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Life according to John Cusack

by Paola Moretti

Characters

A Woman

A Girl

John

The scene: a yard surrounded by a faded plastic hedge-like fence.
A chair, an open deckchair, a child’s paddling pool, a watering can and a broom.
Other colourful objects like balls, buckets and spades suggesting that the place is/has been lived in by a child.

(The Girl wearing a bathing suit is in the plastic pool, wielding the watering can as if it were the nozzle of a shower. A pair of jeans and a blouse are thrown across the chair, on top of them, a tablet. The Girl is listening to the Eagles singing Hotel California and singing as loud as she can to the music which is also very loud)

Girl – (singing the refrain)
Welcome to the Hotel California
such a lovely place
such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
any time of year
you can find it here
(She shakes her hair energetically; while The Woman, wearing an old-fashioned summer frock, a heavy scarf and a pair of sunglasses, enters dragging a trolley case to which a large number of plastic bags full of shopping and clothing are attached )

Woman – (she signs to her to lower the volume)

Girl – (she obeys reluctantly) What’s the matter?

Woman – What are you doing?

Girl – Can’t you see? (she steps out of the pool and turns the tablet off)

Woman – Couldn’t you have waited?

Girl – For what?

Woman – Before washing yourself. That water’s dirty.

Girl – I needed to…

Woman – There are two bathrooms here. Maybe three. And the swimming-pool out the back.

Girl – (ironically) Sure..

Woman – We haven’t even arrived
we haven’t entered the place and there you are only too ready to pass judgement,
everything negative, wrong.

Girl – What’s the sense of coming here?
You talked about a holiday!
It’s a house by the sea, isn’t it?
It seemed right for us…
a little too big for us, maybe..
Yes, a little too big
but that’s not a fault, is it?

Girl – There must have been a photograph, a review…
we might have looked at it together.

Woman – It was the only place available.

Girl – But who’d come to a place like this?

Woman – It doesn’t matter who’d come.
What others do is of no interest whatever to me.
Come on, let’s go inside.

Girl – You promised me a holiday at the seaside.

Woman – We are at the seaside,
even if you can’t see the sea.
It’s right out there just beyond the dunes.

Girl – Why didn’t you take a house on the beach?

Woman – To do what? You never go to the beach.

Girl – (aggressively) You know I can’t go to the beach.
Do you think it’s any fun for me not to be able to go down to the beach like everyone else?

Woman – Is that what I said?

Girl – Why have you brought me here?
Are you ill? Do you need to tell me you’ve got cancer or something ??

Woman – Com on, let’s go inside.

Girl – Mum… did you hear what I said?

Woman – There’s no problem, I’m well. Go and get dressed.

Girl – Why?
Why must I get dressed? (pause)
Are you expecting someone?
Come on, that would be some scoop.
Nobody ever comes to see us.

Woman – Because you can’t stand people.
… always making remarks about everything and everyone.

Girl – Everyone? Who’s everyone?
We have no friends
… no relatives
Nada de nada

Woman – Do you miss them?

Girl – How can I know?.
You tell me.

Woman – I have no use for them.
Maybe you need them.
That’s a possibility, isn’t it?
Look, all you have to do is seek them out in their den.
No problem.
I invited them to your birthday parties,
Yes, I think I did that more than once,
But you just sat there
in silence, your fingers in your ears.
And now you want a family get-together?
Is that what you want? (pause)
I understand, it’s right

Girl – I didn’t stay silent!
I did my best
but they didn’t even look at me
those relatives of yours
For them I was invisible

Woman – First say something, then deny it
the usual tactics
to make me feel guilty.
I bring you to the seaside
on a holiday
… even that gives you no peace .

Girl – Cut it out, Mum!
We’ll talk about it tomorrow. You’re tired too, aren’t you?

Woman – (to herself) Sure, I’ll cut it out.

Girl – What?

Woman – Nothing.

Girl – I know you detest me
and think up ways of getting rid
of this useless burden
We came here…
an endless journey
just to harp on the same old things…
maybe it would be better to leave, go back home .
I need to know we’re not alone
that if I want to, I can see someone who’s not you.
Do you understand?

Woman – Get out of that wet costume

Girl – Are you listening to me?
I’m speaking
I’m speaking to you

Woman – Come on, get dressed.
I’ll go and get dinner ready

Girl – (starting) Shhhhh!!… Did you hear that?
Did you?
There’s someone there.

Woman – Where?

Girl – Behind the hedge

Woman – Behind that?

Girl – Shhhh!

Woman – It’s only the sea.

Girl – (she snatches the trolley, lays it on the ground and stands on it to get a better view and shades her eyes with her hand) I can’t see a thing. Give me the glasses.

Woman – Mine? My sunglasses? (handing them to her)

Girl – (reaching out without looking at the Woman) Give them to me! (she almost catches them but they escape her grasp and fall to the ground, , The Woman picks them up. This business is repeated a number of times until The Girl bends down and the Woman puts the glasses on for her)

Woman – There. Well?

Girl – (looking carefully) Nothing. They’ve gone.

Woman – But who can it have been?

Girl – I don’t know. A shadow. A thief.
A maniac.

Woman – Are you sure?

Girl – He was spying on us. Let’s get out of here

Woman – Maybe he was only a neighbour

Girl – There aren’t any neighbours.
Not that close

Woman – This is a quiet place.
There’s a house alarm.
Closed circuit TV… a gate
a watchman, an armed guard,
the police with dogs
You must have seen the constable on duty
Come on, get down.. get down!
(The Girl gets off the trolley, takes off the sunglasses and throws them to the ground. The Woman picks them up)
Come, let’s go inside
Are you hungry?

Girl – Did you bring my… ?

Woman – Yes. I’ll get them for you.
(The Girl gets dressed , sprawls on the deckchair , but turns frequently to look at the hedge. The Woman opens a cool-bag and takes out jars of homogenised baby food)

Girl – You’ve put them in the cool-bag, haven’t you? You know I don’t eat them cold.
Do you do this on purpose, to spite me? Do you want to kill me?

Woman – I just put things in as they came.
I’m no good at packing, I never know what to bring
especially in situations like this… that are…
flexible

Girl – Now what can I eat? What can I eat?

Woman – I’ll heat them up for you, it only takes a jiffy.

Girl – Never mind. Give me one.

Woman – Which one do you want?

Girl – Any one of them will do.

Woman – Crème fraiche… (opening the jar and handing it to the Girl)

Girl – (taking it with both hands) Spoon? (The Woman rummages anxiously in the bag. Then she stops and looks at the Girl without speaking) It doesn’t matter. (she sticks her finger into the food and licks it ) Well I’m just a wretch anyway. (devouring the contents in two mouthfuls)

Woman – (mechanically) But-no-but-no-what- are-you-saying?

