The Seventh Story (An Original Two-Act Play)

 

 

 

 The Seventh Story

 

­­

A Play in Two Acts

 

By

 

Jae Shin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cast of Characters

 

 

Jacob :                   Man in his early 20s. Asian. Timid but barely shows it. Liveshis life constantly in fear of offending or disappointing anybody.

 

Kate :                    Woman in her early 20s. Any ethnicity. Jacob’sclosest friend in the major. Prone to irritation and has taken too much shit from life.

 

Patrick :                 Man in his early 20s. Any ethnicity. Jacob’s roommate and best friend in college. Has very strict and controversial philosophies about life that often get him into conflicts.

 

Milton :                  Man in his early 20s. Any ethnicity. Kate and Jacob’s third musketeer. Bubbly and juvenile. He’s not as close to the other two as they are to each other, but desperately wants to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene

An unspecified university. Throughout the play we switch between the studio of the architecture building, the corresponding balcony, and a dorm living room.

 

Time

The present.

 

 

ACT I

 

Scene 1

 

SETTING: Bare, empty stage.

 

AT RISE: Lights up on Jacob, standing alone in a ghostly light. Calm and composed, he opens a sealed letter and reads it out loud.

 

JACOB

“Hey, how are you? This feels sort of weird, writing a letter to you when you’re always right in front of me and all. But oh well, I like hiding behind pen and paper, so bare with me. I miss you (I mean, we just saw each other yesterday but I still miss you a lot). I hope you’re doing ok and stuff. I feel like I miss things a lot. I miss people, I miss out on things, I miss the point of it all. I had a couple dreams the other night, and I think my mom was in one of them. I was having a fight with someone, I can’t remember who, but she just came out of nowhere and calmed me down. I remember waking up and thinking, “why do people far from me seem to have a bigger impact on my life than the people right fucking in front of me?” I mean, I haven’t seen my mom in like half a year!  I wonder if I’ve grown as a person. I’m definitely not sure at all. Sometimes I think the past me is a better version of me than me-me. You know? Anyways, it’d be a nice thought to think that everyone strives to be a nicer version of themselves. But these days I can’t bring myself to believe in things like that. I just wish I could wrap up all these doubts and bad feelings in a big box and burn it. And I think that’s what I’m trying to tell you in this letter. Would it be weird for me to say thank you in this situation? Well, whatever… thank you. Oh, and it’s not your fault. I didn’t get the idea to do this because of you or anything. Probably.”

(JACOB folds the letter, places it back in the envelope, then hurriedly runs off stage.)

(BLACKOUT)

(END OF SCENE)

Scene 2

 

SETTING:                  Set change during blackout. We are in an architecture studio. There are rows of work tables, messy and cluttered with tools, models, and drawings littered about the area. It almost looks like an office, but everything is severely messier, including the people. There is one table that is profoundly neater than the rest – none of the characters ever inhabit this desk during the play. During the extended silences in this scene, lights will fade to signify and exaggerated passing of time.

 

AT RISE:                  JACOB and MILTON are at their tables, hard at work. There is a simple, wooden music box on JACOB’s desk. KATE enters, bag haphazardly slung across her shoulder, and heads towards her table.

 

                          MILTON

How was the guest lecture?

 

KATE

Boring. Nothing special, as usual.

 

JACOB

(without looking up)

Why do you even go to those things anymore?

 

MILTON

Who was it again?

 

KATE

Some old Japanese dude named Makoto. Anyways he was boring, and sexist.

 

JACOB

(looking up)

Sexist?

 

KATE

Yes. He basically said that there were fewer women in the field because men were “inherently better” at design than women.

 

MILTON

Really?

 

KATE

Yes!

 

JACOB

Did he actually say that?

 

KATE

Yes.

 

JACOB

Like those exact words?

 

KATE

I mean, no. But—

 

JACOB

Then what did he actually say?

 

KATE

I don’t remember. I wasn’t taking notes. As I said, the dude was boring as hell, and—

 

JACOB

Then you can’t just go around putting words in his mouth! Give the guy a break.

 

KATE

(mocking Jacob)

Give the guy a break. I’m Jacob, I’m always so nice to everyone because I want everyone to love me.

 

(Milton and Kate laugh)

 

JACOB

(Smiling)

Shut up.

 

KATE

Anyways, you should’ve seen his designs, they were horrendous. As I always say, bad taste almost always precedes a rotten personality.

 

MILTON

This from someone who got shat on by like, all the critics yesterday?

 

KATE

Shut up! Jesus, they just had trouble understanding the thesis of my design. That doesn’t mean at all that I have bad taste. I have incredible taste. Better than either of you!

 

JACOB

I seem to recall that they used the phrase, “lacking in honest aesthetic venture”.

 

KATE

(pause)

Like what the fuck does that even mean?

 

MILTON

Idk

(he says the letters)

man, but it sure as hell sounds worse than ‘bad taste’.

 

KATE

Shut up! Ugh, I’m just so tired of them, sitting around, telling me my ideas are shit. Like can they ever say one sincerely nice thing? Something that’s not like, “oh that’s some nice wood you used in that model” or “wow what great paper you did this drawing on”, but like, something actually nice about my design?

 

MILTON

They do say nice things, just not to you.

 

JACOB

(Laughing)

Yeah, only to Karl.

 

KATE

(pointing and gesturing at the empty, neat desk)

Yes, because Karl is… Karl! Where even is he? Does he have nothing to show for Wednesday?

 

JACOB

Haven’t seen him today, he’ll probably come up with something.

 

KATE

That’s annoying. Do you guys even get the assignment?

 

MILTON

I mean, do we ever?

 

JACOB

Their email told us to do a preliminary design for a folly right?

 

KATE

Ya, duh, but what does that mean?

 

MILTON

Think. Rich guy. Big backyard.

 

JACOB

Rich guy. Big backyard. Probably British. Money to spend just to spend it. Rich friends to show off to. Something he could point to from a window with a cocktail in his hand and say, “has anyone read Paradise Lost? Well around the middle of the book…”

 

KATE

Jesus, this major. British?

 

JACOB

I don’t know, just seems like the right voice you know?

 

 

MILTON

The only ‘right’ voice you’ll find in studio is Megan’s.

 

JACOB

Well, in her own opinion.

 

MILTON

Should be ours too if we wanna pass studio this year.

 

KATE

She’s such an insecure bitch. Like why would she choose to teach if she’s just going to hate and be hated at every turn?

 

JACOB

For the ‘intellectual stimulation’

 

KATE

There’s no stimulation if there’s no conversation. And she just fucking snuffs that out.

 

MILTON

Oh she definitely has conversations. Just with herself. Not even with the TAs.

 

KATE

I don’t even want to talk about them. Ugh I hate everyone in this major.

 

MILTON

Aw, thanks Kate, we didn’t know you felt so strongly about us.

 

KATE

Shut up. You guys suck too.

 

JACOB

Redundant.

 

(Extended Silence. During the silence, Milton ‘tidies up’ and leaves, nodding goodbye. Kate and Jacob are hard at work, and don’t raise their heads until Kate stands up, walks around aimlessly, thinking, then notices the music box on Jacob’s desk.)

 

 

KATE

What’s this? Some side project? Gift for someone?

 

(She walks over and opens the music box. We hear a single note or two before Jacob abruptly slams it shut.)

 

JACOB

Jesus Kate can you ask before you do something like that?

 

KATE

What’s the big deal?! It’s just a fucking music box.

 

JACOB

It’s not ‘just a music box’ ok? Just try to have a little more respect for my stuff.

 

KATE

What’s wrong with you? Just because you had a bad review doesn’t mean you can go around treat—

 

JACOB

My mom gave it to me. Ok?

 

KATE

Oh. I um… but—

 

JACOB

(Sighs)

Look, I’m sorry I lashed out at you. I apologize, but it’s really important to me and—

 

 

 

KATE

But I still don’t get why you were so angry though. It’s not like I was going to break it or anything.

 

JACOB

It’s already broken.

 

KATE

What?

 

JACOB

It’s broken.

 

KATE

I barely touched it!

 

JACOB

No, you didn’t break it.

(Pause)

It’s a wind up music box. And to wind it up you need to use a key, but I was winding it up once when I was little and the key broke off inside. Ever since then it’s been impossible to wind up, and well, it only has one song left in it, and I don’t want to waste it.

 

KATE

Well what the fuck is it doing here then?

 

JACOB

I was going to try and fix it, but nothing really worked.

 

KATE

What song does it play?

 

JACOB

No idea. I forgot.

 

KATE

Sucks.

 

JACOB

Ya. Sucks.

 

 

KATE

     I think you should just listen to it and get it over with.

 

JACOB

     No.

 

KATE

     You can’t keep it closed forever.

 

JACOB

     If I have to, I will. Thanks for the advice.

 

KATE

     Ok. Jeez.

(Kate goes back to her desk and sits down. There’s a moment of silence.)

I talked to my therapist this morning.

 

JACOB

Ya?

 

KATE

Yes. I told her about the fight with my mom.

 

JACOB

You did?

 

KATE

Mhm.

 

JACOB

Did y’all make up yet?

 

KATE

Yes, sort of. But I tell her, my therapist, about how my mom doesn’t like me going on medication, and how she threw that tantrum about it the other day, and she just nods and says, “that’s typical”, as if that’s somehow supposed to make me feel better.

 

 

 

JACOB

So, are you going on medication or not?

 

KATE

Like Jesus I pay you money to make me feel better and “that’s typical” is the best you can give me?

 

JACOB

Are you going on—

 

KATE

Yes! She said they’d start me on a low dosage though, coz they’re not sure how I’ll “react” to it. And of course my mom doesn’t have a clue, and the whole thing is just getting scarier and scarier. Like where’s the part where I get to feel relaxed and happy? Huh? I was like, “hey Jen, could we push my session this week back to Friday?” Because we have that model due on Wednesday right? And she scrolls through her calendar, which I can see is clearly empty, and sits there for like five minutes, acting like she’s trying to ‘sacrifice’ some important schedules to work around me. All these people are just fucking with me. My therapist, my mom, Megan, the TAs… like what they said in yesterday’s review? They just sit around and shit on us. Megan basically told me my work was worthless! And it’s my birthday this week, like come on, give me a break!

 

JACOB

She never said that.

 

KATE

Yes. She did. They did.

 

JACOB

They?

 

KATE

The critics! The TAs!

 

JACOB

I thought they were nice enough. And you shouldn’t care so much about what those people say! It’s not like they know even half the thought process behind your project.

 

KATE

Well supposedly I have to make them get it in a fucking five minute speech.

JACOB

That is hard. But I always tell you that the critics aren’t making judgments on your person! Just your work. You have to get better at separating the two Kate.

 

KATE

Well, we can’t all be like you. We can’t all just take shit all the time and live happily like it never happened.

 

JACOB

I’m not telling you to be like me, and that’s not how I live at all! I just—

 

KATE

I’m just tired Jacob. Ugh I want this to be over already!

 

JACOB

We got through the last two years though. Now we just have one and a half more semesters and then we’re done! It’s a little less than a year! Think about that as the light at the end of the tunnel ya?

 

KATE

That’s such a fucking long time though.

 

JACOB

It really isn’t. It’s so much shorter than the last two years.

 

KATE

Yes and those two years were too fucking long.

 

JACOB

Yes, but here’s the thing. Did I ever tell you that when a person reaches twenty—

 

KATE

Yes, yes, you always tell me. Jesus you’re dull.

 

(Pause)

 

JACOB

When’s your birthday?

 

KATE

This Friday.

 

JACOB

You looking forward to it?

 

KATE

(Shrugs)

Mm.

 

JACOB

Mm?

 

KATE

Too tired to think about it.

 

(Extended Silence. JACOB shuffles out during the silence.

KATE continues to work. After a few beats, she puts her head on the table and falls asleep.)

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

 

Scene 3

 

SETTING:                  We are in studio. It is very early in the morning.

 

AT RISE:                  KATE is still asleep on her table in the same position. MILTON walks in and tries to sit down quietly, but bumps Kate’s table in the process.

 

 

MILTON

Shit, sorry.

