At Capacity--Scene 18: After death arguing

(Lights up on Julia’s hospital room. Steve and Claire are standing over Julia’s bed. Julia is tossing and turning.)

STEVE
Hello?  Julia?  Julia!  Can you hear me? (to Claire) What did she say?

CLAIRE
I don’t know, I couldn’t make it out. (to Julia) Julia?  Julia.  It’s Claire. Are you ok?

(Julia mumbles something unintelligible.)

CLAIRE
What? Julia, what did you say?

(Julia swats at Claire as she’s flailing around.)

CLAIRE
I think I’m gonna sit down. I don’t need a black eye out of this. (Sitting down)

STEVE
Julia? C’mon Julia, what are you trying to tell us?

JULIA (mumbling again)
Muh..muh…muuuuuhhhhh!

STEVE (over Julia’s mumbling)
Mud? Mustard? Mother?

JULIA (louder)
MUH…MUH…MUUUUUHHHHHHH!  MUH, MUH, MUH!

STEVE
I think she’s trying to say “mother.”

CLAIRE
Maybe she is, but what’s the difference?  We can’t get her to wake up and see us, so it just doesn’t matter.

STEVE
JULIA, ARE YOU SAYING “MOTHER”?

JULIA
YUH, YUH, YUH!

STEVE
I think that’s a yes.

CLAIRE
Great. The one person she’s asking for isn’t available.

STEVE
But at least she’s making progress.  We’re communicating with her now.

CLAIRE
Steve, it’s been a week of this, and we’ve got “Muh” for mother. That’s it.

STEVE
But at least—

CLAIRE
She’s not coming out of this like they said she would. I’m not sure what else we can do.

STEVE
Are you giving up on her?

CLAIRE
No, I’m not giving up on her. But I don’t know much longer we’re going to be able to sit here waiting for her to come out of it. This trance or whatever it is.

STEVE
The doctor said that she’s getting closer and closer to reality. She’s responding to light and touch and—

CLAIRE
I get it. She’s getting better.  I just wish that she’d go a little quicker.  We’re losing time on the packing and the closing on the house because we’re here all the time waiting for her to wake up.

STEVE
Claire, what is with you?  This is our sister.

CLAIRE
Yes, and? So what does that mean?  Julia is our sister and she’s hit this snag. But we all have lives that we need to get on with, including her. This little trance thing that she’s got going on is not helping us to get on with our lives.  Is it?

STEVE
You are so callous about everything.  How do you do that?

CLAIRE
You’re being really dramatic, Steve. If I were callous, I wouldn’t be sitting here waiting for her to wake up and get on with her life.  Callous would be ignoring it altogether and getting back to the business of the house.  But here I am, waiting for Julia to come to her senses.

STEVE
Hold on.  Three days ago, you were the one telling me how delicate this was and that Julia needed more careful consideration because of what Mom and Dad did to her, how they didn’t help her. Now you’re saying this?

CLAIRE
Saying what?  What did I just say that’s so different?

STEVE
You kinda just made it sound like Julia should just get over it.

(Julia stirs at this statement. Mumbling again.)

CLAIRE
Yeah, maybe she should. I think this is getting ridiculous. We know what happened, she knows what happened because it happened to her, and she needs some really good therapy.  Lets get it started and get on with it.

STEVE (raising his voice)
Why are you so cold about all of this?  Anything that involves any kind of emotional investment of more than a day or two you just can’t handle.

CLAIRE
Don’t yell at me, Steve.

STEVE (ignoring her, continued raised voice)
You just completely shut off any emotional commitment.  How are you even married?

CLAIRE
Great question, but not appropriate for right now.  Lower your voice!

STEVE
You did the same thing after Mom and Dad died. You had a complete meltdown with me on the phone when you called to me what happened, and then you turned into Sunny Sally through the rest of it.  Flirting with the police officer a the morgue. Finding some way to completely disassociate when we viewed their remains. Chirping away about flowers and casket colors when we met with the funeral home.  You just turned the whole thing into some fashion show.

CLAIRE
Somebody had to manage all of that!  You and Julia were worthless!  You cried through everything and she just stared off into space with a scowl on her face.  What did you think it was all going to happen by itself?

STEVE
That’s not the point!  You didn’t even seem upset after that first day they were gone! 

CLAIRE
You know what?  I wasn’t upset!  I was relieved!  I was relieved that they were gone! 

STEVE
You’re happy that Mom and Dad are dead?  Is that really what you just said?

CLAIRE
NO, STEVE, THAT IS NOT WHAT I JUST SAID!

STEVE
YOU JUST SAID—

CLAIRE
I SAID I WAS RELIEVED.  THERE’S A DIFFERENCE, OK?  A BIG DIFFERENCE.

(Through this last exchange, Julia has become more agitated, but Steve and Claire don’t notice.)