Girl – When I was little I used to ask myself
what it would be like to be you, Mum.
feel grown-up, old, your life all laid out
irreparable.
A nightmare I had inside myself, though without any fear,
because I was so convinced that it would never happen to me,
that change would take so much time
it would never reach me.

Woman – (holding up two jars) Pear or peach?

Girl – Are you listening to me?

Woman – Sure, I’m listening.
Pear or peach?

Girl – Once I saw two girls walking home from school.
They were happy, making plans
Everything made sense.
Being normal and making plans

Woman – (continuing to rummage in the bag she finds the spoon, heaves a sigh of triumph, then assumes a pose of indifference) What were they planning?

Girl – I’ve no idea. I couldn’t hear them.
It doesn’t matter.

Woman – How can you tell?

Girl – What?

Woman – That they were happy.

Girl – Don’t you understand?

Woman – What is there to understand? Two girls. Walking home from school.

Girl – They were talking and laughing.

Woman – Talking and laughing. (indicating the two jars) Which do you want?

Girl – They were on a desert island,
a calm sea all around, absolute peace.
(she drops the empty jar which starts to roll. The Woman stops it with her foot)
This is what I would like. Happiness made of nothing,
certain, smooth, a nothing so grand that…
But why I am I telling you these things, they don’t interest you.
(The Woman rolls another jar as far as The Girl. She is about to treat the spoon in the same way, then , giving it a second thought, she changes her mind and puts it back into the bag . The Girl tries to open the jar, but doesn’t seem to have enough strength. She drops I; it rolls about on the ground; both women follow its movements with their eyes)
Come here, Mum.
Sit here beside me. Please.
(The Woman picks up the jar, takes the spoon and drags a chair over next to the Girl.)
Dry my hair. I’m cold.
(The Woman reluctantly takes off her scarf, then slowly pats the Girl’s hair with it . This seems to be a task she has performed many times , once with great care, maybe, but now she seems distracted, uninterested )
So, why are we here? Don’t you want to tell me? Just tell me!
Maybe you wanted to be alone, but your courage failed you.
Your usual pangs of guilt.
I know what you’re like.
Once you used to disappear for days on end,
you’d leave me suddenly
I used to think you’d not come back ,
that you had a secret lover.
But no, you don’t need anybody
I’m not blaming you
that’s the way you are, that’s all.
(The Woman finishes drying the Girl’s hair with great care, then she puts her scarf back around her own neck and opens a jar)

Woman – (spoon-feeding her) We have to talk.

Girl – We are talking

Woman – I mean seriously. There is something I have to tell you…

Girl – We two
are tired of one another.
We know that, don’t we ?
What’s wrong with that? It’s gone on too long.
It’s time I was leaving. (The Woman continues to spoon-feed the Girl)
I want my independence. You want yours.
That’s fine, it’s normal, obvious
If you brought me here for that…
your could have spared yourself the trouble
(she tugs at the Woman’s scarf and cleans her mouth with it, slowly, deliberately)
a useless journey…
like everything else you do
Sound of a doorbell ringing.
(The Girl springs to her feet.
They both look into the wings, but in opposite directions )

Woman – Who can that be?

Girl – Have you invited someone?

Woman – At this hour? No, no way…
Later, later maybe…

Girl – You invite people in a similar situation?
Are we in any condition to receive visitors?
At dinner time,
food being served as we pray around the table ?
(the doorbell rings again)

Girl – Let’s not answer, quiet, don’t make a sound

Woman – Maybe it’s a neighbour,
someone who saw us arrive and is bringing us a basket to welcome us.
Only we can’t receive guests,,, not yet..
We’ve nothing to offer them, nothing to show.

Girl – That’s all you wanted, isn’t it?

Woman – Did I ever say so? Eh, did I ever say so?

Girl – We haven’t even entered the house,
unpacked our bags
and someone has come already to spy on us, eavesdrop,
dump their baskets on us!
(the doorbell rings again)

Girl – Go and open the door. They know we’re here.

Woman – You go, see what they want.

Girl – Let’s make one thing clear at once
We don’t need baskets or courtesy callers .
Not now, not ever.
(the doorbell rings yet again)

Girl – (shouting) There’s nobody here!

Woman – (shouting) Go away!
(the doorbell rings, this time at great length)

Girl – (to the Woman) Help me!
(She takes one of the plastic bags and tries to throw it into the wings, but her hands seem to be too weak. The Woman, spinning around like a top, tries to throw the bags full of clothes into the wings. Neither of them succeed, The Girl lacks strength, the mother coordination. All the things they use to defend themselves are thrown back at them from above and from the wings, until the stage is full of stuff and looks like a rubbish dump. In the end The Woman and The Girl stop, exhausted )

Woman – They’ve gone away.

Girl – They’ll be back

Woman – No they won’t. Not for now.

Girl – How do you know? We’re you expecting someone?
You’re always expecting someone.
By dint of imagining that someone’s coming…

Woman – (disconsolate observing the mess)
Look at that chaos… they’re all mad out there
we shouldn’t get their backs up, do you understand?
We’ll be kind to them, accepting.
I’ll go out and invite them to come tomorrow
(she begins picking up and heaping the stuff but without much success)

Girl – What ? You’d let them in?
They might kill us…

Woman – No, besides, we won’t be here long..
only as long as we need to…

Girl – To do what?

Woman – What?

Girl – The time we need to do what?

Woman – (avoiding the questions as she continues piling up the things)
We can’t possibly sleep in all this dust
your asthma might come back
You rest, I’ll look after this.
You’d be better inside actually
Here it’s full of insects
your skin’s so delicate,
unlike mine.

Girl – Yes, some novelty.

Woman – I didn’t mean…

Girl – You meant that mine is different.

Woman – In a positive way.

Girl – Different, that’s all there is. There’s no positive or negative about it.

Woman – It’s beautiful skin
the insects are attracted to it
like the roses..

Girl – Oh God, be quiet.

Woman – It’s unbearable
that we two cannot talk
that is
that things can’t be said just as ..
just as they come
without schemes, true, direct
simple words, like normal people
let’s say, just like that, normal, nothing more
look what’s happened to
the two of us
all that’s left… meaningless
… half-spoken words
and when I die…

Girl – I might die first…

Woman – The one of us who dies first
will leave this heap
this swarm
of broken words
to put back together again, one by one.
But you can’t understand ,
you think only of yourself
take all for granted
everything your due…
Enough. Let’s go inside.

Girl – I’ll sleep out here.

Woman – What? You can’t sleep out here
You can’t do this to me.
(trying to drag her)
Come on, let’s go inside.