 

KATE

What?

(Pause)

Oh fuck.

 

MILTON

Mornin’!

 

KATE

Fuck, fuck, fuck Mils! You should’ve woken me up!

 

MILTON

I just got here!

 

KATE

Oh god my head.

 

(Kate pulls some aspirin out of her desk/drawers, takes it, stands up to stretch her arms out, and notices a completed model on Karl’s desk. She gesturing, irritated, towards Karl’s desk.)

 

KATE(cont.)

What the literal fuck?!

 

MILTON

(Laughs)

Of course, Karl. I ran into him in the stairwell on my way up. Apparently was here all night. Didn’t you see him?

 

KATE

What? No. When did he… why were you in the stairwell?

 

MILTON

Elevators are down again.

 

KATE

Again? Jesus Fuck. What is it like the third time this month? Like what the hell is maintenance doing?

 

MILTON

Hey don’t give em’ shit, we’re only on the seventh floor anyways.

 

KATE

Yes, but seven floors in this godforsaken building is worth like thirteen normal floors. Why’d they have to stick us all the way up here anyways?

(Pause)

And I hate that stairwell. It’s creepy.

 

MILTON

I sort of like it.

 

KATE

And it’s so echoe-y. Like everyone can hear everything you do in there, like—

 

MILTON

We get access to the balcony from here. I think it’s a pretty damn good deal.

 

KATE

I’m surprised no one has thrown themselves off that thing yet.

 

(JACOB walks in)

 

 

JACOB

It’s because that would be a waste of time.

 

MILTON

Oh shut up.

 

JACOB

I’m serious! Like how long would that take? Walking all the way out there, climbing the ledge, jumping off. 

 

 

MILTON

Not that long.

 

JACOB

Then they’d have to seal the building, and the police would get involved, and it would be a whole ordeal. Ambulances, firetrucks, news stations… that would take at least an hour.

 

MILTON

(Thinking)

Ya that is a long time.

 

JACOB

Then, people would ask us about it, and we’d have to post something on facebook or like twitter along the lines of “oh, so and so was a good friend, and it’s tragic what this profession does to people, bla bla” and then our parents would call us and we’d have to spend at least like another hour talking them off the ledge, no pun intended, because that’s just the right thing to do when they’re worried and-

 

KATE

Flowers.

 

JACOB

What?

 

KATE

Like annoying people would bring flowers or some shit.

 

JACOB

Yes! And we’d have to let all those people in, and sit there trying not to be awkward while they’re here, and-

 

MILTON

Ok, ok we get it.

 

(Pause)

KATE

We could all use that extra hour.

 

 

 

MILTON

Ya that’s enough time to build half a model or something huh?

 

KATE

For some people.

 

JACOB

(Pause)

The elevators are down again.

 

KATE

No shit Sherlock how do you think we got up here?

 

MILTON

Some of us didn’t have to.

 

KATE

Shut up!

 

JACOB

I’m assuming you slept over again? What is it like the third time this week? You have to take care of yourself Kate.

 

KATE                          MILTON

 

It’s impossible in this             All of us gotta.

damn building.

 

JACOB

(noticing Karl’s desk)

Unless you’re Karl. And don’t blame the building, it did nothing wrong.

 

KATE

Don’t talk about him. I can’t even with him right now, and I’m getting about done with you too.

 

 

JACOB

Sure. Y’all have anything done for tomorrow?

 

 

KATE

Nope. Just some ideas.

                                               

MILTON

Nah.

 

JACOB

(Sighs)

Ya me neither. Today’s going to be a long day isn’t it?

 

KATE

Like why does our midterm review have to be next Monday? It’s like they know our lives and always pick the worst damn week! Always!

 

MILTON

Ya it’s shitty.

 

(Silence)

 

JACOB

(To KATE)

So what are you planning to do on Friday? Anything fun?

 

KATE

No. Probably going to be here. As fucking always.

 

JACOB

Really? Nothing fun? No birthday stuff?

 

MILTON

It’s your birthday on Friday? Shitty timing.

 

KATE

Ya it’s a waste of time. Ugh everything is a waste of time. This is a waste of time. Like what’s the point?

 

JACOB

I don’t think it’s necessarily a complete waste of time.

 

KATE

Ya, I don’t think you’re “necessarily a complete” idiot either but…

(Gestures towards JACOB)

 

(MILTON laughs)

 

JACOB

I mean we’re all doing this because we want to right? Because this is what we like doing and it’s what we want to do for basically the rest of our lives? So what’s the point of hating it so much then?

 

KATE

Yes, but not like this

 

JACOB

But you want to be an architect, right?

 

KATE

Yes.

 

JACOB

So how do you know it’s not ‘like this’ out there in the real world?

 

KATE

I just do. Ok?

 

JACOB

I… I don’t th—

 

KATE

I want to be happy when I do it ok? Like I really want to do this shit for a living, right? But I also want to be happy while I do it, and not have to take shit from like, every direction every day. Like I need to be an architect to be happy, but it seems really hard to be happy being that and— whatever fuck it, I don’t want to talk about this. And anyways fuck them.

 

JACOB

I don’t know. I just think it’d be better to be a happy person who also happens to design buildings, than an architect who also happens to be happy. Don’t you think?

(Pause)

 

(MILTON bursts out laughing, followed by KATE)

 

KATE

Where’d you get that one from? Bartlett’s?

 

MILTON

(Still laughing)

Did Olivia tell you that?

 

JACOB

No!

 

KATE

(Teasingly)

Oh, Olivia.

 

JACOB

Shut up.

 

KATE

(Still teasing)

How’s that going Jacob? Any headway?

 

JACOB

No.

 

MILTON

C’mon man you’ve been fawning over that girl for months now. What did you say last time? That she was the “light of your life?”

 

KATE

Oh, oh, what light through yonder window breaks? It’s Olivia, and—

 

MILTON

She wants some D!

 

KATE                             JACOB

Shut up Mils                Shut up! I never said that. And anyways it wasn’t her. We don’t talk that much these days.

                                   

MILTON

Sure.

 

KATE

Didn’t you like, just get dinner with her last week?

 

JACOB

No, that was last month. And I haven’t seen her since ok?

 

KATE

Alright, we’ll believe you.

 

(Silence)

 

JACOB

So you really don’t want to do anything on Friday?

 

KATE

No I don’t think so.

 

MILTON

Don’t you have that movie night thing with what’s his name every Friday night anyways?

 

JACOB

Who? Pat?

 

MILTON

Ya that one.

 

JACOB

‘That one’ has been my roommate for the last two years. Keep up Mils. And I can always move the movie thing.

 

KATE

(Sarcastically)

You have time for friends outside of studio? Oh my god, so put together! So popular!

 

JACOB

Shut up, but seriously I can move it.

 

 

KATE

No, don’t move it. As I said, I’ll be in here, working.

 

JACOB

Ok, suit yourself.

 

(Pause)

 

MILTON

Alright, I’m gonna go to class. Be back tonight, c ya.

 

JACOB

When?

 

MILTON

Around 11:30? I have some shit to take care of back home.

 

JACOB

Cool, see you then.

 

KATE

(Slightly sarcastically)

Have fun.

 

(Milton exits. Silence.)

 

JACOB

So you really don’t want to—

 

KATE

Jesus you’re like a fucking broken record! Let me work!

 

JACOB

Alright alright. Sorry.

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(ENG OF SCENE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene 4

 

SETTING:                  The Balcony of the Architecture building. The night of the same day as the previous scene. It is a barren, concrete palette, with lights spreading from the windows of the studio behind. There is a railing facing towards the street, seven stories below.

 

AT RISE:                  JACOB leans on the railing, smoking a cigarette. MILTON enters from “inside” and proceeds to lean on the railing just to the side of JACOB.

 

MILTON

Yo.

 

JACOB

Welcome back.

 

MILTON

Yep.

 

(Silence)

 

JACOB

(Gesturing towards his cigarette)

You want one?

 

MILTON

Nah’m good. I quit. I think.

 

JACOB

Oh? Since when?

 

MILTON

Like last week. I thought it would help me sleep.

 

JACOB

Not smoking’s going to help you sleep?

 

MILTON

Ya I’m trying.                               

 

JACOB

I would think it would have the opposite effect.

 

MILTON

I’m trying everything and anything now.

 

JACOB

Ya?

 

MILTON

Yep.

 

JACOB

Well, good for you.

 

(Pause)

 

MILTON

Wait, look at this.

 

(MILTON makes a large clicking noise with his tongue, which echoes, almost sounding like an air rifle, directed towards the “pedestrians” on the street below, and immediately ducks behind the railing.)

 

JACOB

Dude what are you doi— oh!

 

(Looking down, JACOB quickly ducks behind the railing as well. After a few seconds they both stand up again.)

 

JACOB

Why?

 

MILTON

(Laughing)

I love doin that shit. Gets em’ every time.

 

JACOB

They’re probably scared, it’s the middle of the night!

 

MILTON

Oh come on it’s fun!

 

JACOB

(Smiling)

I guess.

 

MILTON

Hey we’re allowed to have some fun too from time to time you know? We gotta make the most of this place.

 

JACOB

Scaring helpless pedestrians is you making the best of this building?

 

MILTON

Mhm. What else is there? I mean come— What were you doing out here then? No wait, don’t answer that. Let me guess. You were pondering the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is the purpose of the human mind? Why do we build buildings? What is “honest architecture”?

 

JACOB

(Laughing)

Dude that lecture was comically bad, even I have to admit. Professor Allen, man.

 

MILTON

Fucking professor Allen. What a nuthead.

 

JACOB

He really is.

 

 

MILTON

Yep.

(Pause)

But seriously what do you always do out here? You’re always out here.

 

JACOB

Nothing really. I just come here for smokes.

 

MILTON

So you just zone out and slowly kill yourself? You know you could always just…

 

(MILTON does a little gesture indicating jumping over the railing. They both laugh.)

 

JACOB

Shut up, that’s messed up.

 

MILTON

And a major waste of time, according to someone.

(Pause)

That would scare a whole lot of pedestrians. Whooooossshhh SPLAT!

 

JACOB

It would, wouldn’t it.

(Pause)

I kind of like it you know?

 

MILTON

What, the sound of a body hitting the—

 

JACOB

The pedestrians! I like watching them.

 

MILTON

Creepy.

 

 

 

JACOB

I’m going to ignore that. Well, I like to think I’m watching some kind of show you know? From one of those really, really, high balcony seats in the theatre? What do you call it again? Nosebleed? Well, you know when you can’t actually see the performer’s faces very clearly, so you end up making up a face for them? You make up like an entire set of expressions and mannerisms and just paste it on to the body and voice. And after the show you see their headshot in the program and you go, “That’s not what they look like at all!”

(Pause)

They always look prettier. Make nicer expressions, when you’re imagining them from far away. Don’t you think? I don’t know, I think so. So I like it. It’s like a game, almost. Imagining what their faces are actually doing down there.

 

MILTON

Still creepy.

 

JACOB

I guess? But it’s fun! ‘Making the most of it.’ Kate and I used to come out here and do that a lot sophomore year. Long time ago.

 

MILTON

Aw, that’s cute.

 

JACOB

Shut up.

 

MILTON

No really. It’s cute.

 

JACOB

I guess.

 

MILTON

How’s she doin?

 

JACOB

Good.

 

MILTON

No but like, how’s she doing?

 

JACOB

Why don’t you ask her yourself?

 

MILTON

Come on, you know she won’t tell.

 

JACOB

Then I would think that she doesn’t want you to know.

 

MILTON

Oh cut the shit I have every right to know.

 

JACOB

It’s none of your business!

 

MILTON

None of my business? Jacob, we spend like, literally ninety-percent of our waking hours together and if she’s going through shit, it affects me too. It is my business. It’s just really fucking hard to get to know her.

 

JACOB

Then you should try harder.

 

MILTON

Why the fuck do you think I’m asking you right now? Hm? Coz I’m bored?

 

JACOB

I mean, like. Most definitely?

 

 

MILTON

That hurts man.

 

JACOB

Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.

 

MILTON

It’s also not fair to you, that you have to keep shit like that inside of you all the time.

