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 GOOD
° motHeR  Good Mother  Good Mother
a play by Damien Atkins
PRISM international
Vancouver • 2001 Copyright © 2001 by Damien Atkins
CAUTION: This play is fully protected under the copyright laws of
Canada and all other countries of The Copyright Union, and is
subject to royalty. Changes to the script are expressly forbidden
without the prior written permission of the author. Rights to produce, film, or record, in whole or in part, in any medium or any
language, by any group, amateur or professional, are retained by
the author. For production rights contact Charles Northcote, The
Core Group, 3 Church Street, Suite 507, Toronto, Ontario M5E
1M2,416-955-0819, charlie@coregroupta.com
National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data
Atkins, Damien, 1975-
Good mother
A play.
ISBN 0-88865-609-2
I. Title.
PS8551.T526G6 2001 C812'.6 C2001-910781-1
PR9199.4.A74G6 2001
PRISM international
Buch. E462 - 1866 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC
V6T1Z1 Canada
Cover Design & Typesetting: lennifer Herbison
Cover Photo: Good Mother promotional photo courtesy of the
Stratford Festival of Canada 2001. Pictured (left to right): Wayne
Best and Seana McKenna. Photo by Chris Nicholls.
For more information on UBC's Creative Writing Residency Prize
in Stageplay, please go to: www.arts.ubc.ca/crwr/resprize
Printed in Canada by Benwell-Atkins Ltd. for my parents, who inspired this
and
for M. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thank you first of all to all the talented people who participated in
the readings and workshops of this play: Seana McKenna, Pragna
Desai, lordan Pettle, Keith Dinicol, Diane D'Aquila, Laurel
Thompson, Tim Campbell, Michelle Giroux, Lucy Peacock, Paul
Dunn, Thom Marriott, Shawn Mathiesen, Kim Horsman, lane
Spidell, Adrienne Gould, Miles Potter and Ann Stuart.
Thanks also to Katie Parkin, Jason Miller, Peter Hinton and Playwrights' Workshop Montreal, Martha Henry, Jackie Maxwell, Ed
Roy, David Oiye and the Ante Chamber Playwrights' Unit at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, The University of British Columbia,
PRISM international, Andrew North, Nancy LeFeaver and everyone at Oscars Abrams Zimel.
A special thank you to all the medical experts I consulted with on
this play, especially Dr. Lorie Saxby, Dr. Anne McHugh, Shannon
Atkins Norton and Florence Gibson. I have taken their suggestions
and integrated them into the play as much as possible; where there
is any bending of medical fact or procedure, it is owing to my
needs as a playwright, and not to any lack of vigilance on their part.
This play could not have been written without the constant support and encouragement of Stephen Heatiey, Iris Turcott, Michael
MacLennan and Diane D'Aquila, all of whom have championed
this play.
Thank you to Charlie and everyone at Core Group.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone at the Stratford Festival, especially Susan Lemenchick and Elke Bidner for
their help and their patience and class, and a most heartfelt thank
you to Richard Monette for his faith and for taking a brave risk.
Thanks always to Shelley for indispensable advice, support and
inspiration.
And deepest thanks and admiration for Miles Potter and Seana
McKenna. CHARACTERS
ANNE DRIVER: ages from 42 to 44.
BEN DRIVER: ages from 40 to 42. Anne's husband.
NANCY DRIVER: ages from 18 to 20. Anne and Ben's daughter.
BOO (Benjamin Junior) DRIVER: ages from 11 to 13. Nancy's brother.
LOUISE NORTON: ages from 40 to 42. Anne's sister.
RICHARD MILLER: ages from 21 to 23. Nancy's boyfriend.
YVONNE GESY: Anne's home health aide.
DR. KATHRYN OMER: Anne's neuropsychologist.
DR. MAURY VAN DOOT: a resident at Anne's hospital.
NOTE: Good Mother is written for between seven and nine actors.
It is possible for the three health care workers (Yvonne, Dr. Omer,
and Dr. Van Doot) to be played by the same actress, with Dr. Van
Doot as either a man or a woman. It is also possible for the same
actress to play Yvonne and Dr. Omer, and the same actor to play
Richard and Dr. Van Doot.
SETTING
TIME: The two year span between Nancy's 18th and 20th birthdays.
PLACE: The Driver family home and neighbourhood and the hospital. ACT ONE
SCENE ONE. A woman is having a stroke. She is ANNE DRIVER,
forty-two. She is standing in the middle of the kitchen. There is a cake
sitting on the counter, a shopping bag slung over a chair, and some
wrapped and unwrapped presents. A sign, half-hung, that reads "Happy
18th Birthday Nancy!" Anne clutches at her head. She stumbles back
against the counter, gasping. She reaches for the phone but misses,
and it comes off the cradle and flops off the counter. She slips as she
reaches for it, and smacks her head violently on the counter and on the
floor behind the counter. We hear a dial tone as she lays on the ground,
bleeding from a wound to her head.
SLIDE #1: ANNE is standing, holding a bowling trophy. She has a big
smile, she looks triumphant. She looks healthy and competitive and
pleased with herself. The shot looks improvised, full of laughter. It
glows for a second and then starts to fade.
SCENE TWO. A few hours later at the hospital. A man is sitting
cfuietly in a waiting room. He is BEN, forty, ANNE's husband. He sits
in silence for a long moment. UTILE BOO (Benjamin), eleven, enters, carrying a bag of chips. He hands it to his father.
BOO: Here.
BEN: Yeah.
Pause.
BOO: Aren'tyou goingto have any?
BEN: Sure.
He puts a chip into his mouth, listlessly.
BOO: Can I get myself a bag too?
BEN does not respond.
BOO: Dad? BEN: Oh. Sure.
Pause.
BOO: Can I have some money for the chips?
BEN: Chips? Oh. Yeah. Here.
He takes out his wallet and starts slowly counting out change. Hands
some to BOO.
BOO: That's not enough. It's more now. For chips.
BEN: Oh. OK. (looking for more) I don't have enough. Um. Later?
BOO: OK. We'll just share these for now.
BEN: Right.
They munch in silence for a bit.
BOO: Did you talk to the doctor yet?
BEN: Nope.
Pause.
BOO: Am I going to school tomorrow?
BEN: Yep.
Pause.
BOO: Did you call Nancy yet?
BEN: Yes I did.
BOO: She wasn't there.
BEN: No. Amy's mother didn't know where they went.
BOO: Maybe she was out with Richard for her birthday. She was
gonna be home later for cake and all that though, right?
BEN: Um. I guess. BOO: So you left her a message.
BEN: Yeah.
BOO: What did you say?
BEN: I said for her to come to the hospital.
BOO: Because Mom had an accident.
BEN: Because Mom had an accident.
BOO: Where was Mom when you found her?
BEN: She was in the kitchen. Um, on the floor.
BOO: Did you check the windows?
BEN: What?
BOO: Maybe someone broke in.
BEN: That didn't happen, Boo.
BOO: Did you check the windows?
BEN: I didn't have time, Boo.
BOO: Oh. You were probably really scared, (pause) Are you sure
you shouldn't have phoned the police? Maybe it was a robbery and
maybe there's fingerprints. I bet that's how Mom got hit on the
head.
BEN: That's not what happened. I found her on the floor, Boo, and
she wasn't bruised anywhere else, she just hit her head, that's all.
It's just an accident.
BOO: But the phone was off the hook. It could have been a home
invasion thing.
BEN: It's bad enough without you making up things, OK? You don't
need to do that.
BOO: I just mean—
10 BEN: (sharply) ITS BAD ENOUGH!
Pause.
BEN: Um. Sorry.
BOO: I know. But I didn't mean it that way.
BEN: I know.
Pause.
BOO: Can I have that change for gum instead? (BEN nods, gives
him the change. BOO gets up, starts to go, turns back) I'll just be a
second. If the doctor comes.
BEN: You're not going to be long.
BOO: I don't want to miss it. Tell him to wait. I want to hear.
BEN: I'll try.
He scampers off. BEN waits another moment. A harried, distracted-
looking young resident, DR. VAN DOOT, comes on.
BEN: Are you a doctor?
DR. VAN DOOT: Not quite. Kind of. Soon. Why?
BEN: I'm looking for someone who knows something about my
wife's condition.
DR. VAN DOOT: (looking at his notes) Of course you are. Maury.
BEN: Who?
DR. VAN DOOT: Who?
BEN: Yes, who?
DR. VAN DOOT: Who? Me. Doctor Van Doot, I guess, that's my
name. Bit of a surprise, eh?
BEN: Your name?
11 DR. VAN DOOT: (still flipping) No, the uh...being here like this...
BEN: Um, yes. Very much.
DR. VAN DOOT: So just, so just, how premature was she?
BEN: I'm sorry, what?
DR. VAN DOOT: Oh shit, you're not the New Dad guy. There was
a lady who hit her head on an oven door and it sent her into labour.
Really scary. Oh fuck I said shit. I'm not supposed to swear like
that. Man! (looking at his notes, they are very messy) Um. Did your
wife get run over by a tractor?
BEN: No, she's hurt, she, she hit her head in the kitchen—
DR. VAN DOOT: (fishes out a paper and starts scribbling on it) The
kitchen. Right. She hit her head, she hit her head, head head head,
where are my notes on the, where is my, where is my...my head—
oh. You're Mr. Ben Driver. Is that correct? I hope?
BEN: Yes. My wife is Anne Driver. Are you her doctor?
DR. VAN DOOT: No.
BEN: Where can I—
DR. VAN DOOT: This is a training hospital, I'm one of—I guess,
I'm one of her doctors. One of her doctor team.
BEN: My son wants to meet a doctor. He'll be right back. How is
Anne?
DR. VAN DOOT: How is Anne. Let me see. I'm just a researcher.
BEN: I thought you said you were a doctor.
DR. VAN DOOT: Uh huh. A species of doctor. I do research.
BEN: Are you researching my wife?
DR. VAN DOOT: Well, actually, she's—. Well, she's unusual because of the severity of her—. Um we want to see how she presents.
It's not often that we see someone with such massive—. Mr. Driver,
12 are you all right? You're turning green.
BEN: How is my wife?
DR VAN DOOT: I'm not supposed to do this, to talk to—. OK. Um,
Anne had a stroke, a bad one, and a stroke is unusual for someone
of her age, um, but I understand she had several risk factors against
her on that one. (reading his notes) High stress, smoker, high cholesterol, not enough exercise, early stage menopause. She had been
warned about the risk factors, you came in for a series of tests last
year but we didn't hear from you for a while.. .that's no good, (checking his notes) I'm afraid she's still unconscious, so she's probably in
a coma. Is that right? Yes—a coma. So she had a stroke, and it looks
like she got hit, or she hit her head pretty hard while she had the
stroke. So her brain's taken quite a beating today. That's our primary area of concern right now. The brain. The brain is very interesting. Can I ask you some questions? Um, so you found her, Mr.
Driver, is that correct? (BEN nods. The doctor makes a long note on
his clipboard) Can you remember anything else about the way you
found her that could help us? What did she hit her head on—the
counter? Was there any blood on the counter?
BEN: Oh. I don't know. Yes. There was blood on the floor too.
DR VAN DOOT: Mm hmm. OK. Very good. Was it a sharp counter,
with those, with those sharp, like, edges?
BEN: I suppose.
DR. VAN DOOT makes copious notes.
DRVANDOOT: OKsupergood. So just to be really clear, it wasn't
that kind of rounded edge, it was a sharp sort of knife edge on the
counter that gashed her head when she went down?
BEN: I guess so.
DR. VAN DOOT: OK. It's a good idea to be very specific with the,
the evidence.
BEN: Evidence?
13 DR. VAN DOOT: OK.
BEN: OK what.
DR. VAN DOOT: What.
BEN: You said OK.
DR. VAN DOOT: Yes. I did.
BEN: Were you going to say something?
DR. VAN DOOT: No. How long was your wife unconscious before
someone found her?
BEN: Well, I saw her at lunch and then it was a few hours before I
came back and found her. Maybe two.
DR. VAN DOOT: Oh. That's quite a while.
BEN: What are you saying.
DR VAN DOOT: Mr. Driver, I think you should be prepared for the
possibility that your wife will have had some fairly serious brain
trauma.
BEN: Fairly serious.
DR. VAN DOOT: Do you know anything about brain damage?
BEN: Um. How serious is fairly serious?
DR. VAN DOOT: Hard to say.
BEN: No, I don't know anything about brain damage.
DR. VAN DOOT: I don't know much either, to be real honest. The
brain is so—. It's like we don't even know the half of—. There's
like a gazillion neurons in there. You have to go to school for like
forty years before you really get into it. Um. But I'm working on it.
In any case, there will be some lasting effects from this injury
which we'll want to go over with you at some point.
14 BEN: When can I see her?
DR. VAN DOOT: Oh that's a toughie, OK, because we had to do
some drilling to relieve some of the pressure around her brain. But
she's still in critical condition. But I don't know, but I can check on
that for you.
BEN. OK—um, what is the likelihood that she has the brain damage?
DR. VAN DOOT: I can't say that. The next few hours will be critical. To be honest, Mr. Driver, your wife has sustained a very very
serious injury. She's got a loculated subdural haematoma. That's
brain lingo.
BEN: You mentioned something about lasting effects?
DR. VAN DOOT: I'm sorry, pardon?
BEN: The lasting effects.
DR VAN DOOT: (a little panicked) Mr. Driver, I need to get to some
other patients. I have a million patients, and I—
BEN: Quickly before my son gets back?
DR. VAN DOOT: I probably shouldn't be talking to you. I don't
want to screw it up.
BEN: Please.
DR VAN DOOT: Mr. Driver, please sit down. Let's both sit down. OK
BEN sits, with VAN DOOT beside him.
DR. VAN DOOT: There, this is more—Mr. Driver, your wife is
probably going to have some fairly serious brain damage—
BEN: I still don't know what that means, fairly serious—
DR. VAN DOOT: Sir, I'm trying to answer your question.
BEN: Sorry.
15 DR. VAN DOOT: Some patients have neuron damage, some have
memory loss, some have areas of loss of motor conttol. Most have
a combination of these. It's all very weird, this brain stuff. We don't
know a lot about the brain. It's a totally wild organ to study, that's
why I picked it. We'll give you the name of a clinical neuropsychologist and she's on her way and she'll give you some good
advice, she'll lead you through it. She's a Ph. D. She's more qualified than I am in things like this—
BEN: You said she might not remember me?
DR. VAN DOOT: She's never met you.
BEN: My wife.
DR. VAN DOOT: Oh. Crap. That's hard to say. I really have some
other patients.
BEN: All right then, when can I talk to someone who can give me
some answers—
DR. VAN DOOT: Mr. Driver, Everybody's doing their best.
Pause.
DR. VAN DOOT: Thanks for letting me talk to you, ask you questions. This is very interesting.
BEN: OK. Can you meet my son?
DR. VAN DOOT: I'll come back later—
BOO runs on.
BOO: Are you my mom's doctor?
DR. VAN DOOT: (to BEN) Maybe. Is this your son?
BEN nods.
BOO: My mom is Anne Driver. She's not going to die, is she?
DR. VAN DOOT: No. But we're going to keep her here for a little
16 while.
BOO: How long?
DR. VAN DOOT: I don't know.
BOO: Overnight?
DR. VAN DOOT: Definitely.
BOO: Is she going to be all right?
DR. VAN DOOT: We're doing our best.
BOO: What does that mean?
DR. VAN DOOT: Listen buddy, I have to go now. You know what?
You should get your dad to take you to the cafeteria for something
to eat for you both. Wouldn't that be a super good idea?
BOO: Yeah I'm pretty hungry.
DR. VAN DOOT: OK man, gotta roll.
He rushes off. BOO sits down next to BEN and offers him some gum.
BEN takes it and holds it. Silence.
BOO: Did you talk to Mom's doctor?
BEN: Yes.
BOO: Auntie Louise is here. She's talking to a nurse. Is this where
Grandma died?
BEN: Um. I don't remember. Yes.
BOO: Um, what about Nancy's birthday? Does she still get her
birthday gifts? Is she getting a camera?
BEN: How did you know that?
BOO: I saw it on the table. Maybe she'll let me use it. I want a
camera.
17 BEN: You'll have to ask her.
Pause.
BOO: Did the doctor say anything to you about Mom?
BEN: Not really.
SCENE THREE. Time passes. ANNE's hospital room, the following
couple of days. BEN, BOO, LOUISE, forty, (ANNE's sister), and
NANCY, eighteen, ANNE's only daughter. Everyone is in their own
spotlight, talking to ANNE as she lies there in a coma. They may face
out, speak to the audience instead of right at her. They are mostly
unaware of what each other is saying. ANNE looks pale, has a dressing
or bandage on her head. There is a mobile floating above the hospital
bed, turning slowly.
NANCY: Mom? Can you hear me? Hello? Nod if you can hear me.
Even just the tiniest little bit. Come on, nod. That's not fair Mom.
You can't check out in the middle of an argument, that's not fair.
Can you hear me? This is really stupid.
BEN: Um. The nurse said you can probably hear us. So I'm just
going to talk like you can hear me, OK Anne?
LOUISE: Hi Anne. It's Louise. Remember me? Boy this place makes
me nervous, ever since we were here with Mom. All this mint
green. It's barely a real colour. How are you? What a stupid question. Damn.
BOO: Mom, it's so cool thatyou get to sleep so much. I wish I got
to sleep in all the time. I think that would be fun, kind of.
LOUISE: Anne? Are you in there? They said you might be able to
hear us.
BOO: How long do I get to miss school for, Mom? I've already
missed two days. Dad keeps saying I'll be going back soon, but not
if you're sick for long I bet. I think it's so gross that they had to drill
into your brain. I'm sure you couldn't feel it though. Um, but can
you imagine what it must be like to do that? Your doctor having to
18 do that to you? I had a Pepsi with your doctor, your specialist, she
seems nice, but weird, she talks to herself. Um, I read somewhere
about surgeries, no I saw it on TV. They were doing surgeries on a
guy's head, and they said that he had swelling in his head around
his brain, and I know that's what happened to you. Would you
want to do that all day, drill into people's heads? And I bet you can
smell the burning of the drilling, and the friction, and see little
clouds of like skull dust floating up. They'd have to be careful not to
drill too far, eh? They didn't drill into your brain did they?
NANCY: How long are you going to do this, Mom?
BOO: Three days...
LOUISE: This is so strange...
BEN: Anne, come on.
BOO: Don't worry you're still my Mom. It doesn't matter what
happens. I'm going to sit here for a while. No, first I'm going to get
an Eat More, then I'm gonna sit.
LOUISE: Annie, I'm scared.
BOO: I had two chocolate bars already today. Dad keeps giving me
money without asking what it's for. Are you mad?
NANCY: Four days...
BOO: My bum hurts from sitting so much.
BEN: Wake up.
BOO: Dad took us to the chicken place for dinner. We've been to
all the places around here. I'm tired of eating out. I want you to
make me macaroni with ketchup.
BEN: Anne. It's Ben. I'm here.
BOO: Do I have to miss much more school? I've missed five whole
days already. I'm bored.
BEN: You're going to have to pull yourself out of this, Anne. I can't
19 do it foryou. I don't know how.
BOOT shouldn't have said that—
BEN: I love you.
BOO: I love you.