Girl – No! (breaking free )
You said someone would call
Who? When?
Why must they come?
Your stupid little bribes.
… should someone come for real
shall we simply shut the gate in their face
and go to bed?
(listening) D’you hear? Did you hear that? A hiss
a lament… a gasp..
You go inside, I’ll stay out here

Woman – You’ll stay out here, then?
I’ll fetch you a blanket.
Will you lie in the deckchair? Eh?
Do you need an elastic to tie up your hair? Eh?
Do you need face cream?
A pillow? Eh?

Girl – Go away, leave me alone!

Woman – You’ll call me if you want anything, won’t you? I won’t sleep, actually. ( The Woman turns around moves a few steps then freezes, as if she’d gone)
( The Girl settles in the deckchair; she makes sure the Woman has left, she looks in the direction of the hedge several times then turns on her tablet . The amplified sound track of the film Serendipity is heard)
from the film)

He – How did you find this place?

She – I first came in because of the name: Serendipity
It’s one of my favourite words

He – Why?

She – ‘Cause it’s such a nice sound for what it means: a fortunate accident.
Except I don’t really believe in accidents.

He – Fate’s behind everything?

She – I think so

He – Everything’s predestined? We don’t have any choice at all?

She – I think we make our own decisions. I just think that fate
sends us little signs and it’s how we read the signs
that determines whether we’re happy or not.
(continues)
Enter John, with a backpack on his shoulders

John – (he approaches the Girl) Excuse me… (louder) Excuse me! (he touches her) May I ask you a question? Come on, cut it out… I know you can hear me… (The Girl looks at him coolly, unsurprised) Are you watching a film? I am unable to sleep nights unless I take a television series? What are you watching?
(peeking at the tablet) I can’t believe my eyes… Serendipity? (The Girl turns the tablet off) Are you watching Serendipity? Well, well…
I know it by heart… I like John Cusack… I look a little like him, so they tell me… maybe it’s the hair, the bright eyes… the way I walk… that other film too… where he played the flight controller… do you remember? I can’t remember the title at the moment… I just can’t remember the title… (very quickly, imitating Cusack) 2629 reduce speed object at fourteen hundred three miles east-southeast at 3000 feet wake turbulence veer 20 degrees left Continental contact New York air control chewing gum chewing gum four out of five dentists recommend chewing gum… (he waits for a sign of encouragement which does not arrive) Well… you know the one I mean (pause)… wait, wait… Pushing Tin!! That’s it! Do you remember?
(pause)
Do you live here? I mean to say…
Do you know this place? the way down to the sea?… I’ve lost my way, I need..

Girl – Why are you doing this?

John – Doing what?

Girl – Coming in here, without leave, gate-crashing.

John – Oh cut it out, the gate was open.

Girl – Are you saying I invited you in ?

John – That’s not the point

Girl – The point of what?

John – Oh, come on, that’s not how it works.

Girl – What works?

John – What’s this, some kind of game? A ritual or something like that?

Girl – What thing?

John – The reason I’m here.

Girl – Are you here for a reason?

John – Need a password? What should I say?

Girl – What would you like to say?

John – What’s the right question?

Girl – The straightforward one.

John – What is it?

Girl – Why are you here?

John – Ok. Why am I here?
Maybe it’s fate
Maybe you summoned me telepathically
perhaps you want to do something with me?

Girl – Do you want to do something with me?

John – Why… would that be all right with you?

Girl – Would that be all right with you?

John – Well… it would depend on what you wanted.
But… but if I don’t even know what we are talking about…

Girl – Why don’t you say what you want to do?

John – I don’t know… perhaps there’s something else.

Girl – Would you like there to be something else?

John – Oh God. Why don’t you tell me?

Girl – Have I to tell you everything?
I’ve never done anything like this before.

John – Like what?

Girl – This. Welcome someone just like that… a stranger

John – Take it easy, said the night porter
we are programmed to welcome
you can go out through the gate whenever you like
but you can never leave…

John – Is that a threat?

Girl – It’s only a song. Why are you upset?

John – Because I’ve lost my way…
because I don’t know what you need from me

Girl – To enter a kind of family like this,
you need a permit
Seeing that we have no precise rules
things are even freer.
What was that question?

John – Where’s the sea?

Girl – Down there… or over here… you can choose the way you prefer

John – The better one, the shortest one..

Girl – I don’t know. It doesn’t exist.

John – All right, I understand.

Girl – My mother brought me here this morning,
I haven’t even gone inside the house,
haven’t even unpacked the cases.

John – Your mother… oh come on…

Girl – Oh come on, now, that’s all you are capable of saying -oh come on, now-

John – You can say: I came with your mother,
I accompanied her to the seaside…

Girl – Is that what I ought to say? I don’t think so
The words must be precise
I didn’t accompany her
I followed her, she dragged me here,
she said it was a holiday

John – Anyway, my name is John. And you?

Girl – What about me?

John – Your name.

Girl – Why should I tell you?
I don’t even know you…

John – If it’s a problem, it doesn’t matter…

Girl – No problem.
Chantelle..

John – Chantelle? (laughing) Oh, come on, now… what kind of a name is that?
no, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean… (still laughing)
It’s just that it sounds like something from fiction… from a Netflix series. I’m sorry
(he tries to take her hand)

Girl – (drawing back) How dare you…
This is what happens
when you let strangers into a home, into a family

John – What happens?

Girl – They start speaking in your name, without permission,
drawing you into their minds ..
in your own banal words, picked up who knows where..
I’m sorry, it isn’t possible.
Don’t you touch those bags.
John – Is there anything to eat?

Girl – Eat?

John – Anything will do.

Girl – That is?

John – The first thing you can lay your hands on.

Girl – (she hesitates, then opens a bag and takes our two jars of homogenised food and offers them to him)
Soup or apple?

John – What?

Girl – Only these two left. Which do you want?
I recommend the soup.

John – Do you eat this stuff? Are you ill?

Girl – Ill, I? (pause)
Is that any question to ask? (pause)
Maybe…

John – What’s wrong with you?

Girl – (dubious and amazed, she draws near the Women) I might say… I might say I’m inadequate.

John – Come on… what’s that supposed to mean? That’s not an illness.

Girl – (doubtful, perplexed. She approaches the Woman) Am I ill? He wants to know… (The Woman fails to react, The Girl shakes her in vain) Come on, wake up! (to John) She’s pretending she can’t hear. She keeps it hidden from me. Her usual little tricks. Well, in short, maybe there’s something wrong with me (groping for words, she looks at her hands, stretches them out, then draws them back grimacing with pain) It’s not an illness. (The Woman “unfreezes”, takes the broom and begins sweeping the yard) My arms, my hands… I think they’re very weak… more than normally weak. Only a supposition, because I can’t really make comparisons… I might say that everything escapes my fingers… . falls to the ground, I can’t hold on to them… I might say I’m inadequate.