 

JACOB

When did this become about me?

 

MILTON

It’s not about you! I’m asking you about Kate. When did I ever-

 

JACOB

I’m sorry! I just really don’t think it’s my place to tell. She doesn’t like people talking about her without her knowing, and I think we should respect that!

 

MILTON

You can’t respect literally every want of everyone fucking around you Jacob!

 

JACOB

She’s sitting right inside if you want to go and ask her Mils, so why don’t you?

 

MILTON

Alright, ok I give up! What are friends for right?

(Silence. Then angry but reserved.)

Fuck this.

(Pause)

Gimme one.

 

JACOB

You sure? I thought you—

 

MILTON

Just give me the damn light.

 

 

(JACOB hands MILTON a cigarette and lights it for him. Silence.)

 

JACOB

She just went on medication.

 

MILTON

What?

 

JACOB

Kate. She just started on some medication.

 

MILTON

Oh, like what kind of—

 

JACOB

Like anti-depressants or something, I don’t know I didn’t ask.

 

MILTON

What like that Prozac shit or something?

 

JACOB

I don’t know! Isn’t that more for like, anxiety?

 

MILTON

Nah man pretty sure Prozac’s for depression.

 

JACOB

Oh. Cool.

 

MILTON

Yeh.  

(Pause)

What that’s it?

 

JACOB

What?

 

MILTON

You were having so much trouble telling me that?

 

JACOB

Of course not. There are other things, many things. That’s just like, one of the larger things, so—

 

MILTON

Thanks for tellin me.

 

(Silence)

 

JACOB

It’s funny.

 

MILTON

What?

 

JACOB

No just, it’s funny how things happen.

 

MILTON

You better not be going all philosophy on me right now.

 

JACOB

I mean, we’re all what, 21? 22? And so much has changed, so fast—

 

MILTON

-Son of a bitch—

 

JACOB

-When I was a baby, my only problem was my need to eat, poop, and sleep. I mean, I don’t remember it but I’m sure that’s what it was like. Add a few years and there I am as a toddler, and I actually think I remember this. My first memory – my parents are on the other side of the room calling me, and I walk towards them and everyone cheers. I guess it was my first step or something, and I remember it made me really happy. Like instinctively happy. Back then, that drove me forward, I guess. Learning how to do basic things. Another three or four years and I’m a kid, and at this point I’ve learned to look ahead to things. The idea of my next sleepover or something with my friends is more exciting than what I’m doing at the moment. It keeps me going, you know? Small, simple stuff like that. And then it’s friends at school, then another couple years and the concept of girls and sex butts in to fuel me until the next day. Then in high school, it was getting good grades and impressing people and spending time with my girlfriend. And then fast forward to college, through all of it, to now, and I’m slowly being surrounded by people who’ve lost it. Lost their reason, or… what should I say, their fuel to look forward to the next day. So they just try to put it all in a pill and swallow it and hope that’s gonna be enough for another day. Like, if it took just twenty years to take all that away, the hell are we gonna do for the next fifty?

 

(Silence. MILTON thinks.)

 

MILTON

So you’re telling me, that… sex and girls drove you forward in middle school?!

 

JACOB

(Nudging MILTON)

Shut up that’s not the point.

 

MILTON

I know I know, I’m just joking around. But it’s as you always say isn’t it?

 

JACOB

What is?

 

MILTON

(Slightly mocking JACOB)

Did you know? By the time a person reaches twenty—        

 

JACOB

-Oh, this-

 

MILTON

-They’ve actually perceived half of their life? Like our perception of time gets faster and faster as time goes on. Like, one year feels super long if you’ve only lived for three, but the same year feels so short to someone who’s lived fifty. So psychologically speaking, you’ve lived about half your life when you hit 21 or so. It’s like when you’re on a 30 minute run, the last 15 minutes seem to go by so much faster than the first. Don’t they?

 

JACOB

Alright, alright, I get it. And Jesus do I sound like that?

 

MILTON

(Nodding)

I’m just saying, man. Most of us have lived “half of our lives” happily and easily motivated. Maybe the other half

MILTON(cont.)

is just supposed to be shittier to balance things out? Maybe that’s just the way it is. Maybe you just gotta make the most of it, pills and all.

 

JACOB

(Snuffing out his cigarette)

Hmph. Shouldn’t be.

 

(Silence. Long pause.)

 

JACOB

Kate. We should do something for her birthday. I’ve been thinking.

 

MILTON

Dude we all gotta be working on Friday. Midterm’s Monday remember?

 

JACOB

I know, I know, but something small. Here, even, on this balcony. We could invite a few good friends, grab some drinks. I mean, you said it right? We’re allowed to have fun too from time to time.

 

MILTON

I don’t know man, would she want that?

 

JACOB

I mean it’s her birthday, right? She needs a break, she said it herself.

 

MILTON

I guess. Alright. You know her best.

 

JACOB

I’ll take care of the inviting, can you grab the drinks and stuff?

 

MILTON

Sure.

 

 

JACOB

I’ll text you. Thanks Mils.

 

MILTON

Yep, no probs. This a secret?

 

JACOB

Yah why not? Let’s make it a surprise. I don’t want this to be another schedule thing hanging over her head, so.

 

MILTON

Sure.

 

(MILTON slowly snuffs out his cigarette, throws it on the ground, and stamps it out. He looks over the balcony, and yells.)

 

MILTON

PENIS!

 

(He quickly runs back inside, leaving JACOB behind.)

 

JACOB

Hey what?

 

(After ducking behind the railing, JACOB also follows MILTON inside.)

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene 5

 

SETTING:                  A very sparse dorm living room. Almost grungy. There is a dirty couch, one of those Ikea Poang chairs, and a worn down coffee table with stains streaking across the top. Dark auburn lighting – a lightbulb that hasn’t been changed in too long.

 

AT RISE: Patrick sits on the couch, reading a book, probably Paradise Lost. Jacob Enters.

 

PATRICK

(Without looking up)

Well you’re home early. What’s it like? 2?

 

JACOB

2:56. Aw did you stay up for me Pat? So sweet.

 

(JACOB puts his stuff down and drops into the chair, exhausted.)

 

PATRICK

Whatever helps you sleep at night.

 

JACOB

What are you reading?

 

(PATRICK shows him the book.)

 

JACOB

Paradise Lost? Jesus.

 

PATRICK

What?

 

JACOB

Nothing.

 

PATRICK

You read it?

 

JACOB

Ya. For English freshman year. Wasn’t a fan.

 

PATRICK

Well, I think it’s fantastic. It’s a real intimate study of the human psyche.

 

JACOB

Whatever helps you sleep at night.

 

PATRICK

(Closing the book)

Good idea. Going to bed soon.

 

JACOB

Cool. Oh. I forgot to say. Uh. I might have to skip out on movie night this week.

 

PATRICK

Too much work?

 

JACOB

Ya. But not only coz of that. I’m throwing a party.

 

PATRICK

You’re skipping movie night for a party?

 

JACOB

A party that I’m planning, yes.

 

PATRICK

Seriously?

 

JACOB

Yes!

 

PATRICK

Like no joke. You. For a party.

 

JACOB

Yes! Why is that so surprising?

PATRICK

Come on man. I have Vertigo all cued up and ready to go! You even skipped the last time it was my turn to pick the movie. I had to watch Good Will Hunting with Paul.

 

JACOB

Good. Maybe you can give him a call.

(Pause)

Did you catch those rhyming skills—

 

PATRICK

You know I don’t like him. He doesn’t like me either. I have no clue why he comes over all the time. You know how he gets. One moment we’re watching the movie and the next he won’t stop quoting the goddamn thing. And I’m there like the fuck am I supposed to do?

 

JACOB

Give him a break, he’s an actor. That’s like, kind of what they do ri-

 

PATRICK

What’s this party again?

 

JACOB

It’s for Kate. It’s her birthday and I wanted—

 

PATRICK

She the crazy one?

 

JACOB

You gotta be more specific man.

 

PATRICK

She the crazy one with the… hair? Always tells you to shut up?

 

JACOB

Sure. Ya. Well, it’s her birthday and I wanted to do something small on the architecture balcony, so. Really feel like she needs a pick-me-up you know?

 

PATRICK

Can I come?

 

JACOB

You literally just called her the ‘crazy one’.

 

PATRICK

I won’t do that to her face, come on, even I’m not that crude.

(JACOB considers this)

Hey, you gotta at least give me this if you’re skipping movie night.

 

JACOB

Ok, ok. You can come.

 

PATRICK

(Standing up)

Thanks buddy. Alright, I’m going to sleep.

 

JACOB

What do you have in the morning?

 

PATRICK

Nothing much. Just going to the gym I think.

 

JACOB

Jesus, you and your health craze.

 

PATRICK

Night!

 

JACOB

You too.

 

(PATRICK leaves the room. JACOB stays on the chair, lets out a sigh, and closes his eyes. Some time passes. PATRICK comes back into the room with his sleepwear on.)

 

PATRICK

You know I saw the saddest thing this morning.

 

JACOB

(STIRRING)

Uh huh?

 

PATRICK

Ya. I was walking to Chinese, and this guy walks past me. He’s in full business attire, suit and tie, even has a Bluetooth headset I think, well groomed, looks like a real high-roller. You can just feel the money, and he has this little cup of ice cream in his hands.

 

JACOB

Is he eating the ice cream?

 

PATRICK

Yes.

 

JACOB

(After thinking, a bit skeptical)

Ya, that is sad?

 

PATRICK

Right? Like who eats ice cream alone?

 

JACOB

What? No not that.

 

PATRICK

Then wha-

 

JACOB

No like, to me it’s just the fact that he seems to have succeeded so much in life, according to you, but he doesn’t have anyone to even-

 

PATRICK

Share a cup of fucking ice cream with in the morning!

 

JACOB

Oh.

 

 

PATRICK

He’s alone! Thank you. Like who does that?

 

JACOB

I don’t know, I think I might.

 

PATRICK

I’m never going to live like that.

 

JACOB

Like…

 

PATRICK

Like some damn animal! Waking up, working, eating, shitting, sleeping, rinse and repeat. When I eat ice cream, it’s going to mean something.

 

JACOB

That should be the title of your autobiography.

 

PATRICK

It’s on the list. But you know what I’m talking about right? Like I don’t want to meaninglessly work my life away when I know there’s nothing at the end, like—

 

JACOB

You do realize you’re talking to an architecture major right?

 

PATRICK

Well, that’s your choice to live like that. Never told you I supported it. And if you know it’s meaningless why are you even doing it?

 

JACOB

Well, because sometimes meaningless means lead to meaningful ends.

 

PATRICK

That sounds like one of those dumbshit quotes people use to make themselves feel better about nothing.

 

 

 

JACOB

I guess. But Pat, I think most people live like that.

 

PATRICK

I don’t-

 

JACOB

Most real people, at least. And I don’t think you can hate on them for it.

 

PATRICK

Of course I can. It’s their choice in the end isn’t it?

 

JACOB

Yes, but I think there’s a lot more circumstance in it than you’re giving them or the world credit for.

 

PATRICK

There is no fault in circumstance Jacob. If there’s cheese in a mousetrap and a mouse dies trying to take it, the fault was all in its primitive decision.

 

JACOB

What? How does that— The mouse doesn’t even know there’s a trap. And if we’re going with this weird analogy, for all I know some of the fault lies with whoever set up the trap in the first place.

 

PATRICK

The smarter ones know. They realize. It’s just the mindless ones that don’t. Like the people who eat ice cream that doesn’t mean anything.

 

JACOB

Come on, you can’t compare people to mice.

 

PATRICK

Why not?

 

JACOB

There are just… so many more variables.

 

 

 

PATRICK

Oh so you think just because we are larger and smarter, our lives deserve more value?

 

JACOB

I never said that. But hey, since you said it, why not? We don’t see mice sitting around talking about having a meaningful life, do we?

 

PATRICK

How do you know that?

 

JACOB

Oh come on, now you’re just getting absurd.

 

PATRICK

Absurdity is relative.

 

JACOB

Oh, Jesus. So then lemme ask you a question.

