We All Fall Down

Scene One: REBECCA and three other GIRLS are giggling and singing "Ring Around the Rosie" as they get up and fall back down. They are only about four years old. As they do this, REBECCA's MOTHER sits in a rocking chair, watching them while she knits. Next to her stands FATHER.

MOTHER: (slowly) You know… When I was young, I probably would have commented about how ironic it is for a group of young girls to sing about the Plague and dying.

FATHER: You can't think those thoughts anymore, honey. You're a mother now.

MOTHER: (pause) I'm a mother now.

The GIRLS' laughter becomes louder.

MOTHER: (after a few moments) Come here Pee-Wee.

REBECCA looks up. We see a little resentment at the fact that she has to leave her friends, but she willingly goes and joins her MOTHER anyway.

MOTHER: Here, sit on my lap. (SHE sits) One day you're going to be too big to sit here.

REBECCA: No I won't, mommy. I won't ever grow up!

FATHER: That's right, Becky. You're going to stay Daddy's little girl forever, aren't you?

REBECCA: Uh huh!

MOTHER: (smiling, somewhere between sincerely and forcedly) That's right. You'll always be our little Pee-Wee. Always.

Scene Two: REBECCA sits chatting in a circle with the same group of FRIENDS, but they are now obviously older, about 13.

GIRL 1: Admit it, you like him!

REBECCA: I do not!

GIRL 2: Do too!

REBECCA: I swear I don't!

GIRL 3: Come on Becky, don't lie to us.

REBECCA: (smiling) Ok, maybe just a little, but don't tell anyone!

GIRL 2: Ooh, Becky and Johnny sitting in a tree…

(All the GIRLS begin giggling, including REBECCA)

GIRL 1: Oh shut up, that is so third grade!

GIRL 3: Hey, here he comes!

REBECCA: What? No! Where?

GIRL 2: Yeah, he's over there. You should go talk to him.

(The GIRLS begin to get up, leaving REBECCA sitting alone on the ground)

REBECCA: Come on guys, don't leave me alone!

GIRL 3: Good luck!

(The GIRLS give REBECCA a wink and exit. BOY enters)

BOY: Hey.

REBECCA: (trying to remain calm, but obviously nervous) Hi.

BOY: You're Becca, right?

REBECCA: Becky, actually.

BOY: (not at all embarrassed) Oh.

REBECCA: What happened to your leg?

BOY: I'm a dangerous man.

(The two stare at each other. REBECCA is obviously uncomfortable. The BOY seems not to notice)

BOY: I hear you have a crush on me.

REBECCA: What? Who told you that?!

BOY: One of your friends. I think her name's Emma.

REBECCA: Emily. Oh, I'm going to kill her!

BOY: Is it true?

REBECCA: Well… I don't know. Do you like me?

BOY: No.

REBECCA: Oh.

BOY: You probably want me to kiss you.

REBECCA: Not if you don't like me.

BOY: I like you.

REBECCA: You just said you don't like me.

BOY: I didn't.

REBECCA: Oh.

BOY: So I can kiss you?

REBECCA: Ok. Sure.

(BOY kisses her)

BOY: Your lips are chapped.

REBECCA: Huh.

BOY: (as SHE's about to say something) Bye.

(BOY walks away quickly. A moment later, GIRLS return)

GIRL 2: Wow! We were watching you guys -- you kissed!

REBECCA: Yeah. We did.

GIRL 3: I can't believe it!

GIRL 1: Me neither. How could Becky get her first kiss before me?

GIRL 2: Oh shut up. So… how was it?

REBECCA: Strange.

GIRL 1: Strange? What do you mean, strange?

REBECCA: I don't know. I wasn't really expecting it or anything.

GIRL 3: So, are you guys like boyfriend and girlfriend now?

REBECCA: I don't know.

(At this point, GIRLS are downstage. BOY enters upstage with FRIEND, and neither appears to notice the GIRLS, but THEY notice the BOYS)

BOY'S FRIEND: (to BOY) So you kissed her?

BOY: Yep.

