PLAY #106: ONE MOMENT (MARCH 16)

A wall on stage – the same wall as the last few plays maybe, or at least one that it is possible to stand on top of.

 

PARIS, a college freshman, leads HELEN, a graduate student, on top of the wall.

HELEN is probably the same HELEN from PLAY 104.

 

PARIS

Careful, you have to sort of duck for this bit…camera.

 

HELEN

What a cute little con you are!

 

PARIS can’t help a blush at being called ‘cute.’

HELEN doesn’t notice, walks to the edge of the wall, looks out.

 

HELEN

This is impressive. You can see-

 

PARIS

The whole city!

 

HELEN

Everything the university owns furled out in shining lights. I’m surprised the tours don’t come up here.

 

PARIS

Give them a few years and they’ll be charging admission.

 

HELEN

You’re a freshman, you’re not supposed to be cynical.

 

PARIS

I’m from the city. I was born cynical. I was probably a cynical zygote.

 

HELEN smiles, walks to the very edge.

 

PARIS

You don’t want to get too-

 

HELEN

I’m fine, Paris. I’ve survived all this time without falling over, I think I can make it another night.

 

HELEN looks at PARIS.

 

HELEN

What?

 

PARIS

Nothing.

 

HELEN

You’re trying to calculate what ‘all this time’ means?

 

PARIS

No!

 

HELEN

It’s impolite, you know.

 

PARIS

I’m a literature student. Can’t do math. (he goes for it.) Especially the kind with big numbers.

 

HELEN

Cheeky bastard.

 

PARIS shrugs, smiles.

HELEN fishes out a bottle of wine from her bag.

 

PARIS

You stole that from the-

 

HELEN

Yes.

 

HELEN drinks from the bottle, holds it out.

 

HELEN

The zygote doesn’t want to-

 

PARIS takes the bottle, slugs some.

 

PARIS

You’re not like my other professors.

 

HELEN

I’ll take that as a compliment. (beckons for wine) And I’m not a real professor anyway. Grad student. Not even an employee: they won’t let us unionize. So, really, I’m just a student that has to grade papers as well as write them.

 

PARIS

You’re definitely the coolest professor I have.

 

HELEN drinks, sits with feet dangling over the edge.

 

PARIS

Are you sure you should be?

 

HELEN

It’s okay.

 

PARIS sits beside her.

 

HELEN

So, you come here often?

 

PARIS

Now and then.

 

HELEN

Bit of quiet study time?

 

PARIS

Oh yeah. Reading the Greeks, you know?

 

HELEN

I do.

 

PARIS

You can see my old house from here.

 

HELEN

That’s the…what’s that building called?

 

PARIS

The Science building…nobody rich enough has bought it yet.

 

HELEN

You use to live there?

 

PARIS

Around there. University took it over. You know, the way they do.

 

HELEN

Eminent domain.

 

PARIS

Yeah, I know the word.

 

Pause.

 

PARIS

You think it’ll work, the divestment thing?

 

HELEN shrugs.

 

PARIS

That’s the thing your boyfriend is working on, right?

 

HELEN

Ex-boyfriend.

 

PARIS

Oh, I…

 

HELEN

It’s a recent phenomenon. As of three hours ago.

(beat.)

You don’t have to say anything, Paris. In fact, that would be preferable.

(beat.)

I’m not sure that he even noticed. Bad timing. There’s a meeting with the Board of Trustees tomorrow and of course they’ll be protesting, we’ll be protesting, he said, even though I haven’t gone to a meeting in months, maybe a year, because he still wanted to believe that we were in this grand fight together, although perhaps now I will be excused. Excised.

(beat.)

I have to go to a meeting, he said. In the middle of breaking up. Four years and then that.

(beat.)

You know why I really hate him right now? Because he’s making me into the worst sort of stereotype, the wife who doesn’t understand the noble cause, who wants her fine hero of a husband to spend more time with her, when he has the world to save, when climate change is like a giant fucking iceberg in the bed between us and that’s how he’ll see it, how he sees everything, through the lens of an enormous iceberg, when that’s not what it’s about at all.

 

Pause.

 

PARIS

I didn’t sign the petition.

 

HELEN

What?

 

PARIS

The divestment petition. I didn’t sign it. Like everybody else on the floor was. People were going around knocking on doors with their i-pads but I didn’t sign.

 

HELEN

Rebellious.

 

PARIS

Not that I don’t want to stop climate change. Or say ‘fuck you’ to the university. But they’ve been at it for two years. They need more than a petition, you know?

 

HELEN

Radical action?

 

PARIS

Yeah.

 

HELEN drinks.

 

HELEN

I am a deep believer in action.

 

Pause.

A thought hits PARIS.

 

PARIS

You’re not going to…

 

HELEN

What?

 

PARIS

You know…I should tell you, I went to a workshop, so I know about listening and I have some number on my phone…

 

HELEN stands, steps back, PARIS following.

 

HELEN

No! I’m not going to hurl myself from the top of whatever fucking building this is because I broke up with my partner.

 

PARIS

Good. I’m glad. I mean, apart from everything else, I’d probably get into a fuck-load of trouble.

 

HELEN

Haven’t I taught you anything? The girl always gets the blame in Western literature.

 

PARIS

I ruined the moment, right?

 

HELEN

There wasn’t a moment.

 

PARIS

No, there’s always a moment, that’s something you have taught me, like all these books have this moment where the tide turns. Like when you were all ‘I believe in action’ that would have been the time to…

 

HELEN

What?

 

PARIS

You know.

 

HELEN stands close to PARIS.

Several long seconds.

HELEN breaks away, picks up her satchel.

 

HELEN

It’s always the moment, Paris. And always not the moment. You get to choose.

 

HELEN hands PARIS the rest of the bottle of wine.

HELEN leaves.

 

PARIS looks out at the city, drinks.

 

 

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