LIGHTS, or rather LIGHT up on a night scene. A young WOMAN sits on a park bench near the garbage can. The light from a nearby lamppost is bright enough to see her figure, but as she sits in front of the light, her face is cast in shadows. To add to that, most of her hair is down, in her face, so that it is hard to see it. To her left is a nearly empty box of cigarettes and a Zippo lighter. A couple cigarette butts lie scattered around the trash bin, all used up. The WOMAN sits, clearly distressed, shivering a little. She is wearing a light jacket and jeans. Her purse lies next to the cigarette box and lighter, open. She sits alone onstage for a few moments, still shivering. She has been here a while. The lamppost flickers. After a few moments go by, a MAN walks by. He wears a much heavier coat, but not quite a winter one, as well as a scarf and cap. When he reaches the street lamp, he notices her. At first he continues walking, but he looks back and sees she's distressed. A few beats as he decides whether or not to talk to her, then…
MAN. Hey, is everything okay?
WOMAN (speaking in a low and raspy, yet somewhat alluring voice). Oh? Oh. Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine.
MAN. Are you sure?
MAN. It's just, you look real stressed is all. An' you're shivering. You look cold. You want my hat? Or my scarf? I got plenty back home, you don't need to worry about-
WOMAN. I said I'm fine.
Beat. The MAN debates leaving her, but as he's about to leave, she gives a violent shudder.
MAN. Here. Let me get you my scarf. (He unwraps his scarf and steps to the bench, handing it over, but the WOMAN still sits, shivering.) Please. By all means, take it. I got another one at home. It ain't as warm, but I'm plenty warm right now. Oh come on, I don't bite or nothin'. Seriously, take the scarf.
WOMAN. Are you sure?
He drapes the scarf around her, and as his arms go near her neck, she visibly tenses up, but does not struggle.
Now I ain't wrapping it around your neck now. You're gonna have to to that yourself.
WOMAN. Thank you.
MAN. Much warmer, ain't it.
WOMAN. A little bit.
Beat. The man looks over her again as she wraps it around her neck, keeping her face out of view. Despite the fact that she is shivering less, her body is still fairly rigid. The lamppost flickers again.
MAN. You ain't from around here are you?
WOMAN. Is it that obvious? Ha, yes, I just moved from the city a few weeks ago.
MAN. I thought so. I know everybody here, but I ain't seen you before.
WOMAN. So it's true, huh? All the people in small towns know everything about each other?
MAN. Well, some of us like to keep private, but we know about everyone's names and stuff. Must be a whole 'nother world out in the city. I hear they ain't as friendly as us in the big cities.
WOMAN. That's true. I've never been offered a scarf before.
MAN. Makes sense why you stiffened up when I put it on you.
WOMAN. Well, to be fair, I don't let strangers touch my neck all that often.
MAN. Oh. (an awkward pause.) You sure nothin's wrong? I mean, I don't mean to force you into speakin' or nothin', but you seem real-
WOMAN. I said I'm fine.
WOMAN. Thank you for the scarf though.
She reaches down to the box of cigarettes, and grabs one of the last ones, as well as the lighter. She puts it up to her mouth and flicks the lighter open. She holds up the nearly empty box, offering one of her last cigarettes to the MAN.
MAN. No thanks, I don't smoke anymore. It ain't healthy.
WOMAN. That's good. I'll probably need these last two anyway.
The two remain where they are. The MAN stands behind the bench. The WOMAN sits in front of him, her face still unseen by him or the audience, and she is still clearly disturbed by something. She lights the cigarette. With the lighter to her face, we see that she wears a noticeable scar. She still doesn't turn to the MAN, but instead takes a long drag on the cigarette. Her body loosens, but The MAN waits for another couple seconds, but he finds he has nothing else to say. He makes to leave when the WOMAN speaks again.
WOMAN. Do you believe in the supernatural?
WOMAN. Supernatural. Paranormal activity. Ghosts, aliens, that kind of thing?
MAN. I never gave it much thought, to be honest.
WOMAN. You don't believe in God or anything?
MAN. I was raised Catholic.
WOMAN (Laughing softly). I'm so sorry.
MAN. It ain't that bad. Do you consider God to be Supernatural?
WOMAN. I guess.
The two stay silent for a bit. The lamppost flickers again. The MAN looks up at it.
MAN. I guess I believe in guardian angels. You know, like when you're in danger and they come an' protect you? They're kinda like ghosts.
WOMAN. Do you know who these angels are?
MAN. I dunno. Family members? Angels God sends to protect you? I told you I never-
WOMAN. Do you think they actually protect you?
MAN. I assume that's why they're called "Guardian Angels." I don't know if I like where this conversation-
WOMAN. I think the same thing.
MAN. Why are we talkin' 'bout this?
WOMAN. No reason really. I just think about it sometimes. It comforts me to think there's something after life, you know?
MAN. You don't believe in heaven or nothin'?
WOMAN. No, I can't say I do. (She takes another long drag off her cigarette)
MAN. So you're an atheist?
WOMAN. I guess that's what I could be defined as.
Another pregnant pause. The WOMAN takes more long drags off her cigarette and the MAN just watches her, unable to continue the conversation, but still unable to make himself leave.
MAN. You at least don't seem so cold no more.