NANCY: I hate you. Now this is how I'm always going to remember my birthday.
BOO: I shouldn't have said that I didn't want to be here. I miss you.
Can I have some of my friends visit me here at the hospital?
BEN: I wish your mother was still around. She'd know what to say.
She'd have everyone organized.
BOO: Can you hear everything I say? Are you gonna be mad when
you wake up? Dad told me a joke today but I promised not to say
anything because it's dirty. You'd kill me. Nancy let me have her
birthday camera. It's a pretty cool machine.
LOUISE: What can I talk to you about. What do you want to hear?
(thinks) Do you remember when you dragged me onto that roller
coaster? I hope you remember that—I'll never never forget that.
And you talked at me while we were in line so I didn't get a chance
to get scared. I didn't really know what was happening and I didn't
have a chance to talk myself out of it—and then all of a sudden we
were on the ride and the shoulder bar came down and locked us
in, and I got so panicked, I kept swearing "you bitch you goddamn
bitch what the hell am I doing here." I never used to swear, ever,
and I said, "I'm going to kill you, you awful, manipulative bitch..."
This, this voice, this mad, brittle voice came up from inside of me,
I had no idea it was there. But you were so calm and you said, "let's
sing something", so I would stop being so hysterical. You said,
"let's sing what should we sing?", so I started singing 'Both Sides,
Now'—by Joni Mitchell. It was on the radio all the time, and it was
all I could think of... (sings)—"I've looked at clouds from both
sides, now/from up and down/ and still somehow/it's cloud illusions I recall/I really don't know clouds/at all"—and we were getting higher and higher and my voice was getting higher and higher,
and then we went over the first crest... (the memory of it catches her
20 breath) And, and, and shit, I just felt my heart leave my body. And
you kept looking over at me and I could hear you saying "are you
OK? How are you?" You were so full of calm and concern, and your
face is going upside down and we're bouncing around in these
hard little black like seat belts, but I wasn't there, I was watching
myself go through all the loops and upside down and twisting and
I heard everyone screaming and I could hear my breath sliding
down the back of my throat. And I got comfortable, watching myself
go through this terror, I could just disassociate, and so near the end
I started singing again—"I've looked at life from both sides, now/
from give and take/and still somehow..." Do you remember that?
You thought I was crazy. You thought I was going to faint when I got
off, I was hyperventilating. I could barely walk. You thought I'd
enjoyed it. And it's true, I was elated. Elated to know that I could
check out if I wanted to. Because if I had stayed in my body I would
be dead. I know that. That's the difference between you and me,
Anne. I don't know how to fight like you do. I don't want to. Help
me out here, Anne.
Pause.
BOO: Boo! Wake up.
NANCY: Did you say something?
LOUISE: Anne? Did you say something?
Pause.
NANCY: Shit you scared me.
BOO: I'm probably not getting A's any more at school.
NANCY: Fuck.
BEN: You can't leave yet, Anne. Um. Whatever happens I need you
here. The kids, they—. You know what they need. Come back.
BOO: Mom, I'm bored, I want to walk around just a little bit, is that
OK? Don't speak until I get back.
NANCY: Get up, you cow. I'm giving you until the count often.
21 BEN: Come on.
NANCY: One.
LOUISE: It's so strange to see you like this, Anne, it doesn't seem
right. I don't know what to do, and Mom's not here anymore—
NANCY: Two.
BOO: I'm gonna go see if Dad's around. Don't wake up yet, Mom.
NANCY: Three. Don't disappoint me, Mom. Four.
BEN: How long are we going to have to wait?
NANCY: Five.
LOUISE: Nancy reminds me of you at eighteen, Anne. That oughta piss
youoff.
NANCY: Six. Try harder.
BOO: I have to pee too, so I really have to get Dad—
BEN: Annie. Anne.
NANCY: Seven.
LOUISE: Come on Anne, get mad.
NANCY: Eight. Fuck.
ANNE's eyes flutter open. One by one they notice, in silence. Then...
BOO: Mom?
NANCY: Mom?
LOUISE: Anne?
BEN: Anne?
BOO: Mom? Are you awake?
22 NANCY: Oh my God I said fuck and you woke up.
They are in the same room now, talking to each other.
BEN: (to NANCY) What did you say to her?
NANCY: I don't remember.
BOO: Dad, she woke up!
LOUISE: She sure did.
BEN: (cautiously) Anne? Can you hear us? Say something. Do you
remember me? Do you remember who I am? Tell me who I am.
They stare at her. For a long moment, she looks around, afraid. She
stares at BEN, moves her mouth to speak, but only a few croaks come
out. She looks confused at her inability to speak. She makes a few
purposeless movements, but can't seem to coordinate her muscles. She
looks around. Her face is strangely vacant, some flashes of distress.
BEN smoothes the sheets and takes her hand, calming her down.
BEN: OK. One step at a time.
SCENE FOUR. Two weeks later. The family is clustered around ANNE's
bed. LOUISE is feeding her some Jell-O. ANNE is not using her right
side. This disuse is prominent in this scene, and fades slowly as the play
progresses. NANCY looks on, quiet, a little apart. BEN is talking to
DR. KATHRYN OMER, forties, ANNE's neuropsychologist.
DR. OMER: We don't need to jump to any conclusions. Most patients don't speak for a while after they emerge from a coma. We
know from the CT that Anne had a serious frontal lobe injury,
we'll see how it presents. The brain is very delicate. You can't rush
it. Patience.
LOUISE: There you go. How's that? You're not saying much, Anne.
BOO: Mom? How are you feeling?
NANCY: Maybe you shouldn't all be clustered around her, maybe
23 she wants some room.
BEN: OK.
DR. OMER: She'll get more specialized care now that she's here in
the rehab hospital. Have you been able to find your way around all
right?
BEN: It looks the same as the last hospital.
DR OMER? Does it? All right. I'll be back. Nature calls. I won't be far.
She exits.
LOUISE: She's still weak yet, aren't you honey? She'll be able to
speak in a few days. Oops, you made a mess.
LOUISE puts the Jell-O cup aside and wipes ANNE's chin. The cup is
beside the bed, just out of reach. There is still some Jell-O left. ANNE
has followed the cup with her eyes. Through the next section her attention keeps getting pulled back to it. She starts to get insistent. BOO
goes over to the Jell-O.
LOUISE: Who was that?
BOO: Can I have this?
LOUISE: Go ahead. Ben, who was that?
BEN: Dr. Something or other. She's a neuropsychologist.
NANCY: What about her brain? It's been two weeks.
BEN: You know your mother. She's strong. She seems better today.
NANCY: Except that she's not saying anything.
BEN: She's just, um, in shock.
LOUISE: We have to be supportive. Especially when we're in the
room.
ANNE is grabbing for something, using only her left side. She is slobbering.
24 BOO: She wants something.
LOUISE: What do you want, honey?
BEN: Maybe she has amnesia.
BOO: Do you have amnesia, Mom?
NANCY: That's a stupid question, buttface. How's she supposed to
tell you if she has amnesia—she won't remember!
BOO: Maybe she can sense it.
BEN: Please be quiet you two. (ANNE is struggling again.) What is
it? Louise, maybe you should, could you please get the doctor?
LOUISE exits, looking for DR. OMER.
BOO: She's reaching.
BEN: You want to go somewhere.
BOO: She wants to get up.
NANCY: She's not supposed to get up.
BEN: You're not supposed to leave the bed, Anne.
BOO: She wants to go for a walk.
NANCY: Don't be an idiot.
ANNE struggles and pants. She is getting teary. DR. OMER enters
with LOUISE.
DR. OMER: What's going on?
BEN: She wants something and—
DR. OMER: OK, let me see her. (She goes to ANNE; BOO goes to the
other side of the bed.)
LOUISE: She's getting really upset. She won't speak.
25 NANCY: She can't speak.
BEN: Nancy, please.
DR. OMER: Anne, I want you to calm down so we can understand
what it is you need.
NANCY: She's going to hurt herself.
DR. OMER: (trying to calm ANNE) She's got some motor function.
That's good.
BEN: Anne—
BOO: It's the Jell-O! She wants the Jell-O!
LOUISE: What?
BOO: I think she wants my Jell-O!
BEN: What do you mean, Boo?
DR. OMER: Mr. Driver, give me some room and we'll figure out
what's wrong.
When BEN releases her a little bit, ANNE reaches for the Jell-O cup
that BOO is holding out to her. She tries to bring it to her face, but
she misses. She is frustrated. BOO grabs the cup and scoops some out
for her.
BOO: Here you go Mom, let me help you.
NANCY: Jesus Christ.
BOO helps guide ANNE's mouth to the Jell-O. She licks it. She seems
calmed, a little embarrassed.
BOO: That's what she wanted! Good taste Mom!
He takes it from her and has another lick for himself.
Pause.
NANCY: Are you serious?
26 BEN: Why didn't she just tell us? Why can't she speak?
DR. OMER: How do you like that, Anne? The Jell-O? That tastes
good doesn't it. Did she like Jell-O before?
BEN: I don't think so.
DR OMER So this is something new. Don't worry, in a little while
you might be able to talk to us. Then we can find out what's going
in there, right Anne? (points at her, gently) Anne. That's you.
NANCY: Why can't she feed herself? What's going on?
DR. OMER: (taking him aside) It's early days still. This is going to
be very strange for you. You might not recognize her. She might
not recognize you, at first. It's going to take time. The brain is very
delicate and if some trama occurs to it—
BEN: There's a possibility it might never heal properly, is that right?
DR. OMER: It's almost a certainty, Mr. Driver. Neurons don't grow
back.
BEN: You don't know my wife. She's a tough lady.
DR. OMER: All I'm saying is that most of my patients will always
have to deal with some kind of post-traumatic deficit.
BEN: Anne is not like most people.
DR. OMER: All right. Tell me something. Was your wife right-
handed?
BEN: Yes.
DR. OMER: That's what I thought. She has a right side neglect.
She'll have learn everything all over again on the other side.
BEN: Can you give me a percentage? What percentage make a full
improvement?
DR. OMER I can't give you a percentage. That would be unhelpful.
27 BEN: Unhelpful?
BOO is sharing the Jell-O with ANNE.
NANCY: Boo, I don't think you should be giving that to her—
BOO: She's just hungry. It's all right, right?
BEN: Leave him alone, Nancy. For the last time.
SCENE FIVE. The hospital, a month later. NANCY and BOO are
sharing a Coke in the waiting room and doing some homework.
NANCY: You took my eraser.
BOO: Did not.
NANCY: There it is.
BOO: Whatever. You always take my things. You always—
NANCY: Screw off, shit steak.
BOO: Screwyou, yeast pooch.
NANCY: Shut up so I can finish.
Pause.
BOO: (from within his textbook) I don't want to be here so much
anymore.
NANCY: Where.
BOO: In the hospital.
NANCY: Why?
BOO: All we do is spend time here.
NANCY: Mom's here.
BOO: I know.
28 NANCY: So?
BOO: I'm just saying.
Pause.
NANCY: You're such a fuckhead.
BOO: Shut up.
NANCY: You're such an asshole, when Mom's here, and Dad's all
upset, and you're worried about missing school and your friends.
BOO: You're just mad because you were fighting with Mom and
now she's had an accident and you can't tell her you're sorry that
you're such a bitch.
NANCY: That's not fair.
BOO: Shut up.
NANCY: That isn't true.
BOO: You're a bitch.
NANCY: At least I love Mom and I want to be with her.
BOO: (suddenly screaming) IWANTTO BE WITH HER TOO, I don't
just want to go out and be with my friends like you said, I want
Mom back I WANTTO GO HOME, I JUST WANT TO GO HOME-
NANCY grabs him and hugs him. He is curled up tight.
NANCY: OK. OK. I'm sorry.
BOO: No you're not, you bitch.
NANCY: OK. OK. I know you love Mom.
BOO: I love the Mom we used to have. I don't want that freak
person to be my mother.
NANCY: Shhh. Shhh. She's still the same person, Boo.
29 BOO: No she's not.
NANCY: Yes she is. She is. You'll see.
SCENE SIX. The hospital, a month later. NANCY is seated on the edge
of ANNE's hospital bed talking to ANNE. A mobile is above the bed,
spinning.
NANCY: You're coming home tomorrow. Isn't that great? It's been
a couple of months now. Time to go home. (NANCY turns the
mobile. ANNE smiles) Do you remember who you are? Are you in
there somewhere? (ANNE smiles and takes her hand) We're best
friends, remember? Yes, we are. We fight all the time because we're
best friends. You're a Supermom—that's what Amy always says
about you—you do everything for us. Well, you did. Do you remember that? You're going to be OK. Hey, I called you a hardass
once and I was grounded for a week. I keep a pop can under my bed
to put my ashes in when I smoke at the window, and a can of Lysol
for the smell. You never knew. You came to every single soccer
game I had. You screamed your head off. Do you remember? (ANNE
is quiet) Well, you will soon. You're coming home. You'll get better.
(NANCY spins the mobile again) Don't worry. Easy.
SCENE SEVEN. The next day, morning. ANNE is home. LOUISE is
going to stay with her until the home health aide arrives. BEN is going
off to work, the kids off to school. NANCY and ANNE are in the
kitchen. NANCY at the fridge, ANNE near the table, standing with a
walker, waiting. ANNE's right arm and right foot want to curl in, it's
hard for her to use them.
NANCY: Mom, what do you want for breakfast? (LOUISE is coming through the front door with her coat on, and some activity bags.)
Aunt Louise, can you help Mom? I have to get ready. (NANCY goes
off-)
LOUISE: Oh. Sure. Annie? Come sit down.
BEN: (from offstage) Nancy, where are my shirts?
30 NANCY: (from offstage, opposite) In the dryer?
BEN: (off) Where?
LOUISE: What do you want for breakfast? Pancakes?
ANNE shakes her head.
LOUISE: Cereal? Oatmeal? (starts hunting through the cupboards)
BEN: (off) Where?
NANCY: (off) What?
BEN: (off) WHERE!?
NANCY: (from off) IN THE DRYER!
LOUISE shows some macaroni to ANNE. ANNE shakes her head.
Points to a bowl on the table.
LOUISE: Fruit. You want fruit in a bowl. (ANNE shakes her head.)
BOO walks in, still in his pajamas, sleepy. He goes to the fridge, opens
it and stares.
BEN: (from off) I CAN'T FIND THEM! I NEED MY SHIRTS TODAY, NANCY! WHERE—
NANCY runs across the stage to his voice, swearing under her breath.
ANNE shakes her head and starts to cry. She points at the bowl. LOUISE
sits down with her at the table.
LOUISE: What else do you have in a bowl ? Rice? Do you want rice?
Vegetables? lell-O? Is that it?
ANNE yells suddenly and pounds her fists on the table. Her right side
is still spastic and uncooperative. LOUISE grabs her hands and holds
them down. ANNE struggles for a second, then falls silent.
BOO: She wants cereal.
LOUISE: What?
31 BOO still has the fridge door open.
BOO: In the bowl.
LOUISE: I already asked her that.
BOO: That's what she had in the hospital. That's all she can remember.
LOUISE: Do you want cereal, in the bowl?
ANNE nods, happy.
LOUISE: OK. That's called cereal, OK Annie?
LOUISE gets up, tries to manoeuvre around BOO.
LOUISE: Will you get out of the fridge please?
He does, and shuts it, just as she's about to reach inside.
LOUISE: Ow, shit!
BOO: You told me to get out of the—
LOUISE: I need to get in there. Where's your breakfast.
BOO: I'll have what Mom's having.
LOUISE: OK. Sit down and I'll get it for you.
BOO: You don't have to.
LOUISE: OK then you do your own and help with your mother.
BOO: She's going to be able to do her own breakfasts soon, though,
isn't she?
LOUISE: We think so. (NANCY hurries past) Nancy—when does
the nurse arrive? (There is no answer. LOUISE goes to get the milk.)
OK thanks.
BOO is getting out the cereal and bowls and putting them down on
the table.
32 ANNE: (her voice is flat and slurred) Cereal.
LOUISE stops dead. Turns.
LOUISE: Did she just say something? Was that you?
BOO: (casual) It wasn't me.
LOUISE: Anne, did you just say something?
ANNE: Cereal.
LOUISE: BEN! ANNE JUST SPOKE! Anne just said cereal!
BEN: (entering, tucking a shirt in) What? She said something?
LOUISE: Yes. I swear. She said cereal.
BEN: I missed it.
NANCY: (entering, dressed) She comes at noon. The nurse. What
happened? Boo, why aren't you ready for school?
BOO: Bug off.
LOUISE: Can you say it again, Anne?
Pause. They wait.
ANNE: Cereal.
BEN: Hey! That's great honey! Cereal! You're speaking!
ANNE: Cereal.
BEN: That's really great honey! That's really really great. Finally.
BOO: Mom, can you say "fork"? "Spoon"?
BEN: Honey, that's terrific. I'm glad to hearyour voice again.
LOUISE: Me too.
BOO: This is a spoon.
33 BEN: Soon you'll be good as new! Listen, damn I have to go, I have
to finish getting dressed. Enjoy your cereal. Good stuff.
He exits briefly.
NANCY: (sour) Wow, cereal, only a matter of time now.
LOUISE: Be patient, Nancy.
NANCY: Who's making your breakfast, Boo?
LOUISE: He said he could.
NANCY: I don't know. Mom always used to do it.
LOUISE: Well he's helping me make her breakfast.
BEN: (coming back on) Honey, I have to go to work now and the
nurse is coming and she'll take care of you until we all get back.
NANCY: Why does the nurse only come at noon.
BEN: We can't afford a full time nurse, Nancy. It's not all covered.
We can only afford the four hours a day.
NANCY: Then who takes care of her at four?
BEN: I'm only just now going back to work. Things are going to be
tight, so—
NANCY: Who.
BEN: You and Boo get home at four.
NANCY: Not always.
BEN: Nowyou do.
NANCY: So we can take care of our mother. Fucking beautiful.
(exits off to her room)
BOO: Who's going to take care of us?
LOUISE: Your Mom'll be better soon. I can be here every morning
34 until the nurse arrives. I only teach in the afternoons this year, OK
Boo?
BOO: I guess.
BEN: Louise, I don't know how to thank you—
LOUISE: It's the least I can do.
BEN: (gulping some orange juice down from the carton) It's very kind
of you. (He exits briefly; LOUISE goes to hang up her coat and put
her bags away.)
BOO has been preparing the cereal all this time. He gives ANNE a
small teaspoon of sugar.
BOO: I'm only going to give you a little sugar. You shouldn't have
too much sugar, you know what I'm saying? (He gives himself three
enormous spoonfuls.)
BEN: Louise, have you seen my briefcase?
LOUISE: By the garbage.
BEN: Are you OK here?
LOUISE: Leave me your work number.
There is the sound of a car horn from outside.
LOUISE: Who's that?
BEN: (as he writes) Boo, I'm leaving in less than a minute and you
have to be in the car so drop it and get dressed. (BOO gets up and
scampers out.) Get up earlier next time!
NANCY: (walks into the room) I'm leaving.
BEN: I'm taking you.
NANCY: Why?
BEN: Because, Nancy, I'm taking you to school. It's on my way.
35 NANCY Richard's here to take me.
BEN: How long has he had his license?
