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WHITE HOT (full text)

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WHITE HOT

by Tommy Smith

“[Tommy Smith] is writing in the shadow of our most daring and politically incendiary of martyred playwright saints, Sarah Kane and Edward Bond … White Hot is bleak terrain, a buried cesspool of self-loathing and unseemly, sadistic yearnings in love. The play can be read as a critique of the deadening fallout of our reactionary, materialistic, exploitative and soulless era. It can be read as a bad dream or a soap opera about the banality of evil. However you read it, it doesn’t go down easy.” — Craig Lucas, NEW YORK THEATRE REVIEW

” **** Incendiary … [Tommy Smith’s] dialogue has brass on its knuckles … WHITE HOT brands Smith forcefully as a talent to watch and to stomach.” — Adam Feldman, TIME OUT NEW YORK

A beautifully written study in nihilism … revealing why so many marriages, based on such blind attempts at controlling another person and some understandably devious responses to it, lead to duplicitous affairs.” — Steven Leigh Morris, LA WEEKLY

[White Hot] is excellent … What makes the show great are the script and the stomach-churning performances … We know this can’t end well—we knew from the start. But to make stories about awful, broken people watchable, there has to be something to recognize or something to surprise. You’ll find both here. There’s no intermission, and the sounds and lights startle and seethe as the shitshow unfolds. The audience staggered a bit on the way out. You’ve been warned.” – Anna Minard, THE STRANGER

White Hot is a fever blister of a play. It’s not nice. It’s not pretty. It’s raw and tough and meaty, grown up theater for adults who crave intellectual and artistic drama.” – Michael Strangeways, SEATTLE GAY SCENE

A condensed burst of theatrical malevolence … Only an hour long, White Hot achieves an electric unpredictability on the strength of its production elements; specifically it is in the realm of its cast and Smith’s script that make this a production that sticks to the memory.” – Jose Amador, SEATTLE STAR

A powerful play … Mamet, Pinter, Beckett: We see all these influences in Smith’s writing. But he adds something of his own which deviates from the Absurdists, and which makes his technique an actor’s play.” – Ed Farolan, REVIEW VANCOUVER

© 2015 Tommy Smith. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified, performed, produced or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, please click this.

LIL, early thirties, pregnant

SIS, mid thirties, Lil’s sister

BRI, mid thirties, Lil’s husband

GRIG, thirties

.

Note for actor playing Lil:  She has no ability to defend herself.

Note for actor playing Bri: He is not mean; It is just how he communicates.

Note for actor playing Sis: She never takes a breath.

Note for actor playing Grig: He is extraordinarily kind.

.

1.

An apartment.

SIS

So then he came over.

LIL

No.

SIS

I called him like that and he came over.

LIL

No.

SIS

I’ve only seen him in a hoody.  I only met him at clubs.  This thug.  This thug with the Eastern European accent.

LIL

He’s from where?

SIS

The Ukraine.  And I said is that an independent country or a province of Russia?  I didn’t remember.  Last I looked Ukraine was a province and he said he didn’t know either.  Which makes me doubt he’s from the Ukraine or Russia, which makes me think he’s lying and if he’s lying that’s more exciting.  Someone lying to me.  I love when people lie to me.  I love the moment when I figure it out.  I’m like, there, I got white hot justice on my side.

LIL

So this guy.

SIS

So this guy, like, the first thing he does.  Caresses my cheek.  Real sweet.  And I’m like, fuck, I haven’t had tender in years.  Tender flew out the window.  There’s been a lot of kisses, sure, a lot of fucking and kissing.  But something tender?  I didn’t even know I missed it.  I mean, how long can you go without, you know, someone being nice, like really nice to your body?  It was a real panty soaker.  All from three fingers tracing two inches on my cheek.  And by now his accent’s slipping.  I’m also really drunk and very stoned and I’ve taken a few pills and I haven’t slept in like three days at this point, so I don’t call him out on the slipping accent, I don’t even have the words for it.  You reach a certain point you can’t find words.  You’re standing in front of someone with the words in your mind but you’re so powerfully beyond by that point that your lips refuse to open.  So you smile.  So I smiled.

LIL

And then?

SIS

I won’t bore you.  I mean, you can sum it up in your head.  No need to pore over the gory details.

LIL

Come on.

SIS

I don’t have much dignity but I have some.  His dick is fucking huge though.  Thick like a baby arm.  And he shoves it down my throat and I spit up some acidy Caesar barf but it’s kind of warm so it lubricates his cock.  He flips me over and pushes it up my ass and later I’m shitting blood but it’s nice, you know?  Tender.  These bright red swirls of blood clouding the bowl cause that’s like, that’s love, you know?

LIL

He’s from where?

SIS

They have these places you go on the computer where you can find people like him.

LIL

What’s he like?

SIS

Hard to say.  But he’ll do anything, you know, I asked him to do some pretty fucked up shit and he went ahead and did it.

LIL

Can you call him?

SIS

Sure, yeah, I can call.

LIL

Can you call for me?

SIS

You got one already.  You got your man.  Snared him like a bird.  He’s your nest now.

LIL

I need something else.

SIS

That’s not what you said at the veil thing, you know, you were veiled and there was Jesus all-muscular on the cross and you said I do.  I was there.

LIL

Bri’s a sweet man.

SIS

Better call him shit than sweet.

LIL

I love Bri.

SIS

But Bri’s a problem, right?  You’ve settled into him and you settle into guys and they lose their status.  Commitment sours a man.  Soon as he starts flossing your undies it’s over.  Soon as he listens to your stories, actually listens, like, not looking off in the distance or checking out a girl on the side, soon as he actually knows the names of the people you work with, that’s it, you’ve turned him, he’s a turtle belly up in the sun.

LIL

I’m just alone so much.

SIS

This guy, this Ukraine hoody guy, he won’t solve that.  He’s temporary like rain.  I can get by on that because, well, there’s nothing inside me, there’s an echo and that’s it and you can fill an echo but you can’t hold it or keep it or get it to visit your parents.

LIL

I’m not in control.  I’d rather be in control.

SIS

But we’re not the same, Lil, we’re built different with different parts.  What works for me doesn’t work for you.  Our sicknesses are separate so I feel bad prescribing the wrong medicine cause it could kill you.

LIL

I’m a grown woman.

SIS

No you’re not cause if you were you wouldn’t need to say it.  As soon as you proclaim something it becomes false, believe me, I know, I say all sorts of shit to all sorts of people and they know, they know I’m lying about being sober and compassionate because if I need to convince someone I’m sober and compassionate I’d do it, not say it.  You’re a good girl.

LIL

No.

SIS

You’re wearing a university sweater.  You shop organic and buy baby magazines.

LIL

I’m like everyone else.

SIS

Yeah, and that’s fucking sad and depressing.  Another stroller mom ornamenting the street.  You’re so calm, why are you always so calm?

LIL

Am I calm?

SIS

Dead.  You get married and suddenly you’re someone else.

LIL

I live a domestic lifestyle.

SIS

Naw, it’s something else, you don’t want to say it but it’s there.  It’s something bad, right?  I can tell by that face, you make that distant face.  You’re afraid.

LIL

No.

SIS

You’re afraid, Lil.

LIL

You don’t know my what’s in my head, Sis.

SIS

I know it enough.  We came from the same hole.   I just turned out yang.  See, that’s the separation between us.  You think bad things but you don’t do anything about it.  You want be a nasty person because it feels good, for a time, it feels great to cut yourself open and play with the wound.  But you know if you open up that cut you won’t be able to close it so you revolve the thought in your head and in the mean time you’re getting a great deal with your cellular provider.  You’re really happy about your voting choices.  You’re saving up to vacation in the Caribbean because you heard about this great place that’s only sixty dollars a night and ignore the locals who look at you sideways because in your heart you’re a decent person.  Jesus, I must look like shit, do I look like shit?

LIL

No.

SIS

I feel like I look like shit.  You got a mirror or something?

LIL

I broke all the mirrors.

SIS

Dramatic.

LIL

I was sitting around and I broke them.

SIS

Why?

