I'm no Harold Pinter, but here's a conversation that was running around my brain. I started this scene in January and I finished it last week. This started out as an ABCD exercise and evolved from there. You'll notice that the first letter of the first word of the first twenty-six lines create the alphabet. As usual, comments are always welcome. But be kind, I'm still a little rusty. :)
I Miss You
A Scene by Erika Geller
Lights up on a sparsely furnished, neat but dim living room. There is a picture window center stage and a fireplace against the wall stage left. It is early evening and we see the end of the daylight creeping through the curtains, which are slightly askew. The fireplace is immaculate, as it has not been used for a long time. Family photos decorate the walls and are propped against the mantle. A wedding photo of a beautiful young woman and a groom in full military dress is centered on the mantle. The family photos are out of date showing HANNAH, 10, and EVAN, 12, as much younger children. It is February, but the cards on the mantle are still up from Christmas. At rise, EVAN, dressed in pajamas made for a child much younger than him, runs into the room holding a photograph. HANNAH, still dressed in her school uniform, dashes in after him.
HANNAH. Alright, Evan, give it back!
EVAN. Back? S’not yours.
HANNAH. Come on. Mom said I could have it!
EVAN. Didn’t even. She c-c-c-can’t even say that. It’s not h-h-h-hers so she c-c-can’t even give it to you.
HANNAH. Evan! (Screams a little.) It was in her room. It’s hers. She gave it to me. Sorry she didn’t give it to you, but… But – you can’t just take it.
EVAN. Fine. Just wanna – (Thinks for a minute and puts the photo on the fireplace mantle. It is out of her reach.) Just wanna think, k? Keepin’ it there for safes.
HANNAH. God, you are so annoying. (Trying to reach for the photo.) So annoying. I’m gonna tell! Mom –
EVAN. Hey, stop it. Gonna get her mad if she c-c-c-omes down h-h-h… down here.
HANNAH. I’m gonna get her mad?
EVAN. Just trying to think.
HANNAH. Keep it up, Evan.
EVAN. Like you even would. Gonna be just as mad at you.
HANNAH. Mom knows you’re the instigator.
EVAN. Nuh uh!
HANNAH. Oh really?
EVAN. Puh-lease. You’re the instant – (Breathing quick and shallow.) Insta –
HANNAH. Question for you, Evan. How d’you expect to tell her about the (imitating him) insta, insta, IN-STA-GAY-SHUN if you can’t even say it.
EVAN. Really making me mad, H-H-Hannah!
HANNAH. Shut up!
EVAN. (Almost to himself.) I miss Dad.
HANNAH. Well, he’s not coming back, Evan.
EVAN. Yes he is. He promised.
EVAN looks at her. He is confused. Unsure of his next move.
HANNAH. This is why he’s gone, Evan! Because you’re too stupid.
EVAN. (Beginning to shake.) Take it back!
HANNAH. Understand that, Evan? Can you even say it? It’s your –
EVAN. Very mean, H-H-Hannah. Take it back! Ugh. (He starts to moan, grunt, and move back and forth.)
HANNAH. What? Take what back? It’s your fault!
EVAN. X-Ray vision! X-Ray vision! Kew, kew! You’re lying!
HANNAH. You’re crazy…
EVAN. (Simultaneously) Kew, kew!
HANNAH. Stop it.
EVAN. Zero gravity. Kew, kew. X-ray robot vision. Target intercepted.
HANNAH. Are you okay?
EVAN. Bringin’ ‘er down.
HANNAH. Calm down, Evan.
EVAN. Down, Evan, down.
HANNAH. Either you calm down or I call Mom.
EVAN. Final target. Beep, beep, beep!
HANNAH. Geez. I didn’t mean it, Evan. I didn’t mean it. Just calm down. Please calm down. C’mon –
EVAN runs at her full force. They fight. Various yells, “ouches” and “calm downs” and “get off mes” are heard. After several moments, EVAN pushes HANNAH backwards. She hits the mantle, hard, and falls to the floor. The picture falls, or has already fallen, to the ground next to her. HANNAH lies motionless on the ground. EVAN snaps out of his trance as he realizes that she may actually be hurt.
He kneels next to her and touches her gently, apprehensively.
EVAN. I didn’t mean to h-h-h-hurt. Just meant to… don’t know. Ha-Ha-Han-Han. Ah.
HANNAH whimpers slightly from her spot on the ground.
EVAN. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Sorry to h-hurt. Sorry ‘bout Daddy. H-H-Hannah?
HANNAH. Help me.
HANNAH. Shh. Just help me up.
HANNAH. Listen, Evan –
HANNAH. No. Wait. Evan.
EVAN. Out. I don’t wanna. C-c-can’t –
HANNAH. Evan. Evan, look at me. I’m okay. Shh. Help me sit.
EVAN helps her to sitting position against the fireplace.
HANNAH. See? I’m okay.
EVAN keeps shaking his head back and forth.
EVAN. Not okay. Not okay. Malfunction. C-c-casualty.
HANNAH. No casualties, Major Evan. Injury count at one but she’s expected to make a full recovery.
EVAN. Over and out?
HANNAH. Over and out.
She smiles and reaches for EVAN’S hand.
HANNAH. Me too.
They sit in silence for a few moments. EVAN picks up the photograph.
EVAN. When’s he c-coming back?
HANNAH. I don’t know. Soon. I think.
EVAN. Mom won’t say.
HANNAH. That’s ‘cause she’s sad.
EVAN. Are you sad?
HANNAH. Yes. (Pause.) Are you?
EVAN. C-c-can’t tell.
HANNAH. Tell me what you know.
EVAN. It h-h-hurts.
EVAN touches his hand to his heart.
HANNAH. Do you remember what the teacher said?
HANNAH. About being sad or mad or angry or –
EVAN starts to breathe harder and get physically frustrated.
HANNAH. Ev, it’s okay. Forget about the teacher. Um, remember last Saturday when Mom took us for ice cream?
EVAN. I got mint c-chip.
HANNAH. Yeah, yeah you did. We went for ice cream and mom was wearing a blue dress and you got mint chip and you smiled. Why did you smile?
EVAN. Mint chip is my favorite!
HANNAH. Right. And mint chip makes you smile because you’re happy. I was happy too, Evan.
EVAN. Because you got strawberry?
HANNAH. Kinda. But also ‘cause I was with you and Mom and we were having fun. And being with you guys makes me happy. And happy makes me smile. And it makes you smile too. But, what you feel right now, is the opposite of smiling. When happy goes away, that’s sad. Sad is what you feel when your heart hurts. And sometimes when your heart hurts, you cry and that’s the opposite of smiling too.
EVAN. I don’t like it.
HANNAH. Me either, Evan. But I guess we can’t be happy all the time. Just sometimes.
EVAN. Like taking turns?
HANNAH. (Laughs.) A little like taking turns, yeah.
EVAN. Why does it h-hurt?
EVAN. Doesn’t feel like this when Dad’s home. Why does it h-hurt? H-h-have no c-cuts. No bruises.
HANNAH. You can hurt inside too. Like, how sometimes you know you’re going to start crying because your throat hurts?
HANNAH. It’s because your heart starts to cry before your eyes do.
EVAN. And that’s h-how you know you’re sad?
HANNAH. That’s how I know I’m sad.
EVAN. (Takes him a minute to start speaking but he gets a hard “H” out.) Hannah?
EVAN. My throat hurts real bad.
He leans against her. She winces slightly but manages to put an arm around him.
HANNAH. Mine too, Evan. Mine too.