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Lights Off: A Ten-Minute Play
GabrielleLanzona | 06 December 2017
a ten-minute play for Joem Antonio’s exesanonymous.com
by Gabrielle Lanzona
DRAMATIS PERSONAE (2 actors):
SETTING: A darkened office
SET:One table, one chair, and one laptop for each character.
SYNOPSIS:Faced with writer’s block in the dead of the night, a woman neglects her deadline and
reminisces about an old lover.
[Lights on. To the left of the stage, a WOMAN wears a placard reading “AriesPeopleSuck”. She types rapidly on a laptop only to erase her progress and press the backspace repeatedly. On the opposite side of the stage, a MAN wears a placard reading “NotAWriter98”. He browses through the Internet through his laptop. Suddenly finding something that grabs his attention, his eyes grow wide in disbelief and he is hooked to the screen. The WOMAN pauses. She takes a deep breath before walking to the center of the stage. The MAN reacts to everything she says as if he were reading it on his screen.]
WOMAN: It’s late. Most of the lights are off but here I am. And my bit is due tomorrow
morning but nothing I’m writing’s making sense. My thoughts are all over the
place. First one thing, then the next. It’s like I don’t even know how to use the
English language. I come up with an idea, and all of a sudden it’s something
completely different when I try to put it down to words. [She huffs. A pause.]
Then, out of nowhere…there you are. [Smiling.] It’s been years, and I don’t know where you are now. I don’t know what you’re doing these days. Or what color your hair is. Or if you’re bald. Heck, I don’t even know if you’re alive. But, well, there you are.
So here it is. I can’t believe I’m actually writing on a website for lovelorn suckers. My boss will kill me.
It’s not like this is anything new. You come in random flashes. [She looks to the MAN on the right of the stage.] Sitting at a table with that humungous keyboard attached to your tiny laptop because the P doesn’t work. [She looks away and acts out what she is saying.] Bouncing your way across the street.Your a-little-too-loud voice echoing across the room. Lame dance moves. Cowlick. Hat hair. Finger guns…
I’m pretty busy now. Freelance writer slash HR slash part-time playwright. My husband’s picking me up in an hour. I guess I’m happy. [Shrugs.] I am. I really am. Happy, happy, happy. This is what I wanted, right?
[Shaking her head.] I don’t know why I’m doing this. I don’t even really remember what happened to us. [Throwing her hands up in frustration.] To you. Everything was great at the beginning even if people warned me against it. “But he’s a nerd.” “Are you sure?” “He’s gonna ruin your life.” And we proved them wrong. For a while. Except for that last part. We were happy. Happy, happy, happy. That’s all that matters, right?
Then we weren’t. You were scared then I was scared then you were busy. You were always running to and fro between different things you didn’t want to do. Then it got crazy and we fell apart every month but decided we’d work it out.
Until you decided we shouldn’t anymore.
They were right. And maybe I do remember it after all.
Sometimes, sometimes it just happens like that. There’s this one person. This one person who makes life ten times better and who, for all they care, can just pick their nose but would still make your day that much better. And you think your life together is set and that things will always work out in the end. And you love them. It sounds cheesy as hell but you love them. With everything and more than anything.
Then one day, it’s gone.
One day, you said you couldn’t love me as much anymore.
That sounds like a badly written and cliché story plot, but I swear to God that’s what happened. No kidding. My friends put it down to you being an Aries and normally, I would refuse to believe in that horoscope astrology hogwash. But after so many years, it’s the only explanation I can think of. [She laughs bitterly.]
I will never understand why it happened that way. I will never understand why you worked that way. People aren’t just little anecdotes you post online then throw away after ten minutes, you know? You can’t just change your mind about them like that, okay? You can’t give them the world only to take it right back, okay?
And why did you have to say so many things? Why did you have to have all those words and make all those promises just so I would believe you? Why did I believe you?
When something’s wrong you have to fix it, not throw it away.
I told you that no one could or would ever compare to you. And you said, “You don’t know that,” with a smile.
