Act Two, Scene One
Christmastime, Grove City High School, Ten Year Reunion
[A voice, the same voice from the beginning of act one, booms out, "Welcome back, class of 2016!" The sound of glasses clinking is heard amidst indistinct chatter. The curtain is drawn to reveal people in semi-formal dress sitting at tables adorned with white tablecloths and tea lights. The year is 2026, and the students have returned for their reunion. Four men sit at a table: Sandy, Ted, Daniel, and Fletcher. Ted is wearing a very professional-looking suit, while Sandy is far more casual in a brown sports coat and jeans. Their conversation rises above all the others]
DANIEL: [To Ted] So, where's Linda? You two are still together, right?
TED: [Grinning] Yeah, we're still together. And she'll be here soon. [Sipping his drink as he looks down at his phone] At least, she should be. She gets out of work at seven.
DANIEL: How long have you two been engaged?
TED: Seven years. Since I my senior year at CU.
DANIEL: [Whistling] Whoa.
SANDY: [Smirking] Tell him how many times you've been engaged.
TED: [Shrugging good-naturedly] Three.
FLETCHER: You've been engaged to the same woman three times?
TED: But I don't count the first time. I was nineteen and I asked her over Skype in a fit of…passion.
SANDY: He was drunk.
FLETCHER: What happened the second time?
TED: We were a week out from the big day and all the stress from planning finally got to Linda. She went to stay with her aunt in Maine for a month and when she came back we just sort of…picked up where we left off. The wedding's at the end of March.
DANIEL: [Pointedly] Have you sent out the invitations yet?
TED: [Waving his hand] Oh, yeah, ages ago…[Catching Sandy's warning glance] Yours is…it's in the mail.
DANIEL: I didn't get invitations to your first two weddings either.
TED: [Visibly uncomfortable] Yeah, well, as I said, the first engagement was more of a…whim…[Desperately peering around for a distraction] Hey, is that Avery?
[He points and the three men turn to look. Avery, having just walked onstage, is standing alone. She is wearing a simple blue dress. She cranes her neck, searching for a friendly face. She has not yet noticed Ted or Sandy]
DANIEL: Avery…I haven't though about her in years. [Turning back to the group] I had a pretty big crush on her our senior year.
TED, SANDY, & FLETCHER: [In unison] We know.
SANDY: She knows.
SANDY: [Shrugging] I told her.
DANIEL: [Aghast] When did you do that?
SANDY: At homecoming. She was pretty miserable-she hated dances, Rebecca had dragged her-and I thought she needed a laugh.
DANIEL: [Turning to look back at Avery] I called her once, the summer before we left for college. Left a voicemail. She never called back.
SANDY: She couldn't stand you.
DANIEL: [Turning back, insulted] What? Why?
SANDY: She thought you were an arrogant jerk.
TED: You turned every single one of her opinions into a political debate.
FLETCHER: And your hair was stupid. [Sipping his drink] That's me, not Avery, but I'm sure she'd agree.
[As Daniel opens and closes his mouth, clearly affronted, Ted raises his hand]
[Avery looks over at the table, smiles, and starts walking over. She hesitates slightly as she notices Daniel, but continues on and sits down at the table]
AVERY: What's going on, guys?
SANDY: Well, Daniel here was just telling us what he thinks of our president. You were an intern on Kamala Harris's first campaign, right? Did I hear that somewhere?
AVERY: I was offered an internship on her campaign, but I had to turn it down. I'm a poli sci professor at Carnegie Mellon now. [To Daniel] Go on, Daniel. What were you saying about Harris?
DANIEL: [Getting to his feet, flustered] I haven't said anything to Lexi since I got here. I should…go say hi. [He hurries offstage]
AVERY: [Calling after him] Bye, Daniel! [To the rest of the group] God, I missed him.
SANDY: I maintain that you two would've made a great couple. [Leaning back in his seat] Ah, what could have been.
FLETCHER: [Also getting to his feet] I need a refresher. [He holds up his empty glass and looks around the table] Can I get you guys anything?
[Everyone murmurs that they're good on food and drinks and Fletcher walks offstage]
AVERY: So, what've you guys been up to? I haven't talked to any of you since, what? Six, seven Christmases ago? [To Ted] Are you and Linda still engaged?
SANDY: [Muttering into his drink] God…this again…
TED: [Glaring at Sandy] Yes, we're still engaged. The wedding's March 21st. Did you get your invitation?
AVERY: Yep. On my refrigerator. [To Sandy] What about you? Have you directed your Oscar winner yet?
SANDY: [Takes a long drink and immediately begins to cough] Not yet, no. Mostly just late night commercials. Have you seen the Purr-fect Blend commercial with Flo from Progressive?
AVERY: [Slowly] Yes…
SANDY: [Chuckling awkwardly and pointing his thumbs at himself] That's me.
