|The Fruits of Life
Author: Small Wings Flying PM
'It's alright for you to tell me to be patient. Be patient for what exactly? I'm lying in a bed, unable to get up and I'm going to die lying in this bed'Rated: Fiction T - English - Family/Drama - Words: 3,988 - Reviews: 10 - Follows: 1 - Published: 05-12-12 - id: 3021718
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This is my first time writing a play from scratch, although I have written pastiches and rewritten parts of plays of other people (I started this before To Meet and Greet and Fade Away). Is certainly turning out to be a fun experience, if a very time-consuming one. I'd appreciate comments, thoughts and/or critiques on this. Let me know what you think, or how to improve…or anything really. Relevant that is.
I'm doing the character cast per act to make sure I don't miss or add ones that don't show up. Since this is a fic in progress and all.
Personally, I like to describe the set/scene a little so my readers can imagine how it's supposed to look. Everything I've mentioned is supposed to come into play at some point or other throughout this story (I think). I have realised that some other people prefer briefer scene descriptions, but my inspirations come mainly from A Doll's House, as that's the only play I've read that's got relatively modern roots.
Excuse the spacing issues. The university computers, and it's particularly bad with plays apparently. Note to self, never open a play document again at uni. I've fixed it about a squillion times (okay, more like somewhere around 10) but it gets screwed again anyway.
And…that's all I have to say. Enjoy.
THE FRUITS OF LIFE
Cast of Characters for ACT I
Sage Willow, a girl of sixteen, pale with dark hair (initially tied in a ponytail) and eyes
Mrs Willow, Sage's mother, in her early-thirties
Mr Willow, Sage's father, in his mid-thirties
Olivia Rivera, a girl of seven-eight, Sage's maternal cousin
Laurel Rivera, a girl of four, Olivia's younger sister. Talks with a bit of a lisp.
Mrs Rivera, Laurel's and Olivia's mother, in her late-twenties
A luxurious living room. Two comfortable armchairs sit in a C fashion in one corner on either side of a three-seater sofa, with the curtains open and sunlight streaming in. In between each pair is a small mahogany table, each containing an assortment of china ornaments, travel souvenirs and hand-made sculptures. On the other side is a framed painting depicting a forest and hanging behind a black piano flanked on either side with a tall vase. A thin bookcase lines one wall and holds many books with loose papers on the lowest shelf. A candle stand is mounted above, but currently there are no candles within.
Sage, sitting at the piano, plays a few experimental keys. Olivia, tossing her shoes off and standing confidently in the centre of the room, giggles. Laurel, half hidden behind her and slouching somewhat, sticks her thumb in her mouth.
Olivia [turning and pulling at Laurel's wrist, forcing the thumb out of the other's mouth]: Mum told you not to do that.
Laurel [mumbles]: But I don't wanna danshe.
Olivia: That doesn't mean you suck your thumb. When are you going to grow out of that babyish habit?
Sniffing, Olivia lets go of Laurel's hand, returning to the centre of the floor.
Olivia: Besides, I'm the one who's dancing. Why do you have to follow me everywhere?
Sage [interrupting]: I seem to remember you doing the same till a year ago Livi.
Olivia [glaring at Sage]: I did not!
Laurel: Did too! Did too!
Olivia [turns and glares at Laurel]: How would you know? You weren't old enough to remember anything then.
Laurel: Wash too.
Olivia: Hmmph, you were two at the most.
Laurel: So? I can still re-mam-ber things.
Olivia: Oh yeah? Then tell me what we had for dinner last week.
Laurel: …how am I supposed to remember that?
Olivia [smugly:]See my point? You can't even say it right.
Laurel [pouts]: That doeshn't prove anything.
Olivia: Does too.
Laurel: Doesh not.
Olivia: Does too.
Laurel [scrunching her face as if she is about to cry]: No fair.
Olivia: Don't start crying now. [A pause.] Baby.
Laurel [shrilly]: I am not!
Olivia [blocking her ears as SAGE stands and joins them]: That crying's going to break the windows one day.
Sage [to herself]: How do parents do it? [Then to her cousins:]There's no need for that you two. [She squats so she's eye-level to Laurel]Your big sister's growing up you know?
Laurel: But she's only this big. [She held her hand a foot over her head.]