NANCY: Let's wring our hands about it later, (exits)
BEN: Boo! Come on! Put some clothes on.
BOO emerges from his room, wearing dirty sweats and no socks.
BEN: Nope, go back and put some real clothes on. (BOO exits
again) You wore all of those things yesterday!
BOO: (from offstage) I can't find where half my clothes are!
BEN swears under his breath and rushes into BOO's room. LOUISE
turns to look at ANNE, who is having trouble trying to use her left hand.
LOUISE: Here, let me help you. OK we have to do your exercises
today and then the nurse is going to be here. Is there something
you'd like to do today?
ANNE:?
LOUISE: Do you want to go for a walk?
ANNE thinks hard, gets angry.
LOUISE: Oh Anne, don't get mad. Don't. Listen, I won't ask you
hard questions anymore. I'll just keep it simple, I promise.
BEN walks in, pushing BOO in front of him.
BEN: Everything OK here? Can you handle this Louise?
LOUISE: Of course I can, don't be silly.
BEN: Have a good day. (he exits)
BOO: (going over to Louise) Good luck, Auntie Louise. Bye Mom.
(He kisses ANNE and exits.)
A second later BEN rushes back in, goes to ANNE.
36 BEN: Shit, sorry honey. Goodbye. Have a good day. Enjoy your
cereal.
ANNE: Cereal.
BEN rushes out. LOUISE watches him go. Turns to look at ANNE,
who continues to eat, oblivious.
LOUISE: Cereal.
SLIDE #2: ANNE and NANCY are posing for a shot outdoors, some
time in the summer. They are both soaking wet: they've had an impromptu water fight. They have their arms around each other like old
friends. Big, naughty smiles on their faces, water pistols or hoses in
their hands. There are a few more slides of the same sequence, like stop
motion, they flash by in quick succession.
SCENE EIGHT. The kitchen, a month later. BEN and DR. OMER are
running over some tests with ANNE. There is paper and some crayons
on the table.
DR. OMER: Remember me, Anne? I'm Doctor Kathryn Omer,
Anne. I'm one of your doctors. I'm a brain specialist. This is a nice
home you have here. Very nice. Every once in a while I'm going to
see you here, sometimes at the hospital. And of course you have a
new nurse, Yvonne, who comes during the day time to help out,
right? OKI have a few questions for you. Not hard ones. Can you
remember what day it is today?
ANNE: (struggles) No. Sorry.
DR. OMER: Ben told you earlier.
ANNE: Did he? Sorry.
DR. OMER: Don't be sorry. You're doing great.
BEN: You're doing great.
DR. OMER: OK, Anne. Let's try something, (takes her arm and
37 pinches her. ANNE recoils) Oops! You didn't like that, did you?
ANNE: No.
DR. OMER: (pinching her other arm, ANNE recoils again) Oops,
there, I did it again. Nobody likes getting pinched.
BEN: Why are you doing that?
DR. OMER: (pinches him, he yelps) lust checking to see if it works.
Anne, can you name three cereals for me?
ANNE: OK. (thinks, hard)
BEN: What cereal do you eat in the morning Anne?
DR. OMER: Give her time.
Pause.
ANNE: Cheerios.
DR. OMER: Yes! One.
ANNE: Ummmm...
DR. OMER: Two more.
ANNE: Shreddies.
DR. OMER: Good!
ANNE: Count Chocula.
DR. OMER: That's a mouthful, Anne, good for you. (to BEN) Does
she actually eat that cereal?
BEN: No I'm sure she doesn't.
DR. OMER: Oh that's a shame, it's the best.
BEN: Maybe Boo eats it.
DR. OMER: (rubbing ANNE's feet) Can you feel this?
38 ANNE: Yes.
DR. OMER: (to BEN) Did you used to rub her feet?
BEN: No.
DR OMER: Oh that's a crime, it should be in the marriage license.
Does that feel good, Anne?
ANNE: Kind of.
DR. OMER: OK Anne. Stare at my nose and tell me when you see
my finger. (DR. OMER checks ANNE's peripheral vision. It is fine on
the left side, very bad on the right.) Hmm. OK. Squeeze my hand,
Anne. Good, now with the right hand, (this is difficult for her)
Good! Hey, do you remember this? (She starts the tape recorder:
Stevie Wonder.)
ANNE: (listens a moment) No. (listens a moment longer) YES! YES!
DR. OMER: Good! Can you sing the words?
ANNE: (tries) No. Sorry.
DR. OMER: You're going to have some trouble remembering
things, Anne. But you're speaking now. That's great. You're great.
(she makes some notes)
ANNE: Oh?
BEN: Yep honey.
DR. OMER: (to herself, mumbling in a flurry of note taking and
planning) Yep yep yep good, that was really good, good good, Stevie
Wonder, good taste Anne, yep yep yep, try that and that and that
and, oh man I have to go home to let the dog out and set the tape.
Did I call the roofer? (she continues mumbling)
ANNE: What is she saying?
BEN: I don't think she's speaking to us.
DR. OMER: Anne? I want you to take this piece of paper and these
crayons and draw me something, OK? How about a flower?
39 ANNE: OK.
ANNE gets to work. DR. OMER draws BEN aside.
BEN: What do you think?
DR. OMER: She's only been home for a few weeks, we can't, I can't
say for sure—
BEN: Um do you know what it's like to have people ask you how
your wife is doing and you have to say well she's conscious but she
acts like a three-year-old, we're not sure how much better she's
going to get?
DR. OMER: No, to be honest. But I understand your predicament.
BEN: You do?
DR. OMER: You don't know anything about me.
BEN: I'm sorry. Um. I know you can't say for sure. Um, I'm asking
for your opinion, your medical opinion.
DR. OMER: She's functioning. She's speaking. That's more than I
can say for a lot of my patients.
BEN: She's my wife. I married her.
DR. OMER: With therapy she will improve.
ANNE: (she is having trouble finishing the picture) Anne needs help.
DR. OMER: Who needs help?
ANNE: Me needs help.
DR. OMER: No, Anne. I need help. I.
ANNE: You? Who? Ben?
BEN: What, honey?
ANNE: (flustered) Who is that? Go away.
BEN: We'll be done soon, OK Anne?
40 DR. OMER: How are the kids responding to her?
BEN: She's their mother.
DR. OMER Mr. Driver, whatever it is she used to do for you all, you
have to take over. Anne, can I see the picture now? Show me what
you drew. You're in charge now.
ANNE holds up the picture. It's a flower. The entire left side of the
flower is drawn. The right half is missing.
ANNE: Flower.
DR OMER: That's good Anne. That's a good flower. Do you notice
something, though? Half of that flower is missing.
ANNE: Is it?
DR. OMER: Yep. The right half.
ANNE: Oh.
DR. OMER: Forgot it was there, did you?
ANNE: No. Here, (shegives it to BEN)
BEN: Thanks honey. I like it. I'll keep it.
ANNE goes back to the table.
BEN: Is this normal?
DR. OMER: Yes and no.
BEN: Where's the other half?
DR. OMER: That's what we're trying to find out.
Short pause.
BEN: Will she ever be the woman I married again?
DR OMER: I don't know.
41 BEN: Please give me an answer.
DR. OMER: There are several answers, Mr. Driver.
BEN: Give me a straight answer.
DR. OMER No.
BEN: No, you won't give me a straight answer?
DR. OMER: No. No she won't be.
Short pause.
BEN: You don't know my wife like I do.
DR OMER: Of course not. But I would love to be wrong. Prove me
wrong.
SCENE NINE. A few weeks later. RICHARD, twenty-one, NANCY's
boyfriend, and BEN are seated on the couch in the living room. They
are silent, obviously uncomfortable.
BEN: Um. What was your last name, Richard?
RICHARD: Miller.
BEN: Right. I knew that, didn't I?
Pause.
BEN: Sorry, how long have you and Nancy been going steady?
RICHARD: Umm, a few months. Six. Since before the accident.
BEN: The accident?
RICHARD: Sorry, your wife's accident.
BEN:Um.
Pause.
42 BEN: Can I get you a drink?
RICHARD: No thanks.
Pause.
BEN: A beer?
RICHARD: Oh, yeah, sure. Thankyou.
BEN gets up, sits down suddenly.
BEN: Oh I forgot, we don't have any, sorry. I keep forgetting to pick
some up, all of our schedules have gone so crazy.
RICHARD: No biggie.
Pause. ANNE walks in. She has a three point cane now. She sits down
on the couch.
RICHARD: Oh, hi Mrs. Driver.
ANNE: (her speech is still a little slurred) Hi.
BEN: Hi Anne, how are you?
ANNE: I'm fine, I'm fine.
She stares at RICHARD.
BEN: Do you need anything?
RICHARD: (at the same time) Did I do something?
ANNE: No. I have to put on the shirt.
RICHARD: Sorry?
BEN: Oh the shirt, where's the practice shirt?
He gets up and goes out briefly. ANNE and RICHARD stare at each
other.
ANNE: Are you staring at me?
43 RICHARD: No! No.
BEN walks in.
BEN: Here we go. Try that on, honey.
ANNE starts to put on the shirt and do up the buttons. She has great
difficulty.
BEN: You're doing well, Anne.
ANNE: Uh huh.
BEN: Oh sorry, Richard, you must be wondering where Nancy is.
(calling to her upstairs) Nancy! Richard's waiting. It's part of her
exercises, practicing with buttons and stuff.
RICHARD: Oh.
BEN: That's good, honey.
ANNE: I can't do it! I can't even do up the buttons, I can't do it.
BEN: Yes you can.
ANNE: YOU DO FT!!
BEN: Anne—
ANNE: ASSHOLE!
BEN: (embarrassed, to RICHARD) Um. Sometimes she does that.
She doesn't mean it. We're not supposed to react to it.
RICHARD: OK. I get it.
ANNE: What are you talking about?
BEN: Anne, come on. Stay calm. Do your buttons.
ANNE: Can I go to the bathroom? I have to go.
BEN: No you don't. Do your buttons.
44 ANNE: I do. I really do. What if I have an accident?
BEN: Don't be silly. You just went. Do up your buttons.
ANNE: I don't want to, I don't want to—
RICHARD: Should I leave?
ANNE: Yes.
BEN: No. lust one more.
ANNE tries again. Does one up.
ANNE: Yay! I got it!
BEN: OK, work on the others now.
ANNE: I am, I am.
BEN: Nancy! Come on! This is rude!
RICHARD: Really, it's OK, Mr. Driver.
BEN: Where are you taking Nancy tonight?
RICHARD: lust to a friend's house, I guess. We haven't really decided.
BEN: Will you be drinking?
RICHARD: No.
BEN: OK. Have a good time.
RICHARD: Thanks.
BEN: Take care of my daughter.
RICHARD: I will. I do.
ANNE: (to RICHARD) Who are you?
BEN: This is Richard.
45 ANNE: Oh. Hi. Ben? I'm tired.
BEN: I know honey. You did good. Now undo them.
SCENE TEN. A few days later. The home health aide, YVONNE, has
come over, and is trying to do ANNE's exercises with her. They are
practicing sitting and standing from the couch. YVONNE is trying to
encourage ANNE to use her right side for support and balance. They
repeat the exercise over and over through this scene, sometimes they
are more successful than others.
YVONNE: Good. January, February, what comes next.
ANNE: February.
YVONNE: No, you already said February. Come on.
ANNE:Ummm...
YVONNE: Come on, time passes and after February comes...
ANNE: (suddenly) I DON'T KNOW, YVONNE!
YVONNE: Take a deep breath, Anne.
ANNE does.
YVONNE: OK, what comes after February.
ANNE: May.
YVONNE: Nope and I'm not going to give you the answer either. So
don't think that I'm going to. Now let's try sitting down. Come on.
After February.
ANNE: I don't know. Please?
YVONNE: You have good manners, but no.
ANNE: Mayonnaise.
YVONNE: That sounds like a month, but it's not.
46 ANNE: Oh.
YVONNE: This is one of my first real nursing jobs, you know. I
mean at- home nursing. I'm not a nurse anymore anyway. I'm in
home care. That's why I get to come over. I worked at the hospital
but some of those doctors are real over aggressive, you know, if you
get caught alone in a room with one of them? Bunch of pervs. How
late am I here until?
ANNE: What? Um.
YVONNE: Am I here until three or four? Young and the Restless is on
at four. Do you watch Young and the Restless7. Am I here until four?
I can never seem to remember. Can you remember?
ANNE: No.
YVONNE: Oh that's OK, try to remember. Let's try standing up
again. Use your stomach muscles. Hey, is there any pop in the
fridge? Am I allowed?
ANNE: Milk.
YVONNE: Yep there's milk in there. Is there pop?
ANNE: I don't know.
YVONNE: Well it's three already. If you finish your exercises we
can have something to drink and watch Days of Our Lives. It's like
Young and the Restless only less classy and weirder. And there's no
perfume company to consolidate all the action you know?
ANNE: OK.
YVONNE: January, February...
ANNE: October?
YVONNE: Close, but actually the next one is March. March is
spring. Can you remember that? Think spring in March, with flowers and grass and warm weather.
ANNE: Lawn mower.
47 YVONNE: Yes that's good, lawn mowers happen in March. Now
let's sit down but let's not fall into the couch like last time. Use
your muscles. What's after March?
ANNE: May.
YVONNE: OK I'm going to give you the first letter. A.
ANNE: Anne.
YVONNE: Yes, A is for Anne, and...April.
ANNE: I didn't know.
YVONNE: That'sOK. You're working hard! Goodforyou! High five!
ANNE looks over at her right arm. It scares her and she yelps.
ANNE: Who's that?
YVONNE: That's your right arm, Anne. That's you.
ANNE: No it's not.
YVONNE: Uh huh, yes it is. Your right arm.
ANNE: I didn't see it there.
YVONNE: You just forgot it. You'll get used to it.
ANNE: (unsure) OK.
YVONNE: Listen, that was hard, I think we should watch Days of
Our Lives and turn our brains off. OK?
She flops down on the couch next to ANNE.
ANNE: OK.
SCENE ELEVEN. A month later. RICHARD is coming on from the
kitchen to join NANCY in the living room.
RICHARD: There is exactly nothing in the fridge.
48 NANCY: Oh shit, Louise was supposed to do the shopping.
RICHARD: There's no Coke left.
NANCY: Well you can have water, can't you?
RICHARD: I guess.
NANCY: This is weird, you being here. We never hang out here.
RICHARD: Why are you so nervous? I've been here before. Where's
your mom?
NANCY: She's having her nap. Boo is at his friend's.
RICHARD: So we're alone.
NANCY: In a manner of speaking don't get any ideas, bub.
RICHARD: Why does Louise do the shopping?
NANCY: Aunt Louise—she does it because the rest of us are so busy.
RICHARD: Doesn't she have her own life?
NANCY: I suppose she does, but she's generous. She's divorced.
RICHARD: Come here.
NANCY: No.
RICHARD: C'mon.
NANCY: No.
RICHARD: Frigid.
NANCY: Fag.
RICHARD: Come and fix me then.
NANCY: Not in my kitchen.
RICHARD: Come over here, please, please, kitten?
49 NANCY: My dad will be home any minute.
RICHARD: Did you tell your dad?
NANCY: What.
RICHARD: About our engagement. About the ring that I gave you.
That you refuse to wear. The expensive ring.
NANCY: I'm not giving my dad yet another thing to worry about.
RICHARD: I'm pretty sure I find that insulting.
NANCY: We are not engaged.
RICHARD: Yes we are.
NANCY: No we are not. You said "I want you to marry me." And I
said "I want to marry you too" but that doesn't mean I can. It
doesn't mean right now.
RICHARD: Oh fuck, Nan.
NANCY: What.
RICHARD: You took the ring.
NANCY: Do you think your ring means that I, at eighteen years old,
have my whole life figured out enough to be able to say to you, yes
let's get married next Saturday and let's have a bridal shower and
we'll announce the engagement tomorrow during my spare?
RICHARD: That's not what I meant. I just meant that you took my
ring and you got my hopes up and I'm gonna explode all over the
next person who comes up to me and asks me hey how's life, if I
don't get to tell him that I told you I wanted to marry you and you
actually took my ring you didn't throw up, you said YES. You just
got my hopes up, is all.
NANCY: (walks up to him at the counter and kisses him) Sorry.
Sorry. Sorry.
ANNE walks into the room, and stands there, shocked and then
50 embarrassed as NANCY and RICHARD kiss.
ANNE: Sony...
NANCY: Oh God, Mom. Richard and I were just, this is my friend
Richard, do you remember him? This is Richard.
ANNE: Hi Richard.
RICHARD: I've met you, Mrs. Driver.
ANNE: Oh.
NANCY: She can't remember, Richard.
RICHARD: Oh man, sorry, Mrs. Driver. I know you don't remember all that well these days.
ANNE: No.
RICHARD: Well you made a pretty vivid first impression on me.
You're the scariest mom in town. You can't remember any of that?
ANNE: Nope.
RICHARD: That's OK.
ANNE: (giggles) You're tall.
NANCY: That's right Mom. Richard is tall. Don't you think Richard is good looking?
ANNE: I guess.
RICHARD: That's embarcassing Nan. Don't embarrass me.
NANCY: Who cares?
ANNE: Do you want to go out with me?
RICHARD: What's she talking about?
ANNE: Sexy.
51 NANCY: Mom!
ANNE: What.
NANCY: Nothing.
ANNE: You have dirty pants! (laughs)
NANCY: Mom.
ANNE: (stopping, embarrassed) I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
NANCY: That's OK Mom. I'm used to it by now.
RICHARD: I should probably go.
NANCY: Where are you going?
RICHARD: I have to go to work.
NANCY: Oh, back to the hammer and nails.
RICHARD: Yeah, and I'm taking my truck, so you've lost your
wheels. Do you need anything?
NANCY: No. Thank you.
RICHARD: Kiss me goodbye.
NANCY: Not in front of Mom.
RICHARD: Coward.
NANCY: Thalidomide baby.
RICHARD: (walks up to her and whispers in her ear) Love you.
He exits.
NANCY: You see, Mom? Richard is nice.
ANNE: Yes he is.
NANCY: I always told you you'd learn to like him.
52 ANNE: I know. He's so sexy. He drives me wild.
NANCY: Mom, don't.
ANNE: What. What.
NANCY: That's weird. It's not right. It's not appropriate.
ANNE: Sorry.
NANCY: Where did you learn to talk like that Mom? Yvonne?
ANNE: Maybe.
SCENE TWELVE. A month later, in ANNE and BEN's bedroom. ANNE
is lying in bed as BEN gets undressed. She watches him. He strips
down to just his underwear and slips into bed. He has a magazine.
ANNE: Naked.
BEN: What?
ANNE: Naked.
BEN: No, not really. I still have my underwear on. I'm not naked.
Naked means no clothes.
ANNE: Underwear.
BEN: Yep.
ANNE stares at him and giggles. He looks at her.
BEN: You're in a good mood.
ANNE: I guess.
BEN: You used to like seeing me in my underwear. Do you remember that?
ANNE: Maybe.
BEN: Maybe?
53 ANNE nods.
BEN: Are you still, um, attracted to me?
ANNE: You're tall and pretty.
BEN: Pretty. Um, you never used to call me pretty.
ANNE: Oh sorry, (cries) I didn't mean to.
BEN goes to hold her, feels guilty.