John – Come on… what’s that supposed to mean? That’s not an illness either.

Girl – How do you know?
Maybe life has always been good to you. You’re not able to understand
I was wrong to speak. Like I always am.
I let myself go and then regret it; telling others about myself like this
A kind of failing.

John – Is there nothing else to eat?

Girl – (to the Woman) Mum!… (The Woman stiffens)
Is there any real food?
(The Woman looks at her, expressionless) For him. See?
Someone came after all.
( All speaking together, their lines overlapping)

Woman – Why did you let him in?

John – The gate was open.

Girl – He wants something real to eat.

John – A sandwich, if you have one.

Girl – He wants a sandwich.

Woman – We have none.

Girl – Why don’t I eat real things?

John – If it’s a problem, forget it.

Woman – How did you get in?

Girl – The gate was open

Woman – It was shut

John – I’ll go then.

Girl – Stay. I want you to stay

Woman – The gate was shut.

Girl – Go inside Mum and make something real for him

Woman – Who is he?

Girl – None of your business

John – John Cusack, Ma’am.

Woman – (to the Girl) Do you know him? Where’s he from?

Girl – He’s an American.

Woman – I was going to bed.
Must I start cooking?
Is that what you want?

John – I can do it myself, thanks.

Girl – Did you hear that? He can do it himself.
We don’t need you. Give me the groceries!
Where did you put the groceries?

Woman – (pushing the bag towards the Girl) Do you want to waste everything on him?

John – I’ve created a problem for the family…

Girl – What family? She’s not my family!
Go to bed, mum. (The Woman turns around and freezes)

John – (rummaging through the bag) Shall I get something for you too?

Girl – No, don’t worry about me.

John – We could go somewhere if you like

Girl – Cut it out, will you? Are these things you should say?
You understand nothing, do you?

John – Oh come on…

Girl – All you can do is pass judgement, since you arrived.
What’s your name? And you laugh
What’s wrong with you? And you criticise
Very bad form
And yet, you can see for yourself.
I can’t leave,

John – Why?

Girl – What?

John – Why can’t you leave?

Girl – I’m not suited to this place. I come from the North.

John – North? Which North?

Girl – The North of ice, wooden houses,
endless nights, green lights in the sky…

John – Ah, the usual. (he offers her a toasted sandwich which she devours avidly, absent-mindedly)

Girl – My skin is too fair for this sun, I have to stay shut up indoors.
Then there’s my hair, it becomes brittle. Here it splits.
There’s nothing I can do…

John – Mine splits too.

Girl – No, John Cusack, don’t come here with stories like that.
Do we want to pretend you’re equal?
I mean you need to be concerned about me
but the hypocrisy…
no, listen
let’s end it here

John – (he offers her more food which she devours) Tell me you like it

Girl – I never go anywhere
alone, then…
I can hear the shouting already…
Stop!
Don’t leave this place!
Turn back while you’re still in time!
You’re on your own!
What can I do on my own?
nothing,
nowhere to go..
it’s an enigma out there

John – Go North, to your own land, no?

Girl – What? So you really understand nothing,
you don’t even try…
(whispering) I was adopted (indicating The Woman)
She holds me prisoner.

John – The gate is open.

Girl – Do you want to tell my story?
(John offers her more food which she devours without giving it a thought)
it’s easy to talk; all it takes is to put words in a line, at random ,
anything goes,
you have to enter the lives of others
to understand

John – That’s what I always do

Girl – Always? It doesn’t look like that to me.
Maybe because you say: come on, let’s go, let’s go,
go when? go where?
you think everything’s possible
but for me there’s nowhere to go
Do you know what it means
to be abandoned?
you smoothing your hair all the time
and smiling with those bright eyes of yours
because your life has been easy
all limelight and red carpets
you have no idea, I don’t blame you
either one knows or one doesn’t
someone abandons you at birth
off she goes leaving you there
without looking back even once
goes her own way as if it didn’t matter
even though she saw you breathe
and you’d been there so close to her heartbeat.
Yet she walked away.
Didn’t even let but couldn’t even die.
Then someone else came along
took you, carried you off
and called it love
brought you where she wanted
and called it love

John – (he hands her another sandwich)
Oh come on, now, it’s time to turn over a new leaf

Girl – Someday someone will come for me
I’m waiting for him
he’ll bring me away

John – Another?
Again?

Girl – This time he’ll be extraordinary,
beautiful as an angel,
he’ll take my hand
and lead me away.

John – Do you want me?

Girl – And do you want me?

John – I have to give it some thought

Girl – You have to give it some thought? Thought about what?
First you have me believe…
Oblige me to tell you…
personal things… secrets…
(she turns towards The Woman as if asking her for help)

Woman – (coming back to life) Let him go, he’s not one of the family
Look what he’s done to you. You’re all bloated.

Girl – I’m fine

John – (to the Woman) She’s fine!
(to the Girl) What I can do
is take you to the edge of the North
you can go on from there on your own.
Get your things and let’s be going
(pause)

Girl – I’d love to, but…
yes, when I think of it, I think I would really,
but… I’m not even dressed to go out
and where have my shoes got to?
(she smiles, embarrassed)
We’d just arrived
when the neighbours attacked us
they wanted to come bringing a basket to welcome us…
Look, if only I had my shoes…
an elastic for my hair… , if only I could get organised
They must be in a case or in one of the plastic bags…
It’ll take some time
to unpack
It’ll take time
quite some time…
(long pause )
Let’s say… but just, for the sake of saying
that I come with you..
What… what’s happening on the outside
what’s so special about the outside?

John – You’d be free to do as you please
see people, new places, new faces, have fun, go to the bar, for walks

Girl – And what if I can’t keep up with you? (pause)
How do you walk?
Show me
Only to see if I can…

John – How do I walk? (setting his backpack right, he puts his hands in his pockets à là John Cusack and takes a few steps) I don’t know, like this maybe. (he walks around the perimeter of the stage, first slowly, then picking up speed, more and more )

Girl – Wait! (she follows him stumbling across the bags and shoppers)
I like walking…
When I was little, I used to sneak out of the house,
and go wandering
I wasn’t afraid
because there was always someone ready to take me back home.
A certainty like that
makes you brave. Doesn’t it, John?
Look? We have the same stride.
(John accelerates)
I used to think…
the stars would guide me
Now I don’t think I’d dare
I can’t feel my inner self
It’s terrible not to be inside oneself
(to keep up with him, she tries to get a hold of John’s clothes)
I know I’m not like that
but I don’t know what to do
On side of me would like to sleep
the other is awake… confused
but would like to be happy
or unhappy,
Any emotion would do
Instead, nothing.
I don’t feel a thing, ever
Maybe if I come with you..
it’s worth a try, isn’t it?
miracles happen in an instant
Don’t rush John
stop!
(John stops suddenly and the Girl falls to the ground )

John – Have you hurt yourself? (he touches her arm gently )
A scratch.