(BOYS high-five)

FRIEND: How was it?

BOY: Horrible.

FRIEND: Then why'd you do it?

BOY: I hear she's easy.

(BOYS high-five)

FRIEND: Who told you that?

BOY: Just look at her. (shooting her a glance) It's obvious.

(BOYS exit)

REBECCA: Guess not.

Scene Three:

(MOTHER, who is older than SHE was in Scene One, sits in a rocking chair, mindlessly moving her hands in a knitting motion, but the needles are in her lap. REBECCA enters)

REBECCA: Hey Mom.

MOTHER: Hi Pee-Wee.

REBECCA: You know I asked you to stop calling me that. I'm too old.

MOTHER: What should I call you then?

REBECCA: Call me Becky. All my friends do. So does Dad.

(At the mention of FATHER, MOTHER stops "knitting")

REBECCA: Mom, what is it?

MOTHER: Nothing, honey.

(REBECCA looks around)

REBECCA: Where's dad?

MOTHER: I don't know; he left.

REBECCA: Well, when will he be back?

MOTHER: Never, probably.

REBECCA: What do you mean, never?

MOTHER: He's gone, sweetie. (The last word is said with a slight tone of resentment, barely noticeable)

REBECCA: But why?

MOTHER: Met another woman. Blonde, I hear. Probably has big tits.

REBECCA: Mother!

MOTHER: Sorry, Becky (by now the resentment is quite clear). I won't say anymore.

REBECCA: (coldly) It's Rebecca.

MOTHER: Rebecca. I thought you said…

REBECCA: No, I didn't. (Exits)

MOTHER: (sits thinking for a moment) No, she didn't.

Scene Four:

(A few years later. REBECCA is about 16. MOTHER sits knitting, in a chair. REBECCA enters, on her way out)

MOTHER: Rebecca?

REBECCA: Yes?

MOTHER: Where are you going?

REBECCA: Out.

MOTHER: With?

REBECCA: Friends.

MOTHER: Why don't you ever bring your friends home? How come I never see you with any boys?

REBECCA: I don't know Mom. (starts to have a coughing fit)

MOTHER: Honey, are you okay?

REBECCA: Yeah. I'm just not feeling great.

MOTHER: Maybe you ought to stay home tonight.

REBECCA: I told you, I'm fine.

MOTHER: I don't mean to annoy you. It's just that I worry sometimes. I have to.

REBECCA: Don't worry about me. I'll be fine. I have to go out and meet boys, right?

MOTHER: (smiling) Sure honey. I'd like to be a grandma some day.

REBECCA: I know.

Scene Five:

(REBECCA, now 18, stands with luggage ready to leave)

MOTHER: My baby's all grown up.

REBECCA: Looks like.

MOTHER: You know, you once told me you'd never grow up.

REBECCA: Did I?

MOTHER: Yes, when you were about four.

REBECCA: Guess I'm a liar.

MOTHER: Looks like. Promise to call me often, ok?

REBECCA: Yes.

MOTHER: And take your medicine. You've been getting sick enough as it is.

REBECCA: Yes, mother.

MOTHER: And don't talk to strangers.

REBECCA: How old do you think I am?

MOTHER: I'm never entirely sure with you. One day you tell me you're going to stay four forever and then all of a sudden you're going to college. If you didn't keep your word about that, how am I supposed to trust you with more important things?

REBECCA: I'll call. I'll take my medicine. And I'll only talk to strangers if they look especially seedy.

MOTHER: Don't joke like that.

REBECCA: What makes you think I'm joking?

MOTHER: (pushing her away) Study hard.

Scene Six:

(MOTHER stands near a table, straightening things out, with back turned to Stage Left. REBECCA, now about 20, enters from Stage Left. MOTHER turns around, upon hearing the noise)

REBECCA: Mom, remember how I told you I had someone special I wanted you to meet?

MOTHER: Yes?

REBECCA: Well, they're waiting outside.

MOTHER: Oh send him in! I've been waiting for you to finally bring your boyfriend home to meet me.