LIL

Bri left for work.  I made myself some eggs.  The sun was very bright.  There were all these mirrors we bought.  They kept blinding me.  The reflection of the sun.  I thought it was getting in my eyes.  The light.  Like my eyes were storing up this painful light.  I smashed the mirrors.   I put sheets over the windows.

SIS

You need a hobby.

LIL

I have one.

SIS

Knitting paves the pathway to madness.

LIL

I made you something.

Lil pulls out knitted white hat with pink bunny ears.

SIS

My point exactly.

LIL

You don’t like it?

SIS

It’s nice.  You’re nice.

LIL

Try it for the fit.

SIS

Does it go like this?

LIL

Like this.

SIS

Mmm.  Comfy.

LIL

You look great.

SIS

I’ll take your word.

LIL

No, you look beautiful.

SIS

Look at my nose.

LIL

Oh, that’s funny.

SIS

My little bunny nose.

LIL

That’s amazing your nose can do that.

SIS

Hold off the awards.

LIL

I love bunny noses.  Bunny noses always sniff.  Even when they’re sleeping.

SIS

Bunnies are stupid rodents.

LIL

Bunnies are smart.

SIS

Bunnies are stupid then you eat them.

LIL

The bunnies we had were pretty smart.  They knew when bad weather was coming.  Remember?  Dad kept them out back.  He wouldn’t let us name them.  When you give something a name you can’t kill it.  So it was Number Twenty Three.  Sixty-Two.  But if you said it right, if you said their names with sweetness, they’d respond.  How are you today Thirty-Two?  Enjoying the weather?  And if it was nice out she’d come up to your finger and nibble.  But if there was a storm, she’d shake.  Shiver in the corner of her cage.

SIS

Ah, memories.

LIL

I thought they laid eggs.  This was before I knew about, well, how things were with things that make other things.  Nine got sick.  Dad said she’d be fine.  I saved food and fed her.   I thought she was getting better.  Her stomach got so big.  And then one day her stomach was back to normal.  But she was frantic.  She ran from one end of the cage to the other, banging her body against the meshed metal.  What’s wrong, Nine?  It was her children.  She birthed her children and they fell through the spaces between the metal wire.  They were in the feces, down below, this mound of little pellets.  These gray things.  They looked like little seals, writhing and gasping and their faces all muddy.  I buried them.  I could have saved them.  But I shoveled them under the shit.

Beat.

SIS

So it’s, what, two months now?

LIL

Three.

SIS

You’re not showing any signs.

LIL

No.

SIS

Can you feel it yet?

LIL

No.

SIS

Isn’t it supposed to be moving by now?

LIL

Yes.

SIS

But it’s there?

LIL

That’s what the doctor says.

SIS

Suck.

LIL

I can’t get around it.  I can’t imagine this thing right here.  I suppose it will be nice.

SIS

Yeah, man, I don’t know, I’ve seen the videos of it happening, like, gushing blood and the mother dumping feces all over the place.

LIL

Really?

SIS

You birth a turd with the baby.  Sort of oddly metaphoric.

LIL

What do you mean?

SIS

Ah, you know, depressing shit I don’t really mean but say anyway.  How long did this hat take?

LIL

Three months.  Do you like it?

SIS

It’s fucking gaudy.  It’s terrible.  You wasted your time.  I’ll never wear it again.  I’ll smile and say I love it.  But next time I puke I’ll clean the floors with this hat.

LIL

That’s nice.

SIS

I puke a lot.  Comes with the territory.  Deviants can’t stomach much.  They can’t hold anything inside.  Better to be empty and ready.

LIL

You could change.

SIS

Change what?

LIL

Your life.

SIS

Did I say I was unhappy?

LIL

Aren’t you?

SIS

I’m here.  That will have to do.

LIL

I always had this vision that some day life would straighten itself out.  But that never happens, does it?

SIS

No.  It wouldn’t be any fun.  Death straightens us out in the end.  Lies us cold and content in the hot ground.

Sis hands Lil scrap of paper.

LIL

What’s this?

SIS

His number.  Don’t call after ten.

LIL

Why not?

SIS

I don’t fucking know, it’s just what he told me.

LIL

What do I say?

SIS

What do you feel like saying?

LIL

What did you say?

SIS

I told him about my whiskers.  About my hot white fur.  I told him I had big ears and my ears loved to be stroked.  I told him I’d shit my babies in the ground.

LIL

Bri can’t know.

SIS

Bri won’t know and if he did he wouldn’t say anything.  You’re safe.  You know, the kid. You’ve got a mortgage.  He wouldn’t want to fuck that up.

LIL

Thank you.

SIS

Fuck off with your thank you.

LIL

I suppose you want some pills.

SIS

Of course I want some pills, why do you think I’m here?  The conversation?

LIL

Bri got me these yesterday.

SIS

So your husband, like, he makes you take drugs?

LIL

They’re not drugs.  They’re good drugs.  They fight the depression I developed as a young woman.  Bri’s worried about me and the baby but mostly the baby because it’s living off me and I used to take a lot of drugs so I might deform the baby, I wasn’t thinking, I wasn’t thinking when I was young about the future and now I’m feeling the negative mental and physical repercussions.

SIS

That’s not your voice.  That’s someone else.

LIL

I’ve been reading a book about drug addicts for former or current drug addicts.

SIS

You weren’t a drug addict.  You were young.  That’s like the same.

LIL

I love Bri and I’m doing it for him because he loves me.

SIS

Yeah, save it for the Judge.  I talk with everyone, like the family and mom and shit, mom asks how you’re doing, you never return calls, not since you got pregnant, and I get to lie to mom and say you’re fine.  What’s the matter with you, anyway?

LIL

I need time.

SIS

What does that mean?

LIL

Those were the first words that came into my head.

SIS

Whatev, bro.

LIL

You shouldn’t take these all at once.

Sis takes them all at once.

SIS

Well, see you in a couple days.

LIL

Where are you going?

SIS

Stroll around a bit.  Wait for these to take over.

LIL

Be careful.

SIS

I won’t.

LIL

I love you, Sis.

SIS

What did you really want to say?

LIL

I hate you.

SIS

And?

LIL

(suddenly and with force) You sicken me you fucking piece of shit I want to kill you, I want to fucking stab your neck you bitch fucking bitch fuck you!

SIS

There.  You’re learning.

.

2.

A park.

BRI

That’s not how a story goes.  No one will want to listen to that story.  But he didn’t listen.  So I said it again and again.  This story won’t work.  There are a million stories but this isn’t one of them.  Stories have to show people something.  And there has to be hope.  Every great work of literature has hope.  And I gave him examples.  Shakespeare.  The Greeks.  Even the Greeks had hope.  And he says This is a different time.  There isn’t any hope anymore.  We can’t coddle people with stupid optimism anymore.  He actually said Stupid optimism.

LIL

Look at that hot dog stand.

BRI

What about it?

LIL

It’s nice.

BRI

Do you want one?

LIL

No.

BRI

I’ll buy you one.

LIL

I don’t want a hot dog.

BRI

Then why are we looking at it?

LIL

I don’t know.

BRI

Why would you say look at that if you don’t want it?

LIL

I just thought it looked nice.

BRI

You’re impossible today.

LIL

I’m sorry.

BRI

Are you feeling all right?  Do you want to go back?

LIL

I like walking.

BRI

But you’re not feeling good.

LIL

I’m fine with walking.

BRI

It’s too cold out.  Is it too cold for you?

LIL

I like it like this.

BRI

But you’ll get sick.

LIL

Do you want to go back?

BRI

No, I asked you if you did.  You always turn things around on me.

LIL

I’m sorry.

BRI

I’m trying to work with you, Lil.

LIL

I appreciate your patience.

BRI

It’s hard doing this all by myself.

LIL

I know.

BRI

I thought it would be nice to go away.

LIL

You’re going away?

BRI

No, the both of us.  Go away somewhere.

LIL

Where?

BRI

Someplace warm.

LIL

Like Jamaica.

BRI

No, not Jamaica.  Why would you say Jamaica?

LIL

Jamaica’s warm.

BRI

Are you smoking drugs again?

LIL

No.

BRI

Drugs got you here.

LIL

It wasn’t that.

BRI

Drugs put holes in your brain.  We’re not going to Jamaica so you can smoke drugs.  Did you take your pills?

