There are times when we have conversation that must have been written before – we begin to live out a play that we did not writ. These moments in time are a screenplay of powers within man’s self to manipulate rather than guide. Those moments scream to be writ as a screenplay rather than a story. Herein lies one of those simple one act, two scene scenarios.

 

 

“Dialogue Part I – mother”

By

Jules Sortor

 

 

Fade In:

Restaurant

Curtains closed, stage dark and a single spot light glows very softly into the corner of stage left. A young middle age woman stands there quite unassuming in her manner and her dress.

Curtain rises and an older woman is seen at a desk with a phone to her ear through a skim, like a memory.

Middle Age Woman

Mother called on the phone to say that we were going to have dinner together. It struck me as odd since the only meal we shared outside of family get-togethers was one lunch that I asked for on her birthday. I believe that there were two babies at the time, not three.

Of course, I knew what it was all about but chose instead to feign ignorance. I had mentioned on the phone just the day before that I had visited a lawyer. You see, she had asked that I include her in the things that happen to me in life. I thought that this was something she may want to know about.

When I told her about the lawyer, she asked me why I would do such a thing. I replied that I had been quite unhappy and was exploring my options regarding my marriage. Of course, mother wanted to take me to dinner. She said it was something that would be nice for us to do every once in awhile. I knew otherwise.

The older woman sets the phone down and opens a telephone book. She makes another phone call that does not last too long and then hangs up, walks around the office room and sits back down. She picks up the phone again.

 

middle age woman

She called me back and told me that I was to meet her that Wednesday at six o’clock at a very nice chic restaurant in the better part of town. I went to work that day. There were now three babies at home and one on the streets. This was in May, 1995.

Older woman leaves room and stage goes dark. Skim rises on a restaurant. You can see the door on stage left open to the establishment; fashionable and a lot of blues with dark wood.

middle age woman

Knowing Mother, I figured the stage would be set and the script all writ prior to us even hanging up the phones. There was no way I could have said that I would not attend. I knew she had it all planned. She would have already thought of every excuse I could come up with to decline the invitation. She was always quite good at covering all the angles. I must say, though, that I had absolutely no idea to what extreme she had worked on the set design and the cast of characters. I was becoming grateful for the fact that I had recently begun to pray on a regular basis. I arrived promptly at six o’clock in the afternoon.

Middle aged woman looks at her watch and walks in the restaurant.

middle age woman

The maître’d took me to the table. It was a booth.

No conversations could be heard from other booths and nobody else could be seen unless they walked directly past the opening of our little tete a tete. There was Mother sitting so straight with her hands held together on the table and her glass of white wine next to her. When I came around the corner the smile came across her face but was none within her eyes. I sat down with my Mother.

(Seating: the only way for the middle age woman to see anybody other than the Mother and the back of the booth was to twist her body around. The booths were curved just so slightly to give the feeling of total enclosure. The Mother is seated so as to see the woman and the opening to their booth. A waiter walks up to the table. )

Mother

Would you like a drink?

middle age woman

I would like a cup of coffee, please.

Mother

Wouldn’t you like some wine? This is a very wonderful one that I have and I think you would like it.

middle age woman

Coffee is fine.

Mother

But this is a very good wine.

middle age woman

No, really. Coffee is just fine for me.

Mother

Are you sure about that? I mean, coffee before dinner?

middle age woman

Mother, I am still not drinking

Mother

Are you sure? Well…

middle age woman

(to the audience) We then waited. You know those moments just before the curtain is drawn and the house lights have already done dim? That is where we were at.

(Waiter brings coffee and menus. Woman opens hers gratefully and notices the waiter’s name is John)

middle age woman

Thank you, John

mother

(glance at the waiter and then back to the menu)

middle age woman

(to the audience) Menus can be a wonderful thing. Then there is something for me to think about other than what the show was going to be all about since I was not given a program when I was seated. Thoughts raced through my head such as, “How absolutely perfect. Look there is more privacy here than I could have ever imagined. This show is going to go with no hooks. She intends this one to be a success.” Conversation, as such, then began.

Mother

You will like their chicken.

middle age woman

(to audience) I was just looking at that and now I don’t think that I want it. Maybe I will go with the fish

(to Mother) Mother, I’m not sure if I want it.

Mother

Oh, sure you want it. I know you like their chicken.

middle age woman

I want to look at other items on the menu before I decide. (woman studies menu intently)

Mother

But you like their chicken. I know you will like it. (with certainty across Mother’s face and now embedded upon her)

middle age woman

I am thinking about the fish now.

