Spiderwort

United States

Under the Light of Punishing Stars

May 17, 2020

Under the Light of Punishing Stars


Cast of Characters:
MHARI (muh-HA-ree): 32, female, ironed suit, wedding ring, strong willed
AIDEN: 29, male, college ring, ironed suit, loud, fancies himself charming
DUNCAN: 54, male, green tweed suit, big belly, white hair
    
Note: A slash indicates a character speaking over another.


Lights up. Center stage is a double desk. On the right side is a picture of MHARI and her wife. On the left side is bright memorabilia from expensive vacation destinations. Both desks have a phone and computer on them. Stage right is another desk with a worn chair facing it. A few old books are on it as well as a computer and phone. MHARI is on the phone at her desk.

MHARI
Okay… Yes. Definitely. We can make that possible. Would you like to come in for a meeting on the 15th or the 18th?… Alright sounds perfect. So the 15th at 2:00?… Great. See you then… Thank you! Have a nice day too.
            
(MHARI puts the phone down.)
                                                      
AIDEN
What’s the word, early bird?

MHARI
Not today, Aiden. You’re already an hour late.

AIDEN
So I’m practicing some pick up lines, and I want your opinion. There’s the classic: What’s shakin' bacon? Or this more creative one: Hey baby, you tired? How about coming to sit on my lap and let’s talk about whatever’s on your mind?
(MHARI stares at him in disgust. AIDEN disregards her.)
Took me a week and three days to perfect it. Oh! This one’s my personal favorite: Picture a handsome man-- that’s me-- walking along the street when he suddenly sees a beautiful lady in distress. The handsome man-- that’s me-- doesn’t like seeing this beautiful lady upset! So the handsome man-- that’s me-- goes up to the woman, and says “The phrase is ‘what’s up!’ not, ‘what’s down!’ Hey, girl, hey, why the frown?”          
(Beat)
Wha’dya say, Mara?
    
MHARI  
(Getting up)
Mhari. My name isn’t that hard to say.
    
AIDEN
Hey! Where are you going? You didn’t give me your opinion!
    
MHARI
I’m going to give my report to Duncan. He wants our numbers today so he can decide who to give the promotion to, remember?
  
AIDEN
Oh, yeah, about that--
(The phone rings. MHARI sits back down and picks it up)
  
MHARI
Hello? This is Mhari from Bell Insuran-- Oh! Hi, sweetie! What’s up?… Oh?!… Honey, really?
(MHARI tries hard to contain her smile as she talks.)
I’m so happy for you-- for us!… I can’t believe it… Yes, definitely! See you tonight. I love you!
(MHARI puts the phone down.)

AIDEN
Soooo, what I was going to say before we were so rudely interrupted by your boyfriend--
                           
MHARI
Wife. We’ve gone over this: 
(Repetitively)
Her name is Delah and just because you’ve never met her doesn’t mean she doesn’t exist. 
(MHARI gets up.)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go give Duncan my report.
    
AIDEN
Yeah… so what I was going to say is that the boss man already gave me the promo.
    
MHARI
Sorry?
    
AIDEN
Yeah-- he gave it to me last night.

MHARI
He said he was going to give it at the end of today.
    
AIDEN
He loves me, what can I say.
(MHARI sits back down. AIDEN should be back in his seat by now as well.)
  
MHARI
Really? You’ve only been working here for a few weeks. You barely even do anything!/ How’d you manage that?

AIDEN
/I beg to differ!
                    
AIDEN
Oh, it’s very simple Maria--

MHARI
Mhari.

AIDEN
Whatever-- I’m insulted. But since you asked so nicely, the answer is very simple. I came, I saw, I conquered.
(AIDEN stands up and begins to exaggeratedly paint his story.)
I came: I came to this company but a lowly man, in search-- no in need of a job. This opportunity opened itself up to me and of course I had to take it. I needed money-- I needed to live. I saw: I saw that the big man was giving a promotion. Despite being here the shortest amount of time, I had produced the best numbers! I worked very hard for my first week here then realized I was working a bit too hard and really didn’t need to be doing that, so I just did what I had to do and nothing more. The key there is to only do the bare minimum, but have the appearance of doing so much more. I conquered: I conquered my job by appearing to be the best insurance man people had ever met. Here’s a little secret: It’s all about making them love you first, and then begging for forgiveness later if you have to. Whenever I need to turn in my numbers, I just scatter a few at the end of the original number then end with seven. Seven’s such an innocent number, no one suspects a thing! It was so much, but after all that, here I am. I came,
(Pause)
I saw,
(Pause)
I conquered.
(AIDEN bows.)
Thank you.