LIL

Yes.

BRI

They’re good for you.

LIL

I know.

BRI

I was thinking more like the Dominican Republic.

LIL

Sure.

BRI

They have this great festival for the dead.  Like Mardi Gras.  We can make masks.

LIL

That sounds fun.

BRI

You don’t want to go?

LIL

I said it sounds fun.

BRI

But not with that tone.  That tone says I don’t want to go.

LIL

But I said I did.

BRI

You’re always lying to me.

LIL

I wasn’t lying.

BRI

It’s okay.  I can just tell.

LIL

I’m sorry, Bri.

Beat.

LIL

I made something for you.

BRI

What is it?

LIL

It’ll fit this time.

BRI

What is it?

Lil fits a gray knit cougar cap on Bri’s head.

LIL

It’s a cougar.

BRI

I see.

LIL

Is it okay?

BRI

It’s fine.

LIL

You look nice.

BRI

I don’t look anything, okay?  I’m a grown man.

LIL

You’re right, Bri.

Beat.

LIL

Look at that man.

BRI

What man?  There’s a man?

LIL

That man on that bench.

BRI

That’s a garbage bag.  No, wait, it moved.

LIL

He’s wearing that black garbage bag.

BRI

How do you think he got there?

LIL

To the bench?

BRI

How he got homeless.

LIL

One thing happens after another I suppose.

BRI

Probably drugs.  He probably did a lot of drugs.  And look at him now.  Sitting there under a garbage bag.  He probably slept outside last night.  He probably hasn’t had a hot meal in days.  When I get to that place, remind me to kill myself.   We’re paying for him, you know?  He lives off of us.  The government pays him to sit there and take drugs.  Like it was a job.  You hear about guys beating up homeless guys and I can see why they do it.  I could probably work myself up and kill a homeless person.  I could do that.  Show him what life is all about by killing him.

LIL

He’s sleeping.

BRI

What?

LIL

I just noticed that he was sleeping.

BRI

Why?  Why would you notice that?

LIL

It’s something I saw and said out loud.

BRI

Where are you going with this?

LIL

Nowhere, I was just –

BRI

Are you freaking out again?

LIL

No, Bri.  I’m very calm.

BRI

You’re not acting calm.  If you were acting calm you would be like this.  You’d be like me.  See, this is calm.  Not that.  Not that thing on your face.  Not that face you’re making.

LIL

It’s very pleasant out.

BRI

Then why aren’t you happy?

LIL

I’m fine, Bri.  I’m super.

BRI

I just want you to be happy.

LIL

I appreciate that you care for me.

Beat.

LIL

Would you leave me alone for a moment?

BRI

What?

LIL

I need to be by myself for a minute or two.

BRI

I’m not going to leave you by yourself in the park so you can be raped by strangers.

LIL

I’m going to have to stop speaking soon, Bri.

BRI

I’ll sit with you.

LIL

Bri –

BRI

I won’t say anything.

They sit in silence.

This takes a long time.

After a long silence:

LIL

Do you hear that music?

BRI

No.

LIL

There’s music.

BRI

I don’t hear music.

LIL

Listen.

They listen for a while.

There is no music.

BRI

I don’t hear anything.

Lil hums tune she thinks she hears.

After a few bars:

BRI

What are you humming?

LIL

The song I hear.

BRI

There isn’t anything there.

LIL

It’s gone now.

BRI

It wasn’t even there.  It wasn’t ever there.

LIL

It was like a band.  Like a marching band.  They were playing the national anthem.  Not our national anthem.  An anthem from another country.  Like a Middle Eastern country.  There were all these exotic instruments.  And it was like I was there.  In the country.  For a second I was in another country but I was right here too, I was here and there at the same time.  And it was warm there.   Like Morocco.  I went to there once.  Morocco.  I took a boat from France.  I didn’t speak whatever language they were speaking.  I smiled a lot.  People came up to me and I gave them money like a Queen.  And I was in this city, this winding city and the buildings were all tight and tan.  It was a national holiday and people were shooting guns in the streets.  But it was fun.  Not violent.  It was violent and fun at the same time.  Both things at once.  And there were marching bands all over the place.  All playing the same national anthem.  These red soldiers passed, soldiers in bright red uniforms, marching passed, each with their own exotic instrument.  I followed them through the streets.  I walked behind them and closed my eyes and let sound guide me.  And it was like I wasn’t there.  The only thing left was sound, this beautiful sound carrying me through space.  But when I opened up my eyes I was in a deserted part of town.  And the band members were breaking for the hills.  And I didn’t know my way around, I didn’t speak the language, and it was getting dark, and there were these men in the shadows and I could see their knives glinting in the dark, reflecting the sunlight but it was dark so it must have been the moon but I remember it being day too, it was day and night at the same time.

BRI

You never went to Morocco.

LIL

I just never told you.

BRI

You’ve never been out of this country.

LIL

Yes I have.

BRI

You’ve never been on a plane.  You’re scared of flying.

LIL

I’m not scared.

BRI

You never go outside.  This is the first time in months.

LIL

I go places, Bri.

BRI

Oh yeah?  Where do you go?

LIL

Just places.  Different places.

Beat.

LIL

What are you thinking about?

BRI

God, Lil, every time I’m lost in thought you have to go ask me that.

LIL

I’m sorry.

BRI

I’m thinking about why you would ask me what I’m thinking.

LIL

You seemed some place else.

BRI

I was thinking about the kid.

LIL

What kid?

BRI

The child, our child in your stomach.

LIL

My uterus?

BRI

Yeah, your uterus.  I wonder if he’s going to be happy.

LIL

She.

BRI

What?

LIL

It’s a girl.

BRI

How do you know?

LIL

It feels like a girl.

BRI

But you don’t know for sure.  You have no way of really knowing.

LIL

No, I just have feelings.

BRI

It’s a boy.  It should be a boy.  I want a boy.  A boy is better, don’t you think?

LIL

I’m happy that you have expressed your desire.

BRI

But you want a boy, right?

LIL

I’d prefer not to speak at this point.

BRI

Just say it.  Say it.  Say you want a boy.

LIL

No, Bri.

BRI

You just have to tell me what you want.  You want a boy.  You want a boy.

LIL

I want a boy.

BRI

See, that wasn’t hard.

Bri kisses Lil on forehead.

LIL

Ow.

BRI

Ow?

LIL

That hurt.

BRI

That didn’t, how could that hurt?

LIL

Your beard, you’re growing these spiky hairs.

BRI

You love my beard.

LIL

That’s right.

BRI

You’ve changed your mind?

LIL

I was temporarily confused and I am sorry to have included you in the confusion that was solely generated from me.

BRI

Oh, is that like one of those sentences from your book?  One of those sentences of reparation.  “I’m sorry that I hurt you in the past because I love and value the time you spent with me when I was damaging my mind and spirit and I apologize for the grief I caused you because I love and value our friendship?”  I can’t stand this anymore.  Just tell me things plain.  I can’t have these conflicted emotions.  You tell me one thing then you tell me another.  If you change your feelings I need to know right away.  It’s like I don’t know what to believe anymore because you’re my moral foundation in life and you’re always shifting.  My beard doesn’t hurt.

Lil punches herself in the face, hard.

BRI

What are you –

She punches herself three more times.

Bri restrains her.

BRI

People are watching.

LIL

I’m very dizzy.

BRI

You need to calm down because people can see how you’re acting.

LIL

I think my nose broke.

BRI

What if we saw someone we knew?  Huh?  Beating yourself in the face.  What would they think?  Do you think they would think we’re happy?  Your nose is bleeding.

LIL

I’m going to sit down and can you get a napkin, I have napkins in my purse.

BRI

I can’t do things like that.  Rummaging in your purse.  Here’s your purse, get it yourself.

LIL

Thank you.

BRI

What’s this?

Bri picks up scrap of paper that has fallen from purse.

LIL

I don’t know.

BRI

It came from your purse, what is it?

LIL

What does it say?

BRI

It’s a number.  There’s a number here, I don’t know this number.

LIL

I don’t know how it got there.

BRI

But there’s a number here.  Why is there a number?  There’s a scrap of paper with a number on it in your purse, why?  Why?

