted in their front yard.  I wouldn’t even care enough to notice that stuff if I was up and walking around the neighbourhood.  I mean, if her aim is to make me snooze forever…

DAN: See, this is what I mean.  It’s no use talking to you like this.  You’re not really you.  You’re me.

KIERSTEN: How do you know?

DAN: Because that’s what they say about dreams.

KIERSTEN: But you don’t think this is a dream.

DAN: I don’t know, Kiery.  I’m just not sure how healthy it is for us to keep having these conversations.

PAUSE.  LONG ENOUGH FOR US TO BECOME AWARE OF A SHIFT IN THE BASIC AMBIENCE OF THE ROOM.  IT’S LIKE THE BOTTOM OF DANIEL’S CANOE HAS BEGUN TO GRIND SOFTLY OVER A SANDBAR.  WE MAY OR MAY NOT HEAR ANYTHING THAT SOUNDS JUST LIKE THAT WOULD SOUND IF THE CANOE AND THE SANDBAR WERE LITERAL OBJECTS WITH COMPETING MOTIVES; THE IDEA IS, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE RAGGED PATCHES OF THE REM CYCLE, IF WE SUBMIT TO THE BELIEF THAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT REM CYCLES, AND THAT THEY HAVE RAGGED PATCHES.  ALL OF THIS IS, OF COURSE, TERRIBLY PRESUMPTUOUS AND ILL-INFORMED.  BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER, DOES IT?  ANYHOW, MAYBE WE’RE HEARING A SLIGHT TRACE OF THAT BEEP AGAIN, BUT WE SHOULDN’T BE ENTIRELY SURE ABOUT THAT.  BASICALLY, WE’RE FUCKING CONFUSED AND CERTAINLY NOT AWAKE ENOUGH TO BE SURE IF THERE’S ANYTHING REAL TO WORRY ABOUT OR NOT.  OR AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT’S GOING ON WITH DANIEL.  AS FOR THE REST OF US, WHO KNOWS.  MIGHT BE DRIVING OR SOMETHING.

One of the problems is that you’re all the way under the water.  Submerged, but.  But but but you can you don’t have any trouble there isn’t a problem about breathing.  You shouldn’t talk like that you shouldn’t find it so easy to easy to it’s easy for you because you’re an embryo; you’re a tadpole; you are easy to be; you just swim or not even you you you’ve been like this before.  Much much smaller or — larger?  I don’t know it was a confusing time and you seemed much bigger than I was sometimes sometimes very very large but not for real for real real really you were only small small so small you had no name and no sex and by some standards you weren’t even a person yet.  A hormonal shift, a cluster of cells, a perfectly flat stomach with a secret that I wasn’t allowed to go around telling people just yet because what if something happened Mona said mother said your mother said like she was an expert or a schoolteacher somebody with advanced wisdom as in beyond my years which she was but I’d forgotten until then; she said you never tell before you show and even then only if they notice because what if something happens, kind of daring me to ask what because what kind of schmuck drives his wife to actually suggest the possibility of a miscarriage?  And I kept it to myself because to be honest I didn’t really know anybody who wasn’t somehow just another face of her, but I had to be prepared; I had to make a picture of you enlarged to actual size which was bigger than me as it turned out and in my dreams I was a waterlogged spider and you swallowed me up and broadcast the things you knew about your life while I sat inside your amphibian intestine so when you were finally there in my arms so tiny and messy and confused I was never scared because I knew what you were really: as big as our apartment and destined to do things in the usual order.  So what is happening here.  This is how I know about you not being you at all.  And anyways you didn’t even say whether the Little Mermaid blanket was adorable or stupid or anything.

SCENE 4

THE LAKE IS MOST CERTAINLY GONE JUST AS WE HEAR MUFFLED STRAINS OF A VAGUELY EMBARRASSING RINGTONE.  DANIEL JOLTS AWAKE AND UNZIPS HIS KNAPSACK SO WE HEAR THE RINGTONE LOUDER.  HE FUMBLES AROUND OTHER OBJECTS IN THE BAG TRYING TO GRAB IT.

DAN: Shit shit where is it?

HE FINALLY GRASPS IT, FLIPS IT OPEN.

Mo?

HIS WIFE, MONA, IS ON THE OTHER SIDE.  SHE IS A LITTLE MORE THAN A DECADE HIS SENIOR, AND TAKES AFTER HER DAUGHTER IN MANY RESPECTS.

MONA: (DISTORT) Well I should hope you’re not expecting another woman to be whispering in your ear at two in the morning.

DAN: Of course not.

MONA: Joking, Daniel.  See, that’s how I know for sure you could never have an affair.  You have no sense of humour.  Did you know that like, 80% of women say sense of humour is the first thing they look for in a prospective partner?

DAN: Mmhm.  It’s two in the morning.

MONA: So it is.  Did I wake you up?

DAN: Yes, as a matter of fact.

MONA: Did I wake her up?

DAN: Is that another joke?

MONA: Not really.  More of a hope.  A hope joke.

DAN: Well, sorry to crush your joke.

