⋆ katie ⋆

United States

she/her ⋆ infp ⋆ enneagram 3w4 ⋆ ravenclaw ⋆ type a
[ femme & actress & activist ]

Message to Readers

any feedback is appreciated:)

Unfinished Tattoos and the Fine Game of Nil.

May 19, 2020

Cast of Characters
DESI: a 20-something woman still adapting to city life. She wears a tattoo of some small cursive text and an outline of a flower on her arm.
ALICE: a 14-year-old girl, very introverted and bright in a unique way. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Alice sees the world through a different lens.


(Tuesday morning. A bus stop on a subdued city street. Sounds of rain. Puddles line the sidewalk. Though traffic can be heard distantly, the city is oddly quiet.)

(DESI, a woman in her 20s, sits on the bench, waiting for the bus. She scrolls through her phone.)

(ALICE, a 14-year-old girl on the autism spectrum, clambers onstage. She carries a large backpack and wears thick noise-canceling ear protectors. She sits down on the other end of the bench and begins scribbling in a notebook.)

DESI
Hey.

(ALICE looks up at DESI like she’d broken some unspoken rule before turning her focus back to her book. After a moment, she begins to quietly sound out what she writes.)

ALICE
Pub pots. Stub pop. Post bup. 

DESI
What are you writing?

ALICE
Bus stop. Mixed up.

DESI
Huh.

(The awkward silence returns. DESI goes back to looking at her phone for a moment before curiosity gets the better of her.)

DESI
Why don’t you write ‘Bus Stop’ down first?

ALICE
I can’t do that. That’s not the game.

DESI
Then what’s the game?

ALICE
Rearrange them. Create new words. Try to make as many new words as possibles Use all the letters.

DESI
So… does this game have a name?

ALICE
Anagrams.

(DESI nods. She looks over ALICE’s shoulder to see her progress. ALICE recoils.)

ALICE
No! It’s not done!!

DESI
Okay, sorry.

ALICE
Pus bots. Sob pout. 

DESI
That’s a cool one. Both ‘sob’ and ‘pout’ are sad words…
(an awkward silence. DESI reads ALICE’s name from her notebook)
So… your name is Alice, huh? I’m Desi.

(ALICE looks at DESI judgmentally again. DESI shrinks back and swallows her comment.)

DESI
Never mind. Note taken.

ALICE
You don’t have a notepad. 

DESI
I don’t need one.

ALICE
But you said ‘note taken’. You don’t have notes.

DESI
(changing the topic)
Where are you going on the bus?

ALICE
The learning center.

DESI
What do you do there?

ALICE
English and science and math and reading and PE and art and all kinds of cool things. My favorite is art. I like drawing.

DESI
So you’re going to the high school?

ALICE
No. The learning center is different. My neighbor calls it the ‘tard school. Says it’s for ‘special kids’. I think it’s ‘cause he’s jealous that he’s not cool enough to get in.

DESI.
That’s… huh. Okay, then.
(another long pause. ALICE keeps scribbling in her notebook.)
Why do you like rearranging letters so much?

ALICE
You’re supposed to.

DESI
What? I… I don’t get it.

ALICE
Letters. They’re made so you can arrange them. It’s a big puzzle. I’m un-solving and re-solving the puzzle.

DESI
(reaching over and pointing at a line in ALICE’s book)
Huh. I like that idea. I wonder if you—

ALICE
Whoa, what’s that?

DESI
On my arm?

(ALICE nods.)

DESI
It’s a tattoo.

(ALICE cocks her head in confusion.)

ALICE
What’s it say?

DESI
Oh, it says “tu me completas.” It’s Spanish. It’s… it means ‘we’re complete when we’re together’.

ALICE
Who?

DESI
My mamá.

ALICE
Who wrote it?

DESI
She did. Then an artist drew it.

ALICE
The artist didn’t finish it. The flower’s still blank.

DESI
It’s supposed to be like that.

ALICE
Can I finish it?

DESI
What?

ALICE
Give it color. Make it complete.

DESI
Oh, uh? I mean— I like the plain black. I wanted it to be simple.

ALICE
I meant with markers. Like these…

(ALICE retrieves a pencil case from her backpack. It has washable markers inside.)

DESI
Oh, uh, they’re washable?

