SCENE ONE

17

ACT I

SCENE 1!

(There is a small cluster of school desks, all facing a chalkboard. There are no students present, yet. Sylas stands downstage center.)

SYLAS

Early this morning, on the subway, a woman stopped to ask me the time… I suddenly turned and threw up all over her, but the worst part was that I couldn't stop laughing…

(A school bell rings and students begin to file into the room from various sides of the stage. The seats become occupied save one lonely chair in the back.)

TEACHER

(clears his throat before beginning)

Good morning, class! Today I'd like you to welcome our new student, Selene.

SYLAS

(sighs as if she knows what's going to happen and dejectedly shambles over to face the class)

Er… hi. –Could you kinda, er… please… call me Sylas?

(Sylas shuffles her feet awkwardly, rubbing her arm and staring down, then up curiously at all the faces, before staring back down again, shyly.)

TEACHER

Go on, then, Sylas; tell the class something interesting about you… any special talents, or ambitions?

SYLAS

Well, er… I, uh—I… I always wanted to be a boy—

(she stops suddenly as if she wasn't sure

if she had just said what she thought she did and winces when the whole class breaks out into laughter)

TEACHER

(quickly regains his composure)

Well, that certainly was… interesting… If you'll go take your seat, now, Sele-- Sylas, I can get started with today's lesson…

(Sylas goes to her seat)

Now, to review, Finland declared its independence from Russia in 1917… Months later the Russia-supported Red Guards, more commonly known as "Reds", attempted a coup in Helsinki with the aim of establishing a Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic… As you all know, this triggered the Finnish Civil War…

SYLAS

(stops doodling in her notebook long enough to turn to the audience and sigh. As if on cue, as soon as the teacher turns his back to write on the board, the other students turn to Sylas and throw rolled up bits of paper, pens, pencils, and even a book at her. They turn back around to face the teacher innocently once he starts to turn back to face the class)

This is how it always is… Don't feel bad for me; really, I'm what you could call "used to it".

(The bell rings again, and the students get up to go to their next classes, leaving Sylas to double check the schedule she dug out of her pocket. She steps downstage center.)

The rest of my classes all the way up until lunch went by just about the same as this… Only I wasn't so stupid to slip up and tell the truth again, but the damage had been done—by third period the rumour had spread all around the school and people were pointing at me in the halls, whispering to themselves how I was some sort of crazy freak… I was very discouraged, but in my despair I was also madly amused by the irony, by the sameness, by the fact that every single person in the world hated me, and by the consolation that I hated them as well—that is, all except for one person who I had the good fortune to meet in Biology class…

(Sylas erases the words on the chalkboard and replaces them with "BIOLOGY" in big letters.)

SCENE 2!

(The bell rings and students file into the classroom. The last person to walk in is Emily. Sylas takes a double take when she walks by, and from then on can't keep her eyes off of her. Sylas, awestruck, walks to the empty seat next to the girl and sits down)

TEACHER NUMERO DOS

I think everyone's noticed that we have a

new student sitting in our midst, so why doesn't she stand up and tell us a bit about herself?

SYLAS

(awkwardly stands up and nearly falls over, but catches herself on the table. She's making quite an effort trying not to stare at the girl sitting next to her, who is contentedly brushing her hair.)

I, um… I… -- I…

(she licks her lips and swallows hard, starting to notice quite suddenly all of the pairs of eyes staring so coldly at her. She manages to speak, but in a very small voice.)

Um… my name's Sylas, I… -- It's, um… I, er… pleased to meet you—I'm, um… --

KEVIN

A freak!

(the class laughs as Sylas, abashed, sits back down and puts her head in her hands. The teacher acts as if nothing has happened and begins with the lesson—drawing a cell on the board. Sylas remains with her head in her hands, Emily gets sick of watching that and taps Sylas on the shoulder. She looks up, and blinks twice in shock that Emily is actually speaking to her.)

EMILY

Hey, don't mind them…

SYLAS

(inquiringly)

Why not?

EMILY

Because… because I think that all of us are freaks, even just a little bit.

SYLAS

Some more than others… like me.

EMILY

Don't say that. – Sometimes you just have to put a smile on, you know? Even when things go bad, sometimes if you pretend you're happy long enough you'll forget that you're pretending… But maybe that's just me.

(she laughs, awkwardly. Sylas just stares at her.)

EMILY

Anyway… I'm Emily.

SYLAS

I'm, um…

(there is a momentary panicked expression on her face)

EMILY

You're Sylas… you introduced yourself in front of the class, remember?

(She laughs again)

SYLAS

Oh, yeah... Yeah… I feel stupid, now.

EMILY

Hey, don't feel stupid—

TEACHER NUMERO DOS

SHH!

SYLAS

(looks around surreptitiously before whispering)

… So I guess you've heard all the rumours about me already, huh?