BEN: No no no, honey, don't feel bad, it's not your fault. Shh.
Shhh. You don't have to remember everything. You remember
little things every day, right? A little more every day and soon it'll
all come back. Right? (she nods a little) There. That's good, (she
settles) Do you like the feeling of me holding you? (ANNE nods) Do
you remember making love?
ANNE: I don't know.
BEN: You don't know. It's what you do when you love someone.
When you're married to someone.
ANNE: Course I remember.
BEN: Do you want to try?
ANNE: I don't know. Why?
BEN: Because I love you. Because we're in love.
ANNE: OK.
BEN: It means I have to touch you. Does that frighten you? (she
shakes her head) Do you trust me?
ANNE: Course I do.
BEN leans in and kisses her.
BEN: Are you OK with that? Are you ready for that?
ANNE: That was nice. lust like Nancy and her friend.
54 BEN: What friend? Where.
ANNE: In the kitchen.
BEN: Oh. Um. Yeah, a little like that, (he goes to kiss her again, starts
rubbing her shoulders and kissing them) I've missed you, I've missed
you so much, Anne...
ANNE: Ben—
BEN: It's so strange to be asleep next to you every night and not be
able to touch you—
ANNE: Ben—
BEN: Do you like this? Is this OK?
ANNE: Yes.
BEN: Oh Anne. Anne...
ANNE: Ben. Ben... (ANNE starts to laugh, it builds. She laughs, hard.)
BEN: What.
ANNE: Nothing. It's just...I don't know why. (she laughs again)
You're so funny.
BEN: lesus Christ. Couldn't you be.. .1 mean, it's been a little while.
ANNE: I know.
BEN: Forgive me if I'm a little excited—
ANNE: Don't be mad. I don't know why I'm—
BEN: This isn't like you.
Pause.
ANNE: What?
BEN: You always...you were always the one—
55 ANNE: I can't help it. (she cries) I can't help it.
BEN: Oh man. Anne. I'm sorry, (he kisses her) I love you so much.
I want to try again. Do you want to try again? It used to be great.
ANNE: I know. I know.
BEN: We can find it again. Let me show you.
They start to kiss again. BEN pulls himself on top of her.
ANNE: Ben! No! (She recoils, pulling away from him, very scared.)
BEN: Oh God, Anne, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I don't mean to be impatient, I thought maybe you, I thought you might, I'm so sorry...
ANNE looks away from him, cries quietly. For a long moment he does
not know what to do.
BEN: We don't have to make each other uncomfortable, we can
just sleep. I don't need to make you feel strange, OK, Anne? (She
does not respond.) OK, Anne? (still no response from her) This is
what I'm going to do. I'm going to sleep in the study tonight. And
then you don't have to feel weird. Um. With me. OK?
They sit in silence for a moment. She sniffs, nods.
SCENE THIRTEEN. Six weeks later, at the hospital. BEN and DR.
OMER are talking. DR. OMER has some X-Rays and charts.
DR. OMER: The scan showed that Anne's brain activity is picking
up, but I warn you, that might not mean anything. Or it might
mean everything.
BEN: She's getting better though, right? She'll get better.
DR. OMER: In some ways, yes.
BEN: Are you telling me not to hope?
DR. OMER: No, I'm telling you to be practical. Work. Work with
her.
56 Pause. BEN starts to go, turns back.
BEN: Can I ask you something?
DR. OMER: What is it.
BEN: Is she... Um. I'm wondering how long it will take... Um.
DR. OMER: You want to know about sex.
BEN: What?
DR. OMER: Of course you do.
BEN: What's that supposed to mean.
DR. OMER: I meant no subtext, Mr. Driver. What do you want to
know?
BEN: Um.
DR. OMER: Don't be shy.
BEN: Will she ever want to have sex? With me? Again?
DR. OMER: Did you ask her?
BEN: Yes. Kind of.
DR. OMER And?
BEN is silent.
DR. OMER: I see. I'm sure she still has urges. She might not know
what to do with them. Probably they confuse her.You might have
to give it some more time.
BEN: It's been—well, it's been a longtime.
DR. OMER: That must be difficult. You could probably use the
release.
BEN: You talk about it like it's a drain that needs unclogging.
57 DR. OMER. Uh huh.
Pause.
BEN: She's so different. Her personality. She used to be the excitable one.
DR. OMER: Your personality lives in your brain. Learned behaviours, attitudes, eccentricities. It's just biology. Anne has had a mind
altering event.
BEN: But she looks the same. It's like she's in there somewhere
and she just can't get out.
DR. OMER: Really.
BEN: I keep waiting for it to happen.
DR. OMER: Maybe that's the problem.
BEN: What?
DR. OMER: So much of someone's personality is in how we remember them, what we grow to expect of them. It has more to do
with us than with them. And then you start to think you own
someone, you have little pieces of them you won't part with, you
want to keep them safe.
BEN: What are you saying.
DR OMER I'm saying that what you're articulating is your problem.
Not hers.
Pause.
DR OMER: Maybe you need to start over. Who is she now? Do you
know?
BEN: How do you start over after twenty years?
DR. OMER: I don't know. But that's a good question. Maybe you
need to make an appointment to see a therapist, Mr. Driver.
58 BEN: She's my wife. She's not dead.
DR. OMER: Don't misunderstand me. I appreciate your tenacity.
Pause.
BEN: Are you this clinical with everyone?
DR. OMER: Yes. But I have a dog. He gets to see the other side.
BEN: I see.
SCENE FOURTEEN. A month later, in the evening. LOUISE is standing inside the doorway, BEN at the door.
LOUISE: I don't mean to just drop in without calling, I just, uh—
BEN: You don't have to have a reason to come over.
LOUISE: I know I know I know.
BEN: The kids are out tonight. Anne's having a nap. Can I get you
anything? To drink, anything?
He walks over to the kitchen, starts fumbling around for drinks.
BEN: I don't know what we have left.
LOUISE: There should be some—
BEN: I don't think there is, I haven't bought anything—
LOUISE: Yeah, I took Anne out and we did some enands, we bought
some vodka.
BEN: Oh, I should give you some money for that—
LOUISE: Make me a screwdriver and we'll call it even. (He starts to
make one for her and one for him.) It was strange, taking Anne out
shopping for booze. She didn't remember any of the brand names.
When we were kids, she used to buy my booze for me. She'd tasted
every single thing in the store. She had one hell of a stomach
59 lining. She has.
BEN: I remember. She put that spicy stuff on everything. On potatoes.
LOUISE: Gross.
BEN: I guess she was quite a drinker.
LOUISE: Don't you remember?
BEN: What.
LOUISE: You don't remember when you were dating and you'd
been out at a game and she got so drunk you knew you'd never get
her back in the house without waking everybody up, so you went
to my bedroom window, and you, you picked up those pebbles, or
whatever, and you were throwing them up—
BEN: I don't remember this.
LOUISE: (giggling) What you didn't know is that I slept with my
window open.
BEN: No.
LOUISE: So all this dirt kept flying through my window and landing on my bed and I was so scared, I had no idea what to do. I must
have been fourteen.
BEN: I do remember.
LOUISE: That's about as drunk as I've ever seen her.
BEN: Did you get in trouble?
LOUISE: Oh yeah, I couldn't get her back into bed quietly without
her screaming at me, but when Mom got up she talked her way out
of it, she was so clever, I could never, ever pull that stuff off.
BEN: Don't be silly. You're very smart.
LOUISE: You mean I'm nice.
60 BEN: What?
LOUISE: I'm nice. That's what they put in my yearbook. Nice. Even
on my report cards. I always got "Louise tries very hard and she is
very nice to the other children."
Pause.
LOUISE: Do you remember that T-shirt? That Grand Canyon T-
shirt you used to wear after you went there for Senior Trip? It was
blue.
BEN: No.
LOUISE: Oh.
BEN: Why?
LOUISE: Nothing.
BEN: No, why?
LOUISE: No.
BEN: Why?
LOUISE (laughing): No, I can't tell you.
BEN: Yes you can.
LOUISE: (laughing harder) No, no it's so stupid.
BEN: (laughing with her) Please. Please tell me.
LOUISE: You don't even remember it. I thought you would.
BEN: Wait a minute, wait a minute, it was that blue thing with the
long sleeves, I remember that. I haven't seen it for years.
Pause.
LOUISE: I have it.
BEN: What.
61 LOUISE: I have it.
BEN: I don't understand.
LOUISE: I took it. I'm not sure why. It smelled nice. You left it on
the couch one day.
Pause.
BEN: Oh.
Pause.
LOUISE: I wish my parents were still alive.
BEN: Why?
LOUISE: Maybe they'd have some answers, maybe they'd help.
BEN: They wouldn't.
LOUISE: They would help.
BEN: No, they wouldn't have any answers. If the doctors don't have
answers, nobody's parents are going to have answers. It's just something we're going through, and if there're going to be answers, we
won't know them until it's over, I think.
LOUISE: When will it be over.
BEN doesn 't answer.
Short pause.
BEN: Besides, we're not doing too badly, I hope. You and me.
LOUISE: Sure.
Pause.
LOUISE: I'm having another screwdriver. I'm going to get loose.
BEN: Me too.
62 SLIDE #3: Louise, dressed up in a nice dress, clearly uncomfortable
with having her picture taken. She has one hand up, half trying to
block the shot. She has on an embarrassed half smile. She is on her
way to a formal evening of some kind. It fades into another shot. She
has dropped the hand, she lets the picture happen. She is till smiling.
SCENE FIFTEEN. Some weeks later, at night. It is just before the
anniversary of ANNE's accident and NANCY's nineteenth birthday.
RICHARD and NANCY stumble into the kitchen, late at night. RICHARD is laughing, they're both a little drunk.
NANCY: Richard, shhh. If you don't shhh, you're not allowed to
come over.
RICHARD: I thought you said your dad was out with Louise.
NANCY: Yes, but Boo's home, and Dad wouldn't leave him alone
forever. He's probably home and in bed.
RICHARD: Ah. So stealth is the object.
NANCY: Yes, you have to be a stealth bomber. (This makes her giggle
as she opens the fridge.) Christ no one ever thinks to get groceries if
I don't make a hairy fuss.
RICHARD: Nancy, this is turning me on.
NANCY: (from within the fridge) What.
RICHARD: Standing here trying to be quiet, knowing that your
mother and brother are upstairs sleeping watching your magnificent ass rise out of the fridge.
NANCY: Oh shit Richard, that's really romantic.
RICHARD: (coming up to her) Is there any beer in there?
NANCY: No.
RICHARD: I want to make love to you.
63 NANCY: What, here?
RICHARD: Anywhere. Here. Right now. Outside. Inside. In the
mall. On the couch. I want to make love to you. I want to feel
myself inside you.
NANCY: Oh God. (he is pressing up against her, kissing her) Come on.
RICHARD: Nancy, we used to do it all the time, before your Mom
came home, and—
NANCY: Don't tell me that other couples are having sex and we're
not.
RICHARD: But they are.
NANCY: Who is?
RICHARD: Chuck and Linda.
NANCY: Big surprise.
RICHARD: Tom and Claire.
NANCY: No they're not. Not once. She told me.
RICHARD: He says they are.
NANCY: He also said he was getting a hot tub for his birthday.
RICHARD: It's only because I love you. Of course that's why I want
us to do it. Because I love you, and it's the ultimate way to show you
how much.
NANCY: Richard...
RICHARD: Please, Nancy. Don't you want to know how much?
(moving in on her) Feel me. I'm hard. You never want to do it any
more.
NANCY: You know I want to, it's just, it's a big deal, and I've had a
lot on my mind, it's not a good time...
64 RICHARD: I know. Please?
NANCY: Here? This isn't—
RICHARD: Anywhere, anywhere... (kisses her tenderly)
NANCY: (she resists for a moment, then gives in, kisses him back) Be
quiet, please be quiet.
RICHARD: Are you afraid someone will hear?
NANCY: God yes.
RICHARD: Me too. (They are stumbling backwards to the couch,
obviously aroused by the idea of being caught.)
NANCY: We have to be quick, Richard, we—
RICHARD: Not too quick, I want to—
NANCY: Shut up, shut up.
They are stretched out on the couch, furiously making out. This continues for a moment, when ANNE appears at the doorway. She has a
simple cane now. She sees NANCY and RICHARD and does not know
whether to go on or go back to her bedroom. She gets a little upset.
Finally she decides to try to keep going. She tiptoes across the floor, her
eyes on RICHARD and NANCY. She gets to the kitchen, looks back,
slides across the floor to the fridge. She opens the door. It makes a
whining noise loud enough to alert RICHARD and NANCY, and now
the cold white light is spilling out of the kitchen, but ANNE is oblivious, looking for a drink of milk. RICHARD and NANCY freeze. RICHARD buries himself in the couch as NANCY st'ts up, buttoning her
blouse. ANNE turns and sees her suddenly and their eyes lock. ANNE
screams and drops the milk carton. RICHARD flips over in surprise.
NANCY screams at ANNE's scream and then RICHARD's movement
sends her flying off the couch.
NANCY: Mom! What the hell are you—
RICHARD: Jesus.
ANNE: I was just looking for a glass of milk—
65 RICHARD: Fuck me—
NANCY: How long have you been standing there?
ANNE: I'm sorry, (cries)
NANCY: Mom. Don't cry.
RICHARD: Mrs. Driver—
NANCY: Shut up Richard.
RICHARD: Hey.
ANNE: I'm sorry.
NANCY: I think you should go, Richard.
RICHARD: Mrs. Driver—
NANCY: Don't upset her, Richard—
RICHARD: Will you leave me alone, I was just going to apologize to
her, Nancy, lesus Christ.
NANCY: Fine.
RICHARD: Sorry Mrs. Driver, (to NANCY) See you later.
NANCY: Fine.
He leaves. ANNE is crying.
ANNE: I'm so sorry—
NANCY: Mom. Don't be sorry. You're always sorry, it's easy to be
sorry. You can be embarrassed, God knows I'm embarrassed, but
don't cry.
ANNE: I'm sorry.
NANCY: Stop apologizing. You didn't do anything wrong. Come
here.
66 ANNE comes over and sits next to her on the couch.
ANNE: He was making sounds.
NANCY: Don't tell Dad.
ANNE: I can't lie.
NANCY: I'm not asking you to lie, I'm just telling you not to tell
him.
ANNE: I don't know.
NANCY: (impulsively) Richard and I are engaged. Sort of. I took the
ring, so I guess that means we are. This is a secret. A super big deal
secret. I'll tell Dad some day, but after we're finished talking you
should, should just try to forget it or something and then you won't
be tempted to tell anyone. I mean, I'm an adult, in every sense
except I still live at home. And so why shouldn't I be able to make
my own decisions. I wish you could— (stops herself)
ANNE: What.
NANCY: I wish you could still give me advice. Do you remember
giving advice?
ANNE: I guess.
NANCY: How is it that you can only remember certain things. Do
you remember giving birth?
ANNE: Yes.
NANCY: Do you remember any of my birthdays?
ANNE: Some.
NANCY: Do you remember the first time you had sex?
ANNE: I think.
NANCY: Do you remember how old I am?
67 ANNE: No. Sorry.
NANCY: Do you remember where we went on vacation last summer?
ANNE: No. (She laughs. This is turning into a game)
NANCY: Do you remember the name of my old soccer team?
ANNE: No.
NANCY: Do you remember that you're my mother?
ANNE: No. (stops, looks at NANCY) I mean yes. Yes.
Pause.
NANCY: Do you feel like my mother? Do you have any motherly
feelings for me?
Pause.
ANNE: Yes.
NANCY: You're lying.
ANNE: No I'm not.
NANCY: (coldly) You used to make lunches in those little beige
plastic bags and then you'd tie the ends together so tight I could
never open them for lunch. You used to come to every soccer game
and you used to bring this big flask of coffee and stalk the sidelines
swigging coffee and swearing and intimidating all the other mothers. You had a peach-coloured nightgown you used to wear around
the house on weekends. You bought me a stupid little book that
had drawings of vaginas and tampons and douche bottles and the
little cartoon girls talking about them, (pause) You don't remember any of this.
ANNE: Yes I do. I really do.
NANCY: Of course you don't, you don't remember anything, what
was I thinking.
68 ANNE: What do you want me to say? Don't be mad.
NANCY: You're nothing like you used to be.
ANNE: I know. I'm doing my best. I can remember a lot of things
now.
NANCY: Does it matter? Who cares if you remember? How can
you remember all of these things and still not be my mother7.
ANNE: I am, I am. (cries)
NANCY: (tired) Don't cry.
ANNE: I'm sorry.
NANCY: Will you stop apologizing like some EIGHT-YEAR-OLD.
Jesus Christ, I can't say ANYTHING to you without you breaking
down in tears, I don't know how to deal with someone crying all
the time, what am I supposed to DO? You're supposed to be my
mother! You look nothing like my mother! My mother was a
tough fucking woman and she could do anything and she made
me try everything you are nothing like my mother, for all I fucking
care my mother is dead!
ANNE: I am NOT DEAD!
NANCY: MY MOTHER IS DEAD!
ANNE: (goes to her) No I'm not, I'm sorry, I'm sorry—
NANCY: YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE!
ANNE slaps NANCY across the face. NANCY slaps her right back.
They are stunned into silence. Pause.
NANCY: I can't believe I did that, (she sits, stares at her hands) You
hit me.
ANNE: You said something mean.
NANCY: Oh my God. (covers her face) Oh my God, I'm so sorry, I
69 never thought I would ever hit somebody. Hitting isn't nice Mom.
Only children hit.
ANNE: Then you shouldn't have hit me either.
BOO peeks his head into the room.
BOO: What's happening?
NANCY: Oh, Boo—
ANNE: Boo, you were sleeping. Sorry.
NANCY: Boo, where's Dad?
ANNE: He's not home yet.
NANCY: I thought he was out with Louise.
BOO: Maybe he's never coming home.
NANCY: That's not funny.
BOO: I'm not kidding.
NANCY: I'm sorry you woke up.
BOO: I heard every word you said.
ANNE: Sorry.
NANCY: Boo, we were just talking.
BOO: How can you talk to her like that? How can you say things
like that to her?
NANCY: I'm sorry Boo, I said I'm sorry, what more do you want me
to do?
BOO: She's my mother too—
NANCY: I know that.
ANNE: I know.
70 The kitchen door rattles and BEN walks in. They all turn to him in
surprise.
BEN: What are you all doing up?
NANCY: What, where were you?
BEN: I was out with Louise.
NANCY: It's really late.
BEN: I know that, Nancy.
NANCY: Boo was here alone with Mom—
BOO: That's OK! I was OK.
ANNE: I was OK.
NANCY: What were you doing?
BEN: We were just having dinner.
BOO: Nan and Mom had an argument.
NANCY: Shut up Boo.
BEN: What happened? Why are you all still up?
NANCY: Nothing happened. We had a disagreement.
BEN: What about.
NANCY: Nothing important.
ANNE: Nothing.
BEN: Let me decide if it was nothing.
NANCY: I'm old enough to know when something is a private
issue—
BEN: Does this have to do with Richard?
71 NANCY: We were having a girls' conversation. It's private.
BEN: (to ANNE) What did you talk about?
NANCY: That's not fair. She doesn't know who to listen to.
ANNE: Yes I do.
NANCY: You don't need to tell him.