WOMAN. Well, when you have a burning thing close to your face and a nicotine buzz, it keeps you warm.
MAN. Well that's good.
WOMAN. You aren't just here because you secretly want this last cig, are you?
MAN. Truth is, I'm not sure why I'm still here.
WOMAN. Ha, maybe you're my guardian angel, watching over me, telling me that smoking is bad.
MAN. Well this is the first time I ever seen you, so I don't think I'm your guardian angel.
WOMAN. With how things have been going, I wouldn't be surprised it took you this long to show up.
MAN. Is that why you're out here lookin' all stressed?
MAN. Then you just needed a smoke?
MAN. Then why are you out here freezing your butt off?
MAN. Well it must be something.
WOMAN. It's stupid, really.
MAN. No, if it's got you so worked up-
WOMAN. It's not a big deal. It won't even make sense.
MAN. I think it is. And I bet you it will.
Another beat. The WOMAN finally turns and faces the MAN, and the MAN finally sees the scar on her face. He reacts subtly, but he definitely did not expect to see such a big scar. The WOMAN looks at him for a couple seconds.
WOMAN. I am out here smoking because my mother baked me the wrong cookies.
Another flicker, and a long pause as the MAN comprehends this. The WOMAN sits, still looking at him, disregarding the weather or her cigarette.
MAN. Well, I'm sure there's more context that I ain't getting but-
MAN. She made peanut butter cookies and you're allergic?
WOMAN. They were M&M cookies. No peanut butter.
MAN. She only use green ones or something?
MAN. Okay, you got me there. It don't make no sense.
WOMAN. Thought so.
MAN. Can I sit down, miss? (She doesn't respond. He makes to sit down anyway.) Well I'm gonna. (Still no response. He stops again.)
WOMAN. I don't think you're my guardian angel.
MAN. I didn't expect you to.
WOMAN. I don't think I believe in angels.
MAN. I didn't expect you to.
WOMAN. I still believe in the supernatural though.
MAN. Didn't you think that God didn't exist? Ain't he kinda supernatural?
WOMAN. I don't know.
MAN. Why are we talking about this?
WOMAN. It helps.
Another pause. MAN looks at her as she takes another drag off the cigarette.
MAN. You smoke a lot?
WOMAN. Only more recently, yes.
MAN. It's bad for you.
WOMAN. You've said.
MAN. Good thing you believe in ghosts, because you could be one sooner than you'd think if you keep smokin' em.
WOMAN. That's the plan. (He has nothing to say to this, so they stay for a beat.) I'd like to be a ghost. Wouldn't it be nice to just float? Not have to deal with anyone? Not have to worry about anything?
MAN. I feel I'd get bored after a while.
WOMAN. But just imagine floating on. Not having to worry about yourself, or your mother, or your…your brother…
MAN. You've got a brother?
MAN. Oh. I'm real sorry.
WOMAN. It was a couple months ago. Car crash.
MAN. Is that where-
WOMAN (Pointing at scar). I got this? Yeah.
MAN. And you miss him, don't you?
MAN. Wish he was still here?
WOMAN. Every day.
MAN (connecting the dots). He liked M&Ms, didn't he?
WOMAN. His favorite candy. (They stay for a bit on opposite ends of the bench. The WOMAN's cigarette lies between her fingers, burning slowly, but she doesn't notice it. The MAN shivers.) Getting cold?
MAN. Little bit. It is pretty chilly tonight.
WOMAN. Well, I just got this scarf…
MAN. Ha, well I might grab that from you. I just found out I'm missing one.
WOMAN. So why are you out so late?
MAN. I used to take walks with my wife 'round this time. Had a great pooch too. Irish setter. My wife died a couple years ago. Lung cancer. She'd have a couple smokes while we walked the dog. Then it was just me. Then the dog went too. I still walk sometimes though. Guess I just got used to bein' outside this time of night. Peaceful.
WOMAN. You think they're your guardian angels?
MAN. Well they ain't a ghost at least. I ain't been spooked or nothin'.
The WOMAN takes one final drag of her cigarette and crushes it under her boot. She flicks the butt into the garbage can.
MAN. You don't have to stop smokin' on my account just 'cause my wife died from smoking.
WOMAN. It was all smoked anyway.
MAN. Can I sit down?
WOMAN. Yes. (He sits.) Is it alright if I smoke another cig?
MAN. I suppose.
A beat as she fumbles with the lighter.
WOMAN. Does it hurt less over time, missing someone close?
MAN. Yes and no. Sometimes I'm alright, other times it hits me harder. Usually when it hits me harder, that's when I take one of these walks.
WOMAN. To be closer to them?
MAN. To be closer to her.
WOMAN. So it's not going to get better for me?
MAN. It might.
WOMAN. I hope so. Cigarettes are expensive.
She lights up, takes a drag, then moves her hair out of her face. Her eyes are glossy. She is near tears. She rests her hand on top of the cigarette box. The MAN places his hand on hers and they smile softly.
WOMAN. You want the last cigarette?
MAN. Actually, yes.
She gives him the last cigarette and after he puts it in his mouth, she lights it for him. They sit, smoking for a while, when the street lamp flickers noticeably. The two look at it, the light shining on their faces one last time. They look hopeful.