a play in one love affair
Two people on a bare stage; any combination of genders. (For this version, it’s a man and woman.) They stand in random places throughout the play, changing positions during each blackout, sometimes together in various poses, sometimes separated. Sometimes they speak to the audience; other times to each other.
MAN: In a crowd someone laughed. Thinking, incorrectly, it was me, a woman said:
WOMAN: What a sad laugh.
MAN: I was about to defend myself when she added:
WOMAN: But there’s sweetness in your eyes, so there’s hope for you.
MAN: We went off together, and I tried not to laugh.
MAN: A week later, when the joy was too much, I bellowed. She declared:
WOMAN: That laugh! I have changed your life.
MAN: The world doubled its offering: my two eyes and two ears were no longer sufficient. Only with our four eyes focused together and four ears tuned to the same frequency could I fully see the beauty in art and the sky, and completely hear the music of symphonies and breezes.
WOMAN: In the past, the best that others could do was to help me forget death briefly. With him, I could be reminded of death and still love life.
MAN: We laughed and frolicked and kissed and nuzzled and ravaged and napped and did it all over again.
WOMAN: They should’ve slapped a caption on us:
MAN: In happier days.
MAN: The voice on the radio was hysterical. We turned it louder until we couldn’t make out the words, drowning out the phone and sirens.
WOMAN: We shut the windows and harmonized in a hymn. My hands threw scary shadow figures from my past onto the wall.
MAN: My fist shadows pummeled them.
WOMAN: We discovered the formula for happiness, the roadmap to contentment, and the recipe for good living.
MAN: Unfortunately, we were terrible at following directions.
MAN: I truly believed that her orgasms were authentic, but I started to suspect that she was faking her understanding:
WOMAN: Oh. Oh. Oh. Yes. Yes. Yes. You poor thing, you!
MAN: When I told her I loved her, I was caught red-hearted returning to the scene of someone else’s crime. She studied me up and down as if cramming for an examination.
WOMAN: He passed the test. Time to make the questions harder.
MAN: I was an incurable optimist until I swallowed her medicine.
She had me beside myself, and I hardly recognized the man standing next to me.
Each time we parted, I was like a rocking chair she had gotten quickly out of.
WOMAN: He ran away from me in circles, and I ran circles around him.
He surrendered, and I shredded his white flag.
He went limp and bared his jugular, like a vanquished fox. I snapped at him.
MAN: I give up. You win. I will fight on.
WOMAN: He broke my heart in two. Then he quartered it.
But each portion regenerated.
Now I could run for miles, make love, weep at a sad movie, and still have one cold heart for him.
In a dream of drowning, my life flashed before my eyes. He wasn’t there.
WOMAN: On my way away, I dropped by with a bottle of wine. I said, “I am running away from you. Wanna come?”
MAN: We drove out of state and checked into a motel. We laughed all evening. Then she closed up on me. I stared at the CD player: No disc.
WOMAN: It didn’t matter how far we had gone. The landscape inside us was the same.
MAN: She drove me to the bus station.
WOMAN: This time I was the one who pleaded…
MAN: And I was the one who erupted. Anger poured from places in me where I didn’t even know I had spouts.
MAN: I finally got myself to dial her number.
MAN: I couldn’t answer that question. I hung up.
MAN: A night on the town, we agreed, like the old days, might fix it.
We did the cab dance, to the pool hall of mirrors. I racked…
WOMAN: …and I broke. I ran the table, the balls homing into his pockets
MAN: When it was finally my turn, I could barely move.
MAN: Our first worthwhile moments were lust driven. Later, nostalgia joined the lust.
WOMAN: Now, we talked of old times, but ceased making new ones.
MAN: We talked about the past...
WOMAN: ...until we ran out of past.
MAN: You know, I said, you don’t have to turn a mountain around to get to the other side.
WOMAN: God, I replied, I am so sick of you.
MAN: I presented my case with eloquent incandescence. I kept at it, on a roll, a tongue/brain parley to beat the band, I felt my saliva effervesce, something chemical was afoot, I was foaming with rhetorical hegemony.
WOMAN: You’re perfectly right, I said, and perfectly mad.
WOMAN: I put my finger on his wrist but could find no pulse.
MAN: We disagreed on the implications.
WOMAN: I held on to him long enough to convince him that if he said the right words I wouldn’t leave again.
MAN: I told her, It’s you and me against the world, babe.
WOMAN: And I replied, You are the world to me.
MAN: She got smaller as she walked away. I was going to pick her up when she became small enough, look into her tiny eyes, and assure her that she was safe with me. But I lost track of her.
WOMAN: I watched everyone in the world enter the room, except him. Now, even if he did show up, it would be too crowded.
And what was he doing out there all alone?
MAN: The sadness of the empty dish after the unsatisfying meal. No longing for the food, but the hunger was sorely missed.
MAN AND WOMAN: A new one came along quickly. This one inexperienced, even naive.
Oh, my thirst!
Oh, how quick the quenching.
My buried treasure. I broke you with my shovel.
MAN: News of the distant death made me smile, because I knew it would bring her back to me.
MAN: The door opened shyly, just a crack, then blossomed into her sad face.
WOMAN: Let me tell you…
MAN: …but the sentence was never finished.
MAN: The dust settled and we swept it away.
WOMAN: There’s a bulge under a rug somewhere.
MAN AND WOMAN: We'll let it be as long as it lets us be.