BEN: Tell me what.
ANNE: I won't tell him.
BEN: What.
NANCY: It was a private discussion.
BEN: Was it about sex?
ANNE giggles and blushes.
NANCY: Jesus Christ.
BEN: Was it about sex?
ANNE: No.
NANCY: No.
BEN: Was it about Richard?
NANCY: Dad, that's not fair, you're using her—
BEN: Was it?
NANCY: That's cruel.
ANNE: (clearly torn, grasping at something) It wasn't about sex.
BEN: Then what?
ANNE: I'm sorry Nancy.
72 NANCY: What are you sorry about? We're allowed to have private
conversations.
ANNE: I know, (cries)
BEN: Nancy, you know your mother is in recovery, and until she's
all the way back, it's not fair of you to use her, to make her answer
questions she doesn't remember how to answer—
NANCY: So it's OK for you to extract information out of her? Where's
the respect in that?
ANNE: Stop.
NANCY: It's pretty shitty, if you ask me.
BEN: Don't talk to me that way, when you're still living in my
house. That's inappropriate.
ANNE: Please.
NANCY: Why is it that fathers always pull that "when you're still
living in my house" shit all the time?
BEN: There's a reason, and it is that I have a responsibility to raise
you in the most decent manner possible and that includes having
a say in how you treat your mother and I, that you treat us with,
with respect—
NANCY: And when do you start to treat me like an actual human
being?
BEN: Listen when you're married and you're older and you have
bigger sense of what being an adult means—
ANNE: Nancy's engaged!
They stop. NANCY freezes. Pause. She looks down, takes a breath,
looks up at him, square in the eye.
NANCY: Congratulations, Nancy.
BOO: Holy. Crap.
73 BEN: You're engaged.
ANNE: Yes. To Richard.
NANCY: Mom.
BEN: When.
NANCY: What do you mean? When are we getting manied?
BEN: Yes, and since when have you been engaged?
NANCY: Who knows, and none of your business.
BEN: What's Richard's phone number? I want you to call him.
NANCY: No.
BEN: Get me his phone number.
NANCY: No.
BEN: That's twice you've disobeyed me. I want you to call Richard.
NANCY: So you can what, so you can ream him out for falling in
love with me, for wanting to be with me?
BEN: I want to talk to this young man who is using my daughter.
NANCY: Maybe I'd like to call Louise, and ask her what she's been
doing out with my father, who's still married to her sister.
BEN: That is inappropriate.
NANCY: What's Louise's phone number?
BEN: I want you to stop talking to me this way.
NANCY: Oh forget it, I know what her phone number is. I'll just
call her, I'll ask her what she was doing out late with my father—
She goes for the phone, but he intercepts her.
BEN: Nancy, that's enough!
74 NANCY: Goodbye.
She heads for the door.
BEN: Where are you going.
NANCY: I'm going I'm going for a walk.
BEN: Where.
NANCY: Fuck you.
Pause.
BEN: Um. Fine. Goodnight, (he exits, she watches him go)
NANCY: Fine. Goodnight, (she leaves, slams the door, hard)
SCENE SIXTEEN. Later that night. BOO and ANNE are on the front
steps, wrapped in a blanket, waiting for NANCY to return.
BOO: I need a new computer with a faster modem.
ANNE: Really?
BOO: All of the kids at school have the faster modem kind now. I
need to keep up.
ANNE: Are you going to get one?
BOO: I hope so. Christmas isn't far away, but Dad says we have no
money.
ANNE: Oh. Yeah.
BOO: Are you going back to work soon?
ANNE: I don't think so.
BOO: No, probably not. You still have trouble remembering what
day it is.
75 ANNE: I know.
BOO: Sometimes I have trouble remembering too.
ANNE: Really?
BOO: What day is it today?
ANNE: Friday?
Pause, while BOO thinks.
BOO: I don't think so.
Pause.
BOO: That's what you need, too. Sort of. lust a faster modem.
ANNE: Yeah.
Pause.
BOO: A group of boys stole my bus pass.
ANNE: What? Stole?
BOO: Yeah, like they took it and they were mean about it, they
called me a pussy, and now I don't have a bus pass.
ANNE: They shouldn't do that.
BOO: I didn't tell anyone. I'm only telling you.
ANNE: It's a secret?
BOO nods.
ANNE: I'm not so good at secrets.
BOO: I'm not worried. I trust you. (short pause) One of them sits
right behind me in Math. He always smells funny, and the other
guy talks funny, I think he's from like England or something, because he has a weird way of saying things. Like really thin.
76 ANNE: Uh huh.
BOO: Some kids from the older grades walked by but nobody did
anything.
ANNE: Oh no. Were you scared?
BOO: Yeah, it was pretty scary.
ANNE: What are you going to do?
BOO: I don't know. It doesn't much matter. I'll have a new pass in
a week anyway. I took some money from Dad's wallet for this
week. He never notices anyway. And I'm practicing some new
evasion techniques if I spot the enemy coming again.
ANNE: You're strong.
BOO: Yep. So are you.
ANNE: I get tired. All the time.
BOO: Me too.
NANCY appears. Stands looking at them.
ANNE: Are you cold?
NANCY: I guess.
BOO: Are you coming back inside?
ANNE: We were worried.
NANCY: I'm going to sit on the step for a while with you.
BOO: OK I'm only staying a few minutes because I'm cold.
ANNE: Me too.
NANCY: Me too.
She sits down, gets under the blanket with them and looks out. They are
all lost in their own thoughts. A moment passes, then ANNE looks up.
77 ANNE: Where did all the stars go?
BOO: (looking up) There must be low level cloud cover.
ANNE: Oh.
END of ACT ONE
ACT TWO
SCENE ONE. The kitchen. It is NANCY's eighteenth birthday—the
same day as ACT ONE, SCENE ONE, but a few hours earlier, before
ANNE has had the stroke. The kitchen is clean but unadorned. ANNE
comes through the door, carrying some packages. She throws them on
the table and goes back out the door for a second. She returns, balancing a cake and a big sign and some balloons and presents. She struggles
gamely into the kitchen, sets everything down with a thud. She takes
a deep breath, throws off her shoes and coat, and digs in her purse.
She pulls out a pack of cigarettes and lays them down on the counter
next to the birthday cake. She stares at them intensely. She wants one.
She looks at her watch. Stares. She turns to walk away, turns back
around quickly and reaches into the pack. She pulls one out.
ANNE: Last one. (She lights it and takes a long deep drag, clearly
needing it.) Last one. I swear.
With the cigarette in her mouth, she opens the "Happy 18th Birthday
Nancy" sign and looks at it. She finds a stool and clambers on to hang
the banner up by the cupboards, cigarette hanging out of her mouth.
She hangs half of it up, as we have seen in in ACT ONE, SCENE
ONE, and lets the rest dangle as she finishes her cigarette.
ANNE: OK. That's a start.
She goes into one of her bags and finds a box. There is a sweater there,
very adult, very beautiful. She unfolds it, looks at it. There is the
sound of a key in the lock. ANNE looks at her watch in a panic, throws
the sweater back into the bag, the cigarette in the sink. She races for the
door just as BEN pokes his head in.
ANNE: Oh shit, oh shit—
78 BEN: Hi.
ANNE: (she's laughing in relief) Oh shit, hi. I thought you were
Nancy for a second. Nancy almost never comes home for lunch,
but I thought maybe—
BEN: Have you been smoking in here?
ANNE: No, but I had the window open, maybe the neighbours—
BEN: I see—
ANNE: It was the last one, I swear.
BEN: Right.
ANNE: I have a monster headache, Ben. All I needed was one cigarette to take the edge off.
BEN: Right, (he goes into the kitchen)
ANNE: Well?
BEN: What? Oh—the cake. Looks good.
ANNE: No—the sign, the balloons, the everything! The room!
BEN: Oh, it looks good, Anne. Do you need help putting stuff up?
(he is going through his mail.)
ANNE: No, I don't think so. (BEN goes on reading.) I don't know
why I'm so excited, I just want everything to go perfectly. How
often do you have an eighteenth birthday, only once, right? My
mother screwed my eighteenth birthday up good. I want it to be
special for Nancy.
BEN: I'm sure it will be special.
ANNE: It's a special kind of cake—it's got lemon filling inside, that
you can't see. It's her favourite.
BEN: Neat.
79 ANNE: Do you think she's going to bring that guy to dinner, that,
what's his name, Rick? Richard? Is that his name?
BEN: I think so. Yeah. Why do you say it like that?
ANNE: Like what?
BEN: You know.
ANNE: No I don't.
BEN: You're being um, a snob.
ANNE: A snob.
BEN: He has a job.
ANNE: Construction.
BEN: That's a job.
ANNE: I know, I know.
BEN: He gets paid for that.
ANNE: Uh huh.
BEN: He seems honest.
ANNE: What kind of future does he have?
BEN: Don't be mean.
ANNE: Ben, please look at me.
He looks up.
ANNE: Hello Ben, I'm Anne, I'm your wife, nice to meet you.
BEN: Hi Anne. I'm Ben.
ANNE: No, you're my slave.
BEN: Ah.
80 ANNE: And as my slave, I want you to pay attention for once.
BEN: Yes. OK.
ANNE: How is your day going?
BEN: Fine. Um. Fine.
ANNE: Wow what a life you must have, everything's fine all the
time. What are you doing home?
BEN: Um because I picked up a present for Nancy and I thought I'd
drop it off so you can wrap it.
ANNE: But we bought her a sweater.
BEN: I know, but I saw this thing, this camera, and it was on sale,
and you know she wants one.
ANNE: Was it expensive?
BEN: Never mind that. It just fit.
ANNE: OK, I'll put it with the other stuff.
BEN: OK. Thanks.
ANNE: But now that you're home, is there something else you
want?
BEN: No?
ANNE: Nothing? (she runs her hand down her neck)
BEN: I don't think so.
ANNE: (going up to him, she rubs his chest) You don't think so.
BEN: I'm just on lunch, Anne.
ANNE: I know, and I have fifteen million things to do today, only I
can't do any of them because it's Nancy's birthday, and I took the
day off work to do all this shit, and meanwhile they're paralyzed at
the office without me, but here I am, I have a splitting headache,
81 I'm putting aside ten volunteer meetings and soccer councils and
business reports because my big fuzzy bear is home, and I feel like
getting it on—
BEN: Anne, really, what if Boo comes home—
ANNE: He never comes home for lunch. It's too far.
BEN: He's got his bike. I didn't lock the door.
ANNE: Don't worry. Just a quickie. Come on, you've seen those on
TV-
BEN: I didn't lock the door.
ANNE: Do you remember doing it in the closet in my bedroom at
home because you were so petrified my parents would hear—
BEN: How could I forget. Anne, the door—
ANNE: Touch me.
BEN: (struggling over to the door as she clings to him) I just want
to—
ANNE: (she falls off him, sighs, walks over to cake) Fine.
BEN: I'm sorry.
ANNE: I'm sorry too. We spend a great deal of time apologizing.
BEN: What's wrong.
ANNE: Nothing's wrong, I just got excited, that's all, and I just
wish— (she stops)
BEN: You wish what.
ANNE: Nothing. Don't you get excited about being with me any
more? Be honest.
BEN: I do. I am.
ANNE: "I do. I am." I hear you say this, and you know Ben, you've
82 always been quiet and you know I love that about you, but sometimes, God, I want to hear, the woman in me wants to hear a little
more passion, a little more desperation, even—than "I do. I am."
You know?
BEN doesn't answer.
ANNE: What's wrong.
BEN: I'm just. A little embanassed. I feel badly, I guess.
Pause.
ANNE: I'm sorry.
BEN: No, I'm sorry. You do. Um. You turn me on. I'm just.
ANNE: It's not a big deal.
BEN: OK.
ANNE: Did you see the sweater we bought for Nancy?
BEN: Nope.
ANNE: Here. Have a look at it so you can say you helped pick it out.
I know it's only a sweater but it's beautiful and I'm sure... (she holds
it out to him. When he goes to look at it, she comes close to him. She
kisses him, and he kisses her back. The sweater is crunched between
them.) I love you. (she grabs his hand and puts it on her breast)
The front door flies open and BOO runs in, runs past them.
BOO: (on the fly) Hi Mom, Hi Dad, what are you doing home, I
just forgot something, I have to go back to school.
He disappears upstairs. ANNE and BEN look at each other.
BEN: I wish, I wish, you wouldn't do that.
ANNE: What.
BEN: Force me—
83 ANNE: Force you to want me? Is that what you mean?
BEN: No, I just. I'm a shy person, and I was afraid Boo would walk
in, and... It always has to be on your terms, right? Um. I can't even
want you when I want you.
ANNE: I didn't know—
BEN: You did know, you chose to ignore.
ANNE: I didn't realize it would upset you.
BEN: I have to go. Back.
ANNE: All right.
He picks up his coat to leave, says nothing to her. She watches him go.
BOO comes racing down the stairs and out the door.
BOO: Hi Mom what are you doing home, Dad CAN I HAVE A
RIDE?!!
ANNE goes to the door, shuts it, and sighs. She walks over to the gifts
and takes one out. She pulls out some wrapping paper and lays it out.
There is a rattling at the door. ANNE rushes the gift and wrapping
back into the bag. NANCY and RICHARD stumble in, laughing.
NANCY: Richard, I'm sure he didn't see us, come inside! (she turns
and sees ANNE) Oh my God.
RICHARD: Oh, hi Mrs. Driver.
NANCY: (seeing the gifts and the sign and everything) Oh God. I'm
not supposed to be here, am I?
ANNE: No.
NANCY: I'm—oh my God mom, a sign, that is 50—I'm sorry, I
didn't know.
ANNE: What are you doing home, you never come home.
RICHARD: We just came home because—
84 NANCY: Well Mom, I'm just taking it easy. It's my birthday, so I
didn't think I really needed to go to all of my classes, you know
how it is, right?
ANNE: Yeah. I do.
NANCY: What are you doing home?
ANNE: I have a good excuse, I was setting something up for your
birthday. I went to all this trouble.
NANCY: Oh Mom I know, you're the best mom in the world, I
don't know anyone who would take the day off work to do this, but
you're not going to give me a hard time—
ANNE: It's not everyday that your only daughter turns eighteen, I
know my mother never cared about birthdays and—
NANCY: I know, and I just wanted to hang out with Richard a bit—
ANNE: I'll bet you did—
RICHARD: Mrs. Driver, I'm sorry if I did something—
NANCY: Richard, don't worry about it, Mommie Dearest here is
not going to give me grief on my birthday—
ANNE: Nancy, I think we have a policy about having guests over
when we're not home, you know, just because you're eighteen
now—
NANCY: lust because I'm eighteen? I think turning eighteen qualifies me for a little more freedom, for a little more credit than you
normally give me—
ANNE: Nancy, I'm not going to argue with you, not in front of
someone, and you know that rules are rules.
NANCY: Yes, but—
ANNE: Yes, but you didn't expect me to be home, did you, so you
didn't think the rule applied to you in this case.
85 RICHARD: Mrs. Driver—
NANCY: Richard, please. I don't know any other eighteen-year-
olds that have to live under the same rules that I live under here, I
don't know any other mothers that have such a tight goddamn
fist—
ANNE: I am not like other mothers. You just finished saying that.
NANCY: I didn't mean that there wasn't anything about you that
BUGS ME—
ANNE: Nancy, I think it would be appropriate for your friend to
leave now.
NANCY: Richard.
ANNE: I think Richard should leave, I think we need to talk.
NANCY: Since when do YOU want to talk, you're always SO
BUSY-
ANNE: Richard, I think it would be appropriate for you to leave
now.
RICHARD: OK.
NANCY: Don't go anywhere, Richard.
ANNE: Richard, please.
NANCY: Richard, come on.
RICHARD: OK.
NANCY/ANNE: (staring each other down) OK what?
RICHARD: Oh man.
NANCY: Richard, don't go anywhere.
RICHARD: Mrs. Driver, don't you think you might be overreacting
a little bit?
86 ANNE: This is an inappropriate conversation for us to have, Richard.
RICHARD: I know, it's just that it is Nan's birthday and we weren't
going to do anything wrong we were just going to hang out.
ANNE: Oh come on, Richard, give me some credit. I'm not an
moron, so don't treat me like an moron, OK?
RICHARD: OK.
ANNE: I know what it's like when you come home and the parents
aren't around. I used to date guys like you.
RICHARD: Excuse me?
ANNE: I think that Nancy and I need to talk, so if you will excuse
us.
RICHARD: All right, I'm going Mrs. Driver.
ANNE: Thank you.
NANCY: Mom.
ANNE: Thank you, Richard.
RICHARD: Goodbye, honey, (kisses her)
He leaves. Pause.
NANCY: Happy birthday, Nancy.
ANNE: Happy birthday, Nancy.
NANCY: Richard is my boyfriend.
ANNE: I don't want to ruin your birthday.
NANCY: What do you think you're doing?
ANNE: That's not fair. You were being inappropriate.
NANCY: It's my eighteenth birthday! When will someone around
here treat me like a grown up? Why is it that I have to spend all my
87 time respecting you when you don't have to do that for me? I'm a
human being I'm not a dog—
ANNE: You're overreacting.
NANCY: Ofcourseyou would say that, the Queen of Overreacting
of course that would be your response—
ANNE: Did I raise you to be so arrogant? Did I raise you to be
disrespectful and insolent? Just because you are eighteen now doesn't
mean that you are my equal, that you can talk to me like you talk to
all of your friends—
NANCY: You raised me to speak my mind.
ANNE: Yes, but you have to be judicious, you have to wait your turn,
you don't argue with your mother in front of guests.
NANCY: Is that what Grandma taught you, is that the sum total of
your accumulated wisdom? Don't speak your mind?
ANNE: Why do you bring up your grandmother like that? I am
nothing like my mother. My mother would have grounded you
long before now. You're lucky to have a mother that cares about
you, that tolerates the amount of bullshit you bring into this house.
NANCY: (ironic) No Mom, you're right you're nothing like
Grandma.
ANNE: You don't argue with your mother when she took a day off
work to come home and make sure you have a spectacular birthday—
NANCY: Why did you put all of this stuff up for, because you wanted
me to have a good time, or you wanted to be able to say that you did
it7
ANNE: (hurt) Of course. Of course, I did it for you.
NANCY: (to the point) Why do you care if I'm having sex with him
or not? We're safe.
ANNE: Are you having sex?
88 NANCY: I didn't say we are. I said we're safe.
ANNE: Safe isn't good enough sometimes.
NANCY: Mom—
ANNE: And I don't want to think about you here doing that. With
your brother always lurking about.
NANCY: For God's sake, Mom, we haven't done it yet!
Pause.
ANNE: Yet.
NANCY: That's what I said.
ANNE: When? Today? Foryour birthday?
NANCY: I don't know.
ANNE: Yes you do.
NANCY: I'm eighteen.
ANNE: And Boo's eleven. And I'm forty-two.
NANCY: OK forget it.
ANNE: Having sex doesn't make you an adult. Becoming a woman
has more to do with howyou treat yourself and other people, it has
to do with respect, and responsibility. Yes, I have a responsibility to
you, to raise you in the best manner I can. But you are responsible
for me too, Nancy, for making sure that the faith and trust I put in
you doesn't make me a fool. lust because you are now eighteen
doesn't mean that you don't have to listen to me anymore. Why
don't you ever talk to me about this stuff before you get involved?
