A/N:This is my first attempt at a scene/play that doesn't belong in a part of someone else's play. I've used the base of a Melbourne train station, but I'd imagine their general structure doesn't change too much.
I know it's a bit of an odd conversation, but I think it captures some things about living in a metropolitan state, especially when trying to capture it on paper. I know a lot of my friends gave up on concrete drawing (me included actually) because it was just that impossible. Post-modernism seems more an abstract world to me.
Hope you enjoy.
To Meet and Greet and Fade Away
A Play of One Act
Aetheria, a short copper-haired female, a young adult studying the arts
Harry, a lost man somewhere past the prime of his life, rather unrefined accented speech
The Customer Carer, male, with a black cap hiding his eyes and a Metro badge clipped to his shirt
The Magazine Seller, male with a top hat, nothing else particularly distinguishable
A child, unnamed and unspecified
His/Her mother, the parent of the aforementioned child
An undefined number of passengers, visitors, customers etc., one of the males in neon pink
The entrance of a busy train station. Two ticket machines stand the entrance way, causing some of the crowd to line up and validate their tickets while others, either in a hurry as they hear the whistle of their train approach or else fare evading, push past. There is an office to the right, where The Customer Carer, a worn man with a black cap covering his eyes and Metro badge clipped onto his shirt, monotonously deals with another line whose occupants hovered somewhere between the spectrum of patience and impatience. Groups of people huddled in groups by the escalators, the food stand on the left, and the elevators travelling up and down with clicks. Directly in front of the train station is The Magazine Seller selling magazines, and on one side, disgruntled people lined up in huddles next to a sign that states "Train Replacement Bus Services". On the other side, off to the left, is simply a worn tree back-dropping a road and a worn bench upon which only Aetheria is sitting with a backpack firmly between her legs.
Aetheria [sighs in annoyance and leans back. To herself:] Why do these train replacement buses take an age to set up? I could have somewhere I need to be…[A pause, where she closes her eyes against the sun in her face as she listens to the grumbling of the huddled groups outside the station.] But I don't. Not that this is a world you can really sit down in.
She sighs again, before leaning down and extracting a pad and pencil from her backpack.
Aetheria[to herself:] And there are so many splashes of colour. [Another sigh.] Maybe I should make a habit of carrying colour pencils and acrylic paints along in my backpack. [She looks up, staring into the throng of passengers.] Nothing easy on the eyes though. Seriously. [She scoffs.] What guy prances along in neon pink?
She sketches for awhile, listening sparingly to the snatches of conversation that could be made out from the various crowds of ears eventually fall on a pair near the steps.
A child [wailing:] I wanna watch Bob the Builder on TV!
His/her mother: You can as soon as we get home.
The child: Then I want to go home now!
The last word was said at an ear-splitting shriek that managed to interrupt several other conversations…except an argument that was staring up between The Customer Carer and an oldish looking man we can identify as Harry.
Harry: What'ye mean the price's gone up? Jesus, ye think them dirty scraps of paper grow on meh trees?'
The child at the same time continues his tantrum as the harried mother attempts to calm her and other conversations pick up again as people continue to voice their own discomfort. Over them all, The Magazine Seller waves his magazine, picturing the image of, ironically, a tree half cut.
The Magazine Seller: Save the trees! Save the trees! Vote against the new legislation to clear –
The rest of his words were cut off by the general hubbub of the crowd.Aetheria tore out the page she was scribbling on and tossed it into a nearby bin, before starting on a new page.
There was a honk and then a bus arrives, and suddenly the crowd stops talking and thins as many scramble for a seat on the bus. It's not Aetheria's replacement bus though, and so she returns to her pad after a quick check. In the quiet, she hears The Customer Carer patiently, but in a monotone, explain the new rates.
The Customer Carer: The prices went up since March. Concession tickets are $1.80-
Harry [interrupting:] Ah'm giving yeh two!
The Customer Carer [not varying his tone:] You need a concession card or have to be under fifteen years of age. Regular tickets cost $3.60.
Harry [chewing something before spitting on the ground:] Gah. That ain't fair. [He raises his voice.] Where'd the equality of this 'ere world go? Rubbish I tell yeh. Rubbish.
Muttering illegibly, he turns and shoves his way through the crowd, ignoring the grumbles he receives in return. The Customer Carer simply moves on to the next customer.
The Customer Carer [with his tone still unchanging:] Can I help you?
A Customer [handing a form through the gap between the glass:] I'd like to get a concession card made.
Aetheria rips out another page with a final scribble, scrunching it up before throwing it towards the bin. This time it misses, catching Harry who is making his way back down the steps, on the shoulder. The other voices drone on.
Aetheria [not quite looking up:]Sorry about that.
