Play 08

2013-08-12

Title: Bathtub Scenes #1

Author: Peter Wood

Draft date: 13-08-12

Contact: peterwood2@gmail.com

On stage: two large clawfooted bathtubs. One is steaming with hot water. The other is filled with cold.

Two Stage Hands each bring out a bucket. One fills the hot tub with hot water. The other pours ice into the cold water. They exit.

Lights out.

Lights up to reveal a man standing upstage of the hot water tub and a woman standing upstage of the cold water tub. They both wear thick, white robes. They look at the water in front of them. They look at each other. They take off their robes and stand, naked, looking straight ahead.

Lights out.

In the darkness the Man and Woman both get into their respective tubs.

Lights up on Man to reveal him reclining on the upstage end of the tub.

MAN

If they said, back then, that I would be what I am, I would have laughed. If they said, back then, that I would not be what I am not, I would have cried.

He moves forward and rests his head upon his arms on the downstage end of the tub.

MAN

But what they could not have known, what I could not have known, was that the alternatives would be better. And that I could never have predicted the joy I have met. My skin is hot, the water flushes me red, the steam causes tears in my eyes. I hear a song. It moves me. I can hold no longer.

He disappears under the water. His light fades.

Lights up on Woman. She is leaning her head on her arms on the downstage end of her tub.

WOMAN

The smell of campfire on his shirt. The flash of fishing lures in the early morning light.

She goes underwater for a moment. Reappears, takes the same pose.

WOMAN

This cold is deep, leaves me numb and shivering. But the pain of it reminds me of something, of a day. Long ago but not so long ago. Forgotten but not entirely. A long-legged day that spun and spun a web from which I have never escaped. His name was . . . is unimportant. His eyes were gray. He painted me once. The sky was blue.

She goes underwater. Her light fades.

Lights up on Man. He kneels in the middle of the tub. He is examining a live fish. It wriggles in his hands.

MAN

I know one thing about survival, really, I’m useless when it comes to the zombie apocalypse or the collapse of civilization due to water wars. One of these things will happen. Is happening. Useless. But for one thing. I know how to scale and gut and cook a fish.

Pause. He lets the fish go.

MAN

That is all.

He goes underwater. His light fades.

Lights up on Woman. She is kneeling in the middle of her tub.

WOMAN

He held me tightly. I could feel his fear as his breathed upon my skin. I knew I was stronger than he.

Pause.

WOMAN

I also knew that being stronger does not mean anything, really, when one is discussing survival.

She goes underwater. Her light nearly goes out, it flickers but then returns. She emerges from the water as the light on Man brightens as well.

WOMAN

What?

MAN

I don’t know how long I can do this.

WOMAN

Of course not. I told you, I have forgiven you.

MAN

Then why can’t I get out?

WOMAN

I don’t know.

MAN

I am sorry.

WOMAN

Yes, I know. But every time you say it, it means less.

She goes underwater. Her light fades.

MAN

I write. I’ve written her death. I’ve written her resurrection. I keep writing her. This one woman, this old wound. The ways I hurt her. Still. Years. I mean years have gone by. Years. Fucking years. More water. Hot.

As he speaks the following lines, a Stage Hand brings another bucket of hot water and pours it in the tub.

MAN

And still it’s her, always her. In plays and short stories and monologues and poems and songs. Sometimes, occasionally it is another, but most often, nearly all, it is her.

Pause.

MAN

And I keep forgetting how happy I am.

He goes underwater. His light fades, then flickers, then returns, brighter. He surfaces as the Woman’s light comes on and she also surfaces.

WOMAN

You are happy.

MAN

I am happy.

Pause.

MAN

You are happy?

WOMAN

I am happy.

MAN

I just. Forget sometimes.

Blackout. There is the sound of water sloshing as the Man and Woman leave their tubs.

MAN

I love you.

WOMAN

Yes. That’s what you think.

In darkness they leave the stage.

Sometime later, the play ends.

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