A Little Light
Setting: A boardwalk. Ocean surf and seagull cries form constant very quiet bed under the play. Mommy is walking hand-in-hand with her young daughter. It is early morning. Heavily-slanted light from the "east". Small posts (maybe four feet high) line the boarwalk. Each post has a small light embedded near its top. The little lights are on.
Little Girl: Look at the little lights, Mommy! (points at the posts' lights)
Mommy: Yes, I see!
LG: They're twinkly!
M: Yes... they're magic, sweetie.
M: Yes! In the morning, they hide.
M: Do they hide?
LG: Yeah, where do they hide, Mommy?
M: No one knows.
LG: The light hides?
M: The magic that makes the light, honey.
LG: What is it?
M: The magic?
LG: Right, what magic makes the light?
M: Most experts believe that they are light sprites.
LG: Light sprites?
M: Yes, very tiny creatures that glow a lot.
LG: Then they go away?
M: In the morning, they leave. (lights on posts go out, LG notices)
LG: (with great excitement) They just left, Mommy!!
M: I see!
LG: Make them come back, please!
M: I can't. Grown ups can't make them come back, sweetheart.
LG: Not even you?
M: No. Not even me.
LG: They're gone forever?
M: No, not forever.
LG: Not forever?
M: No. They can come back if you believe!
M: Yes. If you sit here by the post and talk nicely to the light sprite long enough, it will come back.
M: Yes! You would probably be so good at it that you'd make them all come back (indicates all the posts)
LG: (swelling with pride and purpose) Really?!
M: Uh-huh! You're so good at believing things!
LG: I sure am!
M: Why, you'd believe almost anything, wouldn't you?
LG: I sure would!
M: So, believe that the light sprite will come back!
M: Yes! Now, honey. Right now!
M: Well.... you could hug the post and talk to the spot where the light sprite was.
LG: What do I say to it?
M: How about.... ummm... "I love you, light sprite!" or "Please come back, little light fairy!"
M: Do you think you can do that, cupcake?
LG: Yes. I can.... I can, Mommy!
M: Great! I knew you could! Get going!
LG: O.K. (she hugs the post, lips right near the light) I love you, light sprite; please come back, little light fairy. I love you, light sprite! I really do; I really do! I want you to come back, light sprite; please, please come back... lease (beams at M)
M: (beaming at LG) Ohhhh! You're so good at that! I better not stay to close to you while you're doing something so important; remember, the light sprites don't like grown-ups.
LG: (still hugging post) Right.
M: So, instead, I'm going to go into that big building over there. (indicates offstage) Do you see that building, honey? The one with the glowing red dice and "Open 24 Hours" sign? (LG nods) I'm going to watch you from inside that building; so I don't disturb your important job, o.k.? (LG nods) I'll be back to check on you in a little bit. (M starts off toward casino, looking back at LG) Don't stop believing in the light sprites! Everyone is counting on you to bring them back!
LG: (hugging post with purpose, staring at M as she exits, starts talking to the light again) You can do it, light sprites! You can come back! I do believe in you! I do, I do, I do. (lights/sound fade down) Please, come back; come back now. Pretty please? (lights/sound out)
(Lights/sound back up. Direct overhead light, much brighter on stage. It is almost noon. LG still hugging post. She looks tired. Her speech is very intermittent now, with less conviction)
LG: Come back......... please......... I believe..... in you...... please.....
M: (slight stagger in her walk and slur in her speech, shielding eyes from sun's harsh glare) Hey, angel!
LG: (rushes to M, hugs her hard) Mommy!!!
M: Hug the post, sweetie! The post!
LG: (does so) They aren't coming back, Mommy!
M: Shhhhhh! Don't say that!! You have to believe!
LG: (not whining) I'm hot... and thirsty.
M: Alright. I'll go back in there (point toward casino) and get you some water.
LG: And french fries?
M: Sure. Anything for my little girl! (exiting toward casino) Keep believing!
LG: (with renewed interest) C'mon, light sprites! You can do it! (lights/sound fading out) I believe in you! Soon, I'll have some water... and french fries... and then you'll come back! (lights/sound out)
(Lights/sound up, it is about 5:30 in the evening, light coming from "west" at angle. LG is extremely tired, bedraggled, sunburnt, she speaks rarely and in a very hoarse stage whisper. She is slumped on the boardwalk, her head, neck and shoulders supported by the post at a painful angle)
LG: Back (long pause) I want (long pause) please (long pause) uhhhhh (long pause) sprites?
