July 1st 2013
Sewanee Young Writers Conference
by Julia Debski
Alice sits in an armchair, hunched over in a dark room. The black curtains are drawn over the windows, letting no light in. Audience can’t see her face. It’s quiet- no music, no animals, no noise from outside. Then a small clock chimes somewhere in the dark.
Alice Oh shut up with that noise! I heard enough of it already.
Clock continues to chime. Alice turns and throws a glass at the clock. It smashes, and the chiming stops. The audience can now see her face- pale, and set in a frown. Haunted.
Alice I swear to God, if I have one more interruption...
There is a knock at the door. Alice looks like she is considering throwing something at the door as well.
Alice Don’t come in! That’s what the sign on the door is for- stay out!
Betty (offstage) Oh honestly, you are ridiculous. You open this door this instant. We are going sort you out.
Alice I don’t want to be sorted out, damn it!
Betty picks the lock to Alice’s door and enters.
Alice Oh shit, how’d it open? Doesn’t matter. Get out, out! Leave me alone.
Betty No. You can’t just stay in this room for the rest of eternity, that’s insane. You need to get your life started again.
Alice I’m perfectly happy in here, really.
Betty You call living in the dark and isolation being happy? Come on, we both know you are far from happy.
Alice I am happy!
Betty You are not!
Alice So what should I do to become happy?
Betty (hesitant) Well you could...
Alice Spit it out!
Betty You could get a job.
Alice Hell no. Absolutely not. No way.
Betty You need to get your life up and running again, and you need money to do that. To go see movies, go out and eat, buy things. You need a job.
Alice (becoming angry) I don’t want to start my life again. Why should I? I don’t want to do any of those things.
Betty You’ve always been such a pessimist.You can’t live your life out in here. Eventually, the money you have saved for the rent will run out. You will need to step outside this room eventually. Come on, we’ll do it together.
Betty moves forward quickly and grabs Alice’s arm, dragging her out of the arm chair and towards the door. Taken by surprise, Alice doesn’t manage to fight back at first. They struggle for a moment before Alice breaks free.
Alice What the hell? Get off me! Don’t touch me! (pause) How can I make myself clear? I don’t want to go out there, I can’t go out there. How can I go out there and live my life when I can never escape what happened? That town, they don’t want me. I’m dirty to them.
Betty You are not dirty. It wasn’t your fault. Don’t let what happened, and what a few people say affect your life. Otherwise you are letting him win.
Alice Him. We can’t even say his name. He has won. He took what he wanted and left me behind a building. No matter what, I’m better off here.
Betty Oh dear...
Betty moves forward to hug Alice. Alice quickly steps away, holding her hands in front of her in defense. She trips over something, not being able to see it in the dark.
Alice I don’t want a job.
Betty Okay, so you don’t want a job. But you have to at least start getting out more.
Betty Because you are stronger than this. I know you. We’ll do it together, one step at a time.