- 6 -

The Capped Well

A short play by Grace French.

(An open field in the highlands. It's a hot day, but there is a strong wind blowing.

There is a capped well.

Enter Mel, 19.

She stares at the well as if seeing something more; a memory.

Enter Tom.

He hasn't seen Mel in 3 years and is looking at her as if not quite believing she's there.)

Tom. ...Mel?

(Mel looks back at Tom and, as if seeing a ghost, begins to back away.)

Tom. Wow... How long has it been? Must've been/

Mel. /Three years.

Tom. Three years, yeah. Yeah, cos I was seventeen. And you were/

Mel. /Sixteen.

Tom. Sixteen. ...Just.

Mel. Yeah.

(Long silence.)

How have you been?

Tom. ...H-how have I been?!

Mel. I mean..! Not... Have you been well?

Tom. That question is too complicated, Melanie.

(Mel turns away, cringing.)

Mel. Fair enough, I've been the same actually. Lots of things.../

Tom. /Mel.../

Mel. /But I'm travelling now, and it's good for me/ (her voice is getting louder over Tom.)

Tom. /Mel!/

Mel. /Because I feel free!

Tom. Why did you leave?

Mel. I'm sorry Tom. I couldn't stay. That's why I left so suddenly. Away from everyone. Especially the church...

Tom. But why? Just because... (He stops.)

(Mel looks at him.)

Mel. Because?

(Long pause)

Tom. He hesitates. Well, why? Why did you leave? You didn't even tell anybody...

Mel. I... I was trapped. I wanted to go somewhere where I could walk through a street and just not know anybody.

(Loaded pause.)

Tom. ...Mel, that's crap.

(Mel looks taken aback.)

Mel. It's... not! ...what..?

Tom. I know the real reason.

Mel. It wasn't because of you. Please don't talk about/

Tom. /Actually, yes! Let's talk about that! I was in../

Mel. /I know! Please don't! I really want to feel the same way but I can't. I just... I can't! I don't know why you keep saying it. Did you think that if you said it enough I'd magically be... I dunno... Cured?! Is that it?

Tom. ...Yes.

(Long silence. Mel seems close to tears.)

Mel. You're the priest's son. It kind of... fits.

Tom. I'm going to do ministry at Uni.

Mel. I thought you would.

(Long silence. Mel fidgets, while Tom is perfectly still.)

Tom. I'm sorry.

Mel. No... Its actually nice. You were looking out for me. You didn't want me to go to hell, right?

Tom. No, that's not it. I didn't want you to get hurt. By the village. They can be.../

Mel. Yeah. I know.

Tom. But, anyway... I knew that it wasn't because of me you left.

(Mel looks at Tom for a wile, before smiling slightly and shaking her head.)

Mel. Whatever you think it is, it won't be right. You don't know.

Tom. Our teacher. The one you were infatuated with.

(He pauses to look at Mel's reaction. She says nothing, but her eyes are wide.)

She felt the same way, didn't she?

(Mel is shocked. She still doesn't say anything.)

Tom. Ah. Yes. Hit a nerve there, didn't I?

Mel. ...How..?

Tom. How did I know?

(He looks at the well.)

I saw you.

Mel. You saw us? There?

(She points at the well.)

Tom. Urgh. Don't remind me where. I won't be able to look at that well in the same way again.

Mel. Tom... You didn't... Tell...

Tom. Tell anyone? Of course I didn't.

Mel. Thank You.

(Pause.)

I'm sorry.

Tom. For what?

Mel. For... Putting you through that.

Tom. No. It wasn't your fault. Well, it was. But my reaction – my feelings - are my fault.

Mel. Okay.

(Long silence.)

Tom. You didn't even say goodbye.

Mel. I couldn't. It would have been too hard. I might have even stayed. I just... I went.

Tom. I suppose I can understand that. But why were you in such a hurry to leave? Nobody knew.

Mel. I knew. I knew that was in love with my teacher. A woman. If the village had found out... So I left. To forget. To abandon the past.

Tom. (He laughs.) Abandon the past? It's impossible to do that... The past stays with you. You can't ever forget your past, Mel.

Mel. You can! I have!

Tom. He laughs again. Really?

(Mel nods.)

Then why are you here?

(Mel is quiet. She sits down on the well.)

There really was no reason for you to leave.

Mel. Tom... This village has such a Victorian attitude. I had to go where I could be accepted. Where I wasn't in danger because of whom I chose to love.

Tom. But... Mel...

Mel. You think it would have been easier if I had stayed?

Tom. Well... No. I suppose not. But it would have been easier for me. We could have helped each other... I was lost without you.

Mel. Oh Ghad. Don't get all soppy... You know I hate it...

Tom. I don't love you. Not like that. I can't.

(Mel is confused.)

Mel. Well... good..? Wait... What? Why?

Tom. (He hesitates.) I'm... I'm gay.

(Mel snaps her head up to look at Tom. Tom looks sheepish.)

Mel. You what..?!

Tom. Gay.

(Mel stands up and stares Tom straight in the eyes. After a while she bursts into laughter.)

Mel. The world has gone potty! The priest's son! The future ringleader of this village! Gay!

Tom. (He is cringing at her laughter, feeling stupid.) Mel.../

Mel And I thought he was in love with me!

Tom. I was. Was. Past tense.

Mel. Oh, my God! (She is in hysterics)

Tom. (Correcting her) Goodness. (This only causes Mel to laugh more.)

Mel. Goodness! Aye, there you go again. Wee Christian soldier that you are! Oh Tom, I love you! I miss you.

Tom. (Tom sighs loudly, feeling like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders.) Come home.

Mel. Maybe I will. Sometime. I'm having fun now though. Travelling. When I settle, I think I'll settle here.

(She and Tom hug.)

Pansy.

Tom. Lemon.

(They walk off together, Laughing.)