Do you think that I've never had sex, that I've never had boyfriends,
that I don't know what it's like to have hormones going off under
your skin like firecrackers, because believe me Nancy, BELIEVE
ME, you are more like me when I was your age than you'll ever be
able to know.
89 NANCY: You want me to ask you before I have sex? And you're
going to teach me? How to smoke a pack a day? How to frighten all
the neighbours? How to bully your husband? How to ruin your
kids lives?
ANNE: I'm not a bully. I am not so different from other mothers.
Do you think I do these things because I actually hate you?
NANCY: I can make my OWN DECISIONS.
ANNE: Not always.
NANCY: I just want you to leave me alone right now. Just right now.
You can bother me later, but today is my birthday and I would at
least like to have this one long moment that lasts until midnight
where you stay out of my life.
She turns to go.
ANNE: Where are you going?
NANCY: I am going to spend my eighteenth birthday with my
boyfriend.
ANNE: But I did all this for you.
NANCY: Maybe I'll see you later.
ANNE: I am telling you not to leave.
NANCY: (still going) I heard you.
ANNE: Nancy, talk to me. Why don't you talk to me like you used
to?
NANCY: Because nothing is the same anymore, Mother. I. Am.
Eighteen. I am a woman, or maybe you didn't notice, you spend
enough time meddling in my life but you have NO IDEA who I am
anymore, you don't care that I've met someone that I love, you just
want me to stay the same forever, to be this fucking little girl that
you can boss around and take to soccer and dress me, and I am TOO
OLD for this SHIT!
90 She waits by the door for ANNE to say something. ANNE shrugs at
her coldly, turns away, sits. NANCY leaves, and slams the door, hard.
ANNE: Oh Christ.
She goes over to the counter, looks at the cake and the sign. She stares
at the cake sadly. She looks in the drawer for a knife to smoothe out
some of the frosting. She rubs the knife over the frosting and starts to
cry suddenly. She drops the knife in the sink and screams. This seems
to make her feel better—she braces herself against the counter and
takes some deep breaths. She sighs and stops crying. She feels a pain in
her head. She puts her hand to her head, it is getting very sore. The
pain intensifies and she starts to hyperventilate. She grabs a glass of
water and her pills out of her bag. She downs the pills quickly and
gulps some water. The pain gets worse and she can barely breathe,
barely open her eyes. She staggers, goes for the phone, and it comes off
the hook. She slips and hits her head on the counter as she goes down.
We hear the sound of a dial tone.
SLIDE #4: Family Portrait. BEN, ANNE, NANCY and BOO are standing in front of the house in the sunlight. They are smiling, perfectly
captured. The slide fades, disintegrates.
SCENE TWO. Back to present day. It b a few months after the last
scene in ACT ONE. There are changes in the look of the house: the
furniture has been rearranged a little bit. There is a bank of signs
hanging at the bottom of the stairs. They say: "Today is: Friday. The
date is: Nov. 26th. Nancy is: 19. Nancy is in grade: 12. Boo is: 13.
Boo is in grade: 7. You're doing well Mom!!" It is obvious that the
signs have been much in use. They will change as NANCY and BOO
age and as the days pass throughout the rest of this act. ANNE and
YVONNE are doing their exercises, talking. ANNE has improved a
little since the first act.
ANNE: Yvonne, are you a doctor?
YVONNE: Me? No, doctors are mean. I'm a nurse.
ANNE: Not all doctors are mean.
91 YVONNE: No, you're right, that's not fair, but the doctors I've slept
with have all been kind of mean.
ANNE: Oh.
YVONNE: It's not like I did anything to them either, but they have
eight years of medical school stored up, they have to take it out on
someone. All that cutting bodies up and stuff, it must make you go
kind of snaky.
ANNE: My doctor is a woman.
YVONNE: I know, I've met her. She's kind of strange.
ANNE: (proudly) She is.
YVONNE: Does this hurt?
ANNE: No. Yes.
YVONNE: How long has it been since someone took you shopping, Anne?
ANNE: What? Shopping?
YVONNE: For clothes, you need something new, no offense, but
this tracksuit is starting to make me sick.
ANNE: Me too.
YVONNE: Do you want me to take you?
ANNE: Yes please.
YVONNE: OK, we'll figure it out. I'm sure Nan will feel really
confident, letting me take you out on an errand. She thinks I'm
such a Chrissie.
ANNE: Who?
YVONNE: What I mean is, Nancy thinks I'm dumb.
ANNE: No she doesn't.
92 YVONNE: It's OK. I'm way used to that. It was like that in high
school. I think partly because I never had any trouble getting boyfriends, maybe because I didn't have any shame, I used to be kind
of wild when I was younger. They used to call me Wet T-Shirt
Yvonne, so you can guess what I was like, a little bit. I always felt
like I knew what I was doing though, you know? So I guess I dated
a lot of guys, but not so many as people said of course. Beyond the
sex, I mean I liked the sex OK, but mostly I liked taking care of
those guys. I mean, I knew what I was doing, nobody seemed to
understand that, (ironic) Like I didn't know I was sleeping around.
None of those guys really wanted a girlfriend, I knew that. They
just wanted someone to hold them tight and get them through it.
So I did. I held them.
Pause.
ANNE: Where's your Mom?
YVONNE: Um, I don't know. On the coast, I think?
ANNE: Oh.
YVONNE: She's working on husband number three and I don't
hear from her for a while unless they break up or something, you
know?
ANNE: No.
YVONNE: So this is husband number three, I sure hope she loves
him. I've never met him. I don't know how smart she is about guys
and that, you know? Sometimes a daughter really does know stuff
she could teach to her mom, I tell her, but she never listens. My
roommate Kendra said she phoned last New Years' but I was out
partying and besides Kendra said she sounded wigged out or coked
up or something. Rude, you know? So I never called her back.
Pause.
ANNE: How is your boyfriend Kirk?
YVONNE: Oh fine, you know. A freak. He lost his job again for
spitting at the customers. He's not right for retail, I don't know.
93 ANNE: Where's Boo?
YVONNE: Boo has karate. He'll be home in about an hour. You see
the clock? Remind me how to read the clock.
ANNE: Little hand first.
YVONNE: Right. Do you want me to brush your hair? Or braid it?
ANNE: Yes please.
YVONNE: No, I have a better idea. Let's crimp it.
ANNE: Yes, Nancy will like that.
YVONNE: She'd better.
ANNE: She'd better, or you'll what?
YVONNE: I'll kick her ass. No offense.
The front door opens and NANCY walks in.
ANNE: Nancy! Hi!
NANCY: Hi.
ANNE: Howwas school?
NANCY: Fine. Stupid. Whatever, it was fine.
YVONNE: I loved high school. I think I was the only one.
NANCY: You probably were.
ANNE: We just finished our exercises.
YVONNE: Yah. I told Anne we'd do a make-over so I'm going to
stick around for a while longer before I head out.
NANCY: Oh, I wish I'd known, I could've—
YVONNE: Oh, this isn't on the clock, honey.
94 NANCY: Right.
ANNE: Yvonne's going to take me shopping, Nancy. For a new
tracksuit.
YVONNE: No, Anne, we're getting you something stylish instead.
NANCY: We don't have any spare money, Yvonne.
ANNE: Oh. (cries)
YVONNE: Take it easy, Anne. It's my treat. I'm sure I'll be able to
scrounge up enough for something cool. Something synthetic that
won't wrinkle on you. Don't worry, Yvonne's on the case. Right,
Nancy?
She looks over at NANCY pointedly. NANCY stares back.
NANCY: Right.
SCENE THREE. Night, some weeks later. BEN's bedroom. There is a
knock on the door.
BEN: Is that you, Anne?
LOUISE: (outside) No, it's actually Louise.
BEN: Oh, Louise, hi. Um. Come in?
LOUISE: (entering) Hi, oh sorry, you're in bed, were you sleeping?
BEN: No. I was reading.
LOUISE: Oh, you were reading.
BEN: Come in.
LOUISE: I have had the longest day. You don't mind?
BEN: You've seen me in my pajamas before, I think. Um. What are
you doing here?
95 LOUISE: I brought over some laundry that I finished.
BEN: Thank you, thank you, you don't have to do that.
LOUISE: Who's going to do it? Yvonne?
BEN: You're not a fan of Yvonne's either.
LOUISE: She's not actually trained in anything special, you know.
She teaches Anne whatever she happens to be learning at the gym.
BEN: Anne seems to like her.
LOUISE: Well.
BEN: Thank you for doing the laundry.
LOUISE: I left it downstairs, I thought I'd come up and see how you
were doing.
BEN: I'm fine. Um. I'm tired.
LOUISE: Yeah.
BEN: In fact I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of never having any
extra energy. I'm tired of not having any interesting sparks in me.
I'm a cash machine. In and out. Nancy buying a new book for
school. A new pair of sneakers for Boo. I never imagine buying
myself a vacation. It's always a book or four litres of milk or a bus
pass. I never think about buying something whimsical, or romantic, or...
LOUISE: It's been years since I had a romantic thought.
BEN: Come on, that can't be true.
LOUISE: How would you know?
BEN: I would know.
LOUISE: Oh come on, you don't pay attention.
BEN: Yes I do, I pay attention.
96 LOUISE: So you've noticed that I seem to be invisible to straight,
single men of any stripe?
BEN: Are you?
LOUISE: Well, I haven't had a date in the four years since my
divorce was finalized.
BEN: Really? That's strange.
LOUISE: Who wants to date an English teacher? Always watching
your grammar. So you didn't notice?
BEN: Yes, I mean no, I didn't notice, I mean I didn't know that it
had been quite that long...
LOUISE: (looking around) This room seems so empty without Anne.
BEN: She likes it better sleeping in the study. I think she likes the
cedar smell in there.
LOUISE: There's only a twin bed in there—makes it tricky when
you feel like having a romantic evening.
BEN: What? Oh. (he looks down, embarrassed. LOUISE immediately
feels badly.)
LOUISE: Oh my God what a thing to say. Look what I said to you.
BEN: It's OK.
Pause.
LOUISE: I guess. I guess I do...well I wonder sometimes what has
become of your relationship with Anne, since... and well, I'm not
sure... I don't know why I suddenly decided it was something I
needed to know, but somehow, for some reason I'm not articulating very well right now, there was a knot inside me, there is...that
wants. To know.
BEN: Anne and I don't...we don't sleep together anymore. I thought
you knew.
97 LOUISE: Oh. No. I just assumed—
BEN: We haven't. Um. Since.
LOUISE: Oh.
BEN: I think about it a lot.
LOUISE: You miss it. You miss her.
BEN: I do. Yeah.
LOUISE: And you wish you could.. .again, with her.
BEN: Yeah. Well...it's weird.
LOUISE: So what do you do?
BEN: I'm her husband. I wait.
LOUISE: You wait.
BEN: For as long as it takes.
LOUISE: But—
BEN: I made a vow.
LOUISE: What does that mean? I met Luther, and he made a vow to
me, or I should say we both made vows, and how could we know it
wouldn't turn out so well, so maybe the vow isn't the most important thing—
BEN: How can you say that—
LOUISE: You grow up or you grow apart or in my case you realize
you never really knew or liked each other—how are we supposed to
anticipate everything that might happen when you make a vow
like that? Nobody really knows and they do it anyway. When there
are extenuating circumstances, when there are accidents, things
that happen which are beyond your control—
BEN: A vow is a vow. In sickness and in health.
98 LOUISE: Yes, you have a responsibility, I'm not denying that, I'm
just saying—
BEN: I do have a responsibility—
LOUISE: But does that mean you never get to love again, like that?
You can't stop that from happening.
BEN: What do you mean?
LOUISE: It happens, it surprises you. It bites you in the ass. Someone makes you feel excited again.
BEN: Who says I want to?
LOUISE: I'm sorry.
Pause.
BEN: I married Anne.
LOUISE: I know. But.
Pause.
LOUISE: (a leap of faith) You want to.
Pause.
BEN: What?
LOUISE: I know.
BEN: What.
LOUISE: This may be really stupid, but I do too. I want to.
Pause.
BEN: I don't know what to do.
LOUISE: Me neither.
BEN: I don't know what I have to offer...
99 LOUISE: I don't have anything to offer-
He cuts her off by kissing her.
SCENE FOUR. The kitchen. Signs: "Today is: Saturday. The date is:
Jan 17. Nancy is: 19. Nancy is in grade: 12. Boo is: 13. Boo is in
grade: 7. You're doing well Mom!!" BOO is sitting, staring at the
phone. He sighs. He picks it up, then puts it down. He opens a cupboard and reaches into the very back, behind everything. There is a
Pop Tart waiting for him there. He opens it and takes a bite. He goes
to the phone, dials. It starts ringing.
BOO: Hello. Um, can I talk to Megan please? Yes. This Benjamin
Driver, from school. Ben. (he waits) Um, hi Megan, this is Benjamin
Driver from school. I sit behind you...oh...? Cool... Well, I'm kind
of calling because...did you finish your science homework? Me
neither. Do you want me to help you? I can. I'm really good at
science..you can copy off me if you want. OK. Deal. Um...I know,
wasn't that funny? She looked stupid...is that your Mom, do you
have to go? No, my Mom isn't like that anymore. She was though...
No, that's OK, I don't mind talking about it. She's just way different, that's all. Our Aunt sort of takes care of us...your Mom sounds
really sttict. Do you have to go? OK. I just...I just. Is it OK that I
called? OK. I was just calling because there's this new show on TV
that looks really cool, it's about a man trapped in a dog's body, it
looks really cool, and I wanted to make sure you knew it was on.. .
You're welcome... Yeah, see you to morrow... OK. Bye.
BOO hangs up. Sighs. Takes another bite of his Pop Tart. He dials
again.
BOO: Hi this is Benjamin Driver, I'm calling to make a dentist
appointment for myself, (he waits) It has to be some time after
three cause I have school. I haven't been in for a while. Um, while
I'm at it, I should make appointments for my dad and my sister too,
OK? OK, I'll wait.
SCENE FIVE. Morning, a few days later. The kitchen. Signs: "Today
is: Wednesday. The date is: Jan 21st. Nancy is: 19. Nancy is is grade:
100 12. Benjamin is: 13. Benjamin is is grade: 7. You're doing well
Mom!!" LOUISE is standing at the counter, deep in thought. BEN
comes in, getting ready for work.
BEN: Good morning.
LOUISE: (surprised) Oh! Good morning.
BEN: What are you doing over here so early?
LOUISE: I have stuff in the car. I froze some dinners for you.
BEN: OK.
LOUISE: Did you sleep well?
BEN: Yes. You?
LOUISE: Yes.
BEN: Actually, I didn't. Um.
LOUISE: No I did not sleep well, either. I never sleep well.
BEN: Oh.
Pause.
LOUISE: Sometimes I feel like I can't turn my brain off and I sit
still for a while. And then I think, "You're so stupid, why can't you
just get to sleep. lust go to sleep you stupid woman."
BEN: Oh.
LOUISE: Sometimes I go over and flip on the TV and half the time it's
only infomercials on. The cyclone vacuum cleaner. Fruit drier trays.
Ginzu knives. Kick boxing classes. Everybody looks so confident.
BEN: Louise, I—
LOUISE: I don't know what to say.
BEN: Don't say anything.
101 LOUISE: I know, the kids will be getting up and nobody should
know but I come over all the time, not just today, but yes today, I
came over, I make work, because I just, I just.. .want to be. Near to
you. That's all I want, (she breathes a sigh)
Pause.
BEN: I know we, um, were intimate a few days ago, but I'm confused, I don't—
LOUISE: (quickly) OK, don't bother.
BEN: No, no.
LOUISE: Don't try to make me feel better, Ben, Jesus, let's not do
that. Let me put twenty years of jealousy and whatever behind me
without you trying to make it all better, please—
BEN: No—
LOUISE: I'm embarrassed enough—
BEN: No, PLEASE, will you listen to me.
Pause.
LOUISE: I am.
He comes over to her.
BEN: I don't know how its supposed to work, and I don't know
what to do, it's different, but I don't regret.. .what we did, making
love, I don't... Um. I wanted to. I think. Um. I don't want to think
any more.
He kisses her.
LOUISE: No, Ben, the kids, we don't want—
BEN: I don't care.
LOUISE: Ben—
BOO walks in. LOUISE sees him.
102 LOUISE: (firmly) Ben.
He stops and looks over to see BOO standing there.
BOO: Aunt Louise?
LOUISE: Boo—
BEN: Oh Jesus, Boo.
BOO: Nancy? Nancy! ?
BEN: Boo?
BOO: I want Nancy.
NANCY comes in, getting ready for school. She stands there a beat.
NANCY: What happened.
BEN: I should explain—
NANCY: What happened, Boo?
BEN: Please, let me talk to you two.
NANCY: What did you do to Boo?
BOO: Ben. Stop calling me Boo. It's Ben.
BEN: I didn't do anything to him.
BOO: He was kissing Aunt Louise.
BEN: Young man—
BOO: You're having sex with her.
Pause.
NANCY: (standing in front of him) Is that true?
BEN: No. (an impulse decision) Yes.
LOUISE: Ben—
103 NANCY: What?
BEN: Ben walked in and saw us kissing. I don't know how he got
the idea that we—
NANCY: But he was right.
BEN: (nods) He was right.
BOO: I was right.
Pause.
NANCY: Why7
BEN: Your Aunt Louise and I are close now, closer since we've been
taking care of your mother, and...
LOUISE: It just happened.
NANCY: Shut up. You're making me sick to my stomach—
BEN: Don't talk like that to her.
NANCY: (to LOUISE) Who the HELL ARE YOU to tell me that it
JUST HAPPENED?! Nothing JUST HAPPENS! You've been hanging around my Dad all this time, you waited your turn, you were
patient enough, and lucky you—Mom has an accident and in you
go, quick, while you can, and sleep with my father?
LOUISE: That's not fair. She's my sister.
NANCY: That makes HIM your BROTHER-
LOUISE: I know this is a difficult—
NANCY: I don't give a SHIT WHAT YOU THINK!
BEN: Go to your room, Nancy!
LOUISE: Let me talk to her. Ben. For God's sake.
NANCY: What? WHAT?
104 LOUISE: Let me say something.
NANCY: (ruthless) Go ahead. Speak.
LOUISE: Listen to me. Your mother is still alive, but she's not the
same. You know that.
NANCY: So what?
LOUISE: Do you think that he doesn't care about her anymore? Of
course he does. He'll always care about her, but that doesn't stop
him from needing someone, from needing certain things that
only a partner can give you. And you know what? Any woman
who, who falls in love with him is going to have to contend with
your mother, because he is a decent, DECENT man, and you owe
him some care and some respect, Nancy. Respect. And not just the
kind that you give to your dad, because God knows—and I was a
teenager once too—that you respect your parents that much less,
but the kind of respect and compassion you give to ordinary human beings, decent people who are just trying to figure something
out. He's never going to forget her, he is a committed husband and
I know that, every time I spend a moment with him I realize that,
even when we're together alone she's in the room with us somehow, I know that, because your dad has such a big big heart that
he'll never let her go. As much as anyone might want him too. But
he has to think for himself sometimes, we have to help him do that,
because since this happened, it's never been about him, Nancy, do
you, do you know what I mean ? It's all about Anne, it's all about you
two, he has to be this stone. Don't blame him if for once he puts
himself first.
