James and Alysse

Scene 1

(James and Alysse enter, dressed in formal clothes. Alysse enters first, James comes running after her, he grabs her wrist but she pulls away)

J: You lied. You…

A: You knew I was a liar. You knew I lied. How many times have I…

J: Not to me. I didn’t know you lied to me.

A: How could you not? To everyone else…why did you think you were special?

J: I’m your husband god damn it! Doesn’t that make me special? Doesn’t it?

A: (Pause) Of course.

J: No. Stop. Tell me the truth.

A: I am.

J: I know you’re not! Why do you do this?

(Pause. Alysse takes deep breath)

A: Why? Because despite everything, you don’t know me. And what’s more, you don’t understand me. Not one bit. You really thought…and no, you’re not special.

J: What? But you married me. You love me. You said you loved me. Did you?

A: I said yes to your proposal. I said I do at the wedding. And yes, I said I loved you. I had to. I didn’t want to hurt you. I had a duty. An obligation to make you happy. From the moment we met…

J: You liked me. From the moment we met, you liked me. What happened?

A: Have you ever done something on a whim? Something you just wanted to try, but not something you understood.

J: You understood.

A: That’s just it. I didn’t. I didn’t know what I was getting into. But from our first date, I was trapped. I couldn’t break it off with you because my reasons were ridiculous. So I waited for you to notice…

J: What? Just what was I supposed to notice?

A: That I didn’t love you. And that I never would.

J: But…

A: But I did? No. Look back. Just look back. I wasn’t unhappy. But I never loved you.

J: Were you just…pretending? Faking it?

A: Yes.

J: But you can’t. You can’t fake love. It’s either real, or…

A: You just can’t believe you didn’t notice. You wanted me to be in love with you. You didn’t look any further.

J: Why would I have? I trusted you.

A: This has nothing to do with trust and everything to do with perception. You didn’t want to see. And so you didn’t.

J: But you said…

A: Pretty words. Full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.

J: Shakespeare huh? That really brings me back…

(Silence)

J: We can put this behind us can’t we? I mean, it’s not too late…

A: (Pause) No. It’s not too late.

J: We can work through this. I’ll try to understand you…

A: And I’ll try to be more truthful.

J: I love you darling. I really do.

A: (Slight pause) I love you too. In my own way.

J: It’s still real.

A: Yes, it is.

(They kiss. Alysse’s eyes remain open. Her hands remain to her side for a brief moment until she closes her eyes and reaches up with reluctance to pull him closer)

Scene 2 (A few years earlier)

(Alysse is alone in a small room. She is knitting a scarf and humming a nameless tune)

A: (singing) We were already bored, we were already…

(Ellie knocks at the door, Alysse rises to open it but Ellie tries the door and finds it unlocked. Ellie enters)

E: You shouldn’t leave the door unlocked you know.

A: And you shouldn’t walk into people’s houses uninvited. How did you know I wasn’t conducting ritual sacrifices in here? Or having sex?

E: I think the sex would be far more surprising. And really, you never know what kind of creeps could just break into your house.

A: Case in point.

E: Well at least you know this creep.

A: So what’s up? You don’t often drop by like this.

E: Oh, I was just in the neighbourhood…

A: And what? The mafia was chasing you? You remembered I owe you money?

E: Well, you do owe me money.

A: Don’t deflect.

E: Ok fine. Geez, you would make a great cop.

A: So go on. Spill it.

E: My boyfriend and I…you remember him, right? Nice guy, you know. I really like him.

A: Get on with it.

E: Right. Do you want to go to dinner with the two of us?

A: Just you guys?

E: Well, he did bring a friend.

A: So what? Like a double blind date?

E: No, no. Nothing like that. Just as friends. And if it so happens that you like him…

A: Can you at least tell me what this guy is like?

E: Well, he’s rich. And very smart. He attended MIT. He has his own company.

A: Well what’s he like?

E: A tomato. I don’t know. I’ve never met the guy.

A: And you think he’ll make a good match because…?

E: This isn’t a date. It’s just a friendly thing.

A: Fine, whatever.

E: Great. This is going to be fantastic. You’re my best friend, he’s Daniel’s. We could have a double wedding!

A: I thought you said…

E: Just kidding darling. You’re such a commitment phobe.

A: What’s this guy’s name anyway?

E: James, I think. Now hurry, get changed. And put on some makeup for the love of God. We’re picking him up in 10 minutes. I’ll go get Danny and tell him the good news.

(Alysse exits to get dressed while Ellie joyfully runs out the door)

Scene 3

(James enters wearing pyjamas and carrying a plate of eggs. He sits down at a table and begins to eat. Alysse enters shortly, also wearing pyjamas and carrying toast. She sits across from James)

J: Good morning.

A: Good morning.

J: Beautiful day, isn’t it?

