I am this pretty shell with no depth under the surface. I have spent so long creating and cultivating this image of the perfect human being that I forgot to fill this human being with substance. It wasn’t until I was almost completely shattered that I came to the realization, I am human. I feel emotions and I’m not a perfect shell. I have been on the bathroom floor, crying, curled up in a ball, waiting for the last fiber holding my heart together, to snap. I have picked myself up from that floor and not given up on friendship and love even though I should have left him in the dust. I placed my self-worth in the hands of a tyrant, a parasite, a dirty bomb. Then the tyrant was overthrown. The parasite sucked out all the life and unlatched. The dirty bomb went off and I was blown to bits.
But like a magnet to iron fillings, my pieces found each other and reassembled. I may be a shell of the perfect human being and everything I aspire to be, but the shell is no longer empty. I am still broken and raw and healing, but there is something beautiful about the process of coming back from a loss. This break proved to me that I am human and that you can survive a broken heart. Maybe one day my internal fabric will be as strong and lustrous as my shell.
Alice, a young 20 year old woman. She is guarded and pessimistic from hardship, but her hard exterior is just an act.
Grant, a 23 year old man. He is from a wealthy family, priming him to become a politician. He is looking to escape.
Daisy, a dying 52 year old woman. Daisy is Alice’s Aunt, her only remaining relative. Daisy is trying to bestow her dying wisdom upon Alice. She dies and serves as the narrator for the rest of the play.
Setting: The scene takes place in a hospital room and the hall outside. Upstage there is a door which leads to a hallway. There is a bed in the center of the room. A wooden chair is set close to the bed and a television set in front of the bed. The TV is muted, but playing the national news.
Act 1, Scene 1
Daisy is lying in bed, asleep. Alice is in the chair holding Daisy’s hand. Alice is quietly wiping tears away from her eye. Alice breathes in deeply, stands up, releases Daisy’s hand, and turns off the TV. Daisy awakes.
(Daisy pushes the bed remote to sit up)
(Turns around and smiles)
I’m not going anywhere. I just needed to stand for a bit. While I’m up, can I get you anything?
Oh no, I’m fine.
(Chuckles but turns into a strong, body-rocking cough)
Well as fine as I can be right now. I want to tell you something important.
(Her face frowns in a perplexed manner.)
What is it?
(She walks back over to the chair, sits, and takes Daisy’s hand again.)
(In a serious, but tender tone begins speaking, but Alice periodically interrupts.)
I remember that night 12 years ago (beat) catching the red eye here from Montana. I remember walking through those glass doors and there you were wide-eyed, hugging your knees to your chest. I was split in half, but I saw you and put myself back together. And I’ve held on for 12 years - even after you could stand on your own. (They hold each other)
But, now I won't be here for you to hold on to. And I’m sorry for that.
You need to live. Yes, sad things happen, but don’t let that stop you from living the
(in a sarcastic tone)
“adventure of life”! Do one wild thing in honor of my crazy youth please…
(Daisy holds and shakes both of Alice’s hands, while smiling.)
Auntie Daisy, I am SO not guarded. And I absolutely live life. I just do it differently than you did when you were my age.
Right, because hanging out at home with the cats is living life. That’s for old ladies! Go on some dates, find a man! At least get out of New London. You’ll be free, nothing will be holding you back once I die!
(Laughs, then coughs deeply)
That is not funny. Really not funny. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need some fresh air.
(Gets up and leaves the room quickly, wiping her eyes, steps into the hall)
*Alarms start going off, stage goes dark, Alice weeps in denial*
*Scene opens again with Alice in the hallway, head bent down, elbows on knees, hands supporting head. Grant enters*
Screw you! I make my own choices. I don’t care what my last name is.
(Sits down next to Alice, lets out a deep breath and grunt)
(Looks over at Grant like he is a smelly dog, but returns to hand/head holding position)
You might regret leaving like that. You don’t get to redo the last words you say to someone.
(Looks at Alice with confusion then stares at the wall)
You are probably right. But right now I need to get away. He will survive another 5 minutes.
(Lifts head and stares at same wall)
Don’t make the same assumptions I did.
(Tear rolls down her cheek, sniffles)
(Pulls out a handkerchief, still staring at the wall)
(Caught off guard, she turns her head to look at Grant. And delicately takes the handkerchief out of his hand.)
Uh, thank you…
(Wipes her cheek then nose)
I can get this dry cleaned for you…?
(Staring at the wall, briskly comes back into reality and looks at Alice with lighthearted eyes)
No, no, don’t worry about it. Keep it. I don’t cry ever, well not anymore at least. I’ve just been trained to carry one with me at all times, if by chance I run into a damsel in distress.
(Turns head and stares at wall again.)
(Irritated, looking at Grant)
Damsel in distress? Look I’m not a princess who needs rescuing and I would like to have this cleaned and returned back to you!
(Shakes the handkerchief in the space between them)
(Still staring at the wall)
Fine, do what you want. I didn't mean to offend you either. I’m sorry. It’s just been a stressful few weeks. A stressful life. I need an escape.