 

PATRICK

What’s up?

 

JACOB

So you’re telling me that you’d feel no difference between killing me and killing a little mouse?

 

PATRICK

Of course I would! Fuck, you’re my best friend!

 

JACOB

Let’s say this mouse was a real good friend as well. Like an invaluable childhood, family pet.

(PATRICK takes a little too long to think_

Actually?

 

PATRICK

(Laughing slightly)

Hey I didn’t say anything. But…well, what’s the difference?

 

 

 

JACOB

Oh my go—The difference is, Pat, that I have an existential set of thoughts and fears that the mouse wouldn’t ever come close to having. I fear death. I dread it. Of course the mouse is afraid as well, but that’s more an instinct for survival. I, as a human being, can feel fear for the actual concept of death! Does that make a difference to you? Would you put me in a giant mousetrap, knowing that?

 

PATRICK

I would have to think about what I would need to put on the trap to catch you, but…

 

JACOB

Oh my god.

 

PATRICK

Besides, you’re damn biased. You’ve always had this irrational fear of death, much more than anyone else I know and-

 

JACOB

It’s not irrational.

 

PATRICK

Of course it is! You wouldn’t even know if you were dead. Were you afraid before you were born? Were you? Then why would you be afraid of things happening the other way around?

 

JACOB

(Pause)

You know that’s not the point.

 

PATRICK

What is the point then?

 

JACOB

The point… is that we mean far more than some rodent. Just objectively. Logically. We have to.

 

PATRICK

I don’t know about that. Objectivity doesn’t exist.

 

JACOB

You are always the cynic of us two. You’re telling me right now that you would feel the same amount of sadness to see me die, as you would to see a pet mouse die.

 

PATRICK

Again, never said that.

 

JACOB

Of course you did! You asked me, sincerely by the way, which I think is negatively incredible, what the difference was between me and a mouse.

 

PATRICK

Dude of course I know what the difference is between you and a fucking rat.

 

JACOB

Mouse.

 

PATRICK

Mouse ok mouse, doesn’t matter. Of course I know the difference. You’re my best friend, who I have an emotional connection to, and the other is just a dumb rodent!

 

JACOB

Thank you! Then what’s the issue here?

 

PATRICK

Listen to me, the ‘issue’ here, the question I’m asking, is what’s the difference between your deaths as a concept in and of itself.

 

JACOB

What?

 

PATRICK

It’s just another life ending right? Your life, its life. And then you’ll both just be “it”s. Things. Objects that go underground. Or get scattered everywhere, if you’re Hindi-

 

JACOB

Don’t you think that’s a little bit too nihilistic? Even for you? I mean the human soul-

 

PATRICK

I don’t know about nihilism or souls or whatever, but…

 

JACOB

But what?

 

PATRICK

(Thinks for a moment)

But… remember when I took a month break freshman year to go home?

 

JACOB

Yes, wasn’t it to visit your-

 

PATRICK

Grandpa.

 

JACOB

Ya, grandfather, because he was… well…

 

PATRICK

Dying, yes Jacob. Dying. It was three years ago and the word’s not a disease, relax. Are you relaxed? Can I tell you this without you breaking the fuck down?

 

JACOB

Yes, yes.

 

PATRICK

Well, hear me out. So I go home, back to sunny old California to visit my grandfather, and my whole family is there. And there I am, in the hospital room, standing next to his bed. And of course by this point he can’t talk at all. He can barely move a finger. He used to be a golfer, you know? He was pretty good. And he can barely move a finger. But he can’t communicate that, can he? He can’t communicate anything, actually. He’s surrounded by the people he supposedly loves, but he can’t tell them if he’s scared, if he’s happy, if he’s hungry. Hell for all I knew he could have been begging us to end it or something, I don’t know. It’s morbid, I realize, but that’s just how it was. He was just crumpled on the bed, on this really, really, clean bed, in this really, really clean room,

PATRICK(cont.)

unable to do anything except stay in bed and for all I know, be forcefully kept alive for the next how many days. While we watched him, talked to him, tried to entertain him in ways that we thought would entertain him, never asking him anything because we knew he wouldn’t be able to answer and we knew that would frustrate him, probably. Probably torturing him. Now tell me, how was he different from a mouse in a glue trap? Everyone in the house takes turns gawking at it, squirming on the glue, but no one is brave enough to end it. Hit it on the head with the back of a knife, throw it away. No one really listens to it because they know that it’s impossible to hear or understand in the first place. It’s a piece of meat. Because if you strip us down to our basic nature, I think that’s what we all will become.

 

(Extended Silence)

JACOB

Man. Your own grandfather.

 

PATRICK

But that’s exactly what I’m trying to say. It doesn’t matter who it is, so why should it matter what?

 

JACOB

I still think that’s a little too nihilistic for my taste.

 

PATRICK

Hey. You do you. I just gave my two cents on the matter, that’s all.

 

JACOB

As you always love to do.

(Laughs)

This conversation… was about ice cream right?

 

PATRICK

Yep. And it was a good one at that.

 

JACOB

Another one for the books. So you’re definitely coming?

 

 

PATRICK

To what?

 

JACOB

The party? The party I’m throwing for Kate’s birthd—

 

PATRICK

Oh, ya sure why not right?

 

JACOB

Cool. See you there.

 

PATRICK

Yep! Well, I think I gotta get some sleep. So do you.

 

JACOB

(Smiling)

Yes, we do. I’ll see you tomorrow.

 

PATRICK

Alright, g’night for real.

 

(PATRICK stands up and walks out.)

 

PATRICK

(Offstage)

You know I wouldn’t kill you right?

 

JACOB

(Laughing)

I’ll sleep with my eyes open.

 

(JACOB remains on the chair, sighs, and closes his eyes.)

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

 

 

 

Scene 5.5

    

SETTING: Lights dim and blinking, somnambulant, in the studio setting.

 

AT RISE: MILTON, KATE, and JACOB are each sitting at their desks, looking forward, unmoving, expressionless. Over their motionlessness a series of audio recordings play, supposedly what has been said to them by their professor, Megan, but read in their own voices. These voices should overlap at points and interplay with each other so that it’s a constant stream. (Voice 1: MILTON, Voice 2:KATE, Voice 3: JACOB)

 

VOICE 1

The overall amount of work shown today is disappointingly underwhelming.

 

VOICE 2

How long did you spend on this drawing?

 

VOICE 3

We gave you two days and this is all you produced?

 

VOICE 1

Remember to always hit the ground running!

 

VOICE 2

This lacks a lot of thought.

 

VOICE 3

What your minds already on break or something? Well you better forget about a break because you have so much more to do to catch up.

 

 

 

VOICE 1

Stop playing the victim here. You’re not on trial and I’m just here to help you.

 

VOICE 2

Why don’t you listen to what I tell you. You were, you are always so stubborn with your designs.

 

VOICE 3

I know you, you’re always so stubborn but if you don’t listen to my advice, this will never be a successful project.

 

VOICE 1

I think your ideas are misguided and uninformed.

 

VOICE 2

Are you serious? That’s what you think?

 

VOICE 3

Well, you’re on your own now if you’re going to have that kind of attitude, I’m not going to help you. Stop playing the victim.

 

VOICE 1

You need to work so much harder at this.

 

VOICE 2

This project is severely lacking in intellectual vigor.

 

VOICE 3

What? You mean you slept last night? The midterm is Monday.

 

VOICE 1

Step it up. You have to ramp up the production.

 

VOICE 2

Stop playing the victim.

 

VOICE 3

That is so disrespectful. Disappointing.

 

VOICE 1

You’re TAs and I have been working so hard to help you and we expect you do the same.

 

VOICE 2

You should definitely redo this.

 

VOICE 3

This doesn’t look good. Open your eyes.

 

VOICE 1

Spend more time on this.

 

VOICE 2

More time.

 

VOICE 3

More iterations.

 

VOICE 1

Do like 200 of these and see where you end up.

 

VOICE 2

Well you should at least start over.

 

VOICE 3

This studio should be your utmost priority, it seems like you don’t understand that.

 

VOICE 1

You should know this by now.

 

VOICE 2

Did you even do the readings?

 

VOICE 3

Stop playing the victim

 

VOICE 1

Stop playing the victim

 

VOICE 2

Stop playing the victim

 

KATE

Uuuuuuuu

 

VOICE 2

Stop playing the victim

 

KATE

Uuuuugg

 

VOICE 2

Stop playing the victim

 

KATE

Uuuuuggghhh

 

VOICE 2

Stop playing the victim

 

VOICE 2

Stop playing the v—

 

KATE

(Turning to the other two, who notice her in return)

UGH! Can you believe what she said to me?

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene 6

 

SETTING:                  The architecture balcony. It is Friday evening after a desk critique.

 

AT RISE:                  KATE is leaning on the railing, in the middle of a phone conversation.

 

KATE

No, that was last week. How many times do I have to tell you? No. Midterm is on Monday. Yes. It went ok, I think they liked my design. Yes. Of course I’ll be busy. No I’m not. Mom I’m fine. No I’m not. I don’t have to. It’s too expensive anyways and- It’s not just for crazy people! I keep telling you- no. I can’t think about that right now. No! I’m not mad! Oh my god how many times do I have to- I’m not! It’s just that I tell you I don’t want to think about what I’m doing over break right now and you just keep- what? What? No. I’m perfectly fine! Mom- yes. Yes I’m happy with school. It’s been three years I’d think it’s a little too late to back out. Can you just let me make my own decisions? I’ll let you know. Alright, alright. You never give up do you? I’ll come. I said, I’ll come. For break! You just asked the question don’t go forgetting i- Carson’s fine. Yes he’s doing better than I am for all I know. I don’t kn- no. How would I- why don’t you just call him? Oh. Oh so he’s too busy but I’m not? Mom I’m like a hundred times busier than- I’m not looking down on him. Yes you did you literally just said that. Whatever. Ok. Yes. I said, I’ll let you know. Well I changed my mind. Alright.

(Enter JACOB, he lights a cigarette and leans on the railing beside KATE)

     I have to go now. Work calls. Ok, ok. Bye. Goodnight. Me too.

               (KATE hangs up.)

So annoying. Everyone in my life is so annoying right now.

 

(JACOB hands her his cigarette.)

 

 

JACOB

Brownie points?

 

KATE

               (Taking a drag)

Shut up. Can you believe what Megan said to me today?

 

JACOB

I don’t think it was that bad.

 

KATE

She basically told me that all my ideas were shit and that I should redo everything—

 

JACOB

No she did—

 

KATE

How is that ‘not that bad’. She told you that you have a shitty personality! Like that’s a personal attack. What kind of a bitch is-

 

JACOB

She didn’t say that.

 

KATE

It’s not about what she said Jacob it’s about what she meant.

 

JACOB

And how do you know that’s what she meant?

 

KATE

Of course that’s what she meant, “oh, Kate I really think it will benefit you to try again, oh Jacob you’re too stubborn you should fix that” how else am I supposed to interpret that? You know that’s what she meant. Stubborn my fucking ass.

 

JACOB

Ok ok. Jeez.

 

 

 

KATE

And now I’m going to have to do things all over again, and that’s going to take the whole fucking weekend and I’m just tired and you saw, my mom’s still freaking out about nothing—

 

JACOB

Perfect. Take a break before you start then?

 

KATE

A break?

 

JACOB

Ya. Just hang out here for an hour with me. Like we used to.

 

KATE

Are you kidding me?

 

JACOB

Nope not at all.

 

KATE

Of course not. As soon as you finish that I’m going back in to work.

 

JACOB

Well then I should make it last as long. As. Possible.

 

KATE

You’re so annoying! Here.

 

(KATE takes a giant drag, nearly finishes the cig, then hands it back to JACOB.)

 

KATE

I’m going back inside.

 

JACOB

Wait wait wait. Patience! Kate, hold on for a sec.

 

(KATE tries to go back inside, but as soon as she’s close to the door, we hear people singing happy birthday. MILTON comes in with a tray of beers with candles shoddily placed on top, followed by a small procession of people, including PATRICK. KATE turns to look at JACOB, her face a mix of indifference and betrayal.)