AVERY: Oh. Well, that's…cool.
SANDY: Yeah, no it's not. That jingle…it still haunts my nightmares. [He shudders] But I'm actually being considered to direct a film about the Holocaust right now. Michael Fassbender's already committed to the lead role. I meet with the producers next month.
AVERY: That's…that's awesome, Sandy. Good luck.
TED: [Suddenly standing up] Here's our girl.
[Linda has just rushed onstage, looking very frazzled. Her hair is windswept and her polka-dotted dress is buttoned wrong. She walks over to the table]
TED: [Pulling her seat out for her] You're twenty minutes late.
LINDA: One of the patients threw up on me, so I had to rush home and change. [Noticing Sandy and Avery] Sandy, Avery! Long time, no see. [Sniffing her hair and turning to Ted] Do I smell like vomit?
TED: [Visibly annoyed] You smell divine.
SANDY: So, Linda, I hear you're a nurse now.
LINDA: Yeah, I left GCC after two years. It wasn't a good fit. [Taking the drink Ted offers her] I started nursing school a couple years back and got a job at the hospital less than a year ago. I couldn't be happier! But enough about me. Has Ted told you about his big case?
SANDY: No, he hasn't. [To Ted] What is it?
TED: [Trying to come off as modest] The firm I work for is suing an asphalt paving company that's been dumping buckets of waster into a nearby lake for years, making the environment completely inhospitable for the animals.
AVERY: That's a huge deal, Ted!
TED: [Shrugging] I don't really have a huge part in the case, but I'm sharpening pencils and getting coffee for the people who do.
SANDY: Well, what use would lawyers even be without their coffee and pencils? [Clapping Ted on the back] Seriously, man, congratulations. You're saving the world one step at a time.
TED: Thanks, Sand.
LINDA: So, are you two coming to the wedding?
AVERY: [Exchanging a glance with Sandy] Absolutely.
SANDY: Wouldn't miss it.
AVERY: Ted was just telling us, uh, about…about…
SANDY: He was just saying that there have been some-
AVERY: [Finishing for him] -complications. [She takes a long drink] How has the planning been going, Linda?
LINDA: [Groaning] Ugh, it's been a nightmare. Originally, the wedding was supposed to be in June, but there was a scheduling conflict with Ted's parents, so we pushed it up to April. [Taking a drink] Then there was a screw-up with the caterer, so we had to push it up again to March, and now here we are!
AVERY: That sounds-
LINDA: [Cutting her off] And then there are all the complaints from Ted's sisters about the bridesmaid dresses, the ones from my brother about a vegetarian dinner option, the arrangements we've had to make for our cousins-so far, three of them are staying with us, but there'll probably be more as we get closer to the big day. [She finishes her drink] And the little side comments about just running off to Vegas aren't super helpful. [Glares at Ted]
TED: [Laughing awkwardly]I just think you'd be a lot more relaxed without all this planning and our families breathing down our necks?
LINDA: How do you think my mother would react if we eloped? She'd never speak to us again.
TED: [Muttering into his drink] And that would be bad because…?
SANDY: [Clearing his throat] Will there be an open bar at the wedding?
TED & LINDA: [In unison] Definitely.
SANDY: [Suddenly noticing something behind Ted] Whoa…speaking of an open bar…
[He points. Everybody turns to look. Rebecca is standing over by the bar, a glass in one hand and her phone in the other. She is wearing jeans and a T-shirt, by far the most casual of everyone onstage. She is looking down at her phone]
AVERY: Oh, my God. Rebecca.
SANDY: An actual sighting in the wild.
LINDA: I haven't seen her since-
TED: [Finishing for her] Since her dad's funeral.
AVERY: That was over ten years ago. [Looking around at the group] Did she end up going to college?
LINDA: [Shaking her head] No. From what I heard, she stayed with her mom to help with her two sisters. I think she's been waitressing at a restaurant downtown ever since.
AVERY: I tried to get in contact with her a couple of times over the years. Wrote her a couple letters, called once or twice…she never responded, so I just…stopped.
SANDY: [Raising his voice] Rebecca! Over here!
[Rebecca looks up, startled. She appears a bit flustered at the sight of her old friends, even though she is at a school reunion. She sets quickly swallows the rest of her drink, sets the glass down on the bar, paints a smile on her face, and walks over to the table]
REBECCA: Hey, Sandy. Avery. Ted. Linda. [She nods to each in turn] I didn't peg you guys as the reunion type.
LINDA: We could say the same about you. [Gesturing to an empty seat] Sit down, we're just catching up with each other.
REBECCA: I shouldn't. I just came for the free drink, but I have to get home now. My sisters are coming home from school in two days and my mother and I have to finish cleaning the house.
TED: [Looking at his watch] It's almost ten o' clock. The cleaning can't wait until tomorrow?