EMILY

(whispers back)

What rumors?

SYLAS

(hurriedly)

Nothing, nevermind…

EMILY

No, really, I want to know—

SYLAS

No you don't… you really don't… -- But I think you'll find out soon enough.

(she frowns and begins to doodle in her notebook again)

EMILY

Oh… well, alright, then, if you don't want to tell me…

(As the bell rings, the students file out, all except for SYLAS. SYLAS picks stands up Emily's hairbrush which she seems to have forgotten to take and walks downstage center. She stares pleadingly at the audience.)

SYLAS

You really don't think I didn't want to tell her, do you? I mean… I guess I wanted to. I wanted her to know about me, just in case, you know… But… I was just so afraid of what she might think, I was so afraid I couldn't stand it. I still can't believe she talked to me, she's so pretty… and she makes so much sense. She's the first person I don't hate today…

(Sylas smiles a little to herself)

When she left she forgot her hairbrush… First I smelled it…

(Sylas smells the girl's brush with a distracted-looking smile on her face)

Then… I took out all the stray hair and, and… I ate it.

(She does so, then grimaces, smacking her lips and making a face.)

…It didn't taste as good as I thought it would.

(Sylas digs through her pockets again and pulls out her schedule.)

SCENE 3!

(The chalkboard and tables are gone, each student brings out their own folding chair and each one sits in a small group, chatting comfortably with their friends. SYLAS stands alone downstage center and is talking as the students are bringing out their chairs)

SYLAS

Then it was lunch time… I was hoping to see Emily again so badly, and not just because I had to return her brush… It was the first time in a long time that I hadn't felt like a total outcast. But at the same time, there was also a sickening dread of what she would think of me the next day, what she would say once she found out about, well, what a freak I was. I was quite certain that she would never want to speak to me again.

JILLIAN

(shoves past SYLAS, who is forced back, and rubs her hurt shoulder with a glare at JILLIAN)

Move it!

SYLAS

But there were more pressing matters… like finding a seat at lunch. No one seemed to want to sit with me, no matter how hard I tried to seem nice and normal and friendly.

(In turn, SYLAS walks to each small group and is rejected, or in some cases right out intimidated, and eventually wanders back to the empty downstage center, where she sits on the ground, hugging her knees to her chest.)

(KEVIN enters with his lunch, approaches SYLAS)

KEVIN

Hiiiii, Freakazoid!

(he sits down next to her)

SYLAS

(glares)

What do you want?

KEVIN

To eat lunch with ya.

(He shakes up and then opens his small carton of orange juice)

SYLAS

…Why?

KEVIN

Why? Because you're a freak! – Like me!

(Kevin laughs for an egregiously long time)

So how do ya feel about collars? Like leashes? Handcuffs? Work with me here!

SYLAS

Um… they're fun, I guess.

KEVIN

COOL! So we like the same stuff! I guess this makes us friends, now.

SYLAS

Er, I, uh—I guess it does…

KEVIN

(gives SYLAS a dog collar)

Great, here's a collar—now bark like a dog!

SYLAS

(pleasantly surprised to not be alone for once, barks willingly and clips on the collar)

How does it look?

KEVIN

FIERCE. Chhyeah. So fierce I'm going to take a picture.

(he whips out his camera phone to take a picture of SYLAS in a collar)

(the bell rings)

KEVIN

Shoot! I hafta go. –Well, I'll see you later, Scruffy!

(pats SYLAS on the head before leaving with everyone else)

(SYLAS stands up, watching everyone go (with their chairs) with an almost wistful look.)

Kevin was rather strange, to say the least. But he was strange in a good way—funny… I sort of liked him. He gave me a collar, so he couldn't be all bad, right? Even though he called me a freak, I don't think he meant it in a bad way… Not in a bad way like that woman on the subway did—even though I think that one I deserved… she was covered head to toe in vomit… -- But I have to go, I don't want to be late for gym… maybe I'll see Emily there if I'm lucky.

SCENE 4!

(the students, wearing gym uniforms, sit in neat rows on the floor. SYLAS wanders to the front of the row, but stands puzzled, not sure which row to sit in. The Gym Teacher strolls in with a whistle around her neck.)

GYM TEACHER

Okay, everyone! You all know the drill, drop and give me fifty! – New kid, make sure you're wearing a uniform by tomorrow!

(she blows her whistle and the students start doing push-ups. SYLAS looks panicked for a second before conforming and joining the rest of the class)

GYM TEACHER

TOO SLOW! Everyone, ten times around the track! GO!

(GYM TEACHER blows her whistle again, and the students get up and follow the teacher offstage, except for SYLAS and two others)

JILLIAN

So we heard you're a tranny, freak-o

HEATHCLIFF

Heard you fancy the ladies, too. Tsk, tsk.