CLAIRE
DO YOU KNOW WHY I WAS RELIEVED? I was relieved because I’m tired of pretending that Mom and Dad did such a good job. Look at her! She is incapacitated right now because Mom and Dad didn’t do their job.

STEVE
Mom and Dad did their job, Claire! They made a mistake!

CLAIRE
They ignored what Uncle Steve did!

STEVE
They didn’t know!

CLAIRE
They knew, they ignored it, and didn’t do anything! And because she suffered we all suffered.

STEVE
I don’t think we suffered. You’re just making stuff up now because you’re feeling sorry for yourself and you’re trying to justify you’re crazy awful feeling about Mom and Dad.  

CLAIRE
I’m not hiding my feelings anymore, Steve. They’re gone and I can’t hurt them by telling the truth. Mom and Dad failed Julia. Don’t you get that? 

(Julia calms down at this point and she opens her eyes. She is coming out to. Finally.)

STEVE
You think you’re such a great parent. So perfect. We both know that your marriage is a mess, so how are you so sure that you know everything that goes on in your house?

CLAIRE
I know what goes on with my kid and my husband in my house and it’s none of your damned business!

JULIA (barely audible)
Claire?

STEVE
And your drinking makes it all really clear I’m sure!

CLAIRE
Shut up, Steve.

STEVE
Why?

JULIA (barely audible)
Steve?

CLAIRE
Because you’re starting to say things you’ll regret later.

STEVE
You started doing that already, so don’t worry about what I’m saying.

JULIA (louder this time)
Claire?

(Claire turns to see Julia. She goes to the bed.)

CLAIRE
What?  Julia?  What?

JULIA
Why are you yelling?

CLAIRE
Oh my God, she’s awake!

STEVE
Julia? Julia, it’s Steve!

CLAIRE
Don’t yell, for god’s sake. (To Julia) Are you ok, Honey?

JULIA
Where am I?

STEVE
You’re in the hospital.

JULIA (getting a little agitated, trying to sit up more)
What?  Why am I in the—

CLAIRE
Just rest, Honey.  Just lie back and rest. (To Steve) Go tell someone she’s awake.

(Steve exists the room to get a nurse.)

JULIA
Why were you guys yelling about Mom and Dad?

CLAIRE
It was nothing.  We were just having an argument.  You know how we are.

JULIA
You two never argue.

CLAIRE
Well we started today.  It’s a new thing in our old age.

(Julia smiles weakly.)

JULIA
My mouth is really dry.

CLAIRE (grabbing for some ice chips or water)
Here, how about some cold water?

(Claire holds the cup and straw up to her mouth and Julia takes a sip.)

CLAIRE
Better?

(Julia nods her head.  Claire puts the glass down. Steve comes back in the room.)

STEVE
They’re paging the doctor. She said to call as soon as Julia was awake. 

JULIA
Why am I in here?

CLAIRE
You had a little bit of a spell, Julia. We wanted to make sure everything was ok.

JULIA
How long have I been here?

STEVE
Like a week?

JULIA
Oh, gosh. Did you call Jim?

CLAIRE
Jim?

JULIA
My boss, Jim. He must be freaking out.

(Claire and Steve look at each other.)

CLAIRE
Honey, I thought your boss’ name was Heidi.

JULIA
Heidi?  No, it’s Jim Shaw. You know, he came to the house that time.

(Claire looks at Steve. Steve shrugs his shoulders.)

JULIA
Where’s Mom and Dad?

STEVE
Julia?

CLAIRE
Uh, Honey, Mom and Dad aren’t here.  They’re—

JULIA
Why not? Did they go on another trip again?  They just got back from Seattle.

CLAIRE
Uh, right, yeah, they are on another trip.

JULIA
They just left me? Like this?

CLAIRE
No, no.  Oh no, they wouldn’t do that. 

(Steve looks at Claire with a bit of apprehension. Claire looks confused, then realizes something.)

CLAIRE
Sweetie, the doctor told me to ask you a couple of questions when you woke up, just to see how you’re feeling. Is that ok?

(Julia nods her head.)

CLAIRE
OK.  So can you tell me who the president is?

JULIA
Bill Clinton.

STEVE
What?

CLAIRE
Shush, Steve.  And, Honey, how old are you?

JULIA
23.

CLAIRE
OK.  OK.  Yes.  OK, that’s all the doctor wanted me to ask.

JULIA
OK. You better make sure that someone calls Jim Shaw.  I don’t want to lose my job at the agency.

STEVE
I’ll call him, Julia. Don’t worry, OK?

JULIA
OK.  Thanks.  Can I just be quiet for awhile? I feel really tired.

CLAIRE
Sure, Sweetie.  Just lie back and rest, OK.  The doctor’s gonna be here any minute to talk with you, so rest up.

JULIA
OK.  And maybe we can call Mom and Dad later?

CLAIRE
OK. We can try.  We can try.

(Claire looks at Steve as the lights fade out.  End of scene.)