Hand in Hand

Scene: A dark room with blue lights. There's a bed to stage L and a nightstand next to it. On the nightstand is a candle.

(FERGUS is lying on the bed face up, breathing heavily and occasionally coughing. FERGUS is an old man. After a few moments, DEATH comes into the room from stage R. She's tall and dressed in black and walks silently)

DEATH

Your time is nearing, Fergus.

FERGUS

(Coughs)

So… you've come for me.

DEATH

You've lived a long, full life. It's time for you to come home.

FERGUS

Spare me your platitudes and take me already. There's nothing left for me here. My family and friends are dead. My home is filled with nothing but things from better times.

(He coughs)

There is nobody here to… to hold my hand while my body weakens with each passing moment. I will walk away with you, unnoticed.

DEATH

(Approaches FERGUS' bedside and sets her hand next to his)

There are greater things waiting for you on the other side. But you haven't learned the greatest lesson of all, Fergus.

FERGUS

(Laughs weakly and coughs)

Oh, Death. I'm an old man. What lesson can be taught to me now?

DEATH

(She sighs in regret)

I cannot tell you that myself, Fergus. You have to discover it for yourself.

FERGUS

But what can I learn in a matter of minutes, of seconds, even, if I have even those left? Spare me your riddles, Death; I'm tired and weak.

(He coughs)

DEATH

(Who is trying to help him)

This person that you have become is the very opposite of the thing that you need to learn.

FERGUS

And so my life ends in riddles, but isn't that what life has always been?

(He coughs again)

One riddle passes into another; one choice follows the one before it. It's an endless sorrow.

DEATH

(She challenges him)

Is it?

FERGUS

Death, you yourself have seen great tragedies! You have seen wars, both just and unwarranted, murders, and the ruins of great cities…

(He coughs violently)

…You have seen children die on the streets and natural disasters take the lives of millions! And yet you suggest that, in spite of this, that life is not a sorrow?

DEATH

(She remains quite calm)

That will be for you to decide, Fergus.

FERGUS

People do have goodness in them still; that is true. Otherwise, we would all be dead by now.

(He coughs)

But there is sorrow. People suffer and die needlessly. The line between right and wrong grows thinner with each passing day, and that, perhaps, is the most grievous thing that we have done.

DEATH

Fergus, I know you are wise by nature, so you can answer me this. How do you know that there is death?

FERGUS

(As if it were the most obvious thing in the world)

Because there is life.

(He coughs again)

DEATH

(She nods)

Likewise, how do you know that there is sorrow?

FERGUS

(His eyes widen with an epiphany)

…Because there is joy.

(He smiles)

I think I understand what you mean.

(He coughs)

In spite of all our trials and tribulations, we should each be thankful that we're alive… because life is joy… and even if we did have sorrow, we should be glad that we recognize it, because at some point in our lives… we felt joy.

DEATH

(Smiles vaguely and touches FERGUS' hand, helping him up from his bed and holding his hand)

A very wise man once said, "Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it."

FERGUS

(He starts to cry)

Oh, Death. I wish I realized it before… but I'm glad I'm realizing it now.

(They start to walk slowly across the room, hand in hand)

Are my friends and family there, where we're going?

DEATH

Yes. And there is no pain, nor suffering, nor any tears, nor dying. Just joy.

(They exit.)

BLACKOUT.


Just a passing fancy. Hope you enjoyed it.