BOO: (to BEN) Do you still love Mom?
BEN: Yes of course I do. It's just different.
BOO: Butyou didn't get a divorce.
BEN: No, we didn't.
BOO: You're not married to Aunt Louise. If you love her why didn't
you marry her?
105 BEN: Um. It's just, (at a loss) Oh Ben.
BOO runs upstairs.
BEN: Ben? Ben?
LOUISE: Nan, try to understand, I know this is a strange...but you're
old enough to—
NANCY: (to LOUISE) If it's not about Mom, it should be. And just,
just because you have some massive guilt complex about what you
did with him, doesn't mean I'm going to swallow all this
HORSESHIT, you telling me that we have no compassion for him!
She is OUR MOTHER! She is STILL ALIVE! Why don't you get lost
before you fuck us up some more!
BEN: NANCY I HAVE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OUT OF YOU!
I AM ORDERING YOU TO BE QUIET!
NANCY: HERE'S SOME NEWS FOR YOU, DAD: I DON'T GIVE A
FUCK WHAT YOU WANT!
BEN: (dangerously quiet) Stop talking. Stop talking to her like that.
Or to me. When your mother was around she kept you on a pretty
short leash, she didn't let you say things like that. And just because
she's not the same doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want
to do! You are MY daughter, this is MY house, this is MY family and
I am in charge. You cannot replace your mother, Nancy, none of us
can. But I am IN CHARGE. Your Aunt Louise has done more for us
than anybody. We didn't plan any of this, but it happens. It's something you're going to realize as you get older, Nancy, so why not
start trying to get it now. Your plans won't turn out exactly like you
think they will. They go sour, they change, new plans come along
to save you. Believe me.
NANCY: It's not my fault this accident happened! And now it's
wrecking everything I had planned and now everything sucks.
BEN: I know.
NANCY: You don't know shit. You don't know what you're doing.
106 You're drowning. You're pathetic.
BEN: I'm pathetic.
NANCY: And what pisses you if that you know that I can see right
through you.
Pause.
NANCY: I am going to school now. May I?
BEN: Yes.
NANCY: (goes to the door) Will you talk to Boo? Someone needs to
talk to Boo.
LOUISE: I will, (goes up the stairs)
Pause.
NANCY: I'm not trying to replace her.
BEN: I can take care of all of us.
NANCY: No. You can't, (starts to leave)
BEN: (as she goes) I miss her too, Nancy. Nobody wishes that Anne
was around more than me.
NANCY is gone. BEN turns around and ANNE is standing there,
scared, confused.
ANNE: I'm here, I'm around.
SCENE SIX. Shortly thereafter. Inside BOO's bedroom. BOO is sitting on his bed, reading a book. LOUISE comes in and stands in the
doorway.
LOUISE: Ben? May I come in?
BOO: Whatever.
107 LOUISE: OK. I think I will.
BOO: Whatever.
LOUISE: What are you reading?
BOO shows her, unsmiling.
LOUISE: Oh. The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien. I love that book. I wish
I could teach that book in my classes.
BOO: What do you want?
LOUISE: I thought you might want to talk.
BOO: Nope.
LOUISE: Your father still loves your mom very much.
BOO: Bullshit.
LOUISE: How do you know he doesn't?
BOO: How do you know he does?
LOUISE: Because I can see it, Ben.
BOO: You must be glad Mom's a vegetable.
LOUISE: No, Ben, and you're not allowed to say things like that.
Not even in anger.
BOO: Who gives a shit.
LOUISE: I do. She's my sister. She's my best friend. She's the strongest person I know. But your father and I. We just. I just—he was
always a good friend, you know? Do you have any friends who are
girls?
BOO: Yeah. Of course.
LOUISE: That was your dad and me. And you know how sometimes
things happen and you didn't plan them, but then you're in the
middle of it and you know that there's nothing you can do to stop it?
108 BOO: I guess.
LOUISE: Then you know what's going on here, Boo. You're pretty
much the smart one around here anyway.
BOO: No I'm not. I'm not smart.
LOUISE: OK. You're not.
BOO: I still love Mom.
LOUISE: Me too.
BOO: I miss her. The old her.
LOUISE: Oh me too, Benjamin.
BOO: I want to be alone now, OK?
LOUISE: Fair enough, (goes to the door) I hope you don't hate me,
Benjamin, because I was there when you were born, sweetheart. I
know you from the inside out. We're friends and I love you so, so
much.
Pause, she starts to leave, but hears this:
BOO: I don't hate people. That's stupid.
SCENE SEVEN. The front porch, late at night, a few months later.
RICHARD and NANCY are sitting there together in silence.
RICHARD: Remember my uncle was going to ask about a job for
me? He's going to do it this week. It's in the bag. It would be out of
town for a while, but it's good money. And it's really only a two
hour drive. Or so.
NANCY: Uh huh.
RICHARD: What do you think of that?
NANCY: It's fine.
109 RICHARD: It's a good job. It'd be a promotion.
NANCY: (distant) Great.
RICHARD: Is something wrong?
Pause.
RICHARD: Nancy?
NANCY shrugs.
RICHARD: It's just that you're so quiet.
NANCY: I just feel quiet.
RICHARD: Oh.
Pause.
NANCY: Jesus, aren't I allowed to be quiet?
RICHARD: That's not what I meant. It's just the past couple of
weeks, you've... It's like you're bothered by something.
NANCY: Yeah well, have you seen my family lately?
RICHARD: I know.
NANCY: No you don't.
Pause.
RICHARD: I don't know how to help you, Nancy, and I want to,
more than anything. So tell me. What can I do?
NANCY: I don't know.
RICHARD: Do you want to talk about it?
NANCY: No.
RICHARD: Please?
110 NANCY: No.
Pause.
RICHARD: (bitter) I don't feel like sitting here in silence with you
anymore.
He doesn't move.
Pause.
NANCY: What do you want?
RICHARD: What do you want7
NANCY does not answer.
SCENE EIGHT. The park. A few months have passed. It is early September. ANNE and YVONNE are out for their daily walk. It is a
beautiful late summer day, busy with smells. They are sitting on a park
bench.
YVONNE: What are the names.
ANNE: Grass. Squirrel.
YVONNE: Where?
ANNE points.
YVONNE: Oh that's cool. But they're rabid, you know, and they
have mean little eyes.
ANNE: Oh. That's a tree. Wrinkled.
YVONNE: That's a maple. You can tell from the leaves.
ANNE: That's a tree. A big one.
YVONNE: That's an oak. I know that one!
ANNE: That's a tree. That's a baby one.
Ill YVONNE: I don't know that one. Snap a picture and we'll look it
up. (she does)
ANNE: Sneakers. There's so many colours today, it hurts my eyes a
little.
YVONNE: I know. It's great. Everyone's outside Wait. Can you smell
that? What's that?
ANNE: I don't know.
YVONNE: It's a spring summer smell.
ANNE: Flowers.
YVONNE: That's ice cream. There must be ice cream somewhere.
ANNE: Hot dogs.
YVONNE: Yep, that too. Are you too hot? Do you want to sit in the
shady part?
ANNE: No, I like it hot. I see red when I close my eyes and look up.
YVONNE: Do you? I love Indian summer.
They both do it. NANCY wanders on and sees them. ANNE and
YVONNE open their eyes.
ANNE: Nancy!
NANCY: Hi Mom. Hi Yvonne.
YVONNE: Hi. Oh, is this the way you come home from college?
NANCY: Mostly.
YVONNE: Cool.
NANCY: I skipped my last course today.
ANNE: You shouldn't do that.
YVONNE: Oh honey, it's not like elementary, nobody's going to
112 give her detention or anything, all the cool college kids skip some
classes.
NANCY: What are you doing here?
ANNE: We're going for a walk.
NANCY: Oh.
ANNE: Did you have a good day?
NANCY: Not particularly.
ANNE: Are you lonely? Because Richard's gone?
NANCY: No. I guess.
ANNE: I'm sorry.
NANCY: There's not much you can do about it.
YVONNE: Sit with us.
Nancy sits.
YVONNE: Isn't it beautiful out, Anne?
ANNE: Yes.
YVONNE: I love it. I love it. I hope I'm tanning.
ANNE: I want you to take me on a walk, Nancy.
NANCY: Yvonne takes you on walks, doesn't she?
ANNE: Oh. (cries) I know.
NANCY: What did I do now?
ANNE: (trying to stop) Nothing, nothing.
NANCY: Fine, I'll find some time, I'll take you on a walk somewhere.
113 ANNE: OK. Good.
YVONNE: Anne, why don't you go over to that tree over there—the
big orange one. I'll take your picture. Kind of far away.
ANNE gets up to go over.
YVONNE: Don't forget to smell the leaves—they smell like fall.
Remember?
ANNE: OK.
She is gone. YVONNE has BOO's camera out.
YVONNE: I think she'd really like for you to take her for a walk.
NANCY: I said I would.
YVONNE: I know, I just want you to know that it takes guts for her
to ask directly for stuff she wants, you know? (to ANNE) Move
over, honey. No—that way. Good, (aiming to take the picture)
NANCY: Yes. I know.
Pause.
YVONNE: Your anger isn't helpful.
NANCY: What?
YVONNE: I know you heard me. You don't talk to her with much
kindness in your voice. And if you think nobody notices, then
you're wrong. Anne, honey, LOOK UP, I want to see your face!
NANCY: How dare you talk to me like that.
YVONNE: You have a choice here. You can either take it like I
meant it, like it'll help, or you can do the usual and get mad, but I
think you should realize you don't always have to choose the same
response, (takes the picture)
NANCY: (flustered) I just thought, I mean I know she likes to walk
with you, I didn't think she wanted me to go with her—
114 YVONNE: You think your own mother wouldn't want to spend
time with you? She talks about you all the time.
NANCY: She doesn't need me.
YVONNE: Come on back, Anne, we need to get going! (to NANCY)
That's not really the thing, though, Nancy. You just don't know her
anymore and you don't want to know her. You don't really see her.
So you just say, "well shit, she's different, she's not the mother I
remember" and it's like you pretend she's dead. It's not that she
doesn't need you, she needs you more than ever, but you're not
used to that, you just don't want her to need you.
NANCY: (quietly) What are you talking about?
YVONNE: It's easier to think that way, then you don't have to put
out. You don't have to grow up.
ANNE has returned.
ANNE: What happened?
YVONNE: Nancy and I were just having a little talk, honey.
NANCY: She doesn't need to know—
YVONNE: Why not? She knows when something's going on. She's
not an idiot.
ANNE: What happened?
YVONNE: It's not serious, honey.
NANCY: You have NO IDEA what it's like to be me—you just come
in for a few hours every day, you don't have to live inside that house
all the time—you don't get TIRED like I do—
ANNE: Stop it. STOP IT.
YVONNE: Anne, honey. It's OK. I've got my bag with me, I'm going
to head off and catch the bus. Nancy's here, so she can take you
home. You can have a little walk. I'll see you tomorrow and at three
o'clock we'll see if Dr. Rogano gets rescued from the mine shaft by
115 the midget.
ANNE: OK
She leaves. ANNE sits. Pause.
NANCY: What are you thinking? Are you thinking about the leaves?
No answer.
NANCY: Mom? What's going on in there? Do you want to talk?
Still nothing.
NANCY: Mom?
ANNE: I'm afraid of what to say. I'm afraid of you.
Pause.
NANCY: (deeply stung) Oh.
ANNE breathes deeply, looks away. NANCY does the same.
SCENE NINE. Around the same day. In a movie theatre. BEN and
BOO are sitting there, eating popcorn and waiting for it to start.
BEN: We haven't been to the movies in a long time.
BOO: We're here way early.
BEN: I know, I just got excited.
Pause.
BEN: What's this movie about?
BOO: It's about a lizard man who has sex with dead people.
BEN: Is this a PG movie?
BOO: Of course it is. I've seen all that stuff anyway.
116 BEN: OK. Anybody I know in this movie?
BOO: The lead is that baseball player.
BEN: Oh, great.
Pause.
BEN: We haven't been out for some father son stuff in a long time.
BOO: (looking around) We're here so early, there's nobody here
yet.
BEN: Aren't you glad to be out with your dad again?
BOO: Yeah. Can I get Gummy Bears?
BEN: I'm not a piggy bank.
Pause.
BOO: I know.
BEN: I want to talk to you before you go off and get Gummy Bears.
BOO: Fine.
BEN: Are you still mad?
BOO: Why does everyone think I'm mad all the time? I'm not. I'm
just normal.
BEN: Well you hardly tell me what's going on anymore, you just
scowl, and so—
BOO: I'm just thinking, that's all.
BEN: Well, you have lots to think about.
BOO: I know.
BEN: So do I.
BOO: I know.
117 BEN: I'm glad you know that. It's kind of unfair, Ben, but you've
had to deal with some serious stuff and now that your Aunt Louise
and I are seeing more of each other, I know it's weird.
BOO: Did you like her when you were younger too?
BEN: Louise and I were always kind of friends.
BOO: Not as much as you were friends with Mom though.
BEN: No.
Pause.
BEN: But things change, you know?
BOO: Were you liking her when Mom was around, like she used to
be?
BEN: No. I loved your mom.
BOO: Uh huh. Are you going to divorce Mom?
BEN: I don't know, Boo. No.
BOO: OK.
BEN: Does any of this make sense?
Pause.
BOO: You and Aunt Louise are really a lot alike sometimes.
BEN: Yes we are.
BOO: That's neat.
BEN: Yep.
BOO: It's confusing.
BEN: Yeah. OK.
The lights start to go down. The movie is starting.
118 BEN: Ben...
BOO: Shhh, it's starting.
BEN: Is there anything more you want to say?
BOO: Not right now. You?
BEN: No. Do you want your Gummy Bear money?
The movie music starts up.
BOO: Yes please.
BEN gets it for him.
BOO: I'll get them afterwards and we'll eat them in the car.
BEN smiles.
BEN: Good deal.
There is a crash in the movie soundtrack and a flash across the screen.
BOO: (cheering) WHOA YEAH!
SCENE TEN. The middle of the night, a few days later. NANCY is
asleep in her room. ANNE comes in, healthy, like she was before the
accident. She slips into the room and closes the door behind her. She
stands against it for a minute, staring down at NANCY sleeping. She
fishes in her pocket for cigarettes, pulls one out, then realizes she can't
smoke in here. She shakes her head ruefully; she has been dying for a
smoke. She puts them back. NANCY wakes with a start.
NANCY: Mom? What are you doing in here? What's wrong?
ANNE: Nothing nothing's wrong.
NANCY: You should go back to sleep.
ANNE doesn't move. She stands there smiling at NANCY, who is
trying to go back to sleep. There is a pause. NANCY looks up at her.
119 NANCY: Do you need something? Do you need a glass of water?
ANNE: I'm fine.
NANCY: What?
ANNE: Go back to sleep if you want.
NANCY: What's happened?
ANNE: Nothing.
NANCY: (still struggling to wake up and make sense of this) You
seem different. You're talking different. Do you feel different?
ANNE: Different from what?
NANCY: Different from what, different from normal, from how
you—
ANNE: I've told you. I feel fine. I'm the mom. I'm supposed to ask
you how you feel.
NANCY: I feel fine.
ANNE: Yeah?
NANCY: Yeah, I guess so. (getting out of bed suddenly, and staring at
ANNE.) Wait a minute. Wait a minute, (looks at her, looks at her bed,
looks back at ANNE) I'm still asleep.
ANNE: You're funny. Then how am I talking to you?
NANCY: I'm still asleep, that's how I'm talking to you. (sits on her
bed)
ANNE's expression changes. She goes to the bed and sits down. After
a second she puts her hand on NANCY's shoulder.
ANNE: I see. You're still asleep. That's very odd. Doesn't mean I can
smoke, does it?
Pause.
120 NANCY: I miss you.
ANNE: Yeah? Why.
NANCY: I don't know why, you're my mother.
ANNE: I'm still around. Are you still playing soccer?
NANCY: No, I'm going to college. I'm not playing soccer anymore.
I don't have time.
ANNE: I liked coming to your games, I wish you were still playing.
NANCY: Well I'm not.
ANNE: Something you want to tell me?
NANCY: Richard's gone.
ANNE: Ah.
Pause.
NANCY: I miss him so much. What do I do?
ANNE: How should I know?
NANCY: I don't know, I thought...I wrote him a letter weeks ago
and he didn't write back.
ANNE: (sighs) It's been so long since I had to do any of this...I don't
know. Love is very... difficult. They tell you that but you never really
believe it until it happens to you.
NANCY: Are you still in love with Dad?
ANNE: Yes. I think so.
NANCY: You're so different.
ANNE: Your father is a surprising man, Nancy. You'll figure that
out. He's strong.
NANCY: Did you love him when you married him?
121 ANNE: Oh absolutely. Desperately. It was scary, I couldn't be without him. He kept my feet on the ground. His silence was very...sexy
and powerful.
NANCY: And then?
ANNE: Then when we got older and, and it happens to everyone—
it changed, and it wasn't worse, it was just...different. There were
times all along that I really loved him, more than I could have
loved anyone else. And the other times, you just sort of..wait for it
to be clear again. You have to be patient.
Pause.
NANCY: When you had your accident, did it hurt?
ANNE: I think so.
NANCY: Oh God.
ANNE: For a bit.
NANCY: When we talk to you now, can you understand us?
ANNE: Oh sure.
NANCY: Can you remember yourself?
ANNE: Not very much.
NANCY: I'm starting to forget the old you, the woman who used to
take care of everything.
ANNE: Was I awful?
NANCY: I don't care, I don't want to forget the old you.
ANNE: What can you do about it?
NANCY: I keep trying to carve these pictures, these memories into
my brain, but they keep slipping out. I lose a little more ground
each day. It's exhausting ttying to keep up.
122 ANNE: I am going to smoke. Come on, smoke with me. (grabs for
her cigarettes)
NANCY: Where did you get those?
ANNE: They're very very old.
She lights one up, takes a drag, hands to NANCY, who looks at her
warily for a beat, and then takes a deep drag of her own. ANNE
reaches under the bed and finds a pop can, tipping her ash into it. She
grins.
ANNE: Didn't think I knew? Old secret. God that's good, (thinks
for a beat) Sometimes you'll mention something and I'll get a
muddy picture of it, like a, like a water colour that's fallen into a
puddle. And for a second the image is as sharp as it can be, and then
the colour starts to run and the paper disintegrates and I can't even
remember what the thing was in the first place. And I can never
speak up quickly enough to tell you it's happened before I forget it.
There's a trap door in the back of my head, it feels like, and everything, everything falls through the bottom before I really get a
chance to hold onto it or catalogue it. I can't remember anything.
NANCY: Yes you do, nowadays you can remember some stuff from
the past, you can remember people's names not that badly. And
you can remember where you are and how to read a watch and
stuff. You don't cry so much.
ANNE: Uh huh. I'm not much of a mother anymore.
NANCY: No. The more you remember the better you'll get, right?
Some day you'll be back as good as new.
ANNE: I should have parceled myself out, like I used to freeze
dinners in advance. I should have frozen parts of me in advance so
you could warm me up like Tupperware. (laughs)
NANCY: That's not funny. How am I supposed to laugh at that?