REBECCA: My mother's pretty anxious to get it done tonight so she doesn't have to worry about it tomorrow. We've been dusting and scrubbing all day. I just barely managed to get away for a little break.
SANDY: Come on. Your mother can't spare you for an hour?
REBECCA: [Sighing and rubbing her forehead] Tell you what. I'll give you an hour…while you're cleaning my bathroom.
SANDY: [Bewildered] What?
REBECCA: Yeah, I want you to clean my upstairs bathroom. We can catch up then. [Smiling for the first time] You owe me, Sandy.
SANDY: [Growing ever more confused] I owe you?
REBECCA: Ten years ago, you threw up on my floor. It took hours to get rid of the smell completely. It's about time you returned the favor.
TED: Can't argue with that, Sand. Clean the girl's bathroom.
SANDY: [Grinning and getting to his feet] All right. Let's go.
[Everyone stands up and puts their jackets on. They walk offstage. Cut to black]
Act Two, Scene Two
Rebecca's Living Room
[Three women are dancing onstage, wearing pajamas and feather boas. They are singing along to "Dancing Queen". Sitting on the table behind them are colorful, fruity drinks. Rebecca and her friends walk onstage, immediately freezing at the sight of the dancing women]
REBECCA: [Hesitantly] Mom?
REBECCA'S MOM:[Exuberantly] Hi, sweetie! How was the reunion?
REBECCA: It was fine… [Looking at the other two women] Aunt Loni, Aunt Sunny…what are you guys doing here?
LONI: We came to help your mother with the cleaning, but we got a little…distracted.
SUNNY: We made daiquiris. Do any of you want one?
REBECCA: No, thanks. Sandy's actually here to take care of the rest of the cleaning for us. [Claps Sandy on the back]
REBECCA'S MOM: Great! Thank you, Sandy! [Picking up her drink] We'll just take our drinks downstairs, leave you to it. [They begin to walk offstage, and Rebecca's mom calls over her shoulder] It was good to see you guys again! [They exit]
REBECCA: [Embarrassed]Sorry about that. [Turning to Sandy] All right, buddy. Get to it. Everything you need is under the sink.
LINDA: [Collapsing onto the couch and pulling a drink toward her] We'll be down here waiting for you.
AVERY: [Joining Linda] Have fun.
[Sandy walks offstage with a grimace on his face as everyone else proceeds to make daiquiris, laughing as they do. Cut to black. Sandy is now sitting with everyone else, holding a drink in rubber-gloved hands. His sleeves are rolled up to his elbows, and he looks as though he's just been through war]
SANDY: God, I am such a failure.
TED: We've been here before…
REBECCA: I recognize that tree.
SANDY: Seriously, though, I am a huge-
TED: [Cutting him off] Sandy, shut up. I really can't do this again.
REBECCA: [Slapping Ted on the back of the head] Don't be such a jerk, Ted. You're a successful lawyer living in a nice house and you're engaged to your beautiful high school sweetheart.
LINDA: Thank you.
REBECCA: [Continuing on] You got dealt a pretty sweet card. Sandy and I…we're still stuck in limbo. He's directing cheesy late night commercials and I've been living with my mother for the past ten years. I never got to go to New Zealand or Cairo or Paris like I planned. [Taking a huge swallow of her daiquiri] And all thanks to my dad, up and dying two months after I graduated.
AVERY: [Tentatively] Rebecca-
REBECCA: [Cutting her off] If he hadn't died, Mom wouldn't have collapsed into such a mess and I could have gone on to college. I could have gone anywhere. But no, I have to stay and take care of my mother because if I don't, who will?
AVERY: [Suddenly speaking up] Rebecca, your mother's okay. She's singing and dancing and making strawberry daiquiris in a feather boa. Maybe she was sad at first, but she's…she's moved on from your father's death. But you…you're still sleeping in your high school bedroom. Eating meals that your mother cooks for you. So who are you really here for? Who's really wallowing in the past? Your mother? [Chuckling] Don't kid yourself.
REBECCA: [Surprised and a little angry] Excuse me?
AVERY: [Getting to her feet and speaking over Rebecca, she turns to Linda] Linda, Ted, you'll forgive me if I RSVP "no" to your upcoming nuptials. [Rubbing her forehead] I just have very little faith that a third engagement will make it even as far as the rehearsal dinner. [Almost pleadingly] Just end it, guys. Please? For all our sakes! [Gestures to Sandy and Rebecca] Put the dying dog out of its misery.
LINDA: [Looking down at her ring, shocked and about to cry] What-
AVERY: [Cutting her off] Sandy, no self-respecting production company would ever hire you to direct a Holocaust film when the only works on your résumé are a cheesy cat food commercial and a handful of home movies that you directed a couple of your friends in back in high school. And since when have you ever wanted to? You're Clerks, not Schindler's List.