Girl – A gash.

John – Let me look after that.
(he takes a sticking plaster from his backpack and sits down beside her to treat the cut)

Girl – Is it bleeding? I need to call my mother…

John – You’ve got freckles… (putting the plaster on the cut)
Maybe they’re not actually freckles
Cassiopeia’s mark… look!
(he raises her arm in front of her eyes)
A constellation.
(he raises her face) Can you see it in the sky?
(The Girl looks, alternatively, at her arm and up into the sky)

Girl – Yes. Maybe. I don’t know, John
Too many stars.

John – It’s in the Milky Way, it’s easy to recognise its particular zig-zag formation… (he takes a felt marker from his backpack and joins her freckles with lines as he speaks) Cassiopeia was an African queen who though she was the most beautiful women in the world and none of her female subjects were safe from her capricious excesses . But one day, she went too far and offended the gods. So the god of the seas hung her upside-down in the sky for all eternity. Now she’s only a constellation, five freckles in a sea of stars.

Girl – What’s the most beautiful woman in the world like?

John – Like you.

Girl – (rising) maybe I too have offended the gods,
hanging over the void by one foot
spinning around myself
the blood throbbing in my head.

John – (rising) I’ve told you! You need to get out of here
have fun, let your hair down
clarify your ideas

Girl – Do you remember that… Serendipity?
Sarah and Jonathan meet for the first time one Christmas Eve
in New York, then they lose contact and look for one another for ten years, until, when all seems lost, they find each other again in Central Park, on the skating rink

John – We’re already here, together.

Girl – Exactly. We need to separate

John – Do you want us to separate?
Oh come on… How many chances would we have of meeting again? Less than zero!

Girl – But we have a clue at least!

John – What clue? The house by the sea?

Girl – The film!

John – (ironic) The film? Fantastic!

Girl – Central Park, New York, the skating rink.

John – Do you know how to skate, eh?

Girl – That doesn’t matter… , you can teach me

John – That makes no sense, I don’t want to.

Girl – Because you don’t love me, John

John – I never said I loved you…
let’s just try being together , the two of us,
seeing we’ve met,
no commitment
no fate.
Just a pinch of empathy.

Girl – Is that all? (looking at him disappointed)
Why have you come then?
Maybe you’ve got a girlfriend…
How could John Cusack not have a girlfriend already?
Go back to her, don’t keep her waiting
You know where to meet already.
What have I left? I can even disappear, can’t I?

John – (dropping the backpack with a thud) Oh come on, I can’t believe this,
you’re fixated about a film
a fucking film
But why do you want to skate?
You’re locked up in here
more dead than alive
and you’ll never go to New York, that’s for sure!

Girl – You never can tell…
who do you think you are?
You can’t destroy my hope
John Cusack!

Woman – (to the Girl) Now you understand, eh?
The American has dropped his mask!

John – What mask?

Woman – He wanted to infiltrate our family
separate us!

John – What are you on about?

Woman – You’ve no luggage.
There must be a reason…
not like us who bring everything with us
so we can look after each other…
He wants his freedom

John – You can bet. So what?
I don’t plagiarise people..

Woman – Don’t judge by appearances.

John – Appearances? Come off it, (indicating The Girl)
she’s afraid to be left alone and you take advantage of that
because it’s convenient for you

Woman – What do you know about us?
maybe you should have met us before
when it was still feasible
But things change, nothing is foreseeable
you never know where time may take you.
One day you may wake up in a place you didn’t choose
and there you stay, you make yourself like it because you no longer have the strength to begin all over again.
You should have met her earlier,
but that didn’t happen.
Why do you want to take her away from me now?
I’ve plans for her and you shouldn’t interfere!

John – Plans… I can imagine..
A new brand of baby food?

Woman – You know nothing!

John – You know nothing!
(looking for reason to quarrel) She wants to skate!
Yes, because it’s part of a dream of hers
she lives in a dream,
she might become a champion, a star
She’s got the right physique, all she needs is to train
(The Woman laughs) She could do anything!
And no one would be able to stop her

Woman – Really? Just look at her!
She can’t even stand on her own two feet! (she continues to laugh as she tries to tidy up the packages )

Girl – Enough, stop it!

John – (to the Girl) You don’t need to believe her. She says these things because she hates me.
She’s afraid of losing you.
If you begin skating,
you’ll fly like the wind
and she won’t be able to keep up with you
telling you what to do…

Girl – I’ll never fly, John.

John – And the ice rink?

Girl – It’s only a film and you aren’t…
(pause)

John – You don’t need all that much strength to begin all over again…
With time you’ll grow more… more… (he mimes strength)
but that’s not what interests you, is it?
(The Girl shakes her head)
When all comes to all… when you’re on the rink.. all you need to do is open your arms,
move them ’till you find your balance
(The Girl hesitates, then timidly goes through the motions)
bend your knees, all the weight first on one leg, then on the other
a sidestep, then close , a sidestep and lift…
I think that’s the way
let yourself go, relax…
(John illustrates the movements in a rather confused manner The Girl repeats with great precision as if she knew them all already)
the important thing is to stay close to the edge
and not be afraid

Girl – I’m not afraid!
but… we need music!

John – True, you can’t skate without music!(The Girl takes her tablet and clicks on, the Eagles and Hotel California)

Girl – And now a little atmosphere… It’s Christmas Eve… (she clicks her fingers like a child and the stage is flooded with red light)
a few decorations.. (some Christmas fairy lights come on)
And the skating rink… (the floor of the stage is flooded with a very bright white light) Do you like it, John? Now it’s like the film.

John – You’ve forgotten the snow…

Girl – The snow arrives at the end, suddenly, when you least expect it
because it’s a mark of fate… of something that begins again or finishes forever… (she takes a few totally free, improvised steps somewhere between dance and skating)

John – Excellent!
I can barely remain upright!

Girl – Come on!
Come on!
(they begin “skating” together all over the stage, initially hampered by his clumsiness, then more smoothly and elegantly as the snow begins to fall. They laugh, fall, have fun, improvise a dialogue, leave by one wing and come back through the opposite one, until John drops down on a heap of packages )

Girl – Why have you stopped?
Are you tired already?

John – A bit of a challenge, I haven’t been on skates for years

Girl – Come on… more, just one more turn…

John – But we’ve reached the sea

Girl – How?

John – Skating on the sand…

Girl – (bewildered) But I’m not allowed on the beach

John – You’ve just been and nothing’s happened to you!

Girl – You didn’t look after me.

John – Should I have looked after you?

Girl – I trusted…

John – But we had fun, didn’t we?
We were fine together.

Girl – That’s not how it works.