LIL

It was Sis.

BRI

What did Sis do?  What’s she doing putting numbers in your purse?

LIL

A back specialist.

BRI

Like, a specialist for your back?

LIL

My back hurts from the baby and I need a specialist and she knew one and wrote down that number.

BRI

Should I call it?  I got my cell right here, I’ll call it on my cell and we’ll see, right?

LIL

Go ahead, Bri.

BRI

No, I’m not going to do anything you say.  You’ve lost your rights.  Your right to privacy.  Your privacy is mine now.  I’ll be there even when I’m not there.  I’ll follow you.  You won’t even know I’m following you.  It’ll just happen.  One day I’ll creep up on you and grab your shoulder.  I’ll be right behind you, always.  Because I’m more powerful than you.  So just sit there and bleed.  No one’s going to help you.  It’s all your fault.  Why am I still wearing this?

Bri removes knit cougar cap.

BRI

I was telling a story about that guy.  Where was I?

LIL

Stupid optimism.

BRI

Yeah, he calls optimism stupid.  And I’m tell him I don’t know what business you’re in, but I’m in the business of entertainment.  People don’t go out to feel bad, they go out to have a good time.  So here’s the bottom line.  Your characters are monsters.  No one can relate to them.  And he goes, that’s sad.  And I go, well, that’s simply how it is.  And then he goes off about using characters to express a deeper psychological complexity about human suffering in this modern technological age where the loss of religion and emotional instability have caused too many options and that we no longer have contact with wisdom and blah blah blah.  I stop him.  Look.  We think you’re very talented but you’ll never go anywhere if you can’t have hope.

.

3.

Another apartment.

SIS

I woke up feeling like shit, and I mean, shit, like shit shit.  Like four in the morning.  I poured myself a glass of wine, like a big glass in a mug I got from the Olympic Games.  I smoked a couple joints, like three or two and went for a walk.  But I got a couple steps outside and I’m like, nope, no, not today, you’re staying inside today so I went back and smoked a couple more joints and ate a salad.  Somewhere in there I jerked off.  And I was crying, you know, and I’m like: odd.  I’m crying because it feels so good but simultaneously depressing cause when I come that’ll be it.  Back to feeling again.  But I come and it sort of sucks so I wipe up and stare out the window at this pack of blackbirds flying in unison over a skyscraper.

BRI

Flock.

SIS

Flock?

BRI

It’s flock of birds.

SIS

Thanks, English Major.

BRI

I’m sorry.  Go on.

SIS

I was done.  You want a drink?

BRI

It’s three.

SIS

Yeah, shouldn’t you be at work, Bri?

BRI

I took the day off.

Beat.

BRI

Nice apartment.

SIS

I don’t know why you would even bother to say that, I mean, you can obviously see that it’s obviously not nice so you don’t have to patronize me with your behavior.

BRI

I’m sorry.

SIS

Where’s your wife?  Where’s my sister?

BRI

At the doctor’s deciding the sex of the baby.

SIS

She didn’t want to know.

BRI

She changed her mind.

SIS

Shouldn’t you be with her?

BRI

She wanted to go alone.

SIS

Did she say that?

BRI

No, but I’m her husband.  I know what she’s feeling even when she doesn’t say it.

SIS

Are you sure?

BRI

Where you going with this?

SIS

I’m just interrogating you, Bri.  A little harmless interrogation.  I’ll bring out the mask in a little bit.

BRI

What mask?

SIS

My black interrogation mask.  I’ll slip it over your head.  I’ll shut off the lights.  I’ll tie your hands to a chair and push your face in a bucket of water.  You’ll talk.

BRI

What do you mean?

SIS

I mean, fuck, have a little imagination, huh?

She downs a glass of wine and lights a joint, all in one breath.

SIS

There’s this philosophy guy I see time to time.  Of course I fuck him and he’s not that good but the conversation’s always satisfying.  He goes off about the lack of imagination.  Like, there’s some quantifiable equation he’s coming up with to chart the loss of imagination over the history of humankind.  I don’t know how you’d chart something like that, but then again I’m no philosopher, I just wake up and stare in the distance, you know?  Think about my day without adding any essays to it.  Apparently we’ve got this date next week, this philosopher and I, and he’s going to bring over the chart.  People had more imagination in the past, apparently, like when there were less people and this theory is that human beings have a fixed amount of imagination that doesn’t grow with the population.  So as more assholes have more asshole kids, the thinner our collective imagination becomes.  We dream less.  We get stupid.  What do you think about that?

BRI

I don’t know.

SIS

See what I mean?

BRI

No.

SIS

Why are you really here, Bri?

BRI

I thought I’d come for a visit.

SIS

You don’t do that, Bri, I mean you’ve never done that, never, so don’t play it off like this is every day, Bri.

BRI

The back specialist.

SIS

Why do you say that, back specialist, I mean, what the fuck do those words even mean?

BRI

You gave my wife, your sister, a number for a back specialist.

SIS

I did no such thing.

BRI

I called.  It was this Czechoslovakian guy.  He didn’t know anything about backs.

SIS

He’s Ukrainian.

BRI

He sounded like a Czech.

SIS

His accent passes like clouds.

BRI

So?

SIS

So?

BRI

So why did you do that?

SIS

I’m going to let you do a little thinking before I answer that, Bri.  There’s some dots and you should put them together and see the design in your head.

BRI

He’s not a back specialist.

SIS

Ding.

BRI

He’s someone else.

SIS

Warmer.

BRI

Who is he?

SIS

He’s a friend of mine.

BRI

What does he do?

SIS

You’ll have to ask him that yourself.

BRI

He said not to call, men shouldn’t call him he said.

SIS

Then you’re going to be tortured by the possibilities.  Sucks, huh?

Sis inhales smoke, blows it in Bri’s direction.

Then:

SIS

You want some?

BRI

I don’t smoke pot because I hate drugs.

SIS

Yes, Officer.

BRI

Drugs destroy everything.

SIS

Yeah, but they’re pretty fucking fun.  And who wants to be old, right?

BRI

I want to grow old with my children.

SIS

On what planet?  Your children are going to be living underground eating dirt.  Nice future.

BRI

You don’t have any hope in your heart.

SIS

Fuck no.  Hope is next step to misery because if you think everything’s going to be all right I got a couple pictures of some glaciers to show you.

BRI

You’ve given up.

SIS

You say that like it’s a bad thing.

BRI

So what keeps you alive?

SIS

I’m here.  That’s about all I can say.  I tried to do it once.  You know, tried to off myself but it just wasn’t right.  I don’t think I did it right, well, obviously yeah because I’m talking to you I didn’t do it right.

BRI

How did you do it?

SIS

Gas oven.  It was just fucking boring.  My knees got all sore and natural gas just smells awful, like really sharp farts, but kind of narcotic too so instead of killing myself I just got really high.  It was like with whippets.  Did you ever do whippets?

BRI

What’s whippets?

SIS

You crack open a Nitrous Oxide container into a balloon and suck in the gas.  The world goes dark for five seconds and you hear bells, these beautiful bells chiming.  It doesn’t last very long, which is the sad part, because for those few moments you’re nowhere and it’s very extraordinarily gorgeous.

BRI

That sounds like an actual hell.

SIS

When a girl needs to go away, she does it hard.

BRI

Why did you want to go away?

SIS

A couple of stupid things, just a couple things in my life that were going in circles and I couldn’t seem to shake them.  There was a man at one point but he exited.  I don’t really remember why now, I don’t remember the reasons, really, just a lot of yelling in stairwells because the past is pretty blurry after all this time.  This man.

Beat.

SIS

Nice sweater.

BRI

Do you like it?

SIS

No, man, it’s got the name of your college and you’re, like, not in college anymore.

BRI

Communications.

SIS

What?

BRI

That was my major.

SIS

Like, Communications?

BRI

Yeah.

SIS

Isn’t that, like, everything?  Isn’t everything you study Communications?

BRI

I never thought about it like that.

SIS

I’m a pretty smart girl.  Could have saved yourself some money if you knew me then.

BRI

What do you mean?

SIS

I’m a pretty cheap date.  Not even cheap, you know, money doesn’t even come into the equation with me and dating.  I don’t care where.  Taxi cab, elevator shaft.  It’s all the same.