A: Yeah, summer’s almost here. It’s great.

(Pause)

J: About last night…

A: We don’t really need to talk about it, do we? I didn’t really mean…

J: I know you didn’t. I was just going to say the same. I think our relationship is strong enough to get us through a fit of pique.

(Pause)

A: You know, the advantage of being a couple that doesn’t talk much is that we don’t argue much.

J: Well what could we argue about? You’re so perfect. I’m so happy with you.

A: You’re too good for me.

J: No, you’re too good for me.

A: We’re too good for each other.

J: By cancellation we are prefect for each other then.

A: A match made in heaven. I mean really…

J: What?

A: Nothing. I didn’t really mean anything.

(Pause)

J: I’m the luckiest man alive. How did I ever get you?

A: You got me? The way I remember it, I was doing all the work. Who was the one making plans to see each other? Who got us together for a second time?

J: Yeah, I remember that. But…

(Pause)

A: I know what you’re thinking.

J: You don’t. I’m not that predictable.

A: Yes I do. You’re thinking “Why would she do all that if she didn’t…”

J: Don’t.

A: Well, it’s true isn’t it?

J: No it isn’t. Don’t say stuff like that ever again. I know you love me. I know it in my heart. It hurts me when you deny it. When you say these things…

A: I’m sorry. I won’t bring it up again. I just wanted…

J: I want more toast. I’m going to get more toast.

(James rushes out; Alysse remains seated, breaking her toast into smaller and smaller pieces)

Scene 4

(Ellie and Alysse are seated across from each other at a kitchen table, eating breakfast)

E: So, do you like him?

A: Yes, of course. He’s…nice.

E: Nice?

A: Too nice.

E: Really? Too nice?

A: (Laughs) No, he’s perfect. Why do you keep asking me if I like him?

E: Well, you don’t really talk about him all that much…

A: Why would I be with him if I didn’t like him?

E: Exactly.

A: Hey, I’m not that cold hearted.

E: I know. You just don’t seem like the type…

A: To commit? Well, I’ve changed.

E: Let’s hope so.

A: What?

E: Nothing.

A: No, come on. You’re my friend. Tell me what.

E: Well, that for one. I’m your friend. Not your best friend, not your oldest friend, not your closest friend. I’m just your friend.

A: I…

E: Look, just forget it.

A: Are you so scared I’ll hurt him? I’m doing the best I can; don’t you think I want to change?

E: No. No, I don’t. You were happy before…

A: And now?

E: Now? I don’t know.

A: I am happy, ok? I like him, he likes me. We’re happy.

E (to herself): She was always a good liar. But this good?

Scene 4

(Alysse and James are sitting together at breakfast on a patio, dressed in pyjamas)

J: I wish I could just rewind and live this weekend over and over again.

A: Really? Were you really so happy?

J: Yes, of course. I really like spending time with you. You are so good.

A: Yeah, you too. I like spending time with you too.

(Pause)

A: Hey, do I ever seem…flat to you? Disinterested?

J: No, of course not. You’re so…I don’t know how to describe it. You’re so amazing and perfect.

A: But do I ever…?

J: Where is this coming from? I thought we were happy.

A: We are. You know how sometimes I just get these crazy ideas in my head…

J: You’re so cute.

A: Aw, so are you.

J: I’ve wanted to say this for such a long time. I love you. I love you Alysse.

A: Do you…do you really mean that?

J: Of course. I love you Alysse. I have for a long time.

(James freezes, Alysse continues speaking to him, but he does not react.)

A: How can you feel that way? Look inside yourself. Do you love me? Do you really? Look inside yourself, for the love of God. See me for what I really am. See me! How can you be so blind? I don’t love you. I never will. Please, just see me!

(Alysse composes herself, James unfreezes)

A: I…I love you too. Yes. I love you too.

J: Oh, you’ve made me so happy.

A: I know. I know what I did.

Scene 5

(Alysse enters, dressed in the same formal clothes as Scene 1. She sits with her face away from the audience before turning slowly towards them)

Sometimes I feel so alone. So goddamn alone. James is never with me, not really. I’ve given up trying to talk to him a long time ago. So I bury myself in these boring, mundane tasks, hoping to distract myself. And yes, bury is the exact right word. Little by little, dish by dish, brick by boring brick, I bury myself. Every second I pretend to love him, or pretend to act normally, or even pretend to be alive, I mire myself deeper. Soon, there will be no escape. I won’t be able to get out, because it’ll be too late. I built myself a mausoleum out of a fucking marriage.

(She stands up)

But isn’t this…what you’re supposed to do? Isn’t this what everyone wants? This is what…this is what is done. It’s simply it. I submit, I submit to…what is it? I can be happy can’t I? Time…time will help.

(Pause)

Try again Alysse. This is what everyone wants. This is what is done. Try again. It’s already too late…

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