 

JACOB

Happy Birthday?

 

(JACOB tries to give KATE a hug, but KATE turns around and tries to leave. Before she can take a step though, MILTON shoves a beer into her hand.)

 

MILTON

Happy Birthday Kate. Come on, we at least deserve this.

 

JACOB

Ya let us have some fun? Drink the bad memories of Megan away?

 

MILTON

I mean, if we all do this together, none of us are getting ahead on work so it’s fine right?

 

(KATE takes a moment, and with an ‘oh alright’ sort of look on her face, opens the can of beer in her hands. Everyone cheers. MILTON and JACOB each open a can and tip them towards Kate. The party fades into the background as the three begin to talk.)

 

MILTON

You know I was half expecting you to shut us all down.

 

KATE

I didn’t want you to look more pitiful than you already did.

 

JACOB

Sure, that’s the reason.

 

KATE

Fuck you Jacob.

 

JACOB

Hey, suit yourself, it is your birthday.

 

KATE

Ew, no.

 

MILTON

But hey, it’s happening! We’re having fun! Megan and her evil posse fail to bring us down once again.

 

JACOB

Cheers to that.

 

(MILTON gets down on his knees and chugs the entire beer.)

 

KATE

Jesus Mils.

 

MILTON

Whoo! I’m gonna get another one.

 

 

JACOB

He’s happy.

 

KATE

Trying too hard to be.

 

JACOB

(Gives KATE a look)

Don’t we all?

 

KATE

What does that mean?

 

JACOB

Uh, nothing… I just… Hey Pat!

 

PATRICK

Jake! Dude you guys got a sick place up here. How come you’ve never invited me?

 

KATE

Trust me it’s never like this up here.

 

JACOB

You guys met before?

 

PATRICK

You must be Kate. Heard a lot about you, nice to finally meet you.

 

KATE

Nice to meet you too.

 

PATRICK

Name’s Patrick. You can call me Pat if you want. Jakes’ roommate.

 

KATE

Well, Pat, welcome to our humble abode.

 

PATRICK

So you guys are always in there? Making shit and stuff?

 

 

JACOB

Yep. We try, at least.

 

KATE

Always up here. But it’s never enough. No, actually, believe me it’s never enough. Has Jacob told you about the demon bitch who rules over our studio?

 

PATRICK

I’ve heard a few things here and there, although it’s the first time I’ve heard anyone call her a—

 

KATE

It’s because Jacob tries too hard to be nice.

 

PATRICK

Agreed. 100%.

 

JACOB

No, it’s because Megan isn’t actually evil! She’s just… just very, very insecure.

 

PATRICK

Which is a sin in and of itself. Evil stuff, that.

 

KATE

Agreed!

 

JACOB

Well you two are getting along.

 

KATE

All your friends love me more than they love you Jacob.

 

JACOB

Whatever you want princess, I guess it’s your birthday.

 

 

KATE

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

PATRICK

So, Kate, I’m sure you’re probably tired of talking about architecture anyways, so what do you do other than, you know, this?

 

KATE

Oh I burn sacrificial effigies to honor Satan.

 

JACOB

Oh Jesus.

 

PATRICK

Cool.

 

JACOB

I’m going to go get another drink.

 

(JACOB Exits)

 

KATE

You’re not even going to question that?

 

PATRICK

I mean, you do you. I think my great grandmother was accused of being a witch once.

 

KATE

Oh my god, mine too!

 

PATRICK

Well look at that.

 

KATE

Well, it was my grandmother, and she was a wicken, which is very different from a witch, but…

 

PATRICK

How so?

 

KATE

They’re like… people who study witchcraft? But don’t actually use it? Like I think they have prophetic abilities or something.

 

PATRICK

Oh, so just a wannabe witch.

 

KATE

I mean basically. But my grandma was apparently one of ‘em, so I can’t say they were that lame.

 

PATRICK

Cool Grandma?

 

KATE

Very. Like, she used to whittle me these wooden knives when I was a little girl, telling me to defend myself from the boys at school.

 

PATRICK

By stabbing them?

 

KATE

Oh most definitely. And one day my mom found out about it, and by the way my mom is like the most neurotic person on the fucking planet, and of course she freaked out, telling my grandma, “do you want to make her a murderer? You know how many parent teacher conferences I have to go to already? The last thing I want is her stabbing a poor little boy.”

 

PATRICK

(Laughing)

Oh my fucking god. Wait so this is your mom’s mom or…

 

KATE

Yep. So her daughter is just freaking out at her, and of course she’s seen this a million times, so my grandma just sits there until my mom calms down a little, and tells her, and by the way, I’m in the room, she tells her, “I just don’t want her to turn out to be a weak little bitch like you.”

 

PATRICK

No.

 

KATE

Yes.

 

PATRICK

She sounds like such a badass granny.

 

KATE

She was.

 

PATRICK

Is she still alive?

 

KATE

Nah. She passed away a couple years back. Sophomore year?

 

PATRICK

Oh, I’m sorry.

 

KATE

Nah. She went out the way she wanted I think, so it’s all good.

 

PATRICK

Oh was it like a blazing spectacle?

 

KATE

Not at all, actually. That would have been redundant, and she hated redundancy. She went out quietly, in her sleep.

 

PATRICK

Damn.

 

KATE

Yep. But to answer your question more seriously, I really don’t do much outside of this stupid major.

 

PATRICK

How so?

 

KATE

Like, I just do this major, maybe go home, maybe go to sleep if I’m lucky, rinse and repeat.

 

PATRICK

Why?

 

KATE

Jesus fuck you’re just like Jacob!

 

PATRICK

What?

 

KATE

So many stupid questions!

 

PATRICK

I’m just asking why you don’t do anything outside of this. No reason for you to get so riled up about it.

 

KATE

Well why the hell do you think?

 

PATRICK

I honestly have no clue.

 

KATE

Take a wild guess.

 

PATRICK

Because you are… lazy?

 

KATE

Fuck, no! It’s because this major is a fucking timesuck, and it leaves absolutely no time for me to do anything else.

 

PATRICK

I really doubt that.

 

KATE

You live with Jacob. You must know how much, or how little time he has.

 

PATRICK

Yah well, as far as I know he does so many other things.

 

KATE

Oh? Like what? Please enlighten me.

 

 

PATRICK

I mean, he writes, he watches TV, he has his movie nights with me, he does theatre stuff from time to time, reads, you know, normal people stuff.

 

KATE

Well that’s because he sucks.

 

PATRICK

Sound logic there.

 

KATE

Yes, thank you! So what about you hm? What do you do other than your major?

 

PATRICK

Well, for starters I read, I sing acapella, I’m in a hip hop dance team… oh and I also work in local soup kitchen on Fordham street on the weekends sometimes, and-

 

KATE

Jesus what do you major in, like comparative lit or something?

 

PATRICK

As a matter of fact, yes.

 

KATE

Well there you go.

 

PATRICK

What you’re looking down on my major now?

 

KATE

No. Well, yes. When it comes to time commitment I think its severely… easy.

 

PATRICK

Wow you really are crazy huh?

 

KATE

Excuse me?

 

 

PATRICK

Nevermind.

 

KATE

There’s nothing wrong with not doing anything other than your major, Pat. We are in school, after all.

 

PATRICK

Sure.

 

KATE

Jesus what is wrong with you?

 

PATRICK

It’s not like you can’t choose a different way to live it though.

 

(JACOB returns with another can of beer.)

 

JACOB

(Laughing nervously)

Everything alright here?

 

PATRICK

Everything’s fine, we’re just having a healthy, robust conversation.

 

KATE

What? Choose? You seriously think I don’t want to have a life outside of this stupid major? You think I want to skip sleep like this? It’s my major. I have to do it. I have to pass it, so I can do what I want to do in life. Surely even you understand that. What was it? Comparative lit? What do you do in that field again? Oh, you read a few books, write a few sentences and that’s it? Do you seriously think that I choose to miss out on my college years like this? Do you think that I want to be abused like this while everyone else is off having a jolly old time?

 

PATRICK

Yes. My answer is yes. Yes yes yes. Definitely.

 

 

KATE

What?

 

JACOB

Patrick.

 

KATE

Excuse me?

 

PATRICK

Since you asked the question, I’ll tell you my answer. My answer is yes. I do think, most definitely, that you and Jacob, especially you, actually want to be abused by this major.

 

JACOB

Pat stop.

 

PATRICK

You know what? Fuck this. It’s like you guys have been deprived to the point of having nothing else to be proud of except your insane time commitment to this so called “abusive major”. How much time it takes, how little sleep you get, how your professors are all demons. It’s like you fabricate the worst possible narrative for yourselves and lord it over everyone else around you, just because you want to feel superior for one pathetic moment in your miserable lives. As if extra misery is something you should brag about. I mean that’s so twisted. Like take some agency over your own lives people.

 

KATE

What?

 

JACOB

That’s enough Pat. Please. You’ve said enou—

 

PATRICK

You know what’s funny Jacob? Kate? You know what’s absolutely, so saddeningly hilarious to me? Take a wild guess Kate. What’s funny is that you have been so weakened by this major that you have habituated yourself to being the victim in every fucking situation, because that’s the only way you’ve learned to survive. It’s like how women these days right? Women these days have become so used to making themselves the victim, because time upon time it’s been proven that it’s the easiest way for the weak to survive. I’m not saying that it’s bad or somehow sub-par or that women are inferior or any of that misogynist bullshit. I’m just saying it’s pitiful that the world had to turn out that way. That you had to turn out that way to respond to the world. That this dumb major has taught you to be so weak.

(Pause as he looks at a silent KATE)

Even now. You look at me with those weak eyes, expecting some sort of win out of this, clinging to victim status like its some heavenly lifeline.

 

JACOB

Pat I think you should leave. Now.

 

PATRICK

You don’t have to tell me. Oh and Kate? Despite all your grandma’s efforts huh?

 

JACOB

What does that mean?

 

PATRICK

I don’t know. Maybe it’s something out of some stupid book I read, right Ka-

 

(KATE lunges at PATRICK, brings him to the ground, and gets a few good hits in before JACOB and MILTON pull her off.)

 

PATRICK

(Getting back up, wiping his lips with his sleeve.)

     Stop lying to yourself. It’s pathetic.

 

(PATRICK storms out, followed by most of the party, who has been watching for some time. JACOB stands by the door and sees people out. MILTON lingers at the door with JACOB, then follows the group out. KATE and JACOB are left alone on the balcony.)

 

JACOB

Kate? Kate I am so sorry. Are you ok? This whole thing. It was a bad idea. And Pat is usually, um when it comes to—

 

KATE

It’s fine.

 

JACOB

Kate?

 

KATE

I said it’s fine.

 

JACOB

Really?

 

KATE

Yes. We have to work anyways. It’s good that it ended early.

(Pause)

Can I bum a smoke?

 

JACOB

Sure.

(JACOB hands her a cigarette and lights it for her.)

Um… nice punches. You know I would’ve punched him too if you hadn’t go-

 

KATE

No. You wouldn’t have.

 

JACOB

I think-

 

KATE

You should go back in. I’ll come in after I finish this.

 

JACOB

I can stay out here with you.

 

KATE

It’s ok you can go. You have work don’t you?

 

JACOB

But I want to stay out here. With you.

 

KATE

(Sighs)

You know? When I was young, I used to have this problem with my eardrums, where they would inflate from the inside. It was weird. Like I could here the sounds that were inside my body. Like the sound of my organs, my heartbeat, echoing inside my eardrums, so booming and loud, like my body was some kind of cathedral. And it was weird. Creepy, even. Because until that point I hadn’t realized that I was a living ‘thing’. A machine of sorts, with gears and parts clinking and clanking inside of me. It was so loud. So annoying.

(Pause)

You should go back inside Jacob.

 

JACOB

Ok. Wait though, wait right here, I’m going to go get something from inside. I’ll come right back, and then I’ll leave you alone.

 

(JACOB rushes inside. KATE is left alone on the balcony. Moments pass and she takes a large drag from the cigarette, and drops it off the side of the building, watching it fall to the streets. She then puts one leg over the railing, slowly, then the other. She’s trembling immensely, but her face doesn’t show it. She looks down, and then looks up, straight into the audience.)