BRI

You dating anyone now?

SIS

I’m dating many people simultaneously.  And again, dating.  Not a word that accurately describes what I do.  More like baseball.  I run from bag to bag.

BRI

We’re the same.

SIS

I don’t know about that, Bri.  You’re not a batter.  You’re a golfer.  You walk to the hole.

BRI

What do you mean?

SIS

You say that a lot, you ask what I mean when you know already.

BRI

You’re right.  I understand you.  I’ve been where you’re at.

SIS

And where’s that?

BRI

Lost.  I was lost.  But it didn’t feel all that bad.  And I kept my life going.  I maintained healthy relationships while pursuing unhealthy relationships.  I had girlfriends.  Lots of girlfriends.  Girlfriends in all parts of the city.  But I didn’t have much time.  I divided my time between all of them.  So no one was really satisfied.  Except me.  If I didn’t like the tits on one girl I’d get good tits on another.  This one’s ass sags.  This one has hairy nipples.  And I thought if I could combine them all, it would be perfect.  Assemble all the parts of all the women into one great big whore.

SIS

Hey there, Frankenstein.

BRI

I can’t say these things to her.

SIS

No.  She’s your wife.  The wedding vow nullifies honesty.

BRI

But you like it, right?  You like it when I talk to you.

SIS

I can’t say I prefer you one way or the other.  You’re here.  I’m here.  That’s it.

BRI

I try to flip her over and she starts crying.  Do you let people do that?  Do you let people flip you over?

SIS

I’m a street, Bri.  You can walk on me any way you want.

BRI

Oh yeah?

SIS

Just no loitering.

BRI

You do this with your friend?  The guy with the number?

SIS

Sure, of course, but he’s not my friend, he’s just a guy.  I don’t do male friends.  That never works.  You always end up fucking them when you’re weak and then you’re yelling on some bridge and you have no clue how you got there, but there you are.  So yeah, he comes over, this guy comes over.

BRI

What do you do?

SIS

I’m a lady and ladies don’t tell you things about their private sexual lives because it’s my private sexual life.

BRI

I just want to get some ideas.

SIS

Some ideas?

BRI

For Lil and I.

SIS

What does Lil do?

BRI

Not much.

SIS

That doesn’t sound encouraging.

BRI

Now I can’t do anything.  She rolls over and I’m staring at the ceiling.  I want to punch her.  Right in the neck.  Wake the fuck up.  I pay for all this.

SIS

She took up knitting instead.

BRI

Christ, don’t talk to me about that.  She calls and I’m in conferences with extremely important people and she wants me to fetch some yarn.

SIS

Did you see mine?

BRI

Your what?

Sis fits knit bunny cap on her head.

SIS

Cute, huh?

BRI

She made me one too.

SIS

Oh yeah?  Did you bring it?

BRI

I think I may have it somewhere.

SIS

Put it on.

Bri pulls knit cougar cap from coat, fits it to his head.

SIS

What is that like a cat?

BRI

A cougar.

SIS

Oh, that’s very cute.

BRI

Yeah.

SIS

You look very cute.  I don’t remember telling anyone that before but there it is, my mouth said it.

BRI

Grr.

SIS

That’s funny.

BRI

Grrr!

SIS

“Oh please Mister Cougar don’t bite me!”

BRI

“I will bite you!”

SIS

“No, please!”

BRI

“I’m biting you!”

SIS

This is weird.

BRI

Yes.

SIS

We should probably, like, stop, we should stop this.

BRI

Yes.

SIS

Out of respect, you know, because I break a lot of things in my life but some things, you know, I can’t do, Bri, I can’t do some things because some things are still sanctified because once you got religion in you it never goes away, like a cough, religion’s like a coughing sickness so even though you’d like to think you can do some things some things you can’t do, I was raised Catholic, we were raised Catholic, Lil and I, your wife and I, did you know your wife was Catholic?

BRI

Yes.

SIS

I was supposed to be her, I mean, that was the plan and all, our lives were supposed to be the same.  Did you know that?  Little variations, sure, we’d have different houses and different interests and husbands, different husbands because I was engaged once but he said choose so I chose this, I chose to be like this instead of be with him.  That’s how it goes, right?

Beat.

SIS

Do you want to play a game?

BRI

What kind of game?

SIS

A game between you and me.  A game two people can play when they have nothing else to do.

BRI

Sure.

SIS

Good.  I mean, if you’re up for it.  If you’re up to play with me.

BRI

Sure.

SIS

Okay.  You got a hanky?

BRI

I do, as a matter of fact.

SIS

Classic man.  I like that.

Sis takes handkerchief from Bri.

SIS

I don’t ever think I’ve been alone with you in a room.

BRI

No?

SIS

What’s it like?

BRI

What’s what like?

SIS

Not having an identity.

BRI

I’ve got an identity.

SIS

Not in this room you don’t.  You are who you are because the people around you.  No one’s around you.  And I don’t know you very well.  So who are you now?

BRI

I’m Bri.  I’ve got a wife.  She’s your sister.

SIS

She’s not in this room.  She might show up one day and change that.  You’ll say things you don’t mean.  You won’t even know you’re saying them.  But there’s this force pulling you outside yourself.  The more time she’s in your space, the more she pulls you from that other self.  So you have to be willing accept that.  You might never see this you again.  This might already be the past.

BRI

I think I could be okay with that.

SIS

I just wanted to warn you in case someone got hurt.

She pulls out a large kitchen knife.

SIS

Now.  Take this knife from my hand.

BRI

You want me to steal that knife?

SIS

I want you to try.

Bri tries to take the knife.

Sis dodges him.

At first, this is very playful.

But Bri soon becomes angry.

He leaps at her, snarling.

Finally, he catches her and pins her on the ground.

She stabs him in the thigh.

BRI

Oh god oh god oh god.

SIS

You win.

BRI

It hurts I mean it really hurts.

SIS

This is the fun part.

Sis slides Bri’s pants down.

She dabs wound with hankerchief.

SIS

There’s a lot of blood.

BRI

I know.

SIS

Did you want me to suck some of it out?

BRI

Like – ?

SIS

Suck some of it out?

BRI

Like – ?

SIS

Suck some of it out?

Sis sucks the wound, during which:

BRI

That would be okay.  That would be all right with me.  If you wanted to do that, it would be fine.  I have no objections to you doing that.  That thing you’re doing is very good, I like that thing you’re doing and I will not put up any barriers to you doing that.

Sis rolls over.

Hikes up her skirt.

SIS

All yours, slugger.

BRI

Thank you.

SIS

Thank me later.

She pushes her ass back and fucks him.

BRI

Oh God.

SIS

There you are.

BRI

Oh my God, oh my God.

SIS

Stay with me now.

BRI

/ Baton Rouge, Louisiana then Indianapolis, Indiana and Columbus is the capital of Ohio then there’s Montgomery, Alabama south of Helena, Montana then Denver, Colorado under Boise, Idaho and Texas has Austin then we go north to Massachusetts, Boston and Albany, New York then Tallahassee, Florida and Washington, D.C. and Santa Fe, New Mexico and Nashville, Tennessee and Trenton’s in New Jersey north of Jefferson, Missouri then Richmond in Virginia, South Dakota has Pierre, Harrisburg’s in Pennsylvania and Augusta’s up in Maine and here is Providence, Rhode Island next to Dover, Delaware then Concord, New Hampshire, just a quick jaunt to Montpelier which is up in Vermont Hartford’s in Connecticut, so pretty in the fall, and Kansas has Topeka, Minnesota has St. Paul, Juneau’s in Alaska and there’s Lincoln in Nebraska and it’s Raleigh out in North Carolina and then there’s Madison, Wisconsin and Olympia in Washington then Phoenix, Arizona and Lansing, Michigan and here’s Honolulu, Hawaii’s a joy, and Jackson, Mississippi and Springfield, Illinois and South Carolina with Columbia down the way and Annapolis in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay then Salem in Oregon and from there we join Little Rock in Arkansas, Iowa’s got Des Moines.  Sacramento, California and on to Oklahoma and its city Charleston, West Virginia and Nevada, Carson City and Atlanta’s down in Georgia and there’s Bismarck, North Dakota and you can live in Frankfort in your old Kentucky home and Cheyenne is in Wyoming and perhaps you make your home in Salt Lake City out in Utah where the buffalo roam.

