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by Joseph Frost
a play written for The 31 Plays in 31 Days Project
Draft August 18, 2013
© Attic Scripts, 2013 4550 Normandy Dr Jackson, MS 39206 firstname.lastname@example.org
ALAN, a man brushing his teeth. ALAN (while brushing) He wasn’t a kind man... kind... he wasn’t kind. That’s all I’m saying. My dad wasn’t kind. Selfish. I mean, everyone’s selfish, but he, he had mastered selfishness. Like a... like a thing you’d master. I don’t know. (beat) I know it was a long time ago and all, but... and this is weird... when I was a kid, and people would take photographs, like birthdays and stuff... if he knew he was in the picture... weird... he’d close his eyes. Every time. For a while, everyone thought it was some kind of consistent accident, bad luck on his part. Grandma made kind of a deal about it, but everyone else thought it was funny, laughed it off. Every picture, dad with his eyes closed. Us curled up as a family: closed. Him and me at the first day of school: closed. Him sitting in a rocking chair, in the background of a picture that wasn’t even of him. Closed. It was uncanny. (beat) I saw him do it once. Mom didn’t believe me, but I know what I saw. And even more, I’m pretty sure he knew I saw him. I don’t think anyone else around noticed it, it was probably just to me, but I could feel him turn guilty, or something. I don’t know how to tell it. But he knew he was busted, and he knew he shouldn’t be doing it. Did it anyway. (beat) Meant to ask him about that. On his deathbed, or something. Walks off. Lights up on Nell, a woman with a candle. Almost ready. NELL Alan returns without the toothbrush. ALAN The power came back on an hour ago. NELL I had already planned this. ALAN Power’s been off for three hours. fossil fuels? Sit. NELL He sits. Can we please burn some
2. ALAN If you have a Ouija board, I’m leaving. NELL I want us to share three things. ALAN Bag of chips, the sofa, a movie on Netflix. NELL Please don’t ruin this for me. Please don’t ruin-Alan. ALAN NELL She starts to get up. ALAN I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. behave. (beat) What are the three things? He stops her. I will
Please sit down.
NELL A dream we’ve never shared. A fantasy we’ve never admitted. And a secret we’ve never confessed. No way. ALAN
NELL We used to do this stuff all the time. When we were dating. Yes. ALAN NELL
ALAN I know better now. This is just an exercise in me deciding on three things you’re going to hold over me for the next few years. NELL This is us being open and honest with each other. Honesty is overrated. ALAN
ALAN Nell, seriously. If there’s a secret I have, and that is not an admission, don’t you think that there’s a good reason I haven’t told? I tell you everything that I can think of that would actually be of concern. That would be worthy of a candle-light confession. I have nothing to tell in this situation. Honestly. I have one. You do? Yes. NELL ALAN NELL
ALAN You wouldn’t have come up with this if you didn’t have one already. (beat) You’re going to have to give me more time to think. NELL I’ll go first. And you don’t have to start with the secret. There’s also the dream and the fantasy. ALAN Aren’t those the same things? NELL A dream is something like, like a way you see us in the future, something you want for us. A fantasy is something... silly... or ridiculous. Maybe even a little selfish. But it has to be honest. And real. Winning the Masters. Alan. I’m serious. Ok. Why? ALAN NELL ALAN I want to win the Masters. NELL ALAN
You didn’t say why.
4. NELL ALAN
I am now. I look good in green.
NELL You can do better than that. Masters? I like golf. And? ALAN NELL
Why would you want to win the
ALAN I would like to be good at golf. Why? I don’t know. NELL ALAN It’s good to win things?
NELL Do you... think you’re not good at things? I’m good at things. I know. ALAN
NELL You’re the one wishing you were better at something.
ALAN I guess the recognition. Recognition. Fame. Ok. Fortune. Yeah. NELL ALAN That stuff.
NELL I’m going to say, I wish I had a beach house. ALAN NELL
A beach house. Yes.