Harry [still muttering to himself:] –as if money grows on me trees. I can barely get by paying me rent, and now I have to walk to me 'ome – [He finally notices the paper, and leans down to pick it up, smoothing it over. For a moment he just stares at the rough sketch of a one-point perspective, then takes a seat on the bench beside Aetheria and hands the sheet back to her.] That there's a good picture. Ye should keep it 'ere. [He patted his heart.]
Aetheria: It came out bleaker than I intended. [She takes the paper and looks at it. It was a rather simple sketch of the road she was looking at, simply without the people collected. To herself:] Perhaps I should draw the people too…
Harry: Mayhap ye should. We breed like them rabbits an' bobcats of the ol' time. We ought to take a page out of China's book and limit the number of kids to just two. Then maybe livin' wouldn't be so damn expensive.
Aetheria goes back to her drawing, and slowly people begin to form under her pencil.
Harry:Yer a good artist, ye know that?
Aetheria [politely but rather dismissively:] Thank you.
Harry [insistently:] No really. You capture 'em quite well. That's the problem with most of them folk that call themselves artists. They glamour up this 'ere world, or shade it all grey. But 'ere…[he jabbed at the page.] See 'im 'ere. Still whining over 'is television. Now when I was a young 'un, I had a lot more respect for me mother. Of course, she went and had ten others, five on each of my sides, so it never did amount to anything in 'ere. [He tapped his heart, then the page again.] And see, 'em there. Just in lead, but the stand-out is as obvious as them days. [A pause.] I wish I stood out 'ere sometimes. Make me feel a little special ye know. Maybe if me name were 'itler.
Aetheria [rather annoyed at the constant distraction:]Why? Is your name some common Tom, Dick or Harry?
Harry [looking a little hurt, but his cheeks and eyes were still red, almost as if he had been drinking a little:] It's Harry. And yeh name 'here would be Sue now, would it?
Aetheria: It's Aetheria.
Harry: Eh? What that be? It sounds Greek.
Aetheria [sighing again but apparently used to the question:] She was one of the Helidaes. The only one that's actually consistent throughout accounts of history in fact. The daughters of Helios, that grieved for four months after the death of their brother Phaëthon who fell to his death trying to drive their father's chariot, the sun. Eventually they were turned into poplar trees and their tears into amber.
Harry: At least ye know yeh 'istory.
Aetheria [snorting as she continues drawing:] You kind of have to when everyone wants to know where your name comes from.
Harry: Well, I don't have that problem. After all, I'm the common Tom, Dick and Harry sort of Harry. Now if I had a magic wand, maybe I'd be someone or other by now.
Aetheria: Maybe if you didn't waste your money on drinking, you might have enough money for a ride home. [She looks up, before continuing stoutly:] And maybe if you started walking now, you'd be there already.
Harry [nodding:] Aye, well there's some truth in that. [He stretched his legs.] But mayhap I find the company of a young girl to be more entertainin'.
Aetheria [to herself:] I'd be very disturbed if it wasn't for the sheer number of people around here.
She scrunches the paper up again and tosses it in the bin, before noticing another bus, this time the right one, approaching and packing up her remaining materials. Harry stands up, outraged.
Harry: What are ye doing?
Aetheria: Going home. I'm not waiting 'round here for the next one.
Harry: Nay! You're drawing missy!
Aetheria [shrugging and shouldering her bag:]It didn't really capture the crowded metropolitan state.[To herself:] It's so hard to get movement and the rush of this place into a drawing. Sometimes I'm surprised I'm still drawing stuff.
Harry: That's a damn shame. Now, if a pretty girl like yerself had come into my life a few years earlier, I'd be an 'appier bird and not on me 'ere crater. Maybe I'll see ye soon. [His voice took on an almost hopeful tone.]
Aetheria: I doubt it. I'm only here because my train broke down.
She runs for the bus before it leaves without a goodbye, ignoring The Magazine Seller who hails her and slipping into a seat. After the bus leaves, Harry stands and picks the paper out of the bin, smoothing it out.
Harry: That is a damn shame.[He stares at the picture of the men and women melding together in perfect harmony. They no longer stood out from each other, but when he looked up, he could easily pick up the child and his/her mother.] Ah, I think I get world ain't that crazy yet.[He slows in his talking as he sits back down.] You could still pick up an 'arry Potter waving a wand or a Poplar tree with an unusual name. [His head tilts back to stare at the leafless tree.] Hmmph, no Poplar. What a shame. What the hell do 'em Poplar even look like?
He closed his eyes. A passenger comes up to him.
Passenger: Excuse me sir? May I sit here?
A snore answers him.
The Magazine Seller[to the general public:] Save the trees! Save the trees! Vote against the new legislation –