John – Enough. Get your things and let’s be off

Girl – There’s no guarantee it’ll work out for me

John – Do you need guarantees?
I’ll take you to the Arctic circle,
and beyond. It all depends..

Girl – On what?
You must tell me now

John – I don’t know.

Girl – (as if mesmerised) See, John?
I’d really love to..
only it’s not the right moment.
It’s impossible, believe me
Go, don’t worry about me.
You’d have to wait a lot here
maybe I’d have to draw up a new inventory
I couldn’t fix a precise time
or day
if it’s written that we’ll meet again
we shall
(John begins kicking something , then sits down his back to her )
No, don’t take on like this. Please, John… let’s not part as enemies
(raising her voice as if he has gone)
we can speak about this again! Come back! Did you hear me?
I’ll wait for you, John Cusack!

Woman – (coming back to life) You’ve no dignity. It was high time he left.

Girl – I asked him to come back

Woman – Shut the gate

Girl – He said he’ll come back

Woman – Look at this… he’s finished all the groceries

Girl – A mere handful of stuff. We can buy more tomorrow.
I ate some of them too.

Woman – You’ll be sick. Why do you do these things?
The first passer-by changes the rules
And you’re prepared to follow him to death’s door. Look at you… Just look at you.
How could you?

Girl – What Mum? What have I done?

Woman – Filled your stomach,
you’re pale… bloated…
you feel sick, don’t you ?

Girl – (she hesitates, looks around bewildered) Yes, I’m tired,
but I don’t need anything

Woman – ( Smiling happily) Easy does it, I’m here.
You need me, see?
You need looking after.
What’s wrong with that? It’s a good thing, no?
(She helps her to lie down on the deckchair and covers her legs with a blanket )

Girl – It’ll pass soon… (The Woman fetches some medicine and pours different coloured liquids into a glass, each one lights up the stage with the same colour)
I’ve just said…
I’ve just said I don’t need anything…

Woman – There now, drink. There, all in one go. (The Girl obeys mechanically) Is that better? your colour’s back already. Just another little drop..
(she fills another glass and hands it to the Girl who, unaware of doing so, spills some of the contents) What are you doing? Be careful.(The Woman raises The Girl ‘s head to make her drink; she pushes The Woman away roughly)

Girl – (getting up) You’re killing me.
I can’t stand you anymore .
You’re not normal

Woman – That’s what he said, didn’t he?

Girl – You made him leave
That’s your strategy
the two of us- together- on our own.
That won’t do, we need to change the rules
our behaviour
it’ll probably be hard at the beginning
living like this is a kind of drug
you understand that…
(pause)

Woman – Yes… I understand that ..

Girl – What?

Woman – I agree.

Girl – What?

Woman – I agree!

Girl – Agree with what?

Woman – Going our separate ways

Girl – Going our separate ways?

Woman – (gathering up the bottles) Yes

Girl – Yes to what?

Woman – Yes, about going our separate ways

Girl – You want to be free of me?

Woman – If that’s how things must be…

Girl – But… I can’t believe it
disgusting.. what a hypocrite
That’s all you were waiting for
the truth is that
you detest me
the fucking truth is that you detest me
You want to send me away, don’t you?
Just like that
Where should I go?

Woman – Did I say I wanted you to go away? Did I say that?
He was here. He heard.
(to John, tugging at his jacket) Did I tell her to leave at once?
(John gestures his annoyance)

Girl – you’ve come back already, John

Woman – I’m glad there’s a witness.
So that my words can’t be manipulated.
We are incompatible.
We need to recognise that much

Girl – It doesn’t matter.
You have certain duties.

Woman – I had once, maybe,
although I didn’t like to call them that
But that’s all over, now, isn’t it ?
After all I’ve done for you
it’s all over at last

Girl – Over? You’ve no right to end things, do you understand?
You didn’t do things for me
but only for yourself
to give some kind of meaning to your life
I’ll sue you for all these years of mistakes
for all I’ve had to put up with.
(to John) Have you nothing to say?
Why don’t you stand up for me?
(to the Woman) I don’t care about your pain
it was your own doing
You need to think of me

Woman – I dreamt of the two of us together
Only the two of us in a secret place
because love is all that matters, that’s what they say.
But then the others come along,
passers-by, people you’ve never seen before
speaking of mistakes and duties
of what I was not
and could not be
This staying together,
is an obsession, so they used to say
It harms your daughter
She hates you, can’t you see how she looks at you?
Can we blame her?
You’re not her mother
You’re not her mother
too sad, too different, too hard,
unable to defend her, fight, assert, claim.
It takes much more than that to be a mother.
That’s why she hates you, it’s clear that she hates you.
(to John) What could I do?

John – I don’t know.
Why ask me?

Girl – (to John) What did she say?

John – That it’s all over
Girl. I’m the one who’ll decide when it’s all over!
Tell her to take me back to my mother, my real one

John – You can’t go there all alone?

Girl – All alone?
I don’t even know her, what she looks like, where she is.
John – Oh, come on now.. make an effort at least!

Girl – Out she comes with those bitter words..
I have this way of…
keeping away from what she has in mind
She’s jealous, because my real mother is beautiful.
I’ve dreamt of her, the same as me
Only the sun doesn’t burn her skin
The wind doesn’t split her hair
She smiles at me, her arms wide open
like the Virgin Mary when she appears
in the light of the Aurora Borealis
(smiling, she opens her arms akimbo)
This is what a mother does,
welcomes and smiles. Nothing more.
(her arms remain wide open but her expression becomes one of hatred.)
But she’s worried about only one thing
if you allowed others to touch you,
if you allowed men to touch you
then, oh yes!, then you’re well and truly in for it
You can’t go around in a skimpy dress like that
that skirt is too short
better not go out at all
you’ll get yourself into trouble, you know what that means
that you’ve had it forever

John – Words , the usual words

Girl – Can’t you see what these words
have done to me, John?
she has torn everything from my grasp
and given me loneliness
in other words
no life story, nada de nada
I don’t even know where she comes from…
Are you listening to me?
You just stand there
without knowing whose side you’re on.
Maybe you should stand up for me
That’s what friends do!

John – Friends? Don’t even try.
I’m only a passer-by,
I was simply looking for the way to the sea
and got waylaid here, made to listen…
(imitating them) what we are like and what will become of us
what we have been and what will happen
All immovable, petrified,
a blank screen…
But a film, any film, can be changed
edited backwards,
characters rewritten

Girl – From here there’s no beginning all over
She’s going away. Leaving me
I don’t know if you can understand

Woman – But someone is coming.

Girl – Listen to her?
Always provoking me!

John – Do you want the truth?

Girl – What?
Nobody can tell the truth,
truth doesn’t exist, only deception, of the very worst kind.