SIS

There you are … There’s a nice boy … Stay with me now … Stay with me here … That’s a nice boy … There you are … Stay with me now … Stay with me here … That’s a nice boy … There you are … Stay with me here … Stay with me now … There you are … Stay with me here … That’s a nice boy … There you are … There you are … Stay with me now … There you are … Stay with me here … That’s a nice boy … There you are … Stay with me here … Stay with me now … That’s a nice boy … There you are … Stay with me now … Stay with me here … There you are .. You’re there … You’re right there … You’re right here.

.

4.

A hotel room.

(Note: Grig has no accent.)

LIL

I have the ice.  I put the ice in a plastic bag and I’m setting it right here.  Is that okay?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

Do you want anything?

GRIG

No.

LIL

There’s a mini-bar.  We have soda pop.  Cans of soda pop and milk.  If you wanted OJ you could have OJ or Pineapple juice.  There’s beer and wine but I suppose it’s too early so you could have coffee or tea.  We have both things or maybe just water, you want some water?

GRIG

No.

LIL

I’m going to have water.  Is it all right if I have water?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

I can’t place your accent.  Sis said you have an accent, like some kind of Russian accent but I can’t really tell.  Do you know where you’re from?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

That’s good.  That’s great.  It’s a wonderful thing to know where you’re from.  I’m from the West.  I grew up among trees.  But there aren’t any trees here.  Everywhere you look there’s buildings and more buildings.  I went up on the roof at my own apartment and looked in every direction.  Everything I saw was made by man.  Except the sky, but that’s full of airplanes all the time, even at night, you see these blinking UFOs cross the stars.  Do you have trees where you’re from?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

Are they beautiful?

GRIG

No.

LIL

That’s sad to hear.  It’s sad that places don’t have beautiful trees because they make everything nicer, don’t you think?  I just think of the future and there were trees in the past but very few in the present.  We might be alive to see it.  The last living tree.  It might happen in our lifetime.  That will be a sad day but also ennobling because then we’ll realize all these grave mistakes we’re making.  I’m not very optimistic about the future.  But I have a baby now, a baby on the way so I have to buck up and get happy about everything.  Did you see I was pregnant?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

We’re very happy.  Are you married?

GRIG

No.

LIL

Well, you should find yourself a lovely lady one day and settle down.  It’s worked wonders for my life.  Wonders.  You’re never complete until you’ve sacrificed your life with someone else.  It’s a lovely institution.  What I like is that we think the same things.  Our thoughts are exactly the same, my husband and I.  He’s not home right now.  He’s away right now.  He’s away on business, some business conference and he’s gone.  This ring, did you see this ring?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

It’s a symbol of our love.  We protect each other, like the line from that one poet, that German poet who wrote letters to that beginning poet telling him all about life.  Somewhere in there he says love is protecting each other’s solitude.  And that’s what Bri does.  He protects my solitude.  He leaves me alone.  He leaves me at home.  He left me home so I thought I’d call you and come here to this hotel room with you so you could keep me company.  It’s good to have company, right?  It’s very healthy.  I’m just protecting my health with including you in my company.  It’s harmless, don’t you think it’s harmless?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

I’m glad you agree with me.  I should thank you for agreeing with me.  It’s been so long since someone did that, since someone listened to me and agreed with what I was saying.  You’re a good listener.  You had a good mother, I bet you had a good kind mother who taught you how to treat a lady.  Was your mother good?

GRIG

No.

LIL

That’s sad to hear.  I’m mainly thinking about myself here of course if you excuse me.  Excuse me if I’m a little selfish and think about myself when I should be thinking about your mother, I’m just worried about this baby, I know it doesn’t look like I’m pregnant but I am.  Six months now.  I still don’t feel anything and there’s not much there but I have hope.  Please go on.  You were saying something.  Right?  Weren’t you saying something?

GRIG

No.

LIL

I could have sworn you were speaking just now.  I tend to imagine things that may or may not have happened.  It’s a problem.  Well, to be perfectly honest I’m perfectly okay with it but some people in my life don’t like it so much so I usually don’t say anything or I say something I don’t mean like something nice that I don’t mean when really there’s this other thing just right on the corner of my mind, like a little gargoyle hanging over my thoughts, at least that’s how I think about it, this snarling gargoyle spitting water on my brain.  Does that ever happen to you?

GRIG

No.

LIL

It must just be me then.  I must be making this all up.  Do you ever do that?  Imagine things that aren’t there but seem like they are?

GRIG

No.

LIL

That’s a shame.  You’re cheating yourself out of one of the greatest gifts human beings have to offer themselves.  Imagination.  Thought.  You have thoughts, right?  You think about things when you’re over there staring at me, there’s things happening in your head right now right as I’m saying this.

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

Oh good.  For a minute there I thought, well, I don’t know what I thought.  Only robots don’t think and I’m thinking This guy’s not a robot is he?  Is he?  Are you?  You’re not a robot are you?

GRIG

No.

LIL

But that would be funny, right?  If you were.  That would be really weird.  I don’t know what I would do then.  Did you bring anything?  Did you bring anything for me to see?

Grig places small black case on table.

LIL

What’s in there?

GRIG

Look.

LIL

No, not yet, it doesn’t seem right, I sort of jumped the gun.  Ha.  Jumped the gun.  It’s funny because …

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

You know why it’s funny.  You seem like a smart person even though you don’t say much.  Do you want to say anything?  Did you want to speak some words in my direction?  You can say anything.  You can tell me how your day was or what you ate earlier today.  You can tell me about your parents or your last vacation, that would be nice to hear, or a girlfriend if you have a girlfriend or what you really want to do with your life.  You can tell me about your brother or if you have a sister tell me about her or you could have lot of siblings and that could be an interesting story and then we could talk about what religion you are and if you’re using a different religion than the one you were born with and what that might mean, you know, in an ontological sense.  I’m just throwing out options here.  Or did you want to ask me a question?  You could ask me about my hair.  I dye my hair blonde but I’m a brunette or maybe you don’t care to know that.  Maybe you want to hear about the apartment, how much the apartment costs and we could have an interesting discussion about the price of apartments because I always learn so much from that conversation.  You’re looking at my stomach, the baby, you want to know about the baby?  We found out the sex the other day because he’s that far along, he’s got a penis now and he’s not a girl and I didn’t really want to find out because I like surprises and I wanted a girl.  I shouldn’t have said that.  I take that back, can I take that back?  Would you mind?  Would you forget everything I just said?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

Control X.

Beat.

LIL

Do you want to start?

GRIG

Yes.

LIL

Just the back of the head and my back.  Just my neck.  The back of my neck is where you should –

Grig punches Lil in the back of the neck, hard.

LIL

Okay, stars, that’s okay, this has happened before, this has –

Grig punches her neck again, harder.

LIL

Okay, that hurt a little more but it’s fine, I think you may want to do it again but everything’s fine, everything’s –

Grig punches her neck again, fiercely, knocking her to the floor.

LIL

I might, you know, I might need a minute or two can you prop me on something until this stops and maybe you could get me the ice?  I could get it if you don’t want to but is it all right if I collect myself and you can give me the ice?

Grig presses ice bag to Lil’s neck.

LIL

Thank you.

GRIG

Shh.

LIL

It’s nice of you to hold that for me I don’t think my arms really work that well now.

GRIG

Shhh.  You will be fine.

LIL

It really, I know I asked you and everything but it really hurts.

GRIG

You will be fine.  All you have to do is listen to my voice.  Are you listening to my voice?  Are you hearing my voice as it is speaking to you now?  Nod your head yes if you hear my voice speaking to you, speaking in your ear and nowhere else.