MONA: It wasn’t very funny.

DAN: I wouldn’t know, would I?

MONA: Nope.  That’s the wonderful thing about our marriage.  My bad jokes get the same reaction as my A1 material.

DAN: Wonderful.

MONA: So listen, I couldn’t sleep so I just came down and turned on the TV, and her show is on channel 4 right now.  Isn’t that random?

DAN: What show?

MONA: Kiery’s show.  The one with the doctor.

DAN: Which doctor?

MON: Her favourite doctor.

DAN: So which one is that?  I didn’t know she had a favourite.

MONA: Just turn it on.

DAN: Huh?

MONA: The remote should be right there on the nightstand where I left it.  Turn on the TV.  Channel 4.

DAN: It’s two in the morning.

MONA: So?  She’s in a coma.  I think we can stretch the usual boundaries of TV time, just this once.  It’ not like she has school tomorrow.

DAN: True enough.

HE FUMBLES FOR THE REMOTE, TURNS THE TV ON, FLIPS THROUGH A FEW CHANNELS OF STATIC BEFORE ARRIVING AT CHANNEL 4.  WE HEAR LOW, MUFFLED STRAINS OF THE SHOW UNDER THE NEXT SECTION OF DIALOGUE.

This is her favourite?  Are you sure?

MONA: Positive.

DAN: That’s bizarre.

MONA: Why?

DAN: Well don’t you find it unsettling?

MONA: How so?

DAN: He looks like he’s our age.  He looks older than me.

MONA: So?

DAN: I don’t know.  I thought she liked that other one.  The babyface one fresh out of med school.

MONA: She does.

DAN: But this is her favourite.

MONA: That’s right.

DAN: But what’s the difference between them?  Besides old man versus babyface.

MONA: Babyface gets things wrong.  Old man is always right at the end of the episode.

DAN: So it’s not like she has a crush on him?  She just admires his competence?

MONA: The two aren’t mutually exclusive.  She definitely has a crush.

DAN: Well, I don’t like this.

MONA: Of course you don’t.

DAN: No, I just mean…watching a doctor show in a hospital.  It’s redundant and uncomfortable and scary.  Like when somebody decided it would be a good idea to take my cub scout troop to a creepy old house and tell ghost stories.

MONA: God forbid children have spooky fun.

DAN: It was traumatic.

MONA: I know.  You were scarred for life.  An emotional cripple.  As your wife, I’m well acquainted with this story.

DAN: Well this feels like that.  I’m turning it off.  I don’t need to feel more anxious right now.

MONA: Leave it on.  If you’re sleeping anyways.

DAN: I wasn’t really.

MONA: Daniel.

DAN: It’s not very realistic.

MONA: Well that should help, shouldn’t it?

DAN: Maybe.

BEAT.

Oh, geez, look at that poor asshole.

MOM: Language.  She can hear, you know.

DAN: Does she talk to you?

MONA: What?

DAN: Nothing.

BEAT.

I think I’ve been getting her voice wrong.

MONA: What are you talking about?

DAN: I’ve been…never mind.  I miss her.

MONA: She’s right beside you.

DAN: (UNCONVINCED) Yeah.

BEAT.

What if I’ve really lost my name?

MONA: Are you talking in your sleep, Daniel?

DAN: I don’t know.  I don’t think so, but you never know.

BEAT.

She won’t say ‘Daddy’.  I mean, she hasn’t for years, but now she won’t at all.  Even on the inside of my brain.  It’s upsetting.  If I could get her voice right.  She’s more complicated to make from scratch than she is just to talk to, you know?

BEAT.

MONA: I need to get some sleep.

DAN: Yeah.

MONA: Just leave the TV on.  Quiet.  Change the channel if you want, but leave it.  I don’t like the thought of her waking up and she’s the only thing awake in there.

DAN: Okay.

MONA: See you in the morning.

DAN: It is morning.

MONA: I know.

DAN: Goodnight.

END

If you are interested in using this script, in whole or in part, for any reason, please a) credit me (Emmet Forsythe) as the author, and b) let me know about it, including links to any video or audio recordings you may make.

Contact emilythesecond (at) gmail (dot) com if you wanna tell me somethin’ too special for comments, or go to my formspring if you have a question you wanna be all publicly anonymous about.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2010 6:09 pm

    Great! I will use this as soon as possible! Many thanks! (Too many exclamation marks? Never!)

  2. rubyben permalink
    March 29, 2010 7:12 pm

    I don’t think grown-ups say “random.”

    • ohmynoti permalink*
      March 29, 2010 9:09 pm

      pretty sure i learned random from grown ups.

      also ‘nauseous’ (which i assumed was spelled ‘nautious’ for ages). those words are inextricably linked for me because the same circle of people overused them into my brain around the same time.

      maybe that was an elphintown anomaly.

      • rubyben permalink
        March 30, 2010 3:58 am

        mkay. i don’t reject it, but as a more traditional child raised by american television, that was the one thing that sounded odd to me. clearly your call whether or not you want to sound odd to that subset of humans.

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