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

(END OF ACT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Act II

 

Scene 1

 

 

SETTING:                  An afternoon in Studio. Wednesday. It has been almost a week since the failed birthday party.

 

AT RISE:                  JACOB and MILTON are sitting on their desks, working. KATE’s desk is empty, and there are a small collection of flowers and letters on her desk. It’s quiet for a while, then MILTON breaks the silence.

 

 

MILTON

Have you talked to Pat?

 

JACOB

No.

 

MILTON

At all?

 

JACOB

No.

 

MILTON

Jacob it’s been a week. We go on break on Friday, when are you going to talk to—

 

JACOB

I honestly don’t know Mils. Ok?

 

MILTON

Ok ok.

 

JACOB

I’m sorry. I’m just really tired.

 

MILTON

(Looking over at KATE’s desk)

No no. I understand. I just think, you know, you should at least send him a text. An email, whatever. You know?

 

JACOB

You’re right. I’ll do that tonight I guess.

 

MILTON

Thanks Jacob. I mean, for Kate as well, I—

 

JACOB

Ya. I know.

 

MILTON

Does her mom know about…

 

JACOB

Yes? I mean, probably. I can’t imagine somebody didn’t tell her after all that. Even the school, maybe.

 

MILTON

Ya I guess. How are you doing though?

 

JACOB

Me? I’m alright. I’m just looking forward to this break, if you can even call it one.

 

MILTON

You going back home for thanksgiving?

 

JACOB

Nah, flights are too expensive. I think I might just stay here.

 

MILTON

Wanna come over to mine then? It’s just like a hour drive from here you know. We can pick you up or whatever.

 

JACOB

Seriously?

 

 

MILTON

Ya why not? You shouldn’t be alone— on thanksgiving. You know?

 

JACOB

Sure. Thanks Mils. You sure your parents will be ok with that?

 

MILTON

Dude they love you.

 

JACOB

We’ve never met.

 

MILTON

Well they love the idea of you. I talk to them a lot so.

 

JACOB

Oh. Cool. When are you leaving for home?

 

MILTON

Well I still gotta work on some revisions to the last project. You know, getting ahead for my portfolio, so. Probably after the weekend.

 

JACOB

That’s a good idea.

 

MILTON

Ya I thought it would make coming back after break a little easier.

 

JACOB

True. Although it never works that way does it.

 

MILTON

You sure got that right. So, anything else planned for break? Just staying on campus until thanksgiving?

 

JACOB

Ya probably. Maybe watch some movies, sleep in. Watch some shows. Hang out with Pat, since he’s not flying to California either.

 

MILTON

Hanging out with Pat?

 

JACOB

Why?

 

MILTON

No I’m just surprised.

 

JACOB

What that I’m not angrier at him?

 

MILTON

Well, ya. Especially since you guys haven’t talked at all since then. You know?

 

JACOB

Should I be? Angrier at him?

 

MILTON

I would be. I’d be furious. I’d want to rip him apart.

 

JACOB

Alright Mils calm down.

 

MILTON

I mean if I weren’t me I’d think you didn’t even care about Kate.

(Pause)

Oh. I didn’t mean the say it that way. Like what I meant was—

 

JACOB

(Laughing)

It’s alright. I mean, I find it weird too. I feel like I should be angrier. At Pat. Maybe I will be, at some point.

 

MILTON

Who knows? You know I’ve never actually seen you angry, now that I think about it.

 

JACOB

Of course you have.

 

 

 

MILTON

No like, yes, I’ve seen you frustrated, but I’ve never seen you fuming.

 

JACOB

Do you usually see people like that? In public?

 

MILTON

I mean, no, but you can always tell can’t you?

 

JACOB

I guess. Let’s hope you never have to see it then.

 

MILTON

Why not? I don’t think it’s a bad thing. To be angry.

 

JACOB

I think it just hurts people for no reason.

 

MILTON

You can’t be serious.

 

JACOB

Who knows?

 

MILTON

I mean, the emotion survived the culling of natural selection for a reason don’t you think? Like I learned in this psychology class I took last year that anger is one of the most fundamental emotions for communication and—

 

JACOB

I get it, I get it. I just don’t think it suits me very well.

 

MILTON

What?

 

JACOB

Let’s just say that I’m, um, less evolved. Ya? I’ll eventually be weeded out for it but right now, I just don’t want to be angry.

 

MILTON

For sure man. For sure.

 

JACOB

I guess I could learn a little from Kate though. You know? Being angry and all.

 

MILTON

I suppose. Just a little bit though.

 

JACOB

Everything in moderation.

 

MILTON

Ya well, look where that got us.

 

JACOB

What do you mean?

 

MILTON

Nothing.

 

(Silence. In a few moments, MILTON packs his stuff and walks out. JACOB continues to work, but after a while, gets an idea, ponders it, then starts typing furiously into his computer.)

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene 2

 

SETTING: PATRICK and JACOB’s dorm living room. It is late at night.

 

AT RISE:                  JACOB is sitting on the couch, staring into his phone, nervous. He keeps rereading the same message over and over again. After a while, PATRICK walks in, obviously irritated. (Throughout this scene, JACOB is extremely calm and slow, almost to a fault, until noted otherwise.)

 

JACOB

Hey.

 

PATRICK

(Sitting down on the chair)

Hey. So. How’s this gonna work?

 

JACOB

You want to talk first?

 

PATRICK

I don’t even know what you wanted to say to me in that email so I’m gonna need some clarification from you. So why don’t you talk first?

 

JACOB

Sure. First off, thanks for coming. Um. The reason I sent that email was because I felt like I was holding a lot of things in, and I wanted to communicate that to you in a way that didn’t, you know, get messy. So I just tried to outline what I thought about your actions to me and the people around me, like Kate, and wanted to see what you thought about it. Like a conversation. About it.

 

PATRICK

Conversation? What conversation is there to have?

 

JACOB

About what I said about you in the email I sent you.

 

PATRICK

(Laughing exasperatedly)

You really think— you know you really ripped me apart in that email.

 

JACOB

I realize, and I am sorry about that. That’s why I wanted to have a face to face conversation so that—

 

PATRICK

Cut the bullshit. How could you even think of saying those things to me? All the things that you know I’m most afraid of, that I hate. You just brought them up and ripped them to shreds. I thought we were friends man. Best friends.

 

JACOB

We are. And that’s why I felt comfortable telling you these things and asking for this conversation.

 

PATRICK

Comfortable. You felt comfortable. You’re telling me that you felt comfortable ripping apart my life. I mean how long have you been feeling these things towards me? Ever since we met? And how are they only coming up now? We’ve been friends for three fucking years man. And all I see in that email is hate. Hatred. And you felt comfortable doing that?

 

JACOB

I definitely did not mean to come off as hating you at all. I just wanted to highlight a few instances here and there so that we could use them as examples of when… of when your actions made me and the people around us a little, uneasy.

 

PATRICK

You hate me don’t you? Oh my god. You hate me. I’m looking at your eyes right now and all I can see is pure hatred. It’s like you want me dead or something. I mean how the hell are you so calm right now? Right after you ripped my life and personality to shreds in this fucking email? How are you not angry? How are you not crying? Look at me! I’m deject here. How are you so damn calm? Jesus it’s like you don’t feel anything about me!

 

JACOB

That’s not true Pat. I’m just trying to be as calm as possible so that we can have a productive conversation about the things that happened last week, and in reference to that, about some things that happened over the last three years.

 

PATRICK

How the hell are you staying so calm right now?!

 

JACOB

You know that’s how I am.

 

PATRICK

Not like this. Not to this degree. Jesus fuck man I’m your best friend aren’t I?

 

JACOB

You are. Pat. You are. I just want to keep calm now. And always, because it will interfere with this conv—

 

PATRICK

You can’t have a fucking conversation with a wall Jacob why don’t you understand that.

 

JACOB

I’m not trying to be a wall. I’m listening, so please tell me what you think about what happened with Kate and—

 

PATRICK

Fuck Kate. This is about you and me. I can’t believe you kept all that shit inside yourself for the last three years. Like was all that friendship, that buddy buddy business a lie to you? All this time you were hating me behind my fucking back.

 

JACOB

No, of course not. I wasn’t.

 

PATRICK

All this time, you had this hatred for me, and you didn’t even think about telling me, once? So our entire friendship was a lie huh? You really have to work on your goddamn

PATRICK(cont.)

communication Jacob. Like jesus do you do this to all your friends? All the people in your life? How many people are you trying to destroy?

 

JACOB

I do. I do keep it in and I am trying to fix that. Little by little, through conversations like these, where I express my fee—

 

PATRICK

You aren’t expressing your feelings! You’re just one-sidedly destroying the other person without giving them a chance to fucking defend themselves and trying to call it a conversation. Why do you live like this? And how the hell. How the fuck are you still so calm?

 

JACOB

It’s because if I’m angry, I feel like people will dislike that. Dislike me.

 

PATRICK

Dislike?

 

JACOB

I don’t want to upset people. They already hate me enough as it is.

 

PATRICK

People don’t hate you Jacob

 

JACOB

Yes, they do.

 

PATRICK

No. Not at all. I talk to all the people I know about you. Only good things. I only hear good fucking things. And then I hear about people talking shit about me, and rather than defend me to them, you feel the need to fucking turn around and say the exact same shit to me. Over an email that took you fucking three years to send nonetheless. I though you didn’t give a shit about what other people thought. I thought you said that’s how you get through the major.

 

JACOB

It is. And I don’t mind what people think.

 

PATRICK

You obviously do.

 

JACOB

I don’t Pat.

 

PATRICK

Jesus isn’t it enough lying to me for the past three years?

 

JACOB

Yes ok, ok. Maybe I care more than I want to. But I still feel that people will and do dislike me, because of this intense anxiety and paranoia that I have that…

(Pause)

Like I’m going to therapy for this, and I’m trying to get better at controlling this anxiety, this paranoia, so that—

 

PATRICK

Fuck your paranoia. You know what? I honestly don’t give a shit about your stupid paranoia or your stupid fucking anxiety.

 

JACOB

Can you please stop being so dismissive of what I have to—

 

PATRICK

Don’t fucking tell me what to do. You don’t seem to be anxious when you’re doing that huh? Unbelievable.

 

JACOB

This is exactly the same thing you did to Kate, these are serious things I’m trying to confess here, so please stop being so dismiss—

 

PATRICK

As I said before. Fuck Kate. Fuck your paranoia, I don’t give a shit about your fake fucking fears. Honestly I’m just shocked, out of my mind that you even felt the need to have this conversation. What did you hope to get from it? Because all I got from it is that you fucking hate me more than I could ever have imagined and—

 

JACOB

(Suddenly screaming, talking faster and faster, getting angrier throughout this monologue)

LISTEN TO ME. I’m sorry, but please listen to me. I’m saying over and over again that I don’t hate you. I’m saying that you have a habit of dismissing everyone around you for your own benefit, and FUCK!

(He punches the table in front of him, he intermittently does this throughout this monologue.)

And that? That is exactly why I’m trying to be so calm right now Pat, because If I don’t try my utmost, all these things will just start to spill out, and once it starts it’s like an unstoppable train of wreckage. This, this, your dismissiveness is exactly the sort of shit that drove Kate to do what she did. This dismissiveness that lets people, that lets you tell me that my ‘paranoia’ is shit, because their priorities and their hurt feelings matter more than mine, or my life. This is the exact shit that goes through my head when I’m standing up there on the seventh floor of studio, deciding whether I really want to jump or not. Yes! I’ve thought about it. Surprise! Was that too much for you? Or do you not “give a fuck?” And yes I’m scared, I’m terrified, absolutely terrified because I think everyone hates me- shut the fuck up – yes, I do think everyone hates me, because no matter what they say, no matter if they tell me how amazing I am, or how much they love me, no matter how fucking perfect my life might look to you from the outside, a little voice, so many fucking voices in my head tell me otherwise. They sit around and tell me that I don’t matter, that my problems are all just shit, that I’m playing the victim and I can’t say it. I can never say it, because I’m so afraid that if I say it, people will think I’m crazy and start to hate me. So I keep it all in here, so goddamn compressed and I try so hard to ignore it that this kind of shit happens sometimes. Ok? But I just want to be loved like everyone else, so I apologize. I apologize sincerely. I am so fucking sorry if my efforts to stay calm have come off as a lack of caring about holy fucking you. I didn’t mean to hurt your precious feelings. Because it’s not that at all. I’m just fucking tired ok?

