DRAMA || If it were a different play, Would I be with you tomorrow?
CAST OF CHARACTERS
- NADYA wife
- ARTHUR husband
- PLAYWRIGHT beautiful blonde, this is her first play
A middle class American kitchen, minimally represented: a kitchen table bare with only a flower vase and table place-mats. A full cup of coffee and a spoon are in front of each spouse. The television in the kitchen is playing loudly in the background.
ARTHUR [stirs his coffee and looks annoyed]: Why do we have the television on all morning? Is that all you do at home all day when I am at work?
NADYA: I wish. You are never here when I am cleaning your house, paying your bills, running your errands and making calls for you. Notice I said your….I no longer feel like I am part of your life and our marriage seems like a shell of what it once was.
ARTHUR: Wow… looks like we are going to have another long argument before you go to church?
NADYA: Maybe if you went to church with me we might have a more civil communication with each other?
ARTHUR: I am sorry Nadya, I have so much yard-work to do this morning and will not be able to attend church. You are right, let’s start over and talk about your feelings.
NADYA: Thank you.
ARTHUR: I know I have not been there for you. My job has become so stressful and the hours are taking their toll. I am sure you have noticed how irritable I am?
NADYA: Like now?
ARTHUR: Yes like now, tell me why you feel that you are not a part of my life?
NADYA: I can’t remember the last time you said you loved me, held me or asked how my day was. This is simply a marriage of convenience, you are out doing god knows what and I am left here alone. I know you work long hours but how tired can you be when you are out almost every Saturday with friends? Friends I have never met.
ARTHUR: Twenty five years of marriage should prove my love for you.
[ARTHUR looks at his watch.]
NADYA: See you will not even say it… Why are you looking at your watch?
ARTHUR: I love you…I love you…I love you…happy?
NADYA: Sarcasm fits you so well and no I am not happy. Not happy with you, this marriage or my
ARTHUR: OK…I do love you and I am sorry. I just wish you could be happy with yourself. You can’t rely on others all the time. You have to make your own happiness. Turn off the TV, and start thinking about some activities you might like to do.
[ARTHUR rises from his chair and turns off the television.]
NADYA: Maybe for once you are right Arthur. I do need to find something else to keep me happy. Remember a few years ago when I started to write?
ARTHUR: Yes and if I recall… your poetry and short stories were quite good. Wow for once I was right?—hallelujah, the heavens are about to open.
NADYA: Oh my God do you always have to be such a wise-ass?
ARTHUR: Guess you missed my compliment?
NADYA: I think I will start to write again. I have the perfect short story.
ARTHUR: I would love to hear it.
NADYA: Oh it will be about a husband and a wife, they have been married a long time and the marital problems have made it difficult for them to be happy together.
ARTHUR: Hmm, sounds familiar.
NADYA: Yes and the husband is away every Saturday, cheating on his wife.
ARTHUR [Looks around the room and is clearly nervous]: And how does she know this?
NADYA: Because she is not as stupid as her husband thinks.
ARTHUR: It seems you have a good outline already for your story?
NADYA: Do you have a mistress? Are you cheating on me?
ARTHUR: No Nadya I am not don’t be ridiculous.
NADYA: Where are you every Saturday?
ARTHUR: With my friends. I know this will not be as exciting for your story.
NADYA: I don’t believe you. You come home so happy and you seem to avoid me and go right to the bathroom as soon as you walk through the door.
ARTHUR: Yes…I am washing away my sins, is that what you want to hear? I have a long ride home and need to go to the bathroom.
NADYA: Why do you always have to be so sarcastic with me? Can you ever just answer my question like a normal human being?
ARTHUR: Yes I will, once you stop with you accusations and grilling me about where I am.
NADYA: I have enough of this and am going to get ready for church. You sure you don’t want to go with me? Maybe we can talk to the priest about our marital problems
ARTHUR: I already told you I can’t go because of the yard work. You can ask God to slow down the growing of the grass and then I will go next week. As far as us talking to the priest… no way, if we have problems we can resolve them. The priest probably sins more than you and I put together, so no thank you, I will talk to God directly with any problems.
NADYA: You’re such a typical man, afraid of asking someone else for help.
ARTHUR: You are so right, just like we guys will never ask for directions when lost.
NADYA: [Nadya stands up to leave the room and sees the playwright behind the curtain]: Hello…..Hello…….. I see you.
ARTHUR: Who are you talking to?
NADYA: The playwright, she is over there on your right.
ARTHUR: You’re amazing, first you ruin my morning, now you want to ruin the play?
NADYA: [Waving for the playwright to come on stage]: Please come over here, I want to talk to you and then we can get on with your silly play.
PLAYWRIGHT [Walks on stage carrying the script for her play and a pen]: I can’t believe this.
NADYA: Oh believe it, don’t worry you can just write this part out or add an intermission, I just want to talk to you.
PLAYWRIGHT [Nods her head. Looks on in disbelief and does not answer.]
NADYA This play isn’t going anywhere. No one wants to sit and listen to a couple fight. They are paying good money to go to the theater and some may have their own marital or family problems. Who wants to be reminded of this with a poorly written play?
PLAYWRIGHT: Excuse me?
NADYA: Look… I am no expert on the theater but don’t great plays tell a story and have some kind of meaning? Arthur and I are just bickering back and forth, even I am starting to be bored with this.