MHARI
Wow. That’s a lot of work.

AIDEN
Thanks for acknowledging that Mary--

MHARI
Mhari.

AIDEN
Who cares? I’m glad we can continue to be professional about this. Also, I’m going to Bora Bora next week, a um… a-- a family thing. You have to cover for me.

MHARI
No way.
(MHARI rises from her desk and walks towards DUNCAN’s office. AIDEN exits sometime during this next conversation but it should not draw the audience's attention.)
    
DUNCAN
Mhari! What can I do for you?
    
MHARI
(Handing him a folder.)
Well, here’s my report but Aiden said you already gave him the promotion? You told me and everyone else you were going to give it at the end of the day.
    
DUNCAN
Yes, well, he and I had a little talk last night, and even though he’s new, he’s produced the best numbers that anyone at this company has ever done in only three weeks. I am interested in keeping him around, and he said that if I wanted him to stay he needed the promotion so that he could be certain he could provide for himself and his family down the line.

MHARI
I see.
(Beat)
I want the promotion or I quit.

DUNCAN
Beg your pardon?

MHARI
If you don’t give me the promotion I’m quitting. I come in every morning, I do my work, I do it well, and I have good numbers. Maybe they aren’t as big as Aiden’s, but Aiden manipulates his numbers. I sit across from him, and he does nothing but harass me everyday. I need the promotion more than he does. His future family is currently non-existent. My future family is real. I have a wife, I just got off the phone with her, and we have a kid coming our way! If I don’t start making more money, I will have to find a new job. I like working here because of what this company promotes! Human rights for everyone and the charity that this company does to support important groups, right? But I can’t stay here when the newest staff member is homophobic and sexist!

DUNCAN
That is a very serious accusation you just made. Mhari, if this continues to be a problem, we’ll meet again. I hope it doesn’t come to that.
(MHARI exits DUNCAN’s office in frustration. She goes to AIDEN’s desk and finds a folder. She looks through it then takes a picture with her phone. She exits. AIDEN enters and sits at his desk. MHARI enters. It should be clear it is the next day.)

AIDEN
Rise and shine, clementine! 
(MHARI doesn’t answer.)
Aww, Mirah don’t be upset.

MHARI
(Annoyed)
It’s Mhari, Aiden.

AIDEN
Woah, there. No need to get angry. Look, I needed it more than you. I’m interested in starting a family-- a real family-- a father, mother, son--
    
MHARI
How do you know about my conversation with Duncan? And are you suggesting that my marriage is fake?
                    
AIDEN
I mean, yeah. A woman and woman? C’mon Marla--
 
MHARI
MY NAME IS MHARI!
(Tense silence for five seconds as MHARI stares at AIDEN and he puts his hands up in an “I surrender” kind of way and backs away from his desk.)

AIDEN
Easy, easy, there. Calm down.
    
MHARI
Don’t tell me to calm down. I have every right to be upset.
    
AIDEN
You know, maybe you could smile while you talk or ease up your tone--
    
MHARI
Excuse me?
    
AIDEN
What?
  
MHARI
Did you just ask me to smile?
    
AIDEN
Yeah. See--
(AIDEN smiles)
We can be friends.
    
MHARI
(Packing up her desk)
No, Aiden. 
(MHARI walks towards DUNCAN’s desk.)
Duncan?
  
DUNCAN
We would love for you to stay with us.
    
MHARI
So I’m getting the promotion and Aiden is getting fired? 
    
DUNCAN
Aiden getting fired? When did that become part of the equation?
    
MHARI
Here’s proof. 
(MHARI shows him her phone.)
    
DUNCAN
I spoke with him last night and it seems like you misheard him. 
    
MHARI
Excuse me? I just showed you evidence.

DUNCAN
He said he cheats in video games, and that is no crime. Now, it isn’t commendable either, but you really do have to be careful about what information you go throwing around. Now, with this being said, I am letting you both on a warning. He was unaware that his presence made you feel uncomfortable, and given that you are in a marriage with a woman, I would understand if a male presence threatened you. That being said, we are all professionals about this and if you can put this behind you, so can we.