ANNE: What am I supposed to do about it, Nancy?
NANCY: You're not the one who lost a mother.
123 ANNE: I lost a mother. You were at the funeral, remember? She's
dead. Thank God. You didn't lose a mother. You've still got your
mother.
NANCY: Where is she when I need to talk to her?
ANNE: You talk to Louise.
NANCY: Louise is all right, but we're not the same. You and me,
we're the same person, you were supposed to be around to plan my
wedding at least.
ANNE: I will come to your wedding. I'm not dead. Some people
never get a mother. At least you had a mother for a little while, not
a bad one.
NANCY: It doesn't feel like enough.
ANNE: It's gotta be, Nancy. You don't get to decide.
Pause.
ANNE: I like being out. I don't want to go back. I like having quick
legs, (pause) I should go.
NANCY: No, don't.
ANNE: I have to.
NANCY: No you don't. I brought you here. You have to stay.
ANNE: That's just like you, Nancy. You brought me here. Like there's
nothing that's beyond your control.
NANCY: What am I going to do?
ANNE: Don't ask me, Nancy, I don't know either. You just have to
make it up. Don't waste too much time wishing things had turned
out differently.
NANCY: I'm not trying to—
ANNE: I know. It sucks. But you've gotta work at it until it's not so
124 bad anymore. It takes more energy than you think.
NANCY: Mom, look—
ANNE: Do you remember when Boo had his appendix out a few
years ago? And when they did the surgery they discovered that he
had an extra kidney? lust a little one, tucked in behind, not doing
anything? They had to take it out, they thought one day it might get
infected or something. But they told me it was genetic, that if he
had something extra, you probably do too. There's no way of knowing, but you've got my genes, honey, chances are you've got some
extra organs in there somewhere, an extra kidney or gall bladder or
something. So maybe I did something right, at least I equipped you
for emergencies, I gave you something in reserve in case you needed
help. In case I couldn't be there.
NANCY: I'm so tired, Mom.
ANNE: Yeah. I know. I know you, Nancy. You think, "If I'm good
enough, if I'm deserving enough, if I work hard enough, I can fix it.
I can fix anything." I think you got that from me. We might've been
great friends one day. I know you. You're strong.
NANCY: I don't feel strong.
ANNE: (kindly) No. Of course you don't.
NANCY: Mom—
ANNE: Let me go, Nancy. Let me go. (she kisses her quickly on the
forehead and slips out the door)
NANCY sits on her bed staring at the door. She turns away, lays her
head on the pillow. A moment passes. There is a scraping at the window. NANCY goes over and pulls the curtains aside. RICHARD is
there, looking in.
NANCY: Richard! What, what are you doing at my window? Is that
really you?
RICHARD: Are you glad to see me?
125 NANCY: What are you doing here?
RICHARD: Are you glad to see me? How long has it been since you
last saw me?
NANCY: Five and a half months.
RICHARD: Five months and fifteen days.
NANCY: Thirteen. I saw you making a turn at an intersection. You
didn't see me.
RICHARD: Ah.
NANCY: What are you doing here?
RICHARD: Are you seeing someone?
NANCY: No. You?
RICHARD: No.
NANCY: How's the new job?
RICHARD: Good. Hard. Far away.
NANCY: Why won't you come in?
RICHARD: I promised myself I wouldn't.
NANCY: You drove three hours to promise yourself not to come
into my room?
RICHARD: Well, yeah I guess, that's not the whole deal—
NANCY: What's going on.
RICHARD: I got your letter, the one you sent me weeks ago. I'm not
much for writing, you know that, but I have the answers to your
questions: Yes. Yes I still love you. Yes. Yes it hurts me to be away
from you. No. No I do not look at any other women. Yes. Yes I
fantasize about you and play with myself late at night. Every night.
NANCY: Come in here.
126 RICHARD: No. No. You are a very persuasive, dominating person
and I have my own way of doing things and this is it. And while I
love you for being such a hardass I am going to do this my way.
NANCY: What.
RICHARD: I may be fooling myself that this is a possibility any
more, but. But I went away and I thought if I could forget about you,
it would be so much easier, but, but it seems that I can't, and so I am
crawling back, I am here at your window, not asking to be let in
unless you'll forgive me, and then if you do, I am not coming into
that room until you promise to marry me. For real.
NANCY: What?
RICHARD: And it has to be a solid promise, with a schedule and a
deadline.
NANCY: You gave me a ring, don't you remember? Two years ago.
RICHARD: Two years ago I was young and patient. Now I'm old
and in a hurry. I can't wait any more, I'll break in half. I need a
schedule. I need to know when I'm done with this job that I will
get to be with you every day all day for the rest of my life.
NANCY: Every day, all day?
RICHARD: Yes.
Pause.
NANCY: Even when I'm on the toilet?
RICHARD: Especially then.
NANCY: OK. Yes, I promise. Please come in.
RICHARD: You're desperate to have me in there, eh?
NANCY: Yes.
RICHARD: How desperate?
NANCY: Tonya Harding desperate.
127 She grabs him and starts pulling him through the window. He falls
into the room and they start to kiss. They try to get onto the bed, but
fall to the ground instead, thudding loudly.
NANCY: Shut up, shut up—
RICHARD: You're the one talking.
They make love.
SLIDE #5: A NANCY at eighteen holding her ring finger up, obviously
proud of an engagement ring. Her smile is young and clear. The slide
glows for a long moment, then it gets replaced...
SCENE ELEVEN. Later that same night, BEN is sitting on the couch
staring at slide projections he has hooked up. He is flicking back and
forth through just a few. ANNE comes in, looking for a glass of water.
She stands and stares at the slides for a moment but not say anything.
BEN finally notices her...
BEN: What's wrong honey.
ANNE: I want some water.
BEN: (getting up to get it) Don't you sleep through the night, Anne?
ANNE: No, I don't. You don't have to get it.
BEN: I know.
ANNE: I can get it.
BEN: I know.
ANNE: I'm not stupid.
BEN: I know that.
ANNE: OK.
She drinks.
128 BEN: Do you want some more?
ANNE: (shakes her head) What are you doing?
BEN: I'm looking at slides. We haven't taken any slides lately. Most
of these are old. We'll have to get Ben to get his camera out again.
ANNE: Can I look?
BEN: Sure. Come sit down.
They sit on the couch.
SLIDE #6: A wide shot of a house, nearly twenty years earlier, with
ANNE standing on the lawn, looking small. She is waving and pointing to the house.
ANNE: Is that me?
BEN: Yeah. That's when we bought this house.
ANNE: I can't see me very well.
BEN: I wanted to get the whole house in.
ANNE: Where's Boo?
BEN: He wasn't around yet. Only Nancy.
SLIDE #7: ANNE, one Christmas morning, holding a sweater up to
her chest. She isn't wearing any makeup and it is clearly early morning, but it is also clear she likes the sweater very much. Christmas
ornaments and wrapping paper in the background.
BEN: That's Christmas one year. I gave you that sweater. You liked it
so much we had to take a picture.
ANNE: I wish I could remember that.
129 BEN: Yeah.
ANNE: I look funny!
BEN: You were pretty funny.
ANNE: I used to be funny. I remember that.
BEN: It's OK. You liked that sweater though.
ANNE: You bought it for me. I don't remember.
BEN: That's OK.
ANNE: Can you play the music?
BEN: The music? The Stevie Wonder? OK but only quietly because
everyone is sleeping.
BEN goes over to the CD player and puts on the Stevie Wonder.
ANNE sways to it. It plays softly under the rest of the scene.
BEN: You used to like this very much.
ANNE: I still like it.
SLIDE #8: ANNE and LOUISE, discovered hiding in a closet. There is
a hand in the frame, of whoever opened the closet to surprise them.
They are in hysterics, cramped and crouched among the shoes and
hanging clothes.
BEN: See? That's you and Louise upstairs in the closet. You thought
you'd scare me but I knew what you were up to, so I brought the
camera.
SLIDE #9: NANCY and BOO are dressed somberly, posing for a picture somewhere inside. They look uncomfortable and formal.
130 BEN: Who's that?
ANNE: That's Nancy and Boo.
BEN: Yeah, that's after your Mom's funeral. That was Nancy and
Boo's first funeral. They never liked getting dressed up, so we just
had to take a picture when we got back from the funeral home.
ANNE: I don't want to have a funeral.
BEN: Honey, don't worry, you won't be around for your own funeral.
ANNE: Yes I will, yes I will, (she starts to get upset)
BEN: Shhh. Shhh. Come here.
SLIDE # 10: ANNE, giving a kiss to BEN, whose eyes are all lit up. They
are dressed to go out, looking happy and much in love.
BEN: Look. There's you, giving me a kiss. You see? Look.
ANNE: Oh.
BEN: You see?
ANNE: Uh huh.
Pause.
ANNE: I remember some of these things, Ben, I really do. How can
I remember things and still not feel like myself.
BEN: I don't know.
ANNE: I'm sorry.
BEN: (holding her) It's not your fault.
ANNE: I want to be the old me. I'm getting better, right? You recognize me.
131 Pause.
BEN: You'll be back to normal soon.
ANNE: I'm trying to get better.
BEN: Sure.
ANNE: You don't think so.
BEN: Of course I do. I can see you trying. Louise is helping, and
Yvonne. And the kids help you. I see you doing your exercises every
day. You remember people's names not all that badly now. And you
don't always ask the same questions over and over so often. And
you can cook some now, and you know how to dress yourself
again— (he starts to cry suddenly, for the first time, sobbing into her,
holding her tight. She comes out of his arms and immediately hugs
him, rocking him back and forth.) We're so lucky you didn't die.
That's what I keep reminding myself. We're so lucky you didn't die.
I miss you. I miss you Anne.
ANNE: Don't cry Ben, don't cry. I'm here.
She continues to soothe him as the last slide looms in front of them.
SCENE TWELVE. NANCY's twentieth birthday party. Signs: "Today
is: Friday. The date is: October 9th. Nancy is: 20. She is in grade:
college. Benjamin is: 13. He is in grade: 8." Two years to the day
since the accident. There is a sign hung that reads "Happy 20th Birthday, Nancy!" Presents sitting over by the couch. LOUISE, BEN, RICHARD and ANNE are crowded around a cake.
RICHARD: It looks great, Louise. Just great.
LOUISE: Does it? I never bake.
ANNE: Where's Nancy? Show her the cake!
LOUISE: Shhhhhh.
BEN: No, it's a surprise, Anne. She's not supposed to know. I sent
132 her upstairs with Ben and Yvonne to find the camera. I told them
we need a few minutes.
LOUISE: It's lopsided. You see that? It's sloping towards you.
RICHARD: It's been a longtime since I had cake. It looks delicious,
Louise.
LOUISE: Thank you. You're a liar.
BEN: Anne, come and see what Louise and I picked out for Nancy.
They move over to a few bags lying by the couch.
RICHARD: Why don't I get drinks. Anybody want anything?
BEN: No, thank you Richard.
ANNE: Nope.
LOUISE: I'll have something. I'll have a beer.
RICHARD: OK. Me too.
He goes to get them two beers.
LOUISE: Richard. It's nice to have you around the Driver home
again.
RICHARD: Yeah.
LOUISE: I hope it all works out for you. Both of you.
RICHARD: I'm going to take good care of her.
LOUISE: Who's going to take care of you?
RICHARD: She is.
LOUISE: I see.
RICHARD: Nancy appreciates everythingyou do for her. She probably doesn't tell you but she does appreciate it. She lets me know.
133 LOUISE: Thank you. That's good to know.
RICHARD: She's tough, isn't she?
LOUISE: She reminds me of her mom.
RICHARD: Yeah.
LOUISE: So I should know better than to think she hates me, but
sometimes it seems like all the evidence points that way.
RICHARD: Well I'll be your man on the inside.
LOUISE: I can try to do the same for you, with your future father-
in-law.
RICHARD: Good deal.
LOUISE: To be honest with you, I had a couple of drinks before I
left my place with the cake. It's the anniversary of the accident and
all. I'm tipsy.
RICHARD: Uh huh. So you're gonna get loaded with me?
LOUISE: Don't be silly. It's too drunk to get early.
She goes over to check on the cake.
BEN has been showing ANNE all the gifts.
ANNE: Why aren't they wrapped?
BEN: I guess I didn't have time. They're nice though, right? I helped
pick them out.
ANNE: They're pretty like my tulip puzzle.
BEN: Oh good.
YVONNE: (running on) Are you guys ready? Hurry up!
LOUISE: Shit. Two more minutes. Two.
YVONNE: OK but you owe me. (runs off)
134 RICHARD: Let's light the cake. Quick.
LOUISE hands a book of matches to BEN, who takes one, lights it,
and hands the book back. He attempts the light the candles.
ANNE: Whoa, that's a bright light. Like a Christmas tree light.
LOUISE: It's called a match, honey.
ANNE: I know.
BEN: Ow, ow, Louise, get me another match.
LOUISE: Hurry up, hurry up, we don't have all day.
RICHARD: We should've done the inside ones first, so we don't
have to stick our hands in the fire.
ANNE: How old is Nancy?
LOUISE: She's twenty, remember?
ANNE: Yes.
BEN: Here, Richard, you do it.
RICHARD lights the last ones quickly, shaking his hand when it passes
too close to a candle. BEN goes to the foot of the stairs.
BEN: Yvonne, Ben, did you get the camera yet? Bring Nancy down
here will you?
YVONNE skitters down the stairs and gasps as she sees the cake. She
positions herself at the light switch. BOO comes down the stairs, with
NANCY behind him. When she reaches the foot of the stairs, the
lights go out.
NANCY: Oh please don't.
They start to sing "Happy Birthday" as they bring the cake to her.
When the song finishes:
ANNE: Make a wish.
135 NANCY: I'm not going to do that. That's stupid.
LOUISE: No it's not. You only have one chance like this every year.
You can have whatever you want. Right Anne?
ANNE: Sure.
BEN: Make a wish, Nancy.
RICHARD: Make it a good one.
NANCY: I feel like such a nerd.
RICHARD: Come on.
ANNE: Come on Nancy. Don't waste a wish. Everybody wishes
they had more wishes.
NANCY: All right. Give me a second. Jesus. OK. Here I go.
She closes her eyes tight. Everyone closes their eyes with Nancy. There
is a lighting change, everyone is suspended mid wish. A spot comes on
Nancy.
NANCY: I wish...
She puts her hand on her stomach.
NANCY: I wish...
ANNE: breaks from her freeze and wanders away, towards the living
room window. NANCY opens her eyes and sees her go.
NANCY: Mom.
She turns and blows out the candles. Everyone else unfreezes and claps
and cheers. ANNE is staring out the window.
LOUISE: Was it a good wish?
NANCY: Uh huh.
RICHARD: Tell me.
136 NANCY: I'll tell you later.
RICHARD: What.
NANCY: Ask me later and I'll tell you.
BOO: Cut the cake! Cut the cake!
LOUISE: We should do the picture first, before we get cake all over
ourselves.
BOO: Cake first.
BEN: No, that's a good idea, Louise. Ben, will you set it up and we'll
do it real quick before we have cake.
RICHARD: You need help there, little brother?
BOO: Nope.
RICHARD: You sure?
BOO: Yep. (punches RICHARD in the arm) I have the strength of
ten ordinary men.
BOO goes over to a tripod that was set up downstage centre. He
attaches the camera to it while the family organizes itself. BOO fiddles
with the camera and gets himself ready to press the timer button.
BEN: Do you need the manual?
BOO: Don't be such a gomer, Dad.
NANCY has come over to join ANNE at the window.
NANCY: Mom. What's going on? What are you doing?
ANNE: Nothing.
NANCY: Are you remembering something?
ANNE: Maybe. No. I'm sorry.
NANCY: That's all right.
137 ANNE: I'm looking out the window.
NANCY: Oh. At what?
ANNE: The sky. Look at it. It's so big.
Pause.
ANNE: I don't want to ruin your birthday again.
NANCY: I know. I know. You won't.
Pause.
NANCY: Look at me, Mom.
ANNE: I'm looking.
NANCY: We have to take the picture now. Do you want to sit together?
ANNE: OK.
They go back to where everyone else is standing, getting ready.
YVONNE: OK let's have a look at you Anne. We all have to look sexy.
BEN: Why is there a light on? Is there supposed to be a red light on?
BOO: (looking at the camera from the lens end) Is there a light on?
BEN: Yes.
NANCY: I'll help him. (she goes over to him)
BOO: I don't need help.
NANCY: I figured. Just wanted to checkup on you.
Pause.
BOO: Get away from me before I get infected by your mad cow
disease.
138 YVONNE: You smell nice, Louise.
LOUISE: Oh. Thanks. Thank you.
ANNE: (pulling at her right arm) I need to get my right arm ready.
Yvonne, this is my right arm.
YVONNE: You're right! That's good.
BOO: OK are we ready? I don't know how long it takes after I press
the timer, I've never used that before.
BEN: That's fine.
RICHARD: (to NANCY) What are you thinking about?
NANCY: Nothing. My wish.
RICHARD: Oh.
NANCY: I'm so glad you're here.
RICHARD: Me too.
YVONNE: You look good next to Nancy. Couple of hot chicks.
BEN: Are we ready?
ANNE: Yes.
LOUISE: Richard, put your beer down.
RICHARD: Oh. Right.
LOUISE: I probably have lipstick on my teeth.
BEN: Let's try to make this a nice one. We might use this for Christmas cards or Easter cards or something. We haven't had a good
family photo in a few years. We have to get back in the swing of it,
or we'll forget what everybody looked like.
BOO: Are we ready, my arm is getting tired.
ANNE: I'm ready.
139 BEN: Yes, we're ready.
BOO: Here goes...
He releases the timer and scurries over to stand with RICHARD.They
all stare at the camera, smiling. After a second their smiles begin to
tire and wilt. After a long pause...
NANCY: Are you sure you did it right?
BOO: Yeah.
Pause.
LOUISE: How long are we going to have to wait?
BEN: (looking back at the camera) Just wait. Just keep still.
Pause.
NANCY: Here Mom. Hold my hand.
ANNE looks at NANCY,takes her hand, holds it, tight. ANNE smiles
gratefully. The family continues to wait, only ANNE and NANCY
looking at each other. Still the flash does not come.
Long pause as they hold their breath.
Slow blackout.
140 141  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Damien Atkins is a playwright and actor who grew up in Edmonton and now makes his home in Toronto. His plays include the
solo showMiss Chatelaine, which played at The Grand Theatre and
Theatre Passe Muraille, Real Live Girl, which will open at Buddies
in Bad Times in 2001 and Good Mother, which will make its world
premiere at the Stratford Festival, where he is also a company
member.   $14.95
gOOD ITlOtHeR by Damien Atkins
Winner of UBC's Creative Writing Residency Prize in Stageplay 2000
What would you do if suddenly your mom wasn't your
mom any more? The Driver family struggles to cope with
an accident that whs them of a mother and leaves them to
care for her as she fights to regain her memory.
"Like all good dramas, Good Mother screams with vitality, pirouettes with grace and trembles with originality.
It's the real thing and I'm pleased that it ended up being the first winner of UBC's Creative Writing Residency
Prize in Stageplay."
—Bryan Wade, Residency Prize Coordinator

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