LIL

(nods yes)

GRIG

My voice is the only thing.  Close your eyes and listen to my voice.  Just take a breath in the darkness and listen to my voice as I’m telling you these words.  There is a door right in front of you.  I don’t want you to open it yet.  I want you to look at it.  I want you to look at the grains of wood running down the door.  Now I want you to touch the door.  It’s cold, it feels cold.  It’s windy outside, you can hear the wind cutting cold into the door, cutting into the very fabric of the wooden door right in front of you as you listen to my voice, keep listening to my voice.  You see a doorknob.  Now you put your hand around the doorknob but don’t open it yet because it feels smooth and cold in your hand but familiar, like an object you use all the time, a cold metal object you keep in your pocket, keep it in your pocket all the time, this cold metal object you use to solve problems, this other thing, this thing in your pocket which you can take out at any second and bring up to your face and solve all your problems.  Open the door.  What’s the first thing you see?

LIL

I see her.  She’s waiting right there.

Lil opens her eyes.

LIL

Thank you.  You’re so nice.  You’re so nice to me.  I don’t have many people in my life this kind.  Should I look now?  Should I look in case there?  I’ll take a look.

Lil opens case, gazes inside.

LIL

That’s beautiful.  That’s just beautiful.  Thank you.  This solves everything.

.

5.

A beach house.

Lil watches the ocean, a scarf around her neck, faced away.

BRI

And as you know, I never actually finished college.  Not finished finished.  I didn’t complete my last English requirement.  We had to read books.  20th Century French literature.  I didn’t understand why we had to do that.  They weren’t talking about anything important.  Just the past.  The past isn’t important.  No one has any reason to care about the past because it’s happened.  It’s no longer here.  It has no bearing on how we live our lives right now.  And now.  And now.  See what I mean?

LIL

Mmm hmm.

BRI

But the professor didn’t agree of course.  We were studying some French guy.  We were reading one of his plays.  I didn’t understand it.  I mean, I got what happened, technically.  Some French people stuck in a room.  I just didn’t get why it was happening.  And I told the professor it was total bullshit.  I would love to be locked in a room with some French people.  I love people period.  I love spending time with them.  And she quotes some line from Shakespeare, something like there are more things on earth than I can fit in my mind.  Pretty much telling me I’m stupid.  So I blow up in class.  And she lets me have it.  Saying things like I only processed information and didn’t understand it and I didn’t actually read books I just consumed them and lacked the ability to think critically about abstract concepts and finally I’m like That’s it.  I am better than everybody in this room.  So I went into the entertainment industry.

LIL

That’s a nice story.

BRI

It’s balmy in here and you’re wearing a scarf.

LIL

Yes.

BRI

I can turn the fake fire down.

LIL

No.

BRI

Then take off that scarf.  It’s creepy, you wearing it in here.

Beat.

BRI

Do you like the ocean?

LIL

The ocean’s fine.

BRI

Sure like staring at it.

Beat.

BRI

I was thinking we should move.  The apartment’s too small for three.

LIL

Yes.

BRI

We’ll move to a bigger place.

LIL

That will be wonderful.

BRI

We could even get a room for your sister.

LIL

Okay, Bri.

BRI

Your sister needs a solid place to live.  I can give her something solid.  She could watch the baby.

LIL

That will be nice.

BRI

Just the four of us.  Together.  A rectangle of happiness.

Beat.

BRI

I called your back specialist.

LIL

Yes?

BRI

A while back.

LIL

That’s nice.

BRI

He’s sounds good.  He sounds really good.

LIL

That’s nice to hear.

BRI

I loved his accent.

LIL

His accent is very nice.

BRI

Are you going to see him again?

LIL

No.  I got what I needed.

BRI

So your back doesn’t hurt anymore?

LIL

Everything’s fine now.  I couldn’t be happier.

Beat.

LIL

You’ve developed a limp.

BRI

I hurt myself falling down a flight of stairs.

LIL

That makes sense.

BRI

Where did your sister go?

LIL

I can’t see her anymore.  She walked out to the meet the waves but I lost track of her.

BRI

A bit chilly for swimming.

LIL

She’ll be fine.

BRI

I’ll go out and look for her.

LIL

She’ll be fine.

BRI

I’ll just head out and see where she’s at.

LIL

Okay, Bri.

BRI

What do you mean by that?

LIL

I don’t know, Bri.

BRI

You were jealous.  There was a tone of jealousy.

LIL

That was not my intention.

BRI

Nothing’s wrong, Lil.

LIL

I didn’t say –

BRI

You know you can stop right there, okay?  I don’t want to start again.  I’ll stay here if it makes you happy.  We’ll wait for your sister here.  Let’s just have a nice vacation.  A nice vacation with you and your sister.

LIL

That sounds fine, Bri.

BRI

Why are you talking like that?

LIL

How am I talking, Bri?

BRI

You’re not lively, there’s no life left in your voice.

LIL

I’ve always talked like this, Bri.

BRI

Quit saying my name like that.  Don’t keep saying my name at the end of all your sentences.  I didn’t do anything.  Why do you think I did something?  Jesus.  Trying to get a little peace with you and your sister here at the ocean and you have to pull this all over again.  Nothing’s wrong.

LIL

I didn’t say that it was.

BRI

You’re just contradicting me.  I say something and you say the exact opposite.

LIL

I am telling you my thoughts as they come to me.

BRI

I’m getting sick of that.  I totally encourage your growth as a human being but I’m growing pretty sick of hearing about it all the time.  You could totally talk about something else.  I’m just not in the mood for this today.  Especially since you’re implicating me.  There’s nothing worse than that.  Being innocent and someone thinking you’re guilty.  I’m not guilty.  I don’t understand why you don’t believe me.  You’re lucky you have an excuse.  You’re lucky your pregnant and this doesn’t turn into a regular argument and stop staring at me, stop looking at me like that.

Sis comes in, sopping wet in bathing suit.

SIS

I found this dead fucking piece of seaweed, anyone want this fucking seaweed?  I plucked this seaweed from the bottom of the ocean, I swam down and plucked it.  We can cook some of it up with some Japanese food and save some for later or we can eat all of it now, just eat all of it, and why am I holding this fucking thing in my hand?

BRI

You plucked it from the bottom of the ocean.

SIS

Oh right.

BRI

Do you want a towel?

SIS

I like shivering.

BRI

You must be freezing.

SIS

Yeah, that was pretty cold, man, that water out there is very pretty cold like icicles stabbing your skin.  I need some like hot cocoa or something, yeah, that would be nice some hot cocoa to warm up the inside areas of myself but I don’t think I should drink anything, I shouldn’t drink anything else cause my stomach’s all fucked up and maybe I should drink some antacid or something but no, no I shouldn’t drink anything.

BRI

What did you drink?

SIS

I didn’t bring anything to take, I didn’t really have any money and I don’t have any money, I don’t have any money, and instead of buying groceries I bought something to take but then I took it all and we’re in this fucking cabin so I had to take something, I couldn’t be here like actually be here because it’s too much so I went into the bathroom, the cabinet, the bathroom cabinet and drank some old cough syrup.

BRI

I’ll call an ambulance.

SIS

No, man, this isn’t hysterics like a hysterical situation.

BRI

You’ve poisoned yourself.

SIS

No, I’ve done this before, it passes right through you just have to wait a very long time for the world to wear off and back to the real world am I like speaking to you right now?  You should probably not look too hard at me right now and Oh God fuck what’s wrong with Lil?

BRI

She’s fine.

SIS

Lil, my little lilly pad.

LIL

Sis?

SIS

She speaks.

LIL

Come here, Sis.

SIS

What is it?

LIL

I made something for you.

Lil, still faced away, holds out knit bunny cap.

SIS

You already gave me that thing before.

LIL

I made you another.

SIS

Two, I don’t like need two of them there’s only one of me at the house at all times.

LIL

You lost the other one.

SIS

I didn’t lose it.

LIL

I thought you lost it.

SIS

This isn’t, this is like, this is my old one, this is the same one you gave me.

LIL

I hope you like it.

SIS

Why did you do that?  Did you steal this from me?  You took it, right, you took it out of my bag, why did you take it out of my bag?  That’s like a major breach of trust between sisters, we trust each other, we’re supposed to trust each other’s shit, right?

LIL

I trust you, Sis.

SIS

Why did you take it?

LIL

I don’t know.