Olivia: I'm taller than that.
Sage [scolding gently]:Olivia.[Then to Laurel:] One day you'll grow up and be a big girl too, but in the meantime, you have to give your sister a little space. Okay?'
Laurel blinks, but says nothing.
Sage [to Olivia]: And you need to remember that both of you are still children. You've got your entire lives ahead of you. You don't have to rush and get everything done now.
Olivia [pouting]: I want to dance now though. I want to practice and practice and one day be a famous dancer.
Laurel: And then I'll tell everyone my big shishy's a big dan-saa.
Olivia [making a face]: Don't call me sissy. It's "sissy" anyway, not "shishy". Besides, that's childish. It's "sister".
Laurel [slowly]: Shis-tar.
Olivia: No. It's sis-ter.
Sage sighs and moves back to the piano.Oliviataps her foot on the floor impatiently.
Olivia: When are you going to learn to talk properly?
Laurel: I do talk pwoperly.
Olivia [gritting her teeth in slight irritation]: It's "properly".
Laurel [a little fed up]: You don't shay that when you're tawking about how key-ute I am.
Olivia stares at Laurel, before bursting into laughter.
Olivia [still laughing]: Key-ute?
Laurel: What? I am too key-ute. You shed so yourshelf.
Olivia: That's a new one. [She shakes her head.]It's "cute", not "key-ute".
Laurel: Key-ute. [A pause.]Cute.[Then excitedly, jumping on the spot:] Cute! Cute!
Olivia: Yeah, you're cute. Can we dance now?
Laurel stops jumping and pouts.
Laurel: I don't wanna danshe.
Sage: Come sit on my lap then. We'll play for your sister together.
Brightening, Laurel sits on Sage's lap. Sage begins to play "Three Blind Mice". Olivia dances.
Mrs Willow [offstage]: We're back, and we brought lunch girls.
Sage stops playing in visible relief, looking rather tired, however Olivia continues to dance.
Sage: Don't you want lunch Livi?
Olivia [stops dancing and says rather reluctantly]: Oh, right.
Mrs Willow enters.
Mrs Willow: Girls? You coming? We brought Lemon meringue pie for dessert too.
Olivia [immediately brightening]: Yummy.
Laurel: Yummy! Yummy!
Laurel leaps off Sage's lap and runs to Mrs Willow who picks her up. Olivia puts her shoes back on.]
Mrs Willow: Sage? [A pause as Mrs Willow inspects her daughter. Worriedly:]Are you feeling okay? You look a little peaky.
Sage [Thinking for a moment, and then shrugging]: I'm fine. Just a little tired between my piano rehearsals, sculpting and the assessments from school.
Mrs Willow: Are you sure you're not overdoing it? You've still got time-
Sage [Interrupting]: I'm fine Mum.
Mrs Willow: Are you sure?
Sage: Yes Mum. [To herself with some bitterness]:Relatively speaking anyway.
Mrs Willow [still a little hesitant]: Well, come down to lunch. Chicken, salad, and maybe you can pinch some chips from the girls.
Sage: I don't feel much like chips. [She sighs, before closing her music book propped up on the piano and exiting.]
Mrs Willow now surveys the empty room.
Mrs Willow [to herself]: Everything looks fine. [Then more quietly]: Who can know much is the clear truth without any form of restraint and what is simply the mask pushed to the forefront?
The room dims a little. Mrs Willow looks towards the window where the sun shines, starting to get covered by clouds.
Mrs Willow: It's getting late, and it looks like a storm's coming too. [She pauses, then says to herself a little reluctantly]: I suppose I had better get the clothes inside. Wouldn't want them getting wet after all.
Mrs Willow hesitates a moment longer, before she exits. The room dims as the sun vanishes completely behind cloud.
A dining room, casually decorated but with a hint of elegance to it. A large mahogany table sits almost centred upon a wooden floor, prepared for lunch with five sets of plates and forks and a vase of flowers at the head. Light brown curtains are pushed away from the window that covers one wall, tied back with darker chords. A thinner translucent curtain hangs behind, dulling the storm in progress outside. On the other wall hangs a mirror, trimmed with gold. A dim light is on, giving the room a cosy appearance. Currently the room is empty.
