Our local theater PCT, Pullman Civic Theatre, started a challenge called Carpe Diem. The basics are that in 24 hours a 10-minute play, with challenges, is written and produced in 24 hours. With the pandemic, the challenges increased and we turned it into a 12-hour process. I hope you enjoy the plays. I’ve included my script for your pleasure. Total there are 3 actresses, 2 directors, and 4 writers from PCT. I hope you enjoy it!
A Single Note
– Sandy: Protagonist. She is full of loss and depression but can’t express it through words.
– Georgia: Antagonist. Sandy’s spouse and is sick and tired of the grief.
– Francis: Wise Helper. Older friend that has dealt with loss before and helps Georgia through it.
[If possible, we hear a single note from a piano]
GEORGIA: [To audience frustrated and at her wit’s end] There she sits again at that fucking piano! I am so sick of it. Gawd, can’t we go back to the way things used to be? [she picks up her phone angrily texts Francis. She hits send and places the phone down and turns back to the audience] I am at a loss. Seriously I’ve done everything I can for her. Yes, I love her. But I can only take so much. [she looks down back at her phone looking for a reply, angry and sad)
FRANCIS: [We find Francis sitting at a table eating breakfast. Her attention goes to her phone. She reads then calls out to the other room.] Hey Hun, do you want the rest of my breakfast? I need to make a call. [no response from husband, she shrugs and leaves the table to make a call. Sighs while waiting for a pick-up. She answers.] Hey Georgia, having a day huh?
GEORGIA: Yes and no. Well, it just began, and I woke up to an empty bed…again.
FRANCIS: Oh, okay. So maybe Sandy is having a day?
GEORGIA: Seriously, Fran, when is she not having a day?
FRANCIS: Well, Georgia, in her defense, she has every right to be upset.
GEORGIA: Fuck that! Ugh, I’m sorry Fran, I know you hate that, but seriously, it’s been almost a year now and I love her, but I am so tired. Every-single-freaking-day she sits at that damn piano and just sulks. If this was the woman, I knew I was gettin’ involved with I’d stopped after the first drink.
FRANCIS: I hear ya. But you know she wasn’t like this before. That girl! I swear she was on her way to the top. Have you tried talking to her about this?
GEORGIA: Talk? Hell, we are way past talking. Some days I’ve sat with her for hours asking her to open up. But all I get is walls. Look, I love her and when we married 3 years ago it was the greatest day of my life. I never thought a woman like that would marry a woman like me. But now, I wouldn’t look twice in her direction.
FRANCIS: C’mon Georgia, you know that isn’t true.
GEORGIA: Well, maybe you’re right, I’m just so tired of holder her weight.
FRANCIS: I understand dear. I’ve got an idea. Do you have a pen and paper handy?
GEORGIA: Seriously Fran. Is this another one of your genius ideas?
FRANCIS: Look. You told me you are sick and tired of Sandy’s behavior and you’re ready to leave. The least you could do is indulge me for a sec. After all, is your marriage worth it?
GEORGIA: Alright, alright. Lay off. Okay, I’ve got a pen and well something to write on.
FRANCIS: Tomorrow morning you’ll likely find her at the same place.
GEORGIA: Pssh. I’ll bet on it.
FRANCIS: Alright now…I want you to write down these three questions. [Francis pauses after speaking each question giving Georgia time to write down.] The first is “Is there anything I can help you with?” Got it? Now the second is, “What can I do for you?” And lastly, “What do you need at this moment” Got those down?
GEORGIA: Fran. You’re joking, right? I ask her questions like these every day. What am I supposed to do with this?
FRANCIS: Work with me will ya? What I want you to do is tomorrow morning when you see her sitting there, pick one of those questions, and listen up this is the important part, have zero expectations.
GEORGIA: Well yeah, it’s not like she’s going to answer me.
FRANCIS: That’s what I mean though. Get rid of that expectation. She can see that on your face. Please, promise me you’ll try.
GEORGIA: Fine, I’ll give it a go, but don’t expect anything to happen. Thanks for the help, I’ll call you later. [Georgia hangs up and sighs of frustration. Then to herself] Seriously Fran, this is an exercise in futility!
[The next day. If possible, we hear a single note from a piano]
SANDY: [Sitting at a piano looking at the keys. Takes a deep sigh]
GEORGIA: Hey, lady. Gonna play us a tune? [she says jokingly and out of desperation. With a pause and no laugh from Sandy, she takes a deep breath] So, I was wondering, is there anything I can help you with?
SANDY: [looks up to Francis. Then back down to the piano and begins to sob]
GEORGIA: [Under her breath as she walks away] Well I fucking tried. [Picks up her phone to make a call] Well Fran, I tried. I did it all perfectly. I went up to her and asked her if I could help her with anything. Do you know what she did?
FRANCIS: Hey Georgia, good morning. [Ignoring Georgia’s question.] How’s your morning going?
GEORGIA: Ugh! Seriously Fran? I took your advice and I think it made things worse. Now she’s in the other room crying her eyes out. Again! Didn’t know she had anything left in her.
FRANCIS: I understand dear, let’s try something else.
GEORGIA: Great idea, but it’ll take an act of God to get her off that bench.
FRANCIS: Oh, I bet you’re right. But let’s try a more subtle idea. Do you know if she has her phone with her?