ALAN Is that a dream or a fantasy?
5. NELL It’s never going to happen.
I’m thinking fantasy.
ALAN I don’t know about that. NELL Have you seen our bank statement? ALAN It’s not going to happen next month, but I don’t know. not out of the realm of possibility. Someday. Maybe. NELL I didn’t say you’d be there. ALAN Perhaps it was the settlement in my wrongful death suit that got you the money to buy it. NELL That’s how I like to picture it. (beat) My dream is different. What is it? ALAN It’s
NELL My dream... is that we move overseas. Really? Yes. To where? ALAN NELL ALAN
NELL I don’t know. I’m thinking someplace non-English speaking. Even Europe is too easy. Maybe Southeast Asia. ALAN Why is this more feasible than a beach house? Theoretically if we could move to Sri Lanka and buy a beach house there, right? They have beaches. I’m serious, Alan. Really? NELL ALAN
6. NELL A moment. ALAN You’ve never said you wanted to move overseas. I know. NELL
ALAN That would... kind of make this... your secret as well. NELL If you want to look at it that way. ALAN Someone who wants to move overseas is very different from someone who doesn’t have that in mind. Is that bad? NELL
ALAN Not necessarily. Just surprising. (beat) All three of your things make sense together. NELL I didn’t say this was my secret. What is it? What is it? ALAN NELL It’s your turn, that’s what it is. ALAN I’m still trying to wrap my head NELL
My turn. I don’t know. around Sri Lanka. I didn’t say Sri Lanka. I did.
ALAN Now it’s all I can think about. (beat) I’ll never win the Masters if I move to Sri Lanka. NELL And I’d hate to spoil that for you. your dream for us? Can you please just say
7. ALAN NELL
What? I’m embarrassed now.
ALAN No. Don’t be. I think it’s... adventurous of you. To want us to move overseas someday. I just don’t know what to think of it yet. I’ve never thought about it before. I don’t even have a passport. (beat) Can that be my secret? I knew that already. I don’t think I did. Not the same thing. What’s your secret? You want to know? Yes. NELL ALAN It was a secret from myself. NELL ALAN You’ve had time to think. NELL ALAN
NELL You remember when we first met? The dorms at Henderson. Yes. ALAN NELL
ALAN I saw you in the hall, and I thought you were gorgeous, and I asked you if I could help you, and you said you were looking for a guy you’d seen at orientation, and I asked if you’d come to meet me and you said you had. I hadn’t. What? NELL ALAN
8. NELL I wasn’t there to see you. Who? Freddie Enreight. Freddie Enreight. ALAN NELL ALAN I don’t remember that guy.
Who is that?
NELL He lived on your hall. Tall guy, dark hair. Kind of skinny. He was very sweet. He’d helped me during orientation find my class schedule and he’d taken me around to where the classes were. I think he majored in Biology or something. (beat) I had come to that hall to see him, not you. ALAN Nell, I knew you hadn’t come to see me. NELL But you didn’t know who I’d come to see. That’s my secret. That’s your secret. ALAN It was Freddie.
NELL I didn’t say it was deep and dark. now you do. Ok. You’re turn. What do I have left? ALAN NELL ALAN
But you didn’t know, and
NELL Your dream for us, and a secret you’ve never told. ALAN What if I said that the secret I’ve never told is the dream I have for us? Is that true? NELL
9. ALAN NELL
In a way. What is it?
ALAN My dream is that I never tell you my secret. Alan blows out the candle. A moment Alan, brushing his teeth again. ALAN (CONT’D) Secrets are funny. Once they’re known, they don’t exist. It’s like ignorance - dangerously fleeting. Learn one thing, it’s gone. (beat) My dad died before I asked him about the closing his eyes during pictures thing. I know for sure that if I’d asked him, he would have told me exactly why he did it. (beat) I’m so glad I never did. He exits. End
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