Mother

Fish! Well I know their chicken is good and you like chicken. You will want their Caesar salad also.

middle age woman

I think I will get the regular dinner salad.

Mother

I will get you the chicken and the Caesar salad. I know you will like that.

middle age woman

Mother, I am going to get the fish

(to audience) I know I am not eating chicken now and most certainly not even a salad if I can help it. Does she also intend on ordering for me?

Mother

(sighing heavily) Well, you order what you want to order. I know you like the chicken but I am sure you will also like their fish.

middle age woman

(muttering) I think I’m losing my appetite.

Mother

You can order a vegetable if you wish. They cook them just right – you know? Crisp. It is always a good sign of a good restaurant when they don’t over cook the vegetables. They don’t over cook things here. This is a good place to eat and the presentation is done just grand.

middle age woman

(waiter walks up with coffee urn) Thank you, yes I would like some more coffee. No, I don’t need any cream, thank you though.

Mother

Another glass of wine for me. We will wait just a moment before we order. Do you want an appetizer? They have some live pâté which is just marvelous. Oh, that’s right (shaking head sadly) you don’t like liver do you? I always seem to forget that. Would you care for the mushrooms instead?

middle age woman

Mother, I have never cared for mushrooms, my entire life.

mother

Well, you must have something!

middle age woman

Then I will take the steamed garlic and now we can order. (rushing to be first to order) John, I will take the salmon and a side salad, thank you.

Mother

I will have the chicken and a Caesar salad to go with that.

middle age woman

The waiter, John, is very attentive.

mother

So, how is work going for you now? Do you still enjoy it? Is there a promotion for you in the near future? Your brother just got another one and is being chased by some very important companies that want him to work for them.

Middle age woman

Really, who are the companies?

mother

Oh, you know your brother, everything hush hush. One mustn’t talk about things like that, you know. It wouldn’t be proper. Will you be getting a raise any time soon? They must all love you at work and a promotion would be wonderful.

Middle age woman

Raises come at the end of the year, just like the past ten years that I have been with them. I am enjoying what I’m doing, though.

mother

So, the children? They are all doing well?

middle age woman

Yes, it’s really a lot of fun watching them. They are all so different. I enjoy watching their personalities start to grow.

mother

Yes. Mark will be a scientist, I am certain.

middle age woman

Well, I would like him to pick his own profession when he grows up. I keep telling those kids that if they work at a job they love, they will never have to work.

mother

Certainly, and I am sure he will be a scientist of some sort and will become famous and discover…

middle age woman

(to audience) And so it went the typical small stuff chat. Then the food was brought to the table. And the script that was written was about to be played out. The actress was ready and had her lines memorized. And the stage was all set and the lights came on low, as the curtain began to unfold.

Windows are seen with traffic behind the booth

mother

I want to know why it is, exactly, that you went to that lawyer (stern and determined)

middle age woman

(to audience) I really don’t want to get into this since she will just try to talk me out of this situation and totally disagree with my line of thought.

 

(to Mother) Well, I have been very unhappy for quite some time now and went to see the lawyer about my options.

mother

I don’t think I understand you exactly. What is it that you are talking about?

middle age woman

Well, I have been very unhappy for many years now and want to explore my options regarding my marriage.

mother

What exactly are you exploring?

middle age woman

Options like separation and divorce.

(to audience) At that word, the “D” word, you know the BIG D WORD, Mother’s face became set in an incredible way that reminded me of why she never needed to raise her voice when I was a child. The look that she gave, the stare in her eyes were like she was practicing a sort of interrogation with determination to change my mind on her will power.

Mother

Who are you to cause any type of chaos or disruption in other people’s lives simply because you think you are unhappy? You have a man to take care of you and provide all of your needs. He doesn’t deserve to feel the ramifications of your unhappiness. You have children to care for and you can’t do that alone. There is no way your father and I will lend you any money and you certainly could not move back with us. You will stay with that man and learn to be happy. You have no other choice.

middle age woman

(to audience) I slowly finished my fish. I have no idea how it is that Mother could continue speaking while slowing eating and not miss a beat nor a bite.

mother

You are in no position to do anything at all. You have made your bed and now you must lie in it. You have no right, no right at all, to cause any grief in other people’s lives. Especially if it’s only because you are unhappy about things. Your father and I will not allow you to move into our house. We cannot afford for you to get a divorce. You must find what you can to be happy. Those children depend upon you and so does your husband. You cannot do something like this to them. You have no right at all.

middle age woman

(to audience) What about me? What about me? I could hear myself scream inside. I wondered what Dad would really think about this anyway and whether he even knew the reason for the dinner.

mother

You will stay where you are and make the best of it. To hell with the idea that you are unhappy. Deal with it. Those children are just babies. What do you think you are going to do – take them out on the street with you?

middle age woman

(to audience) I thought I just finished speaking all about the good job I had, how much I was enjoying it. I truly thought that I was a self-sufficient woman at the time.