Mrs Rivera enters, carrying a large dish with salad with both arms. Olivia and Laurel trail behind her, each carrying a much smaller dish filled with sauce: tomato and sweet chilli respectively.
Mrs Rivera [turning back:] Be careful girls. Don't drop those.
Laurel: We won't.
Olivia [sniffing a little:] I won't.
Laurel [with a pout:] That wash an acshident.
Mrs Rivera [admonishing:] Girls.[Then, after a pause, she adds:]What was an accident?
Laurel fiddles with her thumbs, before shooting a glare at Olivia.
Mrs Rivera [warningly:] Laurel?
Laurel [mumbling:] I dropped the dish in the kitchen.
Mrs Rivera looked at Olivia who nodded, showing no signs of outward guilt. Then she sighs again.
Mrs Rivera [to herself:] Raising children is hard work. What possessed me to conceive two of them? [Then to her children:] Put the dishes carefully down. I'll clean up the mess.
Laurel [mumbles:] There isn't any.
Mrs Rivera exits. Laurel and Olivia put their dishes down in the middle of the table before slipping into seats across from each other and on either side of the table's vacant tail.
Mrs Rivera enters, carrying a plate of chips. Mrs Willow enters behind her, carrying a tray with five cups and a transparent jug with water.
Mrs Rivera: I suppose Sage cleared it up.
Mrs Willow [turning to Mrs Rivera:] Clean what up?
Mrs Rivera: Laurel says she dropped the sauce dish.
Laurel [protesting:] It didn't shpill.
Olivia: It didn't.
Mrs Rivera [rubbing the ridge of her brow:] Why didn't you tell me that sooner?
Olivia [mumbling:] I might have missed something.
Mrs Rivera and Mrs Willow set their loads down. Mrs Willow sets the cups at each place, before taking her seat at the head. Mrs Rivera takes the seat to her left, beside Olivia.
Mrs Rivera: Where is Sage?
Mrs Willow [frowning:] Sage!
Sage [offstage:] Coming!
Sage enters, rubbing the remainder of droplets off her face.
Sage [a little tiredly:]Bathroom. [Then, at her mother's glance, adding:] Just freshening up.
Mrs Willow [worriedly looking at Sage before gesturing at the seat between her and Laurel. Sage sits down, reaching for the salad to spoon a little into Laurel's plate.
Mrs Rivera: I've got it.
Mrs Rivera takes the spoon, putting a spoonful onto Laurel's plate before giving a larger spoonful to Olivia.
Olivia [pouting:] I can take it out myself.
Mrs Rivera ignores Olivia's words, simply handing the plate to her. Olivia pouts, but takes the plate and hands the spoon and dish to Sage who takes a little salad, carefully leaving the meat, and passes the bowl to Mrs Willow.
Mrs Willow: Aren't you going to eat more?
Sage [shaking her head slowly:] I'll get a snack later if I'm hungry.
Mrs Willow: If you're-
Sage [complaining:] Mum.
Mrs Willow sighs and takes some salad.
Mrs Willow: If you're sure.
Sage [with a smile as Laurel and Olivia stare at her:] I'm sure.
Sage puts a small morsel of salad in her mouth, and after a slight pause the rest of the women follow her example. A brief silence ensured. Olivia finishes her salad first and begins on the chips. She only eats a few though before offering the plate to Sage who shakes her head in decline.
Laurel: Why won't you eat them?
Olivia [with perfect seriousness:]Because dancers have to watch what they eat. We can't get fat or sick.
Mrs Willow and Mrs Rivera exchanged glances at the last word, before looking at Sage who suddenly pushed her food away with a grimace on her face.
Mrs Willow: Sage. Are- [Then reconsidering:] You should lie down for a bit.
Sage opens her mouth to protest, before thinking better of it.
Sage stands and exits, leaving her unfinished plate behind. Silence ensures as everyone watches her retreating back before Laurel turns back to Olivia's uneaten chips.
Laurel [pointing at them:] Can I have them?
Olivia [with a sniff:] Pig. You'll get fat.
Laurel [wails:] Mum!
Mrs Rivera [with a sigh:] Olivia.
Olivia reluctantly pushes her chips over, but Mrs Rivera intercepts them.
Mrs Rivera: How about I put these in the microwave for your father and uncle? [Aside:] That'll stop them from fighting over it.
