Friday, November 7, 2008

At the dawn of a new Hope...

Comes a scene of despair...

The Writing assignment for the group I'm a part of was to write a scene that in some way incorporates and takes place on the day Nixon resigned.

Here is what I came up with:


MAGGIE, early 30’s
HENRY, 7 years old

(Night. Around 8:15pm CST. There is the sound of rain. The blue-ish glow from the Television screen illuminates an otherwise darkened living room. The carpet is shag, and there are two plush chairs facing the giant Philcomatic Color TV. The décor of the place appears to be in the same color scheme as the cherry paneling on the TV set: Browns and wood grains.

MAGGIE, early 30’s, sits, an ashtray and lit cigarette in hand. She has readied herself for bed, wearing a sleeveless cotton nightgown and slippers. The bathrobe she was wearing has been removed and is rumpled behind her on the chair. The chair next to her is empty.

The TV plays out the last lines of Nixon’s Resignation address.)

NIXON
To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God's grace be with you in all the days ahead.

(The broadcast switches over to a news anchor. MAGGIE ashes her cigarette, and reaches out a toe to turn the set off. She misses the first couple of tries and then succeeds.

She sits back up in her chair, staring at the empty TV set. She resumes smoking for a beat.

Silence.

She stubs our her cigarette and turns on the floor lamp next to her chair.)

MAGGIE (Calling)
Henry? (A beat) Hen-REE?!

(There is a pause. Tiny feet pad into the living room. HENRY, 7, enters from the kitchen. He is wearing a tee-shirt and sweat shorts and carrying a Robin doll from the 1970’s Justice League cartoons. The action figure has been mangled a bit - only a portion of the yellow cape remains.

He stands silent for a beat. MAGGIE looks at him.)

HENRY
Yes, mommy?

MAGGIE
Are you ready for bed, honey?

HENRY
Yes, mommy?

MAGGIE
Brush your teeth?

HENRY
Yes.

MAGGIE
Let me smell.

(She beckons to him, leaning forward. He breathes on her nose and she leans back. HENRY returns to his original position.)

MAGGIE
Okay, you brushed your teeth.

HENRY (eyes on the floor)
I said I did.

MAGGIE
I heard you. I have to make sure sometimes. Goodnight, sweetie.

(MAGGIE offers her cheek out to him. He leans over and kisses it, does a swift turn and pads out of the room.)

HNERY (Off)
G’night.

(A beat. MAGGIE sits for a second, looking around the room.)

MAGGIE
Henry? (A beat) HEN-ry!

(Small footsteps are heard again. HENRY re-enters and stands before her.)

MAGGIE
Henry…you know that Holly Hobbie Christmas plate in the cabinet? The one you like so much?

(HENRY twirls Robin by the arm.)

HENRY
Uh-huh.

MAGGIE
Go get it for me.

HENRY
How come?

MAGGIE
Just go get it. (A pause.) Right now.

(HENRY looks towards the cabinet. It is a hulking mass of a china cabinet and inside are at least 50 commemorative plates. HENRY pulls a small footstool from the corner and climbs up the side, with some practiced agility. He sets Robin down and, with great care, opens the windowed cabinet door.)

MAGGIE
Careful.

HENRY
I am.

(HENRY reaches inside and extracts the Holly Hobbie Christmas plate. MAGGIE lights another cigarette as he returns, plate in hand. Robin has been left behind.)

MAGGIE
Now, look at that.

(HENRY looks down at the plate.)

MAGGIE
Do you see that?

HENRY
No.

MAGGIE
You don’t see that. You don’t see that chip on the side.

HENRY
Ummmmmnnnnno.

(A beat.)

MAGGIE
It’s right there.

HENRY
I don’t

(She extends her cigaretted hand and taps it. Her fingernail makes a sound)

MAGGIE
Right. There.

HENRY
Oh.

MAGGIE
How did it get there?

HENRY
I don’t know.

(A beat)

MAGGIE
How did it get there.

HENRY
I don’t know.

MAGGIE
Hand it here.

(He does not)

MAGGIE
I said, hand it here.

(He does.)

MAGGIE
Now, I want to know, how it got here.

HENRY
Mom, I do- I don’t know…

MAGGIE
You like this plate.

HENRY
Uh-huh.

MAGGIE
You said – the day it was given to me – you liked it. I always see you looking at it. Why did you break it?

HENRY
But, I didn’t.

(A beat)

MAGGIE
Go to bed.

(HENRY lingers for a second and then pads away, his footsteps echoing through the kitchen as he goes. MAGGIE stares at the plate, picking at the near invisible chip. HENRY’s footsteps can be hears thunking back the living room. He enters and states at her.)

HENRY
I broke it.

(MAGGIE is looks at him.)

MAGGIE
Why?

HENRY
Because.

MAGGIE
You tell me why.

HENRY
I was looking at it.

MAGGIE
When?

HENRY
After dinner on Tuesday. You were in the basement.

MAGGIE
And…what happened?

HENRY
I dropped it.

MAGGIE
Off the cabinet?

HENRY
Ye- yeah…

MAGGIE
Why? Why did you do that, Henry?

HENRY
I like the sound it makes on the carpet.

MAGGIE (Tapping out her cigarette)
You hid it.

HENRY
I hid it.

MAGGIE
This is Mommy’s special plate. It was given to her.

HENRY
I like it, too.

MAGGIE
But it’s not yours.

HENRY
So?

MAGGIE
So? It’s not yours. (She thrusts the plate out at him) Not yours to break…if I want it broken, I. WILL. BREAK. IT.

(A beat. HENRY takes his hand and smashes it down on the plate, sending from MAGGIE’S unsuspecting hand onto the floor. It hits the shag and breaks into large pieces.)

HENRY
Nuh-huh – I BROKE IT!

(They both look down at the shattered plate. HENRY is panting. MAGGIE is near tears.)

MAGGIE (through her teeth)
Go to bed.

HENRY
I-

MAGGIE
I SAID GO TO BED.

(HENRY spins around and thunks through the kitchen. After a few seconds, there is a distant door slam. MAGGIE listens for this and takes in a large breath. She spontaneously weeps for a moment, trying to blot away the tears with the sleeve of the robe crumpled behind her.

She gets control of herself and looks about the room, her gaze landing on the Robin doll on the cabinet. A beat.

She stands, picks up her robe and slips it on, her eyes never leaving the doll. She walks to the cabinet and picks it up, examining its body.

In one violent jerk, she grabs its arm and yanks it off.

A beat.

She looks at the doll and then glances about the room, stopping at the chair that had remained vacant for the duration. She shuffles over to the chair, drops the doll and its arm on the floor and pushes it with her foot under the dust ruffle.

She turns out the light and retires to her room.)

2 comments:

Doll Clothes Gal said...

First time on your blog - great post. Lovely story.

-j-j- said...

Wow, Thanks!

 
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