ALICE
Yeah.

(ALICE has already uncapped a marker. She takes DESI’s hand and begins coloring on and around her tattoo.)
(DESI almost pulls away, but doesn’t.)

ALICE
I’ve never seen you here before.

DESI
I’ve never taken this bus before. I’ve actually never, uh, I haven’t been downtown too much. I just got here.

ALICE
Where’d you come from?

DESI
Minneapolis.

ALICE
Ew.

DESI
(with a laugh)
Yeah, that’s about right. 

ALICE
Why’d you leave?

DESI
I couldn’t have said it any better than you did. ‘Ew.’

(ALICE smiles. She still colors away at DESI’s tattoo.)

ALICE
Are you lost?

DESI
That’s a loaded question.

ALICE
What’s that mean?

DESI
It’s just, that’s a lot to ask someone.

ALICE
Not really. Just if you know where you’re going on the bus.

DESI
I know where I’m going on the bus. Just… not really in life.

ALICE
I’m going to the learning center. Then to my house.

DESI
Good plan.

ALICE
Where are you going? In life.

DESI
(clearly taken aback)
Um. College, now. Then, I’ll see. Maybe get a boyfriend. Hopefully, get a good job designing software. Be happy.

ALICE
Then what?

DESI
Are you coloring the center of the flower green? I’ve never seen a flower with a green middle before.

ALICE
Yeah. It’s different. 

(Silence as ALICE colors. DESI looks on until ALICE speaks again.)

ALICE
What are you scared of?

DESI
(with a laugh) Back at it with the loaded questions, missy.

ALICE
You look like you’re scared of me coloring the flower green.

DESI
Oh. I… No. I’m not, actually.

ALICE
Are you scared?

DESI
...I guess.

ALICE
Why?

DESI
I’m on my own out here. I mean, new place and everything. And new people, college, trying to find a job…

ALICE
You’re not on your own.

DESI
You’re the first person I’ve talked to other than my roommate in six days.

ALICE
But you aren’t alone. Look around?

(DESI does. She fails to understand ALICE’s point.)

ALICE
There are so many people out here. Too many for you to feel lonely.

(DESI is clearly uncomfortable, but in the best way. She ponders.)
(ALICE finishes coloring DESI’s tattoo and recaps her marker.)

DESI
What does this mean? All this.

ALICE
All what?

DESI
Life. I guess.

ALICE
That’s one of my favorite anagrams. “The meaning of life.”

DESI
What’s the answer?

ALICE
Mix up the letters. It says “the fine game of nil.”

DESI
That’s… bleak.

ALICE
No. 

(DESI eyes ALICE confusedly.)

ALICE
It’s nice. You don’t have a path or a meaning or anything to follow. You just have to do what you do. Like, I get on this bus every day to the learning center because I want to. If I went to the shops uptown and looked around all day instead… nobody could stop me from doing it. Maybe it wouldn’t be the smartest idea, but I can still do it. Free will. Mix up the letters: it spells ‘fewer ill’. Free will is good. It stops people from hurting.

DESI
But what does this all mean? For right now?

ALICE
It means the bus is coming.

DESI
Yeah…?

ALICE
The bus is coming and you don’t have to get on it. Where do you want to go?

DESI
On the bus?

ALICE
In life. The bus is just a little part of it.

(In the distance: the sound of a bus stopping and opening its doors.)

ALICE
I have to go to school. Where did you say you were going? I mean, on the bus.

(DESI looks around, drinking in the details of this one tiny corner of the giant city that waits for her.)

DESI
I… I think I’m gonna stay right here for a little longer. ‘Tu me completas.’ Thanks for finishing the drawing.

ALICE
Thanks for playing the game. I know it’s silly.

DESI
Not at all. It’s nice. It’s reassuring, knowing I can just… rearrange anything, whenever I want.

ALICE
That’s what life is about.

(ALICE gets on the bus and waves to DESI.
The bus pulls away.)

DESI
Making something out of nothing. I can do that much.

(DESI studies her newly-colored tattoo, then looks up and examines the world coming to life around her.)
(Lights fade.)

END OF PLAY.

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  • May 19, 2020 - 2:27am (Now Viewing)

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1 Comment
  • Wicked!

    This is such a nice, heartwarming piece. I love this :)


    8 months ago