SYLAS

(begins to back away)

Just leave me the hell alone!

HEATHCLIFF

(steps toward her menacingly)

And no manners, too. But don't worry, we'll teach them to you the two of us, won't we Jillian?

JILLIAN

Time to teach this freakshow a lesson!

(The two of them run at SYLAS who shields her face as they pummel her with their fists. One of them kicks her in the shin and SYLAS falls to the ground, instinctively curling up into a ball. They keep kicking her, yelling insults all the while, and she tries to crawl away, getting kicked hard in the mouth. Her lip splits and blood sprays across the ground. Suddenly, there is a whistle, and JILLIAN and HEATHCLIFF scarper. KEVIN enters, carrying a whistle.)

KEVIN

SCRUFFY! – You don't look so good… you okay?

SYLAS

(tears running down her bloodied face)

Do I look okay to you?! -- Just get away from me!

(she wipes the blood off her mouth, wincing)

KEVIN

Aw, but Scruff… Who do you think stopped those guys, huh?

SYLAS

It was, I don't know… It was…

(she spies the whistle in his hand as she struggles to her feet)

It was you, wasn't it?

KEVIN

(impressed by his own heroics)

Couldn't let them beat up a fellow freak, now could I? Nope! No I couldn't. I scared them all off because I am fierce, and fearsome, and fierceness. I. am. SUPER KEVIN.

(Sylas laughs a little despite herself)

SYLAS

Well… thanks for your help, "Super Kevin"… but I think I could have handled it.

KEVIN

If "handled it" means "let them beat you into a pulp", then yes, you could've handled that fine without me. Anyway, I've got to go find some rope. See you around, Scruffy!

(at the same time Kevin exits, the gym teacher enters, looking rather annoyed to say the least)

GYM TEACHER

There you are! – What the heck happened to you?

SYLAS

I…um… -- I… fell.

GYM TEACHER

Some fall, kid! But if I see it happen again, I've got my eye on you—No one cuts my runs, I see to that. The rest of the class is up in the tennis courts—hope you're as good at tennis as you are at falling! – Get to it, then!

(blows whistle and exits)

SCENE 5!

(as Sylas begins to speak, Biology class students move out chairs and desks again to set up the basic school scene.)

SYLAS

(staggers downstage center)

Unfortunately my day continued monotonously, and I don't have the heart to bore you with the bitter disappointment that is my overall experience in life, though I will admit late at night I was a little more than eager to get to school the next morning, especially Biology class. However, rumours circulated worse than ever and overnight it seemed everyone had learned my name, and what I was. I felt they were very ashamed to have me there, as a whole, and I was more than a little ashamed of myself for being trapped in such a hateful place. But there was another gossip spreading about that was not about me— there was a homecoming dance later tonight, and I made up my mind at once that I was going to ask Emily. I was going to ask her, and I was not going to become violently ill, as custom when I am unbearably nervous, when doing so.

(SYLAS takes a seat next to Emily, staring sidelong at her with a soft smile on her face)

EMILY

Hi, Sylas… are you okay? Why do you look all beat up?

SYLAS

Oh, no reason. I just tripped and fell in gym class is all.

TEACHER NUMERO DOS

Class, please open your textbooks to page 335 where you will continue to read and take notes about DNA helicase. No talking please.

(The students open their books and begin working, Sylas stares intently over at Emily with an open book sitting forgotten at her desk.

SYLAS

You know… I've always wanted to be DNA Helicase.

EMILY

(laughs)

Why is that?

SYLAS

So I could unzip your genes! – Wait, forget I said that.

EMILY

(still laughing quietly)

Why forget? It's so funny.

SYLAS

Well, yeah, but… what I meant to say was… What I really mean is, um… homecoming? With me? Do you want to go?

EMILY

Sure! All of us are going to have so much fun together!

SYLAS

Wow… -- Wait, wait, I mean… whoa. What? Who's "all of us"?

EMILY

Christine, Nicole, Jillian, Heathcliff, Kevin, me, and you, of course. One big homecoming party group! Awesome that you want to tag along, Sylas, it'll be more fun with you there.

SYLAS

Oh… okay…

EMILY

Why do you look so down? Come on, it'll be fun.

SYLAS

Yeah, I guess…

EMILY

You always seem so melancholy... why is that?

SYLAS

I don't know… there's not much to be happy about I guess.

EMILY

Remember what I said about putting a smile on…?

SYLAS

Oh… yeah… sorry.

EMILY

Don't be sorry, silly, just smile for me.

SYLAS

(bares her teeth in what could be considered a smile)

There. Happy?

EMILY

Very. I like your collar, by the way.

SYLAS

…Really?

EMILY

Yes, really. You look cute in it.

SYLAS

I look… -- I… You… -- You think I'm cute?