M: (stumbles onto stage, shielding eyes, she carries a martini glass filled with water and a plate with a few, cold french fries, pasted together with old, congealed ketchup. She slurs her words more thickly now. When she gets close enough to LG, she throws her arms wide in an exaggerated hugging posture. Doing so, of course, causes all the water to splash out of the martini glass, and some of the french fries, the ones not held in place by ketchup, to fly off the plate.) Yaaaayyy! How's my little trooper?!!
LG: (croakingly, standing up) Mommy!!
M: (not noticing the lack of water or the paucity of fries on the plate) Here's that water you wanted, and some frenchie doodles.
LG: (noticing it, but taking what she can get, she eats the few fries and licks the water glass for any bit of water left) Thanks!
M: What a good eater! Done already!
LG: The sprites still aren't back, Mommy.
M: Shhhh!!! No! You can't say that! Belief is so important!
LG: I know, but...
M: You know, maybe the... uhh... light... troll has captured them.
LG: Light troll?
M: It's a big monster that eats light... thingies!
LG: Light sprites?
M: Yeah... those things.
LG: What do I do?
M: Ummm... you... yell at it!
M: Yeah! Just yell and yell and yell!
M: Mommy needs to go back into that building and yell at some horrible little machines.... (exits)
LG: (turns to post, tentatively, then braces herself and yells, loudly, but with a hoarse voice) Go away, troll! Leave them be!! Don't touch the light sprites! (lights/sound fading out) You're horrible! I hate you, troll! (looks back over her shoulder toward casino, lights/sound out)
(Lights/sound up It's about 8 p.m. Dimmer light hitting stage at sharp "west" angle. Post lights still aren't on yet. LG looks exactly like you would expect a little girl to look after thirteen or fourteen hours with almost no food or water, standing in the hot sun, talking and yelling at a post. She is lying on the boardwalk, face down, one hand on the post)
LG: (not even trying to yell anymore) I (very long pause) hate......
(M enters, rather speedily for a drunk woman. She looks back toward the casino frequently for the rest of the play)
M: (her demeanor has changed, she's nervous and snappy) C'mon kid.... gotta move!
LG: (grabbing pathetically toward M's legs) Mommy.
M: (looking down at LG, motioning for her to get up) Yeah, yeah, c'mon.... we gotta go... now!
LG: (starting to get up, very slowly and unsteadily) But the sprites....
LG: The light sprites.
M: What are you talking about?! Listen...
LG: And the light troll?
LG: What's going to happen to them?!
M: I don't care, kid... now we...
LG: I do!!
M: We gotta go!
LG: The sprites!
M: (quick thinking) Uhhh... yeah... say, didn't you hear?
M: The troll ate'm all.
LG: No!!!!! I believed in them!!!
M: Sure you did. That troll's a vicious bastard.
LG: But... but...
M: But, we gotta go...
LG: I want to say good-bye.
M: (trying to tug her away from the post) Listen, Mommy's out fifteen grand...
LG: (resisting hard, getting louder) I have to say good-bye!
M: (overlapping her, tugging) ...and it wasn't my money, alright...
LG: (overlapping, resisting) I need to say good-bye!!!
M: (overlapping, tugging) A guy named Needles gave it to me...
LG: (overlapping, resisting) I need to say good-bye, Mommy!!!!
M: (overlapping, tugging) ...cause I promised him a special... gift...
LG: (overlapping, resisting) No!! No!! No!! Good-bye! I need to say it!!!
M: (overlapping, tugging) ...and I ain't giving Needles a special gift; so we have to run! Now!!
LG: (overlapping just the very end of M's previous line, tearing herself free and grabbing the post) Not ! Until! I! Say! GOOD-BYE!!!!!
M: (giving up) Alright! Fast.... or, uhhh, that... troll thing will eat you too!
M: Yeah, you were trying to help his enemies! He hates you! (pause) C'mon!! Say your damn good-byes, now!
LG: (hugging post tenderly, speaking directly into light, very solemn, voice cracking) Good-bye....... I love you, light sprites. (tears falling) I'll miss you. I'll miss you so much.
M: Done?! C'mon, we're headin' out!
LG: (One step back from post, staring directly at it, paying no attention to M) Mommy. I'm afraid of the light troll now. It ate my friends.
M: (urging her to leave with these words) Sure.... listen.... when we get home, and Mommy gets some sleep; I'll.... uhhh... show you how to get rid of things you're afraid of. O.K.?
LG: (now allowing M to pull her away from the post) How?
M: You just dig a big hole and throw your fears in it.
M: Sure kid. You just gotta believe. (off)
(lights out, sound up a bit, pause, in the darkness all the post lights turn on again, the Little Girl's light blinks out "S.O.S." in Morse code, then turns red.)