Laurel & Olivia: Okay.
The rest of the meal passed in silence. They each exit in the reverse order of their entrance, carrying the dishes they came in with.
A roomy bedroom. Like the rest of the house it is decorated in a hybrid of white, black and a warm brown. The large window takes up the back wall; mild brown curtains are drawn firmly over it, letting in little light. A neatly made bed with a caramel doona and comforter set lies tucked in the far right corner while a white bookshelf is on the other side, flanked by the dressing table and its wide mirror. Over the bed is a painting depicting a vase of flowers, a mix of gentle colours: pink, orange, yellow and a soft brown. Beside the bed is a low table, upon which is a digital clock, several photo frames and a black music box shaped like a piano.
Sage enters, taking off her slippers and taking a seat on her bed. The mattress sunk a little under her weight. For a moment, she simply sat still, and then she reaches for the music box sitting on her bedside table and winds it up. As the music gently plays, she leans back till her head rests on the comforter, one hand pulling out the band that had kept her hair in a ponytail so it tumbled around her.
Sage [tiredly to the room at large:] I'm so tired. [The books at her desk caught the light flittering through her half-open door.] I've still got homework to do. [She laughs lightly.] Those cousins of mine are a handful. One of these days Livi will be up on stage with a little tutu dancing the part of a swan…[The smile quickly changed to a frown.] Oh, who am I kidding. I'm not going to live that long.
Sage lets out a small moan, tilting her head so she stared at the mirror that covered a quarter of the side wall.
Sage [to herself:] See? You're too pale. You've got dark rings under your eyes that even the makeup can't mask. Your hair's thinning out. [She took a lock of her hair and yanked at it gently. Several stands broke off.] And weak. [The broken strands fell from her fingers and she closed her eyes, whispering:] I'm not that sick. [A little more firmly;] I'm not.
Sage forced herself off the bed, a groan of fatigue escaping her along with a wince of pain dancing across her face, and drew a sheet from a drawer, throwing it over the mirror and its unwelcome image. That done, she let herself flop onto her bed again.
Sage [continuing, voice growing continuously softer:] I'm just tired from all the extra assignments and tests and studying. Everyone is; exams are coming up after all. Aargh…and I've got that biology test tomorrow. [She drew herself up slightly before slumping again.] Let's see. A species is of organisms that could interbreed and produce fertile offspring. A population…is a group of organisms of the same species that are…umm…living in the same area at the same time and…capable of interbreeding? A community is…a group of species – no, populations…aargh…I can't do a test like this. What time is it? [She looked at her digital clock, sitting innocently upon the small table beside her bed.] Time…it's still two. We must have had lunch early. There's still…plenty of time… [her eyes closed. The music box wound down and ceased its soft music.] Heh. Who…am I tal...kin' to anyway…
Sage falls asleep. The room darkens.
The living room. The piano is now covered by a black cloth and unoccupied. The curtains are tightly drawn and no light passes through them. The overhead lights are however on, revealing Mr Willow seated alone on the three-seater sofa.
Mrs Willow enters, carrying a tray with two mugs. She hands one to Mr Willow before setting the tray down on the coffee table and talking the other, sitting next to her husband. Mr Willow takes a sip, before giving a murmur of approval.
Mr Willow: Delicious.
Mrs Willow took a sip of her own beverage but gave no such indication.
Mr Willow: Honey? Did your sister's kids give you a hard time?
Mrs Willow [with a sigh:] No…not in particular. It's Sage.
Mr Willow [incredulously:] Sage gave you a hard time? [Then, taking a closer look at his wife's face, he amended:] Was she feeling sick again?
Mrs Willow: She didn't look particularly sick, and she said she was just tired. I sent her up to bed after lunch, but that was six hours ago now.
Mr Willow: Well, you can't blame her. Her exams are coming up after all, and I know she's anxious to do well in them. On top of that, her piano school's holding its annual fundraiser straight after and she's got that painting for the art competition downtown. [Considering the activities he's listed:] My, that does sound like a busy month.
Mrs Willow gives her husband a reprimanding look.