NADYA: Some playwright you are, you have not even spoken a complete sentence to me. Let me tell you how you should write this.
PLAYWRIGHT: Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re the expert playwright now.
NADYA: You must be hanging around my husband, you both share the same epithet.
PLAYWRIGHT: Go on, tell me how you would write this.
NADYA: The beginning would be the same, my husband and I having our talk and yes a little verbal fighting. But then we realize how deep our love is for each other. We both acknowledge our problems and talk about how we can work together to save our marriage. Arthur agrees to have marital counseling, stays home on the weekends and goes to church with me today.
PLAYWRIGHT: Yes and he doesn’t cut the grass this morning and you live happily ever after. Your husband is searching…searching for a more exciting life and it may not include you. Your play is a fairy tale, and my play will explore the human condition, the psychology of fading love and offer a lesson in life how a marriage can fail when each spouse takes the other for granted.
NADYA: You haven’t said a word. Look how she is talking to me.
ARTHUR: Nadya, you dominate every conversation, you don’t need my help.
NADYA: [Tears begin to become evident and NADYA sobs the next line]: Screw the both of you, I don’t know what happened to you Arthur.
NADYA: Don’t sweetheart me, I am going to church now.
[NADYA slams the door on the way out.]
PLAYWRIGHT: Looks like just you and me now.
ARTHUR: I do feel bad, she left here crying and upset.
PLAYWRIGHT: You didn’t seem too worried about her when you made love to me last Saturday.
PLAYWRIGHT: Don’t worry, your precious wife is gone.
ARTHUR: Now you’re going to start in on me?
PLAYWRIGHT: No Arthur, I love you so much and what I said is deplorable.
ARTHUR: I love you too, and trust me I know this is difficult for you. You are the one who brings light, love, happiness and meaning to my life.
PLAYWRIGHT: Yes and I feel after three years of sneaking around we are ready for the next step to be together.
ARTHUR: Sweetheart we have talked about this. I just need more time. I do love you heart and soul and want to be with you for eternity. Just..just more time please.
PLAYWRIGHT: How much time Arthur? Three years I have dedicated myself to you and put my life on hold waiting. Is this fair to me?
ARTHUR: No, it is not fair to you. I also feel bad with what I am doing to you and my wife. I want us to be together. I no longer love my wife, yet I still think and worry how this affair and leaving her will ultimately cause so much pain. Sometimes I think she is unstable mentally and who knows what she might do?
PLAYWRIGHT: You are so selfish and I know you still love her or you would not care about her feelings. You have told me many times how bad she treats you. Why did you not think of this before you started an affair with me?
ARTHUR: Perhaps Nadya was right when she talked about your play and how it could have been different? You could have written about just us falling in love, no failing marriage, no affair, just two people who met and were destined to be together in love.
PLAYWRIGHT: Now you are telling me what to write as well? I really can’t take this anymore. I am so tired of the both of you. How did my characters take over this play? This was suppose to be my first play and was wishing I could just be honored by a nice small local playhouse.
[PLAYWRIGHT runs offstage still holding her manuscript and returns with a lighter. She returns to face Arthur holding the manuscript and the lighter below the right corner.]
ARTHUR: What are you doing?
PLAYWRIGHT: I am going to burn this play, right here on the stage, I want both of you gone from my life.
ARTHUR: Please don’t, I love you. I know you deserve more and our love means everything to me. Think about this drastic action you are about to take. Yes my wife and I will be gone from your life and your play will cease to exist as well. Have you thought this through sweetheart? Your life will also be extinguished with the very flame you are about to light.
PLAYWRIGHT: Our love has been the greatest part of my life. I have given myself without question and know my faith in us has cheated me from true, forever happiness. Why is it that love can sometimes find us at the wrong time in our lives? Love should be pure, innocent and a blessing whenever it comes. Love is not conceptually irrational, love conquers the emotions and defies all rational examination. Perhaps the magic of our love was only created in my head, a wish or a dream that everyone has? No!…our time together does feel absolute. Your touch awakens my soul, your breath quickens my heart, your words fill me with life. I feel so sad, I can’t sleep and don’t know why I am so sad. I have been crying and wish you were here to comfort and hold me next to you but that will never happen. Maybe that is why I am so sad—that we will be separated our entire lives. I’m alone night after night with no hope while you sleep with another woman. Sometimes I just want to die it’s all so painful. You’re a million miles away and oblivious to my feelings and suffering. I also know by burning this play I too, am committing suicide.
Beyond the philosophical paradox there is a complex rationale on why I might take this final action. The play is a disaster and can no longer be saved, our love will never be complete and if we continue as is you will hurt your wife and force us to make a decision I already know the answer to. Perhaps my life can be saved, the answer is not in my emotions and heart but in my psyche. We can all continue our lives and admit to ourselves we never ever will truly be happy. I can replace you with the faith I will find love again, a love every woman deserves and can come to her if she believes in second chances.
The flame will be ignited, its amber glow will seduce me to look into the burning colors of a life past and the dying embers of a mistake. The brightness, the brilliant, scintillating luster can also capture my vision of a future inflamed with optimism, love and achievement. With this fire nothing will come because nothing is. Loyalty will fail in the echoed words of seared hope and our life together. The past will never arrive, the future will drown, and we will fail each other.
[Playwright starts a flame with her lighter, holds the play script dangerously close]