Slowly I began to realize that I was only four years old again, and anything that came out of my mouth would belong to that little girl. It didn’t matter that, in actuality, I was thirty-six years old, because reality overrode it all. I was four years old at that time and completely defenseless again the verbal assault of Mother. My feelings were completely invalidated; my thoughts were all tossed aside for they had no value nor bearance on the situation. It amazed me that my Mother was not concerned, in the least, with the fact that I had been so unhappy for so long that I had reached the point of seeking either separation or divorce. All I could do was look at her since the fish was gone from the plate.

(John, the waiter, arrived to remove the dishes Both Mother and the middle age woman sit at the booth without looking at each other. Mother turns her coffee cup over. The waiter returns and pours coffee for both.)

mother

You want dessert now. Have crème Brulé because I know you like it.

middle age woman

(looks at waiter and shrugs.)

(the waiter leaves the table with confusion on his face and the order of crème Brulé.)

middle age woman

Aren’t you going to have dessert?

Mother

Oh no, I couldn’t!

Waiter

(returning with the crème Brule and two spoons. The dessert is set upon the middle of the table with two spoons) Enjoy.

mother

What do you have to say for yourself? This is a very selfish thing you are thinking about. It will do nothing but hurt everybody around you. Your father and I will, under no certain terms, take you back once again. You did this before with one child.

middle age woman

(picks up a spoon and begins to play with the dessert. She turns to audience

That was, what sixteen years ago? I didn’t have any job skills and was in an almost catatonic state due to the difficulty of that first marriage. The therapist told her that I could not be by myself for a few months and thought it best if we moved back with them until I got my feet back under me; which I did. This was a very different story, but I am unsure if she realized it at the time.

(waiter brings check)

mother

…and we cannot have that now since you have three babies. What do you think you are going to do? How selfish You have no right to bring any chaos into any other person’s life! I am sure you will see the sense soon enough.

(Mother lays some dollar bills down on top of the bill. Both women stand up and walk to the door.)

middle age woman

I parked in back. Where did you park?

mother

I parked right down the street here.

(Middle age woman offers a hug to Mother turns and almost runs to the parking lot.

Stage dark once again. Soft spotlight shines stage left and middle age woman stands looking at audience.)

middle age woman

I was so very grateful that I parked my car in a different lot. I believe she was quite pleased with herself and felt she had done her duty. I sat in that car with it running, no music, no radio, light a smoke and remember as best I could everything that had just transpired for I knew this was important. I wasn’t sure why, at the time, but I did know that I needed to remember everything. I did not contact the lawyer again until six months later. That time I followed through and filed for divorce. I told her about it over a dinner I put together in a very busy, noisy restaurant which was quite open and airy three months into the proceedings.

FAde Out:

FAde In:

Second restaurant

Stage lights on, very busy restaurant with large bar in the center. Many tables and many noisy people running around. Television is blaring along with some rock and roll music softly playing in the background. Lots of clinking of glasses and plates. Woman and Mother are seated center stage with the restaurant commotion surrounding them.

 

middle age woman

(looking over menu) Mother, I have something to tell you. You may not like it, but I am going through with divorce anyway. I am not asking for your agreement nor any of your money or time. All I am asking is that you hear what I have to say

mother

Well, but of course, Sweetheart. What is it?

(both women set the menus back on the table and look intently at each other)

middle age woman

Mother, I filed for divorce. I have been unhappy for a very long time and have decided to do something about it.

mother

We are in no position to lend you any money

middle age woman

I am not asking for money. I have never asked you for money. I am asking that you hear what I have to say. That is all.

mother

What did you do to cause this? Did he do something to you? You mustn’t do this.

middle age woman

I will not speak poorly about him since you have a close relationship with him. All I am saying is that we have been unhappy and I have already filed the papers.

Woman stands up and walks to front of stage left. Lights out, stage dark except for the soft spotlight on the woman standing in the corner.

 

middle age woman

She listened. This particular show is now over. Thank the Lord. Curtains, please.

(spot light slowly fades)

Fade Out:

 

The End

Advertisements