GEORGIA: Well yeah. Duh!
FRANCIS: Uh, uncalled for.
GEORGIA: Sorry. I’m just so done.
FRANCIS: No worries, I understand. While you have me on the phone, I want you to send her the following text: “I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for you.”
GEORGIA: [Reading as she types on her phone] I’m…not…going…anywhere…I’m…here…for…you…heart emoji. Sent. [Both Francis and Georgia sit in silence]
SANDY: [phone dings. She looks up from the keys and reads the text with her mouth moving. Sobs again. Then whispers to herself] I am not alone. I am not alone. I am not alone. [Rests her head on the keys continuing to sob]
GEORGIA: Are you fuckin’… Fran, she is crying even louder now! I just don’t know what to do!
FRANCIS: Breathe honey. Just take a quick breath for me, will you? [Georgia takes a deep breath] Tell me about the first time you met Sandy.
GEORGIA: What? How is that even relevant right now?
FRANCIS: Please, just indulge me. It’s been a while since I heard your story.
GEORGIA: Fine, whatever. The day I met her I was having a shitty day. Normally after work, I hit the bar with everyone from work, but I just wasn’t feeling that scene after losing a client that was keeping our firm afloat. Instead, I went down to Mikey’s for some garlic fries and local beer. Yes, I was ready to drown my sorrows. The waitress brings over my food and beer and I don’t even look up, I just dig in. I was seriously in my worst state. If the partners saw me stuffing my sorry face after losing that client I would be canned for sure, but I didn’t give a shit at the moment. A few minutes later, and yes, the last fry was still warm and the fat-kid inside was satisfied, the waitress dropped off the bill. I paid and waited for my receipt watching the bubbles float to the top of my beer. When she returned, she put down the receipt and with a smile wished me a better evening than my day. Spoiler alert and as cliché as it sounds, Sandy was my waitress and we fell in love after that.
FRANCIS: Um, excuse me. I think you are leaving out an important detail. I mean, didn’t she do more than just wish you a good evening? Check your wallet.
GEORGIA: [Her eyes close as we see her start to get emotional] Yes, you’re right [Georgia opens her wallet and pulls out an old receipt. She turns it over and reads.] “I watched you devour those fries. I hope they helped. I hope this isn’t too forward but thank you. Tonight, I will quit my job and take a scary step to be the person I’ve always wanted to be. Thank you for your pain. If someone can love something so much it creates pain like that, then that is the type of person I want to be. Call me if you want to chat. Sandy.” [through tears] Then she left her number.
FRANCIS: Why did you call her after that?
GEORGIA: I don’t know, to be honest. She saw something in me I wanted to hide from the world. And then when someone in that world saw what I wanted to hide, she didn’t make fun of me, but instead, she was inspired by me! I just had to know a woman like that.
FRANCIS: Georgia, she is still that woman. She has not changed, but life is now taking its turn on her.
GEORGIA: But Fran, it’s been almost an entire year! How long will her grief … [A sound of a second key comes from another room]
FRANCIS: I’m sorry, what was that? I think you cut out.
GEORGIA: [Distracted] No, I didn’t…wait for a second…yeah, I think Sandy played a second note. She’s never done that.
FRANCIS: Interesting. I think you should go talk to her. But keep one thing in mind, it is not about you. It is about her journey. You can’t rescue her from this grief, but you can do the same thing she did for you. Remind her that even in her depression, you love her and are there for her. Then, do it! I’m serious Georgia, don’t just say the words.
GEORGIA: [Near tears.] I don’t think I’ve done that for her this whole time. What the eff is wrong with me? Thanks, Fran. I’ll let you know how it goes. [Georgia hangs up the phone and with a deep sigh walks to the other room with Sandy.] Hey Hun. [Sandy doesn’t look up from the piano.] Got a second? [Sandy looks up at her with tears in her eyes, nods, then looks back down.] Babe, I want to say I’m sorry. This has been a tough year and I think I may have been making things worse. So please forgive me. And, I just want to say one more thing, then I’ll leave you alone. [Pauses for a second to compose her words.] Despite everything you’ve been dealing with, I still love you and I don’t see you any less than the woman I married. Take all the time you need and when you’re ready I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere. I cannot begin to fathom your loss and I don’t quite understand all your grief, but I am here to support you any way I can. You are loved, special, and strong. And no matter what, I am proud of you. [Georgia barely gets the last words out through a cracked voice. They both sit there in silence. After a beat Georgia starts to get up and is stopped by Sandy’s words.]
SANDY: He was only 6 years old. [Her voice quiet and barely audible over the silence] For 6 years my world was about him. Yes, he looked just like his asshole dad, but I didn’t care. My world began and ended with him. So, when those bastards took him, they took me right with him. [Sandy buries her head in her hands. Sobbing, but continuing through her hands a little muffled.] I know, I know, I know it wasn’t my fault, but I can’t help blaming myself! I know I can’t be there every moment of his day, but I should’ve been there at that moment. [Sobbing again she takes a minute to compose herself. Looking up at Georgia.] I…should’ve…been…there. [buries her head in her hands.]
GEORGIA: [After a long pause reaches over to the piano (off-screen) and plays the same two notes she heard Sandy play. Then a third. Whispers.] I love you, Sandy. I am here and I will play the notes when you can’t.
[Fade to black]
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