At Capacity--Scene 4: Another perspective

Scene 4

(Lights up on Steve in the dining room, surrounded by boxes. The three caroling dolls are set up in the corner of the room (downstage), and they are glowing. Steve is asleep, his head down on the table. He has on a knit hat and scarf. The clock on the wall reads about 3:30am. He is snoring lightly and sleeping pretty soundly. It doesn’t look comfortable to be sleeping that way, but he seems to be at peace and in a deep sleep. Outside in the distance, a dog starts to bark, a car door slams, the dog continues to bark, the car starts, its engine revs and then races past the house with squealing tires. Steve sits up with a start.)

Jesus Christ!  What the--?

(He looks around the room as the car speeds away and there are more tire squeals as it rounds a corner and moves away, the sound fading in the distance. The dog continues to bark for a few moments and then quiets down. Steve looks around, sees what time it is, and groans. He drops his head back down to the table and tries to fall back asleep. The snowflake tree topper is under some tissue paper on the table, and it begins to glow, like the caroling dolls, except that the snowflake has more of a pulsing quality. There’s also a slight humming that accompanies the glowing, very low pitched, but growing in intensity. As the humming becomes more prominent, Steve stirs at the table. He changes position with his head turned away from the snowflake. The light coming from it gets brighter and the humming sound gets more intense. Steven sits up quickly and everything stops: humming and glowing. It’s dark in the room, other than the light coming in from the streetlight outside.

Steve sits up in his chair and looks around the room again. He gets up and goes to the window, looks outside to see if there’s anyone out there. Walks back to his chair, sits down, and notices the snowflake for the first time. He picks up the tissue paper on top of it, sees what it is, and a smile spreads across his face. He picks it up and it glints in the little bit of light coming through the window.)

After all these years, they finally found you. (He looks up, like he did out in the park before.) Well played.

(As he continues to turn the snowflake over in his hands, the caroling dolls begin to glow ever so slightly, not as strong as at the top of the scene, but noticeable for the audience. He sets the snowflake back down on the table, and looks up.)

Uh . . . I don’t know whether you can hear me or not? I don’t really believe there’s a heaven or anything like that, but my shrink told me that it would be OK if I talked to you. He said even if you’re not there, like you can’t hear me, it’s good for me to talk. Say what I need to say. (He waits for an answer. He doesn’t notice, but the caroling dolls have gotten a little brighter.) My shrink says it’ll help me either way, so uh . . . yeah . . .  (He looks up again for an answer. Nothing.)

(Steve takes off his hat and scarf. He’s got major hat head. He starts to pace around the room a little, looking up as he talks.)

You know . . . . uh . . . how’s mom? Is she there with you? Are you together? (Again, he waits for a response.) My shrink said this would happen. That asking questions, trying to get answers wasn’t gonna work. That instead I should say things I felt. That I wanted to say. Needed to say.  And didn’t get the chance . . . But I just have a lot of questions. And that’s not helpful cause I’m not gonna get any answers. (He pauses, frustrated, confused about what he’s even doing.) My shrink is into all this “verbalizing my thoughts” stuff. He says it keeps me from getting too anxious, and when I saw him last, he said that you dying like this, like so suddenly and all? That it can make it really hard to get any closure. Like if you had died slowly, like over time, I could have said a bunch of stuff.  You could have said a bunch of stuff too, and like maybe we’d have said a bunch of stuff that needed to be said. And there’d be kinda some peace. (He pauses here and looks around the room. The caroling dolls have gone dark.) But the fact that you all up and died so fast you know, no one had a chance to say anything. Like nothing. So that leaves us with a lot of questions. Or me with a lot of questions. My shrink says that I should speak for myself and not for Julia or Claire or anyone else. So correction. I have a lot of questions.

(Steve walks back to the chair, sits down, and picks up the snowflake.)

I remember the night this happened. Gone missing. Claire called from the road and said she was almost home. We were eating dinner. Roast beef and mashed potatoes. . . . Mom told youto get the boxes of decorations down from the attic so we could decorate the tree. You told me to hurry up and finish my food so I could help. I shoved the rest of my potatoes in all at once, and Julia was like “That’s gross” and then she got up and stamped up to her room and slammed the door. I followed you up to the attic and watched you pull out the boxes. I carried three of them down to the living room, and when I came back up, you had the last one pulled out and opened up. When I came up the steps, you looked at me a little like I caught you doing something wrong. Like you didn’t expect me back so soon. The snowflake topper was next to the box, wrapped up in tissue. This tissue. It’s how we always put it back in the box after each Christmas, and there it was. I asked you why it was out of the box, and you told me to sit down on the attic steps. You told me that you hated that goddamned snowflake topper, hated it for 25 years, and that you’d had enough. That you didn’t want the goddamned snowflake on your goddamned Christmas tree and that I better keep my goddamned mouth shut or you were going to beat my goddamned ass silly. Then you asked me if I understood. And all I could do was nod my head because at that point I was so scared of you that I didn’t know what else to do. You handed me the box and told me to remember what you said and to go downstairs. And that’s what I did.  And later that night when you and Mom started to fight about the snowflake, I just kept my goddamned mouth shut like you told me to. And at breakfast the next day, when Mom was on the phone with Gram, carrying on about the missing snowflake, I just ate my cereal and kept my goddamned mouth shut. Year after year I kept my goddamned mouth shut, and then here it is. After all these years. To think that it took you both dying for the girls to find the goddamned snowflake. Priceless. It’s been up there all this time, and nobody else ever looked hard enough for it. You knew no one would. We all hated that goddamned snowflake. Except for Mom. (Steve picks up the snowflake and lets it catch the light.)  Except for Mom.

(Steve sits down and puts the snowflake to his heart and starts to cry. As he does, the snowflake begins to glow in his hands and humming begins again. He notices none of it. The caroling dolls glow as well. All lights fade to black and the humming follows into the darkness then fades during the next transition. End of scene.)