(Quickly turns his body towards Alice with excitement. Eyes are lit up, and smile is wide, but dark circles are still haunting his crinkled brown eyes)
HEY! Let’s get out of here! Go somewhere fun! Adventurous!
(Still clutching the handkerchief in her hand, white knuckled. Face contorts in terror and confusion)
WHAT?! I don’t know you! I don’t even know your name! You don’t even known mine!
(Extends a rushed hand, Alice take it, he shakes her hand, then kisses it. Alice maintains look of “WTF”)
I am Grant. Grant Ellis. Lover of grilled cheese, secret Desperate Housewives binge watcher, graduate of Columbia University, and I don’t know how to make a bed.
(Mouth open, blank face, suddenly comes back to life)
Oh, uh, okay. Hi Grant. Wait, Ellis… You are Grant Ellis? What!
(Rolls eyes. In an excited tone)
Yes, but that’s not important. Who are you? If we are going to continue chatting and possibly go adventuring, you cannot be a stranger, as I have been taught to never speak to those.
Right! Okay, well, my name is Alice. Alice Whitmore. I love rain, warm snickerdoodles, and daisies. I secretly watch Jersey Shore, I’m in school at UCONN, and I do know how to make a bed.
(Laughs, smiles, gets up and takes Alice’s hand again, helping her to stand.)
It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Whitmore. And thank you for agreeing to accompany me on this impromptu adventure. I swear, I am not an axe murderer.
(He takes her by the arm, doing the princely arm-escort, and smiles down at her.)
(Still in the arm-escort position, she looks up at him with the “WTF” expression again)
Um, I don’t remember agreeing to go anywhere with you.
(An echo of Aunt Daisy saying, “Do one wild thing in honor of my crazy youth please” plays out loud, but in Alice’s head)
But whatever… count me in.
(Pulls Alice tighter and smiles big)
Yes! This is amazing! Where do you want to go?
(Looking up at him with wide-eyes and uncertainty)
Montana. Red Lodge, Montana.
(With a strong, yet kind face, looking down at Alice)
Red Lodge, Montana it is. Excuse me for just one moment.
(Grant unhooks his arm from Alice’s and walks into the hospital room he had just left yelling. Audience can hear faint apologizing, affirmations of love, and an explanation.)
I’m sorry Mom, I know we have things to discuss. But if I don’t get some space from it all, I will lose my mind.
(Grant walks out of the darkened hospital room. Stops in the doorway, shakes out his neck and hands, and lets out a deep breath. He turns to Alice who is in the same spot he left her, walks over and assumes the same arm-escort. He looks down and charmingly says,)
Mind if we road trip it?
Walking the sidewalks is much different than walking on desert sands.
Emotionally numb. This followed me home.
I thought I was safe. I thought it was done.
Everyday I am pulled back into battle, my internal tug of war.
Love and pride versus remorse and contradiction.
Shooting somebody was easy, living with it is hard.
Haunted by memories of blood and comrades and smoke.
The smoke has clouded my mind.
Limbs of both the evil and innocent were confetti for bombing surprise parties.
Try visualizing a safe place, but nothing is safe anymore. Nothing is sacred.
“Guilt - even innocent guilt. It’s an evil thing.”
The rusty juice that pools and soaks into the unforgiving dunes. The desert has little water, but I helped create an oasis of red.
The bleach. The sanitization. My clothes are a lie. Cleanliness doesn't exist. Why isn't there bleach for the mind?
The bruises that have healed. The unending rucksacks under my eyes are the same confused sunset of grey, blue, and green as my bruises were once shaded.
I survived the war, but I am a casualty of peace.
I did it for the Red, White, and Blue.
Like a lamb. Naive, scared, and vulnerable;
I fell in love with the wolf.
A primal, tempestuous, beast of a love.
One where mangled claws wrote love letters on the fleshy sheath of my body,
And where underbelly, brooding growls were sonnets, Shakespeare could never have imagined.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Seemingly harmless, seemingly gentle.
I should have noticed the clothes didn’t fit.
I should have noticed the eyes.
Pupils of sinister night, wrapped in rampant swirls of ancient amber and dark chocolate so bitter, your tastebuds paralyzed. Eyes so dense, so deep, you could see your own reflection.
I should have noticed the hands.
Strong, stiff, and bristly.
Raw and bloodied.
Calloused hands match a callous heart.
You were the alpha. I was the prey.
What a foolish lamb.
What a sadistic wolf.
You lured me from familiar fields, into uncharted wood.
A maze of dead ends led to mine.
The forest turned into a prison cell and your ruthless gaze was the warden.
I couldn't escape the oppressive shadows created by the sun’s slow death.
Lunging for light.
I never stuck the landing so I kept falling.
Falling. In and out of love.
Falling. Up and off the ground.
I fell in love with the wolf.
Our poems of adoration live on in the moans,
In the roars,
In the snarls,
and in the howls of the inhuman and untamed.
Our love was coarse, brutish, and fierce.
The love notes that were tattooed onto my wool with liquid rubies found in my cavernous veins, have since faded into snowy serrated scars.
I was the lamb. Naive, scared, and vulnerable.
I am no longer in love with the wolf.