EMILY

(laughs)

Aw, you're so adorable!

(the bell rings)

SYLAS

(sheepishly)

I think you're cute, too.

EMILY

Well that was the bell—I have to go… see you later?

SYLAS

Yeah…

(Emily exits after the rest of the class)

SYLAS

(turns to face the audience)

Wow… she—did you hear what she said? She thinks I'm cute. She always makes me smile, you know? Every day, no matter how bad it's been, sitting next to her just makes me feel better. She's so nice and smart and funny and beautiful. I can't wait until the dance, I'm going to… I don't know, I'm going to be daring for once. I'm going to take a chance and, and… Tell her how I really feel about her and…

And… Aw, who am I kidding? It'll never work out, not for me… But it couldn't hurt to try, right? I mean, heck, if I don't try then I'll never have a shot with her. And maybe if I pretend to smile long enough, I'll forget I'm pretending…

(PUMP UP THE VOLUME PUMP UP THE VOLUME PUMP UP THE VOLUME, DANCE, DANCE)

SYLAS

Before I knew it, it was time to go to the dance.

(takes off her jacket to reveal a tuxedo-printed t-shirt as students enter in party clothes with glowsticks. Emily enters last and as usual, Sylas can't help but stare.)

EMILY

Sylas! Wicked rad shirt.

SYLAS

Thanks… -- you, um… you look… stunning.

EMILY

Aw, thanks. You're so sweet—Hey, Heathcliff! Jillian! I want you to meet a friend of mine.

(as HEATHCLIFF and JILLIAN approach, SYLAS recognizes them and backs away a few steps.)

EMILY

Oh come on, Sylas, they won't bite.

HEATHCLIFF

Oh, look, it's freakshow.

JILLIAN

Ready for another lesson?

EMILY

Oh, you guys have met before?

SYLAS

…You could say that…

(Emily's other friends begin to crowd around, a few of them pointing to SYLAS and whispering to each other, giggling.)

HEATHCLIFF

It's time for you to take another little "fall", freakshow.

(HEATHCLIFF and JILLIAN advance on the retreating SYLAS, but EMILY steps in front of them.)

EMILY

(angrily)

What do you mean another "fall"? Did you beat up Sylas?

HEATHCLIFF

Yeah, and once you get out of our way we'll do it again.

EMILY

No! I can't believe you guys! Just get the hell out of here!

JILLIAN

Fine, but we'll be back. You can count on that, freakshow. And next time you won't have your little "girlfriend" here to protect you.

SYLAS

She's not my girlfriend!

EMILY

(at the same time)

I'm not her girlfriend!

SYLAS

Er… sorry about that.

EMILY

You're sorry? They should be sorry. Come on, let's go somewhere where no jerks can bother us.

(EMILY takes Sylas by the hand and leads her to the other side of the dance floor. They dance once MUSIC starts, but after a few minutes SYLAS stops.)

SYLAS

Um… Emily? Can I, um… Can I tell you something?

EMILY

Sure. Anything.

SYLAS

I, er—I really like you.

EMILY

Aw, I like you, too.

SYLAS

Really? – Wait, no I mean… I like you a lot.

EMILY

I like you a lot, too, silly. You're so much fun.

SYLAS

What I meant to say is…

(mumbles under her breath)

Just kiss her already, stupid!

EMILY

What?

SYLAS

…I—I… -- I want to kiss you…

EMILY

(looks awkward. Long silence)

……………………………… oh.

SYLAS

(looking just as awkward. Shuffles her feet sheepishly)

…Yeah…

EMILY

I don't, I mean… I like you and all… but… I don't normally like girls… in that way… you know?

SYLAS

… I should've been born a boy…

EMILY

Come on, don't say that… -- You're such a pretty girl, it's just… I don't swing that way is all.

SYLAS

It's okay… I shouldn't have even told you…

EMILY

No, I'm glad you told me… it's flattering, really. But can we just be friends?

SYLAS

(dejectedly)

…Yeah, I guess…

EMILY

(jokingly)

Well thanks a lot, now you're making me feel bad…

(she looks around as if to make sure no one's looking at them)

…I don't want you to feel bad. We're still friends, no matter what, right?

SYLAS

…Yeah…

EMILY

Would it make you feel better if I did kiss you?

SYLAS

It wouldn't mean anything, would it?

EMILY

It would mean we were friends. Close friends. That's all… The only reason I'm asking is because I hate to see you so sad. No one deserves to be unhappy.

SYLAS

But then you'd feel weird.

EMILY

I'd get over it.

SYLAS

You don't have to do that for me.

EMILY

I want to.

(they kiss.)

SYLAS

Thank you…

(grins)

EMILY

You know—you really oughta smile more.

(curtain)

NAME OF PLAY – Q