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"Time comes to us softly, slowly. It sits beside us for a while. Then, long before we are ready, it moves on." (If You Come Softly)

I Would Hold You in My Arms but They Might Break

May 19, 2020

Curtain opens.

A 1970s kitchen that has not been updated since then lines the back wall. The cupboard doors hold an olive green colour even though many of them are cracked or gone completely. A frame of a boy hugging a girl sits alone on the counter to the left. On the right, a gas stove sits with an ancient kettle on its top. In the centre of the room is a thrifted table for two, with paint chips falling from its legs everyday. Perched on the edge is the recent obituary of LAURA’s mother, Joan. 

LAURA enters from stage right and picks up the kettle. She fills it with water from the rusted tap, situated in the middle of the counter, and returns it to the burner. She fiddles with the dials to get the fire going, sparking herself in the process. LAURA is tall, slim, and 18 years old. She holds herself with grace and confidence but acts as though she were on eggshells.

Three loud knocks hit the door at stage left. LAURA leaves the stovetop and cautiously opens the door. She is greeted by MARTY, her neighbour of the same age, who is too big for their small town.

LAURA (embraces MARTY in her arms): Afternoon Marty, I hadn’t expected to see you today. 

MARTY (enters the kitchen and hangs her long, navy coloured coat on the chair closest to the door): Felt the need to check in on you was all, I hope it’s okay if I come in.

LAURA (untruthfully): Yes of course, stay for as long as you please.

LAURA shuts the door after MARTY and finds the handle has come off in her hand. LAURA and MARTY both chuckle.

MARTY: I guess we’ll just have a view of the outside today, instead of closed doors.

LAURA (laughs): It’s a nice afternoon anyway. Here’s your coat though, it can get a little chilly from the wind.

LAURA picks up MARTY’s coat and hands it to her, admiring it all the while.

MARTY: Thank you Laura, I had something I wanted to talk to you abo- Laura! (walks over to pick up the frame and analyses it) Why on Earth do you still have this photo of you and Tadhg on your counter? (sympathetically) You both look so happy, but he broke up with you two weeks ago. I would have thrown this out the window by now.

LAURA (runs and grabs the picture from MARTY’s hands): It’s foolish really, I meant to throw it out. Must’ve slipped away from me, it’ll be gone by the next time you come to visit.

LAURA returns the frame to its spot, this time face down. As she turns around to MARTY, she knocks it off the counter, shattering it to pieces. LAURA stares at the ground, wishing desperately she had not just done that.

MARTY (finds a broom in the corner and cautiously walks over to the glass): Oh Laura, don’t worry about it. I’ll clean up the glass. (jokingly) It seems as though you break everyone you come in contact with lately, doesn’t it?

LAURA looks up at MARTY with tears in her eyes. MARTY begins cleaning up the glass and then realizes her mistake. 

MARTY (flustered): No, no, no, I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant. I had intended to say everything, you just broke the handle earlier and now the frame. (untruthfully) You don’t crack all your relationships, not at all. 

LAURA (having just had an epiphany): I do, don’t I Marty? First my mother left me behind and then I left Tadhg, even though that was for good reason. (untruthfully) Oh no, I mean he left me. I’m just confusing myself. (confidence growing stronger now) You know, I hardly even want you here and all you’ve given me is kindness. I feel stuck in th-

MARTY stares at LAURA, unsure of what to say next. The kettle begins to whistle loudly, interrupting LAURA. Both girls turn and watch the kettle for a moment.

LAURA (walking over to the kettle): Oh I’m sorry Marty, now I’ve made this awkward. Would you like some tea? Stay awhile?

MARTY (begrudgingly): Uhh sure.

LAURA gets two cups from the cupboard next to the stove and pours the tea into them. She returns to sit at the table with MARTY while handing her a drink. LAURA and MARTY stare at each other, neither knowing what to say next.

LAURA (awkwardly): What a lovely coat you’re wearing Marty, where did you get it?

MARTY (giggling): It’s a funny story real-

In MARTY’s laughter, her hand had slipped and the cup crashed on the ground. MARTY instinctively grabs the broom she had once used for the frame and begins clearing away the mug pieces. LAURA rips the broom from her hand and hugs it to her chest.

LAURA (clearly upset): No! Go, just go! You’ve done enough.

MARTY (quickly leaving through the still open door): All I’ve ever been is caring to you Laura! Even after you pushed everyone else away, I’m still here, trying to reach you. (tears streaming down her face) But you’re too broken for help. 

LAURA’s eyes stay glued to MARTY even after she has left. She drops the broom with a loud thud but does not flinch. Eventually, her gaze moves to the shattered cup. She walks over and kneels beside it.

LAURA carefully picks up the still fully intact handle and turns it over in her palm a couple times. She tries to drink from it, like she would with an undamaged mug, and comes up with nothing. She stands and stares directly at the audience, breathing heavily.

LAURA: I have broken everything, haven’t I?

She drops the handle and it loudly shatters at the same time as the stage goes black.

Curtain closes.

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1 Comment
  • books4life

    Whoa! Even though the competition has passed, this is still really good.

    8 months ago