MHARI
I’m sorry, but you’re letting him stay despite the fact that he doesn’t actually do anything? I just gave you proof.

DUNCAN
He is my son, Mhari,/ and one day he will be the head of this company and he has much to learn. I hope you decide to stay with us. I can offer you a raise this time next year if you do.

MHARI
/WHAT?!

MHARI
For staying here? Are you bribing me? I’m not going to stay only to eventually work for your son. You’re no good either. The both of you-- you act like you’re better than me when you really aren’t. You’re giving something to your son for no other reason than he’s your son. I hate to break it to you, but he is the most misogynistic person I have ever met. I’m not going to work for someone who is fine with their child being that way and doing nothing about it. Especially when they employ them and completely disregard their other coworkers.
(MHARI begins to exit, picking up her box on the way. AIDEN watches her go. DUNCAN exits his office as:)

AIDEN
That time of the month?
 (MHARI turns around.)
  
MHARI
Excuse me? 
    
AIDEN
You’ve just been acting, like, really emotional and angry all the time.
    
MHARI
Yeah, because of you. 
    
AIDEN
Whaaaaat? C’mon. What did I ever do to you?
(DUNCAN steps out of his office.)
                 
DUNCAN
I didn’t want to believe it. 

AIDEN
Daddy-o! You can’t believe what?

DUNCAN
You! Mhari doesn’t have a track record of lying but I wanted to believe that you weren’t all that she said you were. 
(Beat in which DUNCAN’s lips move but no sound comes out. He is struggling to do the right thing.)
You’re fired, Aiden.

AIDEN
Woah there, big guy, you can’t do that. I’m your only son! I need to learn how to run the company, remember? Your words, not mine!
                     
DUNCAN
Yes, I did say that but it appears you still need to grow a lot more before you can run a business. 
(To MHARI)
I apologize for not believing you earlier. If you would like to remain here, I would be more than happy to have you back.

MHARI
(Laughing in disbelief)
I don’t think so. I’m glad you came to your senses, but I’d rather work at a place that honors and respects all their employees. 
(MHARI exits. The stage is cleared and AIDEN is by himself, carrying his box of memorabilia. The sounds of birds chirping or cars honking plays. Sound is flexible, it just needs to be clear he is outside. MHARI enters.)

AIDEN
No one’s day, huh?
  
MHARI
Not yours, but for me it’s perfect. I never have to see you or your fa-- Duncan-- sorry I still can’t believe you both are related-- again, so all is well.

AIDEN
Why would you do this to me,/Marina? 

MHARI
/Excuse me? You brought this onto yourself. Since day one you’ve been giving me a hard time for being a woman, for being lesbian-- for even existing! I thought Duncan was better than that. I thought he had started a company with some respect for everyone. At least he had the decency to fire you. But it’s sad that he only did after he saw you in action. But you-- you are so much worse than Duncan. You screwed with your numbers, that’s a federal offense. You’re homophobic, sexist, and have some problem with needing to say my name constantly wrong. Frankly, I’m glad that after today I’ll never have to lay eyes on you again.
    
AIDEN
I just wanted to be good at something.
    
MHARI
Congratulations. You succeeded in becoming the world's biggest jerk.

AIDEN
Hey now--

MHARI
You will never change my mind.
  
 AIDEN
 But how did--
     
MHARI    
Simple. I came, I saw, I conquered. And now I’m leaving. Forever.
(MHARI exits as lights go down.)









 

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  • May 17, 2020 - 8:34am (Now Viewing)

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3 Comments
  • Ziggy

    Wow, wow, wow. You write really well. I love this, I have no words.


    8 months ago
  • sunny.v

    this was so so satisfying to read! casual sexism is never just “haha women suck”, it’s always the little things, like “smile, won’t you?” and “it’s that time of the month?” and you conveyed this PERFECTLY. mhari’s name constantly being mispronounced by a white man who won’t bother to get it right is so satisfying to see acknowledged (i actually wrote a piece about POC’s names recently!!). lastly, the subtle but all the more blatant homophobia from aiden: his refusal to recognize that she has a WIFE, not a boyfriend, and she’s going to have a REAL family with a mother and a mother and a kid. wonderful!! i’d honestly love to see more of mhari and her wife and kid!!! nice job!


    8 months ago
  • Maya J

    Wow. I really like this. I love how you incorporated so much in so little like feminism, LGBT rights etc. Also love the plot twist! Keep writing for sure.


    8 months ago