(REBECCA disappears and MOTHER goes back to frantically straightening up, disrupting things in her attempt to make them orderly. REBECCA enters with LOVER.)

REBECCA: Well mom… here they are!

MOTHER: (without turning around) I've been dying to meet you! I'm so happy that Rebecca's finally found a nice young… (turns around and drops the book she was holding) woman.

REBECCA: (overly excited) Mom, I'd like you to meet Andy. We've been dating a few months now.

ANDY: It's so nice to finally meet you! Rebecca talks about you all the time.

MOTHER: Somehow she avoided telling me much about you.

REBECCA: That's not true. I told you that I'd met someone special and that their name was Andy.

MOTHER: You never told me that Andy was a girl's name.

REBECCA: Oops.

ANDY: Maybe I should go…

REBECCA: Please don't. Here, I'm not feeling great so I'm going to go lay down for a minute, but you two can stay and get to know each other.

ANDY: I'm not sure that's such a good…

REBECCA: (disappearing) I'll be back in a few!

(Awkward moment of silence)

MOTHER and ANDY: So…

ANDY: Look, ma'am… I really didn't mean to just spring up on you like this. Rebecca never told me that you didn't know we were seeing each other.

MOTHER: Oh.

ANDY: I don't know if there's anything I can say.

MOTHER: That's okay. When I was younger, I probably wouldn't have thought anything of it.

ANDY: Then why do you now?

MOTHER: Because I want to be a grandmother.

ANDY: Why?

MOTHER: Because I'm a mother. Mothers are supposed to eventually be grandmothers.

ANDY: Not all of them.

MOTHER: If they don't, people start asking questions. Having your daughter become an old maid is almost worse than being one yourself. People think you didn't bring your kid up right.

ANDY: But that isn't true. That isn't true at all. Rebecca's a great girl.

MOTHER: I know that.

ANDY: So what does it matter what others think?

MOTHER: Because it does.

ANDY: Oh.

MOTHER: I'm an old maid myself. I can't let Rebecca be one too.

ANDY: Not having kids isn't the same as being alone all your life.

MOTHER: Lovers leave.

ANDY: So do kids!

MOTHER: No. Kids are always tied to you, somehow. They share a last name. They share your genes. When your kid does something great, it's because you raised them well. And when a kid screws up, it's understood that children will be children, that there was nothing the parent could do. But that's only for small infractions. For big things like this, the parents always get blamed. I don't want everyone to point their fingers at me. It was bad enough when Jack left. I don't need to be blamed twice.

ANDY: So this isn't about Rebecca's happiness at all. It's about yours?

MOTHER: It's about both of ours. I can't be happy unless she's happy. And she can't be happy without kids.

ANDY: Why not!

MOTHER: Because it just doesn't work that way! Everybody needs a legacy. Someone to remember them. Someone to pass down the stories. Someone to tell others what they're missing out on, since they never got to know them. Someone to forget every time they screwed up but dreamily remember and exaggerate the good days. Otherwise, what does it all matter?

ANDY: With all due respect, ma'am, I think having children is about a little more than just having someone to tell people about you when you die.

MOTHER: You know, Rebecca's been gone a long time. Maybe it's time someone go check up on her.

ANDY: I'll go.

MOTHER: She's probably in her room. Down the hall, second room to the right.

ANDY: Thanks.

(ANDY exits. MOTHER goes back to her knitting. After a moment, we hear ANDY scream from off-stage. MOTHER looks up.)

Scene Seven:

(A few months later. MOTHER is sitting in her rocking chair. ANDY sits in a chair nearby. Both are dressed all in black. From off-stage, we hear the GIRLS, without REBECCA, sing "Ring around the Rosie". MOTHER hears the singing and looks up.)

MOTHER: (to ANDY) Ironic, isn't it?

ANDY: What?

MOTHER: Young kids, singing about the Plague and dying. I doubt they even know what death is.

ANDY: No, probably, not.

(MOTHER smiles with satisfaction. She leans back and begins rocking in her chair.)

THE END