(Pause. Heavy breathing)

And to your question last week, “was I afraid before I was born?” Of course not. Of course I wasn’t. But there’s a difference between going from nothing to something and going from everything to nothing. It’s terrifying. It gets me so jacked up on fear that I can’t go to sleep at night. I’m thinking, lying there in the dark, in my twin fucking bed, which is, by the way, so fucking uncomfortable, thinking, “it’s so conceited of me to think that I’ll see anyone a second time, a third, a fourth, that the iterations will go on as I will them.” Because they won’t Pat. I’m terrified of losing all of those people without even realizing it. Terrified that I won’t open my eyes tomorrow morning. It’s like the fear is under my fingernails and I can’t get it out no matter how much I dig and scratch at it. And that’s why it’s even fucking worse when someone who calls himself my best friend is ignorant and dismissive enough to make me want to end it all myself. You know what that means Pat? It means your ignorance hurts me far more than death ever scares me. Do you know what that feels like? And do you know how that might feel coming from an absolute stranger? Can you even begin to fathom how or what Kate felt after you said that shit to her? Hm?

See? You think I’m some kinda crazy now, don’t you?

 

(PATRICK sits there, a look of horror on his face. His hand on his chest. It looks like he’s having a mini-panic attack, until…)

 

 

PATRICK

Oh my god.

(He has a sudden change in tone to consoling and apologetic. He walks over to the couch and sits down next to JACOB, and wraps his bleeding hands with tissue)

Jacob. Oh my god. You scared me. I’m so sorry. Are your hands ok? Jesus Jacob, I didn’t mean to— I don’t think you’re crazy. I was just scared. I was so scared you actually hated me that I— Because you mean so damn much to me man, and the thought that all that might have been fake just made me so afraid and angry that I didn’t know how to talk about it. I’m so sorry. Jesus.

 

(The two take a long moment, panting, heaving, trying to calm down.)

 

JACOB

I just- I didn’t mean to say it like that, I’m not very used to talking about this kind of stuff either.

 

PATRICK

No.

(Pause)

You know Jacob? You know what my worst fear is?

 

JACOB

What?

 

PATRICK

It’s that my friends will leave me. God I’ve never told anyone this, but you know what? Fuck it. Seems to be the theme of tonight. I’m so afraid that my friends will leave me that I feel the need to take control of every conversation and interaction I have with them. That’s why I’m so dismissive sometimes, that’s why I’m an asshole, because I’m so afraid that what your saying might mean bad things for our friendship, and I just can’t bring myself to listen to it.

 

JACOB

The email. That was wrong. Sorry. I realize it was long overdue and too strong. I’ll get better at that Pat. I’ll start communicating more from now on. And thanks for telling me. All that.

 

PATRICK

It’s fine. From now on, it’s just straight, unhindered communication between you and me ok? More conversations like this one. Just… just not so much at once. Man that was three years of shit piled on me what was I supposed to do?

 

JACOB

No I get it. We both sort of exploded huh?

 

PATRICK

Looked like it. How’s your hand?

 

JACOB

It’s ok. I’m just surprised the table’s still intact.

 

PATRICK

Ikea.

 

JACOB

Fucking Ikea.

 

(They both laugh, then JACOB gradually starts to cry. Softly first, then harder.)

 

JACOB

I’m so sorry.

 

PATRICK

No more of that. It’s behind us. And I’m truly, sincerely sorry about what happened with Kate. I kind of lost control of myself there, and well… yeah. I’m sorry.

 

JACOB

(Through sobs)

No but. But if I had been a little more assertive last week, if I had actually fucking communicated and not been a little bitch, you wouldn’t have said the things you said, Kate wouldn’t have- and none of this would have happened.

 

PATRICK

Those are all big ifs and buts and maybes Jacob. No use hanging yourself on them.

 

JACOB

(Half sobbing, half laughing)

I still find it so hard to be so emotional in front of you. But we agreed that it was going to be—

 

PATRICK

Hey hey, slow down. Slowly. No one said it had to be immediate right?

 

JACOB

But—

 

 

PATRICK

The human mind works like that, doesn’t it? Just because a dog is unchained doesn’t mean it will immediately run free. Or a monkey in a zoo, a bird in a cage, whatever you want. It takes time to realize what’s been opened. So take your time Jacob. Start by walking.

 

JACOB

Man, you sound like me right now. And what’s with all the animal analogies these days? This a new thing?

 

PATRICK

I guess it’s all the Paradise Lost I’ve been reading.

 

JACOB

There’re animals in that?

 

PATRICK

Ya. Lots of em.

 

JACOB

I really didn’t pay attention in that English class.

 

PATRICK

Nope.

 

JACOB

You got punched in the face.

 

PATRICK

Deserved it, honestly.

 

(They both laugh, JACOB continues to cry, PATRICK has his arm around him.)

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

 

 

 

Scene 3

 

SETTING: Friday afternoon in studio. KATE’s desk is still empty, save a larger pile of flowers and letters.

 

AT RISE: MILTON is leaning over JACOB’s shoulders, looking at his work on the table.

 

MILTON

I’m telling you, you gotta make that line thicker.

 

JACOB

Mils it’s a construction line. Why in the world would I make it thicker, it’s not even an actual part of the drawing.

 

MILTON

Of course it’s a part of the drawing. And they like that kinda shit remember?

 

JACOB

I guess. Whatever they like, right? Is this even my portfolio anymore?

 

 

 

MILTON

Of course it is. It just has heavy, very heavy external influences.

 

JACOB

From the best professor in the world.

 

MILTON

Yep. Did you see the email she sent last night?

 

JACOB

Oh the one where she tells us to keep working over break?

 

MILTON

No the one after that.

 

JACOB

No I don’t think I saw that one. Didn’t check my email this morning.

 

MILTON

Of course you didn’t. I should’ve known since you slept here last night.

 

JACOB

I was tired ok?

 

MILTON

Ya I know. It was just funny. You looked like Kate, sleeping on your desk and all.

(Pause)

Anyways, here, lemme show you, the email. Gimme a sec.

 

(MILTON pulls up the email on his phone)

 

JACOB

(Reading it off of MILTON’s phone)

Aw, how sweet. Wait what? She’s saying we weren’t disappointing?

 

MILTON

Apparently.

 

JACOB

“you guys really pulled through”.

What does that even mean?

 

MILTON

I think she’s praising us.

 

JACOB

Wo. I’ve never seen anything like that from her.

 

MILTON

Ya me neither.

 

JACOB

What is this like a thanksgiving gift?

 

MILTON

Trust me she probably doesn’t do Thanksgiving.

 

JACOB

How does anyone not “do” Thanksgiving in this country? I mean I’m foreign and I still do it. I mean unless you’re Jehovah’s witness or something I—

 

MILTON

You’re only doing it because I invited you.

 

JACOB

True.

 

MILTON

But hey, what’s there to fuss about? Megan just complimented us on our work. It’s like the first time since we walked into studio on time on the first day.

 

JACOB

Also true. Although I don’t think this email was for us. Well, it was for us but probably not because of us.

 

MILTON

What do you me—

(JACOB gestures towards KATE’s desk)

MILTON(cont.)

Oh. Ya I guess.

 

(Silence)

 

JACOB

Well I guess something good came out of it.

 

(Enter KATE. She walks in, sees her desk, and turns towards MILTON and JACOB.)

 

KATE

I told you guys to stop letting people put shit on my desk.

 

JACOB

We honestly never saw them come in.

 

MILTON

Ya it’s like they know when we aren’t here. Right Jacob?

 

JACOB

So spooky.

 

KATE

Shut up, you guys are still in here like twenty four seven.

 

MILTON

You got us.

 

KATE

You’re enjoying this aren’t you.

 

JACOB

Kate, how could you say that?

 

KATE

Oh shut up. Jesus it looks like I’m dead!

 

MILTON

Don’t say that Kate.

 

KATE

You guys want the flowers?

 

JACOB

Nope.

 

KATE

Are you sure? Because I’m chucking them if not.

 

MILTON

Wait don’t throw them away.

 

KATE

What else do you suggest then?

 

MILTON

I don’t know... maybe—

 

JACOB

Put them in pots and decorate your room or something. Last I checked that place was so drab.

 

MILTON

Ya that’s an idea. Anyways all your loving friends gave them to you, so you should cherish them.

 

KATE

Ya. “Loving friends” who I haven’t seen or talked to in the last two years. Like did you guys leave me flowers?

 

JACOB

Nope.

 

MILTON

Nada.

 

KATE

Exactly.

 

MILTON

Oh my god. Did you just say we were good friends Kate?

 

KATE

What the fuck? No.

 

MILTON

But you did. You totally did.

 

JACOB

Basically.

 

KATE

I never said anything like that.

 

JACOB

It doesn’t matter what you said, it only matters what you meant. Oh wait, where did I hear that one? I don’t remember.

 

KATE

You guys are so annoying. Take these flowers off my desk.

 

MILTON

Wait you’re telling us to do it?

 

KATE

Yes. If you two had done as I asked, they wouldn’t be there in the first place, so take responsibility.

 

JACOB

What are we supposed to do with them?

 

KATE

Oh I don’t know Jacob maybe you can decorate your room? How about that?

 

MILTON

If anyone sees us throwing those away—

 

JACOB

Ya what do we become?

 

KATE

Honestly can’t care any less. Come on, chop chop, let’s go.

 

MILTON

All you Jacob.

 

 

JACOB

What? No you’re helping me.

 

MILTON

Oh I really gotta send this email right now. Shit I forgot.

 

JACOB

You gotta be kidding me.

 

MILTON

Sorry man you’re on your own. You know where the trash is right?

 

JACOB

Last I checked it had to send a few emails.

 

MILTON

Oh good one Jacob. I’m so offended.

 

KATE

Can we hurry this up please?

 

MILTON

Hey I’m trying, and Jacob’s just lagging.

 

JACOB

What do you expect me to do? Throw all of that in the trash?

 

MILTON

Exactly! You got it kid.

 

JACOB

Kate please tell me you’re at least keeping the cards.

 

KATE

Nope. Everything’s gotta go.

 

JACOB

Come on. Mils?

 

MILTON

What did you say?

 

JACOB

Please, come on.

 

MILTON

Oh I didn’t hear you over the sound of me typing out my email.

 

JACOB

Milton I swear.

 

MILTON

What?

 

JACOB

Milton I swear I’m gonna throw you off the side of this building if you—

(Silence)

Kate, um—

 

KATE

Jesus who threw the eggshells on the floor?

 

JACOB

What?

 

KATE

Do you even realize what we are discussing right now? I am trying to get you, full disclosure, to throw away the meaningless gifts people are giving me, just because I tried to throw myself off the side of this building.

 

MILTON

Wo. TMI.

 

KATE

Oh shut up Mils.

 

JACOB

I mean ya, but—

 

KATE

So are you going to or not?

 

 

JACOB

I… uh…

 

KATE

Fucking god.

 

(KATE puts her bag down, scoops up a bunch of flowers, and walks off stage, after a few moments, she’s back, empty handed, and tries to go for the second load.)

 

JACOB

Ok ok, I’ll do it. I’ll do it alright?

 

KATE

Thank you.

 

JACOB

Are you sure you don’t want to at least read some of them?

 

KATE

Very.

 

JACOB

Really?

 

KATE

Jacob I already know what all of them are going to say.

 

MILTON

We got a prophet here.

 

KATE

Of course. They’re all going to be along the lines of “Oh, Kate, I am so sorry I wasn’t there for you. You are such a strong individual and I know you’re going to get through this. We should get a meal sometime, I’m always here for you if you need it. I love you, you’re such an admirable woman, etc. etc.”