But I never explained that I didn’t exactly mean it in a good way. I meant that no one would ever be as turbulent, or confused, or lost, ambivalent, and stupid, unbelievably stupid, and simultaneously sweet and kind and ingenuous and insincere, self-absorbed, or as pathetic or beautiful. You were like someone from a book. People like you won’t ever make sense in real life.
I could never fall asleep when I was with you anyway. You went out like a light every time but I would lay awake staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t rest. I had to stay awake. Part of me knew that this couldn’t last.
But I still wanted it. It felt like I was forcing the issue sometimes, especially near the end, but I still wanted it. And I told them that if one of us had to pull the trigger, I’d rather it be you because I’d never want to hurt you like that after all you’d been through. I got what I asked for, didn’t I?
[She stretches her hands and catches sight of her ring finger.] I got married last month. But you weren’t there. You weren’t there and I was hoping you’d come back like you said you would. Maybe you’d have an epiphany after all these years and change your mind. But you didn’t. Duh.
If…if I could just reach through everything (like the Internet) and tell you one thing right now…I meant it. I meant everything I said. All those words and all those promises. I hope you ended up working with tomatoes. I hope you ended up becoming a professor with a cool name. And I really do hope you’re happy now.
But if not, well at least I get to share my story. Even if it means getting fired tomorrow. It makes things seem a lot less painful if I turn you into a ten-minute anecdote.
People, you have been warned. Don’t trust an Aries. [She smirks and shakes her head before staring into space. The MAN hides his face in his hands. The WOMAN exits.]
[The MAN types ferociously on his laptop. Then he walks to the center of the stage.]
MAN:That’s not fair. You can’t just write about me like that. [He scratches his head in
frustration.] I have my reasons for doing what I did. It wasn’t personal, what I
did to you. At that point, I was cutting everybody off. I let all of you go ‘cause
I couldn’t be good to anyone at that time. As insulting as it was, I was doing
everyone a much bigger favor by being away from me. [He sighs.] But I guess I
don’t really have a right to blame you after treating you like that.
I’ve been looking for you for a while now. I asked our friends about you but
they wouldn’t tell me anything and all I found was this sad website for
desperate people who’d never get a chance to find closure with lost lovers.
And that’s when I found your entry. Well, I think it’s yours. It’s too exact to not be yours. I think. If that makes any sense. Whatever. I could never write like you did.
I can’t believe you’re on this website. I really did ruin your life, didn’t I?
There are many things to say but I feel that too much time has passed to say them all. In any case, I’ll try my best to give you the explaining you deserve. Explaining that doesn’t rely on horoscopes and astrology.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you. I’m sorry that I was barely even there in the first place. I knew I could never be that person for you. You deserved better. You will always deserve better than me.But you didn’t have to write about me like that. It’s not like I did anything to hurt you on purpose.
And I said I had to fix a few things and fix myself before coming back to you but…I never really got to fixing those things. I just finished them and they fell away and it didn’t make sense to come back to you anymore.
I tried to make it work with us but after some time it felt like a lie. I had to be this good and caring and present person around you but it felt like pretend and I didn’t want to give you that. I couldn’t do that to myself and I couldn’t do that to you either.
The fact is, I’m very bad at these things. I can’t sustain or handle relationships like most people can. And I wish I could have been there for you but I didn’t want to put you through more than I already did. I know it seems simple to just, be there, but I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to be there for people.
But I want you to know that I am happier now. I didn’t end up working with tomatoes but I am a professor…with an okay name.
My lunch break is almost over and I have to give a class in a few minutes. Now that I’m older, I understand how annoying college kids are. No wonder I messed it up with you.
More than anything, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for believing in me and seeing the good in me. Thank you for giving everything to help me become more than what I was.
Thank you. [He exits.]
[WOMAN enters slowly and walks to the center of the stage.]
WOMAN:Well anyway…that’s what I think you’d say. If you could read any of this.
END OF PLAY