John – (assuming John Cusack’s acting style)
One meets out of need
because that is how things are
what was written, fate

Woman – What are you saying, eh?

Girl – Nothing, it’s from one of his films

John – Maybe all can seem true
where we are, with whom and why
in a sequence of coincidences
without any apparent meaning
… maybe not,
Perhaps life is a series of events
part of a perfect plot
We can call it our life story
or fate
That’s how it is .
It’s John Cusack who tells you so
(the two women appear distracted and indifferent)

Woman – He has to leave. Come on, tell him to get going.

Girl – I’m going with him.
We’ll go skating in Central Park
and you can’t do a thing about it.
I’ll stay with him and become a real mother.
(the doorbell rings, the Woman starts)

Girl – I hope you’ll be able to come to terms with this
yes, I’m sure you’ll know how to resign yourself to the situation, Mum.
(The Woman grows agitated)
I know you were never satisfied with me
whatever I said
you got angry with me and didn’t speak to me for months on end, like now,
if you don’t agree with something
you lock yourself into that mutism of yours
it drives me crazy
as if I didn’t exist.
Maybe you beat me
I can’t say for certain
But you must have
you’re violent
always rummaging in my wardrobe, in the drawers
throwing everything all over the place…
remember?
(The Woman grows extremely agitated)
Don’t start crying now, it’s too late
and don’t ask me to stay
it would be of no use, Mum
(the doorbell rings)

Woman – They’re here! Yes, it must be them

Girl – Who’s here?

Woman – Tell the American to go and open the gate

Girl – Who are they, Mum?
(a very long ring on the doorbell)

John – (looking far into the wings) Outside the gate…
tens of people
hundreds maybe, even more…
Even my bright eyes can’t take them all in
(a soft buzz of voices)
They seem quite determined to enter
Some of them trying to climb over the gate already
No, no, get down
line up, form a queue,
easy does it, ladies and gentlemen, order or I’ll be obliged to..
Let no one come beyond that gate (at the same speed as the flight controller in the film “Pushing Tin”)
3000 feet, back, back
let him pass , tail turbulence, veer 20 degrees left
I need you east, understood? America 4736 contact the New York tower

Woman – (to the Girl) This American… how dare he?
he can’t treat friends and relations like this.
Tell him to be on his way

Girl – Whose friends and relations?

Woman – It’s your mother and the entire village with her.
Your real mother, finally!
Content?

Girl – What? (she backs away frightened as The Woman closes in on her)

Woman – Friends, relations
They’ve all come along with her.
You’re content, aren’t you?
Content, no?
Come on, say it for once
Tell me I’ve made you happy

Girl – Have you done this to me?

Woman – (withdrawn ) It’s my gift to you
Besides
there was nothing else to do, see?
We can’t stand still the whole of our lives
A lovely surprise, see?
for the moment it will all probably seem strange, new,
But it’s just an impression
Who knows how much she may resemble you
your siblings too
you’ll soon forget me
if that’s how things are meant to be.
(she begins gathering up the plastic bags)

Girl – Why have you done this?

John – (to the Girl) There must be hundreds, thousands… All here for you!

Girl – I hate you! ( she approaches the Woman and tries to strike her but the Woman blocks her hand) How dared you? Why did you?

Woman – Go, she’s waiting for you.

John – (indicating somewhere in the wings)
It’s incredible… Come and see!

Girl – (she hides behind John, then leans out to peek into the wings)
Where is she? Can you see her?
(the buzz outside grows louder)

John – Standing in front of them all, at the centre, she’s waving to you
no, wait, back there; she must be the woman in the white dress
yes, yes, that’s her, she’s coming here
look, she’s smiling

Girl – Are you sure?

John – Absolutely
no, that’s not her
maybe she hasn’t arrived yet
They all resemble you.

Girl – Resemble me?

John – (addressing the wings) ladies and gentlemen… for goodness’ sake… don’t come beyond the gate..
2629… Continental… Continental over and… contact Boston tower… .attention… . because of ice… Boston at 15 hundred hours..
(to the Girl) I can’t hold them back any longer, you’ll have to show yourself!
(he tries to push her forward)
Woman –Yes, show yourself! (pushing her forward but The Girl resists)
Try calling her,
Come on, call her!
Ma-mma..Ma… mma
(angry) Come on! Ma… mma..

John – (to the Girl) Oh, come on! What does it take?
(The Girl opens and closes her mouth but, however hard she tries, she makes no sound)

John – Do you want them to kill us?

Girl – I can’t, it’s ridiculous

Woman – Come on, call her! She’s your mother, no? What are you waiting for?

Girl – (in a whisper) Ma… mma..

John – Louder! They can’t hear you

John and The Woman – (together, pushing her towards the wings) Ma-mma!

Girl – Let me be!
(Breaking free, she picks up a pair of bags filled with clothing and throws them off stage)
Away, away, away with you all!
And don’t come back again!
(The buzz fades. Long pause.
During a surreal bout of silence a shower of small children’s clothes and plastic toys arrives from the wings. The last object is a talking doll. The three turn to look at it)

Doll – Ma-mma…
Do you want to play with me?
I love you, mummy
give me your hand , mummy
Do you want to play with me?
(The Girl prods it with one of her feet)
give me your hand
mummy
I love you, mummy
and do you… and do you. .and do ..(it sticks)
(The Girl crushes it violently underfoot)
Red orange yellow green blue purple. Repeat!

Girl – Be quiet! (she picks up the dolls and bashes it against one of the chairs.
The doll continues to repeat her repertoire , but in disjointed spurts, her voice lower and lower, hoarser and hoarser. The Girl pulls off one of its arms, then the other. The doll falls silent)

Woman – You’ve ruined it. Ungrateful as usual (she returns to her repetitive tasks)

Girl – (to the Woman) All this to get rid of me?
Was there any need? You might have said: go away, it’s over as far as I’m concerned , you’re on your own from now on.
She could have said that, couldn’t she, John? Now what does she want?
I fail to understand… Do you expect her to go out there?

John – I don’t expect anything.
But I just can’t stand around and watch,
whatever you decide
I came only to ask the way to the sea
a piece of information, nothing else
and low and behold
I’ve lost my life
I no longer know who I am
what I used to do, if someone is waiting for me out there
if I have a home, children, friends, a job..

Girl – You’re John Cusack… (John expresses his exasperation with a gesture)
and you can’t wait to get back to Hollywood
I need you but you
want to leave me only you haven’t the courage to tell me so
Let’s not start this game all over again
It doesn’t work with me.
Always the same words
you don’t even realise it
endless, worn-out, useless words
from you and from her
a senseless vicious circle

Doll – Ring a ring o’ roses, we all fall down
we all fall down, all fall down!
(metallic childlike voice)

Girl – I told you to keep quiet! (angry, she picks the doll up and throws it into the wings; John tries in vain to stop her; the buzz begin again, faint but threatening,)

John – Are you mad? Why provoke them?

