December 28, 2006

A Play A Day #259



Setting: Barely-lit stage, a bedroom

(In the dark, we hear a door creak open)

Burke: Elena? You asleep?

Elena: No.

B: How are you feeling?

E: Not good.

B: Worse?

E: Yes.

B: No.

E: It won't take long.

B: Please don't say that.

E: Burke. I have to.

B: No. You'll make it.

E: No.

B: Yes!

(long pause)

B: I'm sorry.

E: Burke, this wasn't supposed to happen.

B: The old woman said.

E: I know, but...

B: I never believed her.

E: Me either. Well... not entirely.

B: She can't do this to you.

E: Apparently, she can.

B: Elena, try again. Where did you meet her?

E: (has said this a thousand times) Behind the church.

B: The south side?

E: Yes, where the rose garden was when we were kids.

B: Now, what did she say?

E: Only that I was an undying light, but my light would die soon.

B: Right. What else? If you remember, then maybe... (prompts her) She reached for you, and...

E: (long pause, strange, disturbing voice) "Light gives what it takes. Takes what it gives."

B: (pause) Elena? Elena? You said it!

E: (as if waking up) What was that?

B: I think you finally remembered! Your voice... changed. You sounded older, strange.

E: I... what... did I say something?

B: Yes... "Light gives what it takes. Takes what it gives." That's it.

E: I don't... maybe that's what the old woman said. I don't remember after she touched my hair.

B: What if I touch you hair?

E: I don't know. Try.

B: (do so, tries stroking her hair for a little while) Does that help?

E: No. Say what she said.

B: (stroking her hair) Light gives what it takes. Takes what it gives. (continues stroking her hair for a while) Anything?

E: No. Nothing.

B: But, no one can find anything wrong with you... you're healthy... this can't...

E: I feel healthy, but I can feel myself dying.

B: The words... maybe... maybe you need light. The doctors said that it would be unheard of for someone to die of... maybe, we should turn them on and try...

E: No! No, Burke!

B: But now that you remembered the words... maybe it will be okay now!

E: It hurts... Burke, don't.

B: We have to try again... it could be different. You remembered what she said!

E: No! Please don't!

(Burke has moved to the wall, flips the light switch, lights up full and obscenely bright)

E: (screaming in pain, face and body contorting) Off! OOOOOFFFFF!

B: (shutting off lights, Elena's screams subside to whimpers, Burke goes back to her) Sorry... I'm so sorry, Elena. I had to... I was trying to see...

E: Don't try so hard next time.

B: The lights will kill you, but you're dying anyway.

E: Let's try this. A candle.

B: A candle... yeah. Why?

E: It's only a little light. My undying light. It takes light, it gives light. The old lady's words could mean that I need light to live, but too much will kill me.

B: Then why are getting sicker living in the bedroom with all light blocked off?

E: Right. I need some light. I can't live with it, with all of it, but I need some.

B: A candle.

E: Just a little light.

B: A candle.

E: Yes. We have to try.

B: In the livingroom. I'll get one of the nice ones. (leaves)

(Elena struggles for a while but manages to pull herself from under the covers and sit on the edge of the bed)

B: (returning with long taper candle and holder) Ohh, honey, why did you get up?

E: I'm in that bed all day, everyday. I'm excited to try the candle.

B: (realizing something) Ahh, sorry, forgot the matches. (puts candle on bed next to Elena, leaves)

(Elena picks up the candle, looks at it briefly, her body contorts awkwardly and she falls back on the bed, the candle held upright on her chest, one loud, ragged exhalation, and the candle lights itself)

B: (returning) Did you say something... oh, hey, you lit it yourself... how did... Elena? How did you light... Elena? (nudging her, then slowly realizing that she has died, crying, repeating her name over and over, holding her head tightly, he grabs the candle and puts it on the nightstand in its holder, he then picks up Elena, and cradles her in his arms, while he sits bacck on the bed, he cries and kisses her forehead)

(light fade slowly)

(candle stays lit)


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