Mr Willow [holding up his free hand, the other still clutching his mug:] You remember when we were that age. We wanted to do everything at once. We'd go on a date almost every weekend, sneak out of the house at midnight to see each other and go to the carnival…
Mrs Willow [ignoring the reminiscence:]She didn't eat a whole lot of lunch either. And she missed the lemon meringue pie too. [She clutched her mug with both hands.] She won't tell us she's feeling bad until she can't hide it anymore. I know she won't.
Mr Willow takes Mrs Willow's hand.
Mr Willow: She wants to live her life. And that's not a bad thing; we should encourage it. Maybe she is doing too much at once. Maybe not. Either way, it's better for her to be busy than to sit and think about her life drawing to a cl-
Mrs Willow [snaps:] Stop it! [Her hands shake and she sets the mug down before burying her head into her arms instead with a sob.] She's my little baby.
Mr Willow: She's our baby. But she's grown up too.
Mrs Willow: Sixteen years isn't an adult…and she might not even make it- [Her voice breaks off in a sob.]
Mr Willow [embracing her tenderly:] She might live till the ripe old age of 100 yet. Doctors are known to be wrong.
Mrs Willow [with a watery chuckle:] Now, there's an idea. [She dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief.] It's not fair though.
Mr Willow [quietly:] No, it's not.
Mrs Willow looks at him.
Mrs Willow: Are you crying?
Mr Willow [lying:] No, I've just got something in my eye.
Mrs Willow: Silly. [After a pause:] Sage is a strong girl. She gets it from her father.
Mr Willow [disagreeing:]From her mother.
Mrs Willow [folding her arms:] If this is your attempt to get out of sleeping on the couch tonight…
Mr Willow: I was only half an hour late-
Mrs Willow: For the fourth time this week, not to mention-
A loud shrill echoed through the room, cutting Mrs Willow off.
Mrs Willow: Telephone.
Mrs Willow exits. Mr Willow picks up his mug and takes another sip.
Sage's bedroom, and it is dark. The door opens, revealing Mrs Willow in the doorway. There is a light on in the hallway, so the open door somewhat illuminates the bedroom as well, showing Sage, sprawled atop the covers of her bed and fast asleep.
Mrs Willow crosses over the threshold and tenderly smooths the hair away from her daughter's face.
Mrs Willow [whispers:] You're a strong, brave girl.
Mrs Willow then gently shakes Sage awake. Sage makes an unconscious noise of protest before stirring and opening her eyes, the whites thereof shining in the dim light.
Sage [drowsily:]Is it time for dinner?
Mrs Willow: It's a little past, but I've saved some roast in the microwave for you…and some meringue too.
Sage blinked drowsily at that before comprehension dawned on her face.
Sage: Laurie and Livi didn't eat it all?
Mrs Willow [chuckling naturally:] You know your aunt is very strict about how many pieces of pie she allows them. I also made your favourite, mashed potatoes. You must be hungry after not finishing your lunch.
Sage [aside, with a glance at the clock as she slowly sat up:] I've been asleep for over six hours, but I still feel tired…but mashed potatoes and pie sounds good right now. Maybe I just need some energy food. [Then, to her mother:] I am. I'll be down in a little bit. [She shifted slightly with a bit of a wince.]
Mrs Willow [immediately looking concerned:] Are you okay? You're not in pain, are you?
The bed creaked as Sage stood up.
Sage: I'm fine.
Mrs Willow [still concerned:]Alright then. I'll go heat up your dinner for you. [She pauses, before adding:] Alexa called for you. Do you want to return her call after dinner or wait until tomorrow?
Sage [after a moment's thought:] I'll talk to her tomorrow. I think I'll go to bed early tonight.
Mrs Willow [still worried:] What about your biology test?
Sage [with a groan:] Why am I taking biology?
Mrs Willow: You like the subject, remember sweetie?
Sage: Except when it comes to Ecology. [She scrunched her face in tiredness:] A population is a group of…umm…
Mrs Willow: It's a group of communities.
Sage: Right. Communities. [A yawn escapes her and she complains:] Who invented exams?
Mrs Willow [reminding her daughter:] Dinner. And no pie for your father. He was home late again.
Sage [with a smile:] Okay Mum.
Mrs Willow [with a look around the room, seeing nothing out of place:] Maybe I am just overreacting.
Mrs Willow exits, closing the door behind her. The room goes dark.
END OF ACT I