 

JACOB

Bullshit.

 

(JACOB takes a random card from a desk, opens it, and starts to read. After a couple moments, he proceeds to take all the other cards from the desk, and exits stage to throw them away. KATE finally sits down on her desk.)

 

MILTON

Really got him with that one.

 

KATE

Well he’s an idiot for not believing me.

 

MILTON

What are you doing here anyways? I thought you were gonna go home.

 

KATE

Trust me home is the last place I want to be right now.

(KATE’s phone rings.)

Speak of the devil and she shall appear.

(She picks up.)

You don’t have to call me like every ten minutes. I’m fine. Yes I’ve eaten what kind of question is that? No. No. Jesus mom I’m suicidal not bulimic.

(Jacob Enters)

I’m just being honest! Yes! Oh my god are you crying? I can hear you. It’s fine. No. No I’m at studio right now. Because I have stuff to do. No, Jacob isn’t here. I’m just doing work. Architecture stuff. Yes. Yes I’m totally fine. Do you hear me crying? Ya I don’t think so. No I told you I’m not coming—oh my god you don’t have to yell into the phone. Yes you are. You totally are. It’s fine. I told you I don’t want to come home for— Oh my god you’re doing it again. Inside voices Janet. Yes I just have some work to do over break ok? No I can’t do it at home. We don’t even have a computer. I don’t have the programs. No. Not on my laptop. Jesus can you drop this already? Yes I’m ok, how many times do I have to—Oh my god what is your obsession with food today? Have you eaten? Ok maybe that’s why. Go eat a granola bar or something. Ok. Yes I’m busy. No. Ok ok I’ll call you tonight but not if you call me before that. Ok? Alright bye… Love you too.

 

JACOB

I was so here.

 

KATE

You can call her back if you want.

 

JACOB

No thanks.

 

MILTON

What timing. It’s like she knows.

 

KATE

It turned out that way because she literally calls me every ten minutes after last week. Thanks to a certain someone.

 

MILTON

Who?

 

KATE

Who do you think?

 

MILTON

The school?

 

KATE

No!

 

(She shoots a look at JACOB)

 

MILTON

Oh my god you told her?

 

JACOB

Kate!

 

KATE

Jacob!

 

MILTON

Why? How?

 

JACOB

I was stressed and didn’t know what to do ok?

 

MILTON

So you called her mom? How did you even get her number?

 

JACOB

I went on Kate’s phone after, you know…

 

KATE

After he stole it from my desk.

 

JACOB

It was there and I was safekeeping it for you until you got out of the psych ward. Thanks to a certain someone, since we are throwing the blame around now.

 

MILTON

What was I supposed to do? I was scared and I had like zero context for what was going on.

 

KATE

Of course not.

 

JACOB

So you ran inside and called 911.

 

MILTON

Yes.

 

JACOB

911. Instead of trying to talk to us first.

 

MILTON

911. Yes. Emergencies. Don’t you think that was an “emergency”? And besides, I was drunk.

 

 

KATE

Wow, good for you.

 

MILTON

Ok ok, sorry.

 

JACOB

(Laughing)

We’re just giving you a hard time Mils.

 

KATE

No we’re not.

 

JACOB

Ok then apology accepted.

 

MILTON

We’re a mess.

 

KATE

That fact hasn’t changed since two years ago.

 

JACOB

True. But more so now.

 

KATE

Sure.

 

MILTON

Since we’re on the subject. You talk to Pat yet?

 

KATE

Hell no.

 

MILTON

Not you. You. Never talk to him again. I’m worried you might literally kill him. I’m talking to Jacob.

 

JACOB

Actually yes. Last night.

 

MILTON

And?

 

JACOB

And… we settled our differences.

 

KATE

Did you tell him how much of an asshole he is?

 

JACOB

Yes. No. He actually said it himself so.

 

KATE

Well at least he knows.

 

JACOB

He probably still believes in what he said though. That’s just how Pat is.

 

MILTON

I can’t believe you’re friends with a guy like that.

 

JACOB

Well I’m friends with a guy like you.

 

MILTON

What’s that supposed to mean?

 

JACOB

Nothing. So Kate, I overheard you’re also staying here for break?

 

KATE

Not with you.

 

JACOB

Wouldn’t want that. But you are staying right?

 

KATE

Yep.

 

MILTON

Doing anything for Thanksgiving?

 

KATE

Nope.

 

MILTON

Want to come over to mine then? For dinner?

 

KATE

Ew why would I want to spend even more time with you guys?

 

MILTON

Come on, it’ll be fun. Jacob’s coming too.

 

KATE

Even better.

 

JACOB

No but seriously you should come.

 

MILTON

Ya we’ll have fun. Light a bonfire in the backyard.

 

JACOB

We could toss our models in there.

 

KATE

Oh my god.

 

MILTON

That caught your attention didn’t it.

 

KATE

A model bofire.

 

MILTON

Only if you come though.

 

KATE

Just for the bonfire though. I could care less about you two.

 

JACOB

Whatever helps you sleep at night.

 

MILTON

Alright, cool. This is going to be so much fun guys. I’ll let my parents know.

 

JACOB

Thanks man.

 

MILTON

Sure. Ok I’m gonna bounce.

 

JACOB

You going home? I thought you were going after the weekend?

 

MILTON

Change of plans. I’ll come back to pick you guys up next week though.

 

KATE

See ya.

 

JACOB

Have a nice break.

 

MILTON

Yep. You guys too.

 

(MILTON Exits. A few moments pass, and KATE looks over at JACOB.)

 

KATE

You know, you’re too good at this.

 

JACOB

Good at what?

 

KATE

This. Pretending like everything’s fine.

 

JACOB

I get praise from Megan and Kate on the same day?

 

KATE

Seriously Jacob.

 

JACOB

I am fine.

 

KATE

Jacob.

 

JACOB

No honestly. I’m fine. Well, there are still things that are rickety, but all in all I’m feeling fine. Um. How about you?

 

KATE

Still shitty.

 

JACOB

Ya?

 

KATE

Ya, but like, not shitty enough.

 

JACOB

Well that’s good?

 

KATE

Yep. It is good. There’s still a tomorrow in my head.

 

JACOB

That’s all that matters honestly.

 

KATE

Well, debatable.

 

JACOB

That phonecall with your mom. You let a lot of things go huh?

 

KATE

Well what’s the point in hiding anything anymore? Thanks to you.

 

JACOB

Hey.

 

KATE

I’m kidding. It was a long time coming.

 

JACOB

I’m glad. You know, that you can be honest with your mom.

 

KATE

She’s still such a shitshow though.

 

JACOB

And I’m glad you have a tomorrow. I’m glad we have a tomorrow. Life’s so simple isn’t it?

 

KATE

Um. No.

 

JACOB

No but it is.

 

KATE

How the hell is all this simple?

 

JACOB

Well, think about it. Think about last week. Think about yesterday, about that phonecall just now. We go through all these instances just thinking, “oh my god, this is the end. I’m not going to make it through the next moment.” And you think and think and stress and cry and try your best to just survive through the ordeal of the day, expecting some great light at the end of the tunnel if you live through it. But tomorrow you still have to do your laundry and throw out the trash.

 

KATE

Speak for yourself

 

JACOB

I am. Speaking for myself. But don’t you agree?

 

KATE

I have laundry service.

 

JACOB

Touche.

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

 

Scene 3.5

 

SETTING: Studio, Thursday night. Extremely late.

 

AT RISE:                  The flowers and letters are back on KATE’s desk. JACOB is alone in studio. Writing something down, pen on paper, all is quiet in studio. He writes and writes and writes, then seals the letter in an envelope. It’s the same envelope from the beginning of the play. He stands up, tries to place it on KATE’s desk, and hesitates. He opens the envelope. It’s an exact re-creation of the beginning of the play except this time he doesn’t read it out loud. He places the letter back in the envelope, places it on KATE’s desk, takes a deep breath, then walks out. Moments later he runs back in, takes the letter from the desk, and rips it in half. He slumps back into his desk, exhausted, in thought, and falls asleep.

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

 

Scene 4

 

SETTING:                  The balcony at night. This is a continuation of Act 1 Scene 6.

 

AT RISE:                  KATE is putting her legs over the balcony railing. She looks down, then looks straight into the audience. She takes a sudden breath in, and JACOB enters with a wrapped present in his hands.

 

JACOB

Kate! Jesus! What are you doing? Kate. Kate! Come back over the railing please. This isn’t funny.

 

KATE

(Voice trembling)

I think it is.

 

JACOB

Kate please. Look! Look at me Kate. Please turn around. No. Don’t turn around. Oh god just be safe. Come over the railing. Kate come back over the fucking railing. Please.

 

KATE

I don’t think I want to.

 

JACOB

What do you m—of course you want to! What kind of a phrase—sentence—what kind of—just please come back. Look I’m not going to go any closer ok? Just come back. Look I have a present for you. It’s your birthday remember? Please fucking remember it’s your birthday.

 

KATE

Perfect day to, don’t you think?

 

JACOB

Kate, no. Kate? Kate? Goddammit Kate come over the fucking railing now! Please! I’m sorry I yelled. I’m sorry. I’m just very, very scared right now so please help me out and come back over to this side. You have to at least see what I brought you right?

 

KATE

What is it?

 

JACOB

Well you’ll have to see for yourself right? So please come back. Look I’ll even unwrap it for you.

(JACOB unwraps the present. It’s his music box.)

Here. It’s a really nice present you’ll love it. I’m sure you’ll love it so please God come back over.

 

KATE

I don’t care about your stupid present.

 

(JACOB starts inching closer and closer.)

 

JACOB

Kate? Come on. Please.

 

KATE

I said, I don’t care about your fucking present so go aw—

 

(KATE, hearing him coming closer tries to turn around but loses her grip on the balcony and starts to fall forward.)

 

JACOB

KATE!

 

(JACOB lunges forward, grabs KATE by the arm and pulls her back. KATE holds onto the balcony again, looking out, and JACOB is beside her. He has dropped the music box and it falls to the floor behind him. Both breathe heavily and stay silent for some time.)

 

KATE

I didn’t mean to let go I—

 

 

JACOB

I know. I know. So please can you come back over now?

 

KATE

My legs won’t move.

 

JACOB

That’s fine. You can take it slow. I got you. Don’t worry.

 

(MILTON enters, and stops dead in his tracks.)

 

MILTON

What the fuck?

 

(He hesitates for a moment, not knowing what to do, then runs back inside.)

 

 

JACOB

Mils! Milton! Dammit!

 

(In a flurry of panic, KATE tries to come back over the rail, JACOB pulls. They trip over each other, and fall onto the floor behind them. KATE hits the music box on the floor and it pops open. The Nausicaa requiem starts playing from it – simple, pretty music box tones. They listen for a moment.)

 

KATE

Is that?

 

 

JACOB

Ya.

 

KATE

But I thought—

 

JACOB

Ya well, we’ll have to enjoy it while it lasts.

 

KATE

What song is it?

 

JACOB

It’s from some movie. Used to watch it with my mom when I was a kid.

 

(They listen for another moment.)

 

KATE

Thanks.

 

JACOB

Ya well, it’s a one time present I guess.

 

KATE

No, for um…

 

JACOB

Oh. Of course.

(Pause)

You know that’s not the first time I saved someone? I used to work as a lifeguard at the beach back at home. And there was only one time I had to do anything. This kid comes and gets me, crying, telling me to save his sister. And I see her way outside the buoys, a dot in the water. So I jump in, swim towards her. Grab her. Only then do I realize how heavy she is. And she’s this little girl. But she’s so heavy. And I’m thinking, I’m definitely going to die out here. Of course in the end we made it back to shore but… but that weight. That’s how heavy that damn music box felt when I was holding it just now.

 

Kate and JACOB lie on the ground, listening to the music box. Towards the end, the sound of sirens slowly begin to fade into the mix. Kate and Jacob begin to laugh, softly, first, then louder and fuller. The music box stops with a click.

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

(END OF SCENE)

 

(END OF ACT)

 

(END OF PLAY)

 

 

Fin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jae Shin