K. A. Laity
ONE Slightly less timid.
[Seated on a rock on an otherwise empty stage, OTHER and ONE side by side. ONE is reading the Book.]
OTHER: Are you done yet?
ONE: Just this bit more.
[Silence except perhaps for OTHERíS impatient tapping while ONE finishes reading. At last ONE closes the book with some satisfaction, sighs and hands it over to OTHER.]
[immediately starts reading while standing, pacing a little]
ONE: [chin on hands] Do you ever wonderó?
ONE: [softer] Do you ever wonderó?
OTHER: Iím trying to read!
ONE: I know that, but donít you think we should talk about it?
OTHER: No! Now, shhhh.
[OTHER is silent for a while, but occasionally looking over at ONE who stares into space.]
Do you think we should -- you know, talk about it?
ONE: [a little petulant] Not if you donít want toó
OTHER: Itís not -- I didnít say -- itís just I need to finish this bit.
ONE: Go ahead. I wonít interrupt.
[ONE stares off into the distance again. OTHER keeps looking up from reading, distracted.]
OTHER: [finally closing book] Well!
OTHER: I thought you wanted to talk about it?
ONE: Only if you do.
OTHER: Oh, donít be like that. What did you think?
ONE: Iím not sure.
OTHER: Did you like theó?
ONE: Well, yes, of course.
ONE: Oh, you didnít?
OTHER: I never said that.
ONE: But you looked somewható
OTHER: Well, you have to admitó
ONE: I donít see that at all.
OTHER: Well, maybe itís just me.
ONE: Oh, here we go again.
OTHER: What do you mean?
ONE: It just always comes back to this.
OTHER: I neveró
ONE: Oh, but you always do.
OTHER: Not true! Youíre just jumping to conclusions because I saidó
ONE: But you didnít even say, you just always implyó
OTHER: No, you always infer -- and not always from what I actually say.
ONE: Perhaps if you ever finished a sentenceó
OTHER: I wouldnít because you always interrupt.
ONE: Iíd never, itís you who inevitablyó
OTHER: And there, thatís another one, ďinevitably,Ē as if I never change.
ONE: Do you though? Do any of us?
OTHER: I do.
ONE: [laughs] Suddenly youíre all certainty.
OTHER: [shrugs] I can be when I want to be.
ONE: But not when I want you to be.
OTHER: Ah ha! So this is about you.
ONE: I just wanted to know what you thought about itó
OTHER: Well, let me finish.
[reads a bit longer, eventually closes book]
ONE: All right, all right -- well, then?
OTHER: [pause] Did you like it?
OTHER: No, really -- I thought I did at firstó
ONE: Until itó
OTHER: Yeah, and then I began to wonderó
ONE: So did I! It wasnít very true to life then, was it?
OTHER: Is that a good measure?
ONE: As good as any, donít you think?
OTHER: Iím not too sure. [beat] What if itís true to life, but itís not the life weíve lived?
[they look at each other, look at audience, then suddenly look away to opposite sides]
ONE: I onceó
ONE: Oh, nothing.
[silence for a few beats]
OTHER: Itís only a book, right?
ONE: [laughs] Why were we reading it anyway?
OTHER: You know, it was recommended byó
ONE: Oh, thatís right.
OTHER: She thought it was veryó
ONE: Well, she would.
Not that it matters anyway.
OTHER: No, no -- weíre perfectly happy, right?
ONE: Perfect. [pause] What a word. A state of being perfect. Without a flaw.
OTHER: [shifting uncomfortably] Well, in a manner of speaking, I suppose.
ONE: Can we be without a flaw Ďin a manner of speakingí?
OTHER: I was only sayingó
ONE: Oh, letís not argue.
OTHER: Whoís arguing?
ONE: I know.
OTHER: Know what? Itís not as ifó
ONE: But it is, you know.
OTHER: I just wanted to share the experience.
OTHER: Well, you know what I meanó
ONE: I suppose.
OTHER: What now?
ONE: Itís nothing.
OTHER: It is, or you wouldnít say that.
ONE: I said, itís nothing.
OTHER: It never is when you say that.
ONE: Well, donít magnify it.
OTHER: Ooh, Ďmagnifyí! Nice word that. Very appropriate.
ONE: Are you trying to be ironic?
ONE: Well, it doesnít suit you.
OTHER: I think it suits me down to the ground.
ONE: Wow, thatís quite an original expression.
OTHER: Youíre doing it again.
ONE: Itís that damn book.
OTHER: It was supposed to make us feel better, she said.
ONE: She was so very wrong.
OTHER: I think itís the book thatís wrong.
ONE: You donít think itísÖus?
OTHER: [holding up book] Noólook. Even the bindingís cheap.
ONE: If it were really worth somethingó
OTHER: Of course, butó
ONE: Youíre right. I donít know what I was thinkingó
OTHER: We were thinking.
ONE: Chuck it.
OTHER: [surprised laugh] Right here?
ONE: Yes, chuck it.
OTHER: [Throws it on the ground in front of ONE. Both stare at it for a few beats.] Good riddance, eh?
ONE: Yes. [exchanged looks, then both staring at the book a little longer]
OTHER: Letís go.
[They do not, however, move immediately. Eventually OTHER steps up to take ONEís hand.]
OTHER: Letís go.
[This time they go, albeit slowly. They stop when OTHER is off stage, ONE still on, eventually stretching the linked hands between them. ONE looks back at the book lying on the floor.]
[Pause for a few more beats, staring at the book, and finally exit.]