Girl – I provoke them..?
What are you saying, John? Are you on their side now?
They’ll soon break the gate down
come in through the cellar, climb over the windows…
If you go out now
they’ll want to hug you, touch you, kiss you…
take selfies with you
millions of followers in a few hours on Instagram
you’ll be rich and famous
But if you leave them waiting outside
it’ll be a catastrophe
nobody will be able to hold them back
they’ll tear you apart and sell the pieces on Internet

Girl – Are you trying to frighten me , John?
how stupid of you…
(pause)
Are you coming with me?
You’ve asked me so many times…
Now, I’m ready. If you leave me on my own now
we’ll never see each other ever again.
do you understand, John?

John – But they’re your mother and your people
A matter of family, I don’t belong here
We’ll meet again, if that’s what’s written, fate…

Girl – Harping on fate again, eh, John?
We’re together now
so you’ve said a thousand times

John – (holding her in his arms; The Girl remains still and rigid)
Appointment in New York, Central Park, Christmas Eve and… (John’s words and hers fade into the buzz which gradually becomes the sound of an MRI.
As they embrace, a strong light from the wings, a mixture of Aurora Borealis and the alien landing in Spielberg’s Close Encounters . The sound and buzz fade out)

Girl – (turning) But what’s that? (the lights becomes blinding, The Girl shades her eyes with her hands. She breaks free from John’s embrace) Leave me, John! (slowly, as if in a trance, she walks towards the light, shading her eyes)

Woman – Wait (she picks up the bags , goes after The Girl, pulls her back and makes her sit down. The Girl does not react, it’s as if she were hypnotised by the light which she continues to fix while The Woman takes the things she mentions out of the bag. John picks up his backpack and exits in the direction opposite the light)
Here, put on your hat or you’ll get your skin burnt… (he puts a broad-brimmed sun hat on the Girl’s head) And gloves, you can’t go out without them… (she makes her put on elbow-length satin gloves) Your sunglasses… (she puts them on her nose and fixes her hair) You’re all right, you can go now. (she helps the Girl up ; the Girl moves slowly towards the light while the buzz mixed with exclamations of wonder, grows louder
Darkness.
Confused sounds continue, mingled with others from the rest of the play (the doll, the crowd, Hotel California, Serendipity etc.) like a psychedelic vortex.
Sudden silence, darkness. Pause.
Noise and the sound of a lighter. The Woman is smoking , sitting in the dark. She’s wearing a coat or some other kind of clothing that imply she’s about to leave. The lights go back on as The Girl, enters with the tablet and the doll. The following dialogue suggests that both of them are lying, playing a part, following a pre-contrived script)

Woman – So, there you are?

Girl – Here I am.

Woman – So, you’ve come back

Girl – Yes, here I am.
(pause)

Woman – What about him?

Girl – we lost sight of each other.
it didn’t work out
(pause)And you?

Woman – I’m away. Back home

Girl – You understand,
I told you what would happen
but you didn’t listen to me
This is a terrible place
a yard, that’s all, with
the gate open all the time
people always coming and going
not a moment’s peace
no privacy.
Next time…
we’ll think twice before…
(pause. they look at each other, then look away)
Where did you put my things?

Woman – I thought I’d leave everything here.
Just in case…

Girl – Did you think I wouldn’t be coming back this time?
You hoped so, I know, maybe I did too..
but with John it didn’t work out.
There’s no point in our staying together
I told him
It’s all a mistake
But I love you, he said,
you belong to me, I belong to you
do you want to go against fate?
Throw away our serendipity?
(with a gesture of weariness)
For God’s sake, John, don’t insist
I can’t help you,
I don’t know how to solve your problems.
maybe they’re not even problems
A fixation, eh, John?
The two of us together? You and I alone?
It makes no sense, resign yourself to it
(imitating John)
Is that all you are capable of saying?
Not even one chance?
Didn’t you want to go skating in Central Park?
Have you changed your mind?
(The Doll emits short distorted sounds, as if the batteries worked only intermittently The Girl sits facing the Woman, she places the tablet and the Doll on the ground)

Woman – Did you go to New York?

Girl – Yes, I think so, yes

Woman – What’s New York like?

Girl – Like you imagine it, a kind of puzzle.

Woman – Did you go skating?

Girl – No, we didn’t
I told you, I lost sight of him.
In New York it’s easy to lose sight of someone.
I couldn’t stand him anymore
He kept saying the same things:
I’m John, you’re Chantelle
we belong to each other
I love you, love you, love you
do you love me?
because I love you
I belong to you
you belong to me…
(with a gesture of annoyance)
Don’t say that any more, John
look for someone else who’ll help you matter
love you, love you not.
We have to move forward
upwards or downwards
but straight ahead
and at the end of it all
we end up where we left off
and begin to explore all over again
looking at all as if for the very first time.
This is true fate, John.

Woman – Did you leave him?

Girl – We lost sight of each other.

Woman – And your mother?

Girl – Who?
(pause)

Woman – Come, let’s go home… (they rise and find themselves face to face )

Girl – ( reaching out to touch the Woman’s face and hair . They look at each other for a sole instant of true communication)
I’ve seen her.
She doesn’t resemble me.
(sweetly) She… she doesn’t resemble me

Woman – What can you do? Accept it

Girl – (surprised) Don’t you care?
(The Girl , stupefied, The Woman begins to leave)
You knew! You knew, eh?
(The Woman exits)
I hate you, understand?
I’ll never forgive you! Do you hear me?
But don’t leave me all alone!
(running after her) Wait! wait for me!
Sound of a gate being slammed violently.
Long pause
Squeak of a gate being opened gently
Enter John, he looks different, better groomed but more anonymous, like a clerk. He picks up the Doll and the Girl’s tablet.
He looks far into the wings , beyond the hedge as if searching for someone;; then he takes off his jacket and hangs it on the back of the chair; he puts the Doll and the devise on the seat. He turns on the Eagles singing Hotel California. The sound is that of a scratched disk and keeps sticking.

Doll – (singing in her own special fashion) Ring-a-ring-of-roses… pocket full o’… posies… posies… all fall… all fall down ..
John chooses another song, this time Frank Sinatra singing New York New York. As the music plays, he walks around the stage; then like a clerk getting his office ready for a day’s work , he turns on the lights: red for Christmas, the coloured decorations, the blinding white of the ice rink. He lifts the Doll up and holding her in his hands , he begins skating/dancing while the Doll emits indecipherable sounds. Finally, tired out, he drops into the chair , stares into space, then closes his eyes.
He doesn’t notice that snow has just begun to fall.

THE END