SIS

I can see what you mean, Bri, she’s difficult, I didn’t see this before when it was just me and her in a room together but she’s different around you and I don’t know why that is maybe it’s the shift in environment and the displacement, like the mental displacement of being a young woman sitting and watching the ocean what do you see out there that you like so much oh sister of mine?

LIL

Nothing.

SIS

What are you looking at?

LIL

Nothing.  I don’t see anything.

SIS

You have to be looking at something because even when you’re looking at nothing you’re still looking at something like the inside of your eyeballs or eyeballs open and darkness.

LIL

The beach.

SIS

But you’re staring, you’re staring at something.

LIL

No.

SIS

Just admit to it because I can clearly see you looking at something.

LIL

I always thought it would happen like this.  With me sitting right here.  The clouds were just the same.  This pattern over here, this combination of clouds, I dreamed about it, it was just like it is now.

SIS

Okay, I don’t understand that, I don’t understand a word you’re saying so will you stop looking outside?  There’s nothing for you to see out there, don’t make me turn you away, I want to turn you away from the window, I’m going to grab you and turn you away if you don’t do it yourself.  I’m going nuts.  This was the worst idea, why are we here, why are we here?  You’re looking out like you’ve got thoughts, do you have any thoughts you’d like to think out loud, Lil, it would really help me if you spoke right now about what you were thinking about.

LIL

I was thinking about Communion, Sis.  Confirmation.  Our little white dresses.  I never liked the wafers.  Neither did you.  They tasted like moldy cardboard, remember?

SIS

Yeah.

LIL

And remember we never ate it?  We knelt in front of the cross and signed the cross and slipped the sacrament in our pockets.  And mom found out, the sock drawer, we had hidden the body of Christ in the sock closet, just full of these tasteless wafers.  And you giggled, here’s mom yelling at you and you’re giggling.  I always admired that, Sis.  You laughing at something you did wrong.  I’m sorry I never told you before.

Bri puts a towel over Sis’s shoulders.

SIS

Get that shit off me, what do you think this is, man?  You don’t just sneak up on me and do that I’m talking to your sister your wife and you can’t do that, you can’t do it like that, all nonchalant like that.

BRI

You’re going to get sick.

SIS

I’m already sick you can’t see it?  I drank something and now I’m better but not really better, not like good, I’m not doing good.  And why do you care about that, why are you nice, you’re not nice, are you?  Not usually nice.

BRI

I’m trying to be a good host.

SIS

What am I like a parasite?  I need to lie down, I’m going to lie down a minute.

BRI

I’ve been thinking we should go home.  I’m not sure if I like the ocean.  I haven’t spent much time around the ocean, not in any significant way.  I don’t think I like it.  I think I hate the ocean.  I hate the ocean and we’re going home tonight.  We’ve got work to do.  There are things to do back in our real lives.  Right, Lil?  Don’t you have to get back to things?

LIL

There’s nothing to get back to.

BRI

Well, I’ve got things that I need to accomplish.  I don’t know about you but I’ve got a really great life to get back to.

LIL

Can I shower first?

BRI

I’m not your boss, I don’t have dominion over you, you can do what you want.

LIL

I want to be clean for the trip.

Lil goes out.

SIS

I think she already knows, Bri, there’s this silence that says she knows.

BRI

We’re fine.

SIS

I can see the other side of ceiling.  I can see the rain on the roof and its like there’s no separation between the roof and the ceiling, they’re the same thing.  In the waves I tried to imagine it, being in water for the rest of my life, living in the water for the rest of my life like when I was kid, like a baby, when I was that little thing I don’t remember being, I can’t even imagine it, being so small and tiny but I was there once, you could hold me in the palm of your hand at one point and look at me now in this bag, this bag of a body.  Did you think I was pregnant when I showed up, I mean, did you have a sense of it or am I going to have to tell you?  You probably didn’t guess, you have that look like Oh shit is it mine and that’s a question I can’t truly answer, like it’s really baffling me too because I’ve had so many so quickly just in and out like it would solve something, like if it happened enough times something would be beaten out of me and I wish someone would just beat it out of me but you didn’t, none of them did, you just pumped away and I let you do it and now I’ve got this shit up my stomach.

BRI

Oh my God.

SIS

Yeah, yeah, I already went through this.

BRI

What are you going to do?

SIS

Blow my nose.

BRI

What?

SIS

Too poetic?  Sorry, Bri.  I forgot you can’t think pictures in your head and relate them to other possible imaginary circumstances.

BRI

You’re not going to do that.

SIS

I want you to look at me really quickly, just scan me a second and imagine me going through with it and how fast I will make the circumstance miserable, no, it makes me sick thinking of it, it would be cruel, it would be the cruelest thing I’ve ever done.

BRI

You’ll hate yourself if do it.

SIS

No, I really don’t think that because it would really be love.  Nothing needs to enter this world anymore.  We’re fine with what we’ve got already but it’s always more and more and more, everything’s always on the way and that needs to stop so I’m doing something about it.  I hate her but I love her already, she’s not even a she and I already love her.

BRI

I won’t let you.

SIS

And like who the fuck are you, huh?  You’re nobody, you’re not even a person, I don’t even know who you are and why am I even telling you this?  I already have enough voices going on, okay?  I don’t need another one, I don’t need yours, I don’t need your voice in my head.  This is not some drama, not one of your dramas, this is just something that’s happening not something we need to get upset over just a small surgical procedure like removing a pimple or cancer, it needs to happen but we can’t get too upset about it otherwise we won’t be able to get up in the morning.

BRI

Life is the only valuable thing.  It needs to continue at any cost.  Any cost.

SIS

No.

BRI

Our happiness does not matter.  We’re in service of something larger than ourselves.  And we shouldn’t question that.  We shouldn’t stop that from happening.  Our creator gives us everything.  We cannot question the life He gives in return.  So you’re going to keep it.  Just listen to my voice.  I want you to keep it.  You will keep it and love it.

SIS

I’m so afraid, Bri, I’m very afraid all the time and I don’t think you can do anything about that because I’m just simply afraid of doing anything anymore.

BRI

That’s why you’re keeping it.  All you fear will be gone soon.  In a few months, everything will be okay.  Everything’s going to be okay, Sis.  I promise.

SIS

I hate it when people say promise, it sounds false like a lie like something you want to say but don’t really mean and what about your sister, I mean, your wife, like this is such a major thing I don’t know if I can live like this, no, man, I don’t know, I feel sick, I’m getting sick.

BRI

You have to let me try.  It can work.  I know it.  It’s possible.

SIS

You don’t really mean that, I mean, you really mean that?

BRI

I know I can make this work because nothing can deter human will.

SIS

I don’t know what to do.

BRI

Let’s go right now.

SIS

Like, leave?

BRI

Yes.

SIS

And leave her here?

BRI

Yes.

SIS

Just leave her here, leave her alone at the end of the fucking land and she’s about to, my nephew, she’s about to give birth to my nephew.  Can you do that?  Because I don’t know if I can. I’ve reached my limit, I can’t do anything else to anyone or do anything to myself I’m just going to be still, I’m going to be very still and not move anymore, I never want to do anything ever again.

BRI

Get your coat.

SIS

I can’t move, Bri.

BRI

Get your coat, Sis.

SIS

I can’t move.

Lil comes in wearing bathrobe.

She holds small black case.

It hangs open.

LIL

I’m so glad we came here.  It’s so nice to get away.  Breathe some fresh air.  I feel like I can think out here.  I’m thinking very clearly now.  My thoughts are calm and clear.  I want to thank you for being my sister.  I know we’ve fought about things but that doesn’t matter anymore.  None of it matters and I just want to tell you I love you.  I want to thank you for our marriage, Bri.  It was a wonderful time.  The whole thing was wonderful.  I remember your cufflinks at the wedding.  These shining golden cufflinks.  And I thought any man who could wear cufflinks that brilliant deserves my love.  I want to thank you for giving me a child.  It has fulfilled me in a way I can’t possibly begin to tell you.  My life has purpose now.

From the pocket of her robe, she quickly pulls out a handgun.

She fires into her mouth.

Her brain explodes into the perfect shape of a heart, splattered on the back wall.

LIL

And I was thinking about a name.  I think Lilith is a wonderful name.  Don’t you?

Lights slowly fade.

End of Play.

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