SANDY: [Staring up at her, shocked at her outburst] I-I-
AVERY: [Addressing the room] Dreams are nice. They wake us up, they push us forward, but come the end of the day, they've faded completely. And the people who cling to those dreams, those…expectations…the people who desperately try to remember what they were…those are the people who end up heartbroken and bitter. [Draining her daiquiri, she collapses back into her seat, where she gazes almost hypnotically into her empty glass] They end up…stuck.
[Cut to black. Avery's flashback begins. She is twenty, doing homework on her college campus. A boy, Calvin, walks by where she is sitting. He drops a piece of paper. Avery, seeing it fall, picks it up and follows after him]
AVERY: [Tapping his shoulder] Hey, you dropped this. [Hands him the paper]
CALVIN: [Pushing the paper back into her hand] I know. [Smiling] You should give the number on there a call sometime.
AVERY: [Looking down at the paper, confused] This is a coupon for Pizza Hut.
CALVIN: [Flustered] Oh. [Slips off his backpack and rifles through it for a pen] Hang on a minute…
[Cut to black. Avery and Calvin are walking across the stage, holding hands and smiling at each other. They stop. Calvin leans in and kisses her. Cut to black. Avery and Calvin are sitting on a couch. Both seem impatient. Avery is holding a pregnancy test in her hands]
CALVIN: [Touching her knee] Whatever the test says-
AVERY: [Cutting him off] I'm not keeping it.
CALVIN: [Patiently] We'll look at our options, okay? [Smoothing her hair] Everything will be okay.
AVERY: [Standing up suddenly, the test slipping from her hands and falling to the floor] No, Cal, you don't understand. I don't want it, and I'm not keeping it. [Voice cracking] I interviewed for an internship on the Harris campaign yesterday. Do you know how long I've been waiting for an opportunity like this? [Shaking her head] No, no, this…this will ruin everything. [She stoops down to pick up the test]
CALVIN: [Getting to his feet] Try not to freak out. You might not even be-
AVERY: [Looking up] It's positive.
[Cut to black. Avery is alone onstage, talking into her phone]
AVERY: It's a very good offer…a very generous offer. [Regretfully] But I'm afraid I can't move to Washington right now. [Touching her stomach] Something's…come up.
[Cut to black. Again, Avery is alone onstage. She's sitting on the stage, holding a baby monitor. The sound of a baby crying can be heard, followed by Calvin's soothing voice. Avery's face crumples as she finally breaks down into tears. Cut to black. End of flashback. Present day Avery is sitting in the exact same position on the couch, this time surrounded by her friends. The baby monitor has been replaced by a photograph from her wallet]
AVERY: [Staring at the photo] Her name is Charlotte. She's six years old. [Pausing for a beat before slipping the photo back into her wallet] And next week, she's moving in with her father full-time.
TED: [Confused by her stoic expression] And you're…upset about that?
AVERY: [Staring at her hands] I love her very much. I would do anything for her. But…if I could go back in time and stop Cal from talking me into keeping her…I would.
LINDA: [Softly] Avery…
AVERY: [Looking up and cutting her off] And that's not fair to her. [Smiles slightly] I'm not a great mother, but Calvin's a fantastic father. He's what Charlotte deserves. [Shrugging] I'll still see her on weekends. And hopefully…one day…she'll understand.
[The room is silent. Linda twirls her engagement ring around her finger, lost in thought. Ted watches her. Rebecca drains the last of her daiquiri. Avery stares down at her hands. Sandy, however, smiles mischievously]
SANDY: My God…are we going to be just like our parents?
[Everyone in the room pelts him with pillows. Finally, the tension is broken by tentative laughter]
REBECCA: [Standing up and turning the glass in her hand upside down] Well, we drank the place dry.
LINDA: Who is this "we" you speak of? You drank most of it all by yourself.
REBECCA: Regardless…the alcohol is gone, so…what else do adults do for fun?
SANDY: [Standing up] How about we go for a walk? Like we used to.
[The group walks offstage, but still can be heard talking and laughing. Linda pulls Ted back, hugs him, and then pulls away, clasping his hand tightly for an extra second. Ted opens his palm and looks down at it. He sighs, looks back up at Linda, and nods, smiling wearily. He puts an arm around her shoulders and they join the others Cut to black. Ted is sprawled out on the couch. Linda and Rebecca are sitting on the floor, leaning against the couch, heads tilted toward each other. Avery is in the armchair, one arm resting on her chest, the other dangling inches above the floor. Sandy is spread-eagle on the floor, mouth open and snoring. All are fast asleep in the exact same positions that they were ten years before. Rebecca wakes up first and looks around]
REBECCA: [Sleepily] Hey…how do you guys want your eggs?
AVERY & SANDY: [In unison] Benedict Cumberbatch.
[Cut to black]