Waiting for Beckett

Dramatis Personae:
Zak (A young man)
Sara (A young woman)

Lights up on the stage, which is set up to appear like a small copse of trees, surrounded by university. A path extends from a door at the edge of a building which is STAGE RIGHT. ZAK is sitting just left of the center, on a large tree stump in such a way that it appears he’s taken great pains to appear casual and relaxed. SARA enters from the door, she glances briefly at ZAK, then walks to UPSTAGE RIGHT and waits. ZAK watches her. A beat

Zak: I’m waiting.

Sara: what?

Zak: I’m waiting for something.

Sara: Waiting for what?

Zak: I’m waiting for something to happen.

Sara: Excuse me?

Zak: I dunno, something. I’ve been going to this university for three years now. Nothing’s happened, so I figure I’m due for something.

Sara: Like what?

Zak: Can’t say. If I knew I would’ve told you by now.

Sara: So if you don’t know what you’re waiting for, why are you waiting here?

Zak: It seemed like the best place. There’s this old stump, lots of shade, people come by here

all the time. I figure this is a good place to wait for the Thing.

Sara: Well I hope you find it.

SARA turns away and does her best to look busy.

Zak: I don’t have to find it, it’ll find me.

Sara: You’re sure?

Zak: Of course I’m sure didn’t I tell you I’m due?

ZAK shifts in his seat; first he cranes his neck upwards and sets his shoulders straight, then frowns and leans backwards until he is almost laying down, as if lounging in a nonexistent chair. When the strain of this became too much he finally lifts his head and sits cross legged, his arms wrapped around his knees to hold his unsupported back into place.

Zak: This seems like a better position for the Thing.

They sit in silence for a beat or two, then ZAK reaches down and with a grin produces a tiny silver coin from the ground.

Zak: Found a nickel.

Sara: There you found your thing.

Zak: Nope, there’s no way this could be the Thing. A dime maybe, but not a nickel, a nickel is the worst coin possible, it can only do half the job a dime can, and no one really wants them…plus it’s bigger than a dime. I always wondered about that. I mean nickels are worth less than dimes right? So why are they bigger?”

Sara: Pennies are bigger than dimes too

Zak: Well yeah, but pennies are lucky, so they have to be bigger than their worth would indicate, nickels, there’s nothing lucky about them, unless they’re those buffalo and Indian head nickels, I suppose those could be-”

Sara: Who cares anyway?

Taken aback, ZAK cradles the nickel a moment, then slips it into his pocket.

Zak: I dunno, I suppose I do. I mean not that much. It’s not like I lay awake at night wondering about the mystery of the “nickel”. I suppose it’s just kind of interesting.

Sara: Maybe.

Zak: Anyway I was just making conversation. I feel a little uncomfortable when no one is speaking…I’m not bothering you am I?

Sara: (lying) no.

Zak: It’s just, I dunno sometimes I get this feeling in my chest. It’s not really pain or anything, it’s like…anxiety. Like I’m excited for no reason. Anyway, I’ve got it bad right now. I just got out of class and “Bam” it hit me.

Sara: Maybe you should go see a doctor.

ZAK grins.

Zak: Nope, I’m pretty sure it’s not a medical problem. It could be psychological, I suppose, but definitely not medical. It’s more like, like something…something important is trying to claw its’ way out of my chest, in a full on “John Hurt moment”…

Sara: A what?

Zak: You know, John Hurt, from the first “Alien” movie. He was the actor who first had an alien burst out of his chest. It’s one of the most famous moments in sci-fi history.

Sara: I never saw Alien.

Zak: Neither did I, but I know about the ‘John Hurt moment’, like I said it’s a famous moment.

ZAK shifts position again on the stump, swinging his legs away from her as if he was in a swivel chair.

Zak: Anyway like I said, I get it sometimes. I’d think it might have something to do with depression, but I’ve been depressed before, I know how that feels. This is something different. Not everyday depression, mind you, clinical depression, big “D” Depression. Like what they advertise those drugs for on TV. (A beat) I had that for a while, but I’m over it now…

(A beat)

A twig falls from the tree and hits ZAK on the head. He mumbles something unintelligible.

Sara: I’m sorry?

Zak: Oh nothing, A stick just hit me on the head.

Sara: There, that’s your thing.

Zak: (Picks up the stick and examines it) Nope. This is just a stick, definitely not the Thing.

Sara: For someone who doesn’t know what they’re waiting for, you sure are being picky.

Zak: (frowns) I suppose I am…but I’m sure I’ll know the Thing when it gets here, I mean if I didn’t recognize it, it wouldn’t be a thing, now would it?

Sara: Why wouldn’t it be?

Zak: Well, because this thing is something special. I mean, I suppose we go through our day with things happening to us every second, over and over, the same things, different things, sometimes even new things, but they aren’t Special Things, and if a thing isn’t special it’s really not a new thing either. A non-special thing is just the same thing you went through earlier, but in a different suit. (A beat) ehh, I’m not even really sure where I’m going with this…I guess…I guess I’m just bored. Things aren’t going all that well with my classes, and I’m not even sure I really have the motivation to improve things, aside from the fear of my parents kicking my ass, but I’ll tell you, that only makes me work just hard enough to pull off a “B”. Also, my social life’s really not that much to speak of either. Yeah I go out, but it’s not like anything special ever happens. It’s as if I’ve been attending the same party for three years straight and I’m just now realizing it isn’t even that great; just the same boring people talking about the same boring things. I’m sick of it. I want my life to start.

Sara: Wow…you’ve got some problems.

Zak: Yeah, I suppose so…but it’s not like I’m gonna start collecting heads in a jar anytime soon…I’m just restless. Anyway enough about me, what are you waiting for?

Sara: Me?

Zak: Yeah, you. You’ve been here for a while. How come?

Sara: I’m waiting for my boyfriend.

Zak: Oh.

(A LONG pause)

Sara: You ever wonder about destiny?

Zak: What?

Sara: Destiny, you know, like you seem to think it’s your “destiny” to find this thing today. Do you think people are destined to be together?

Zak: Hmm, well I’ve thought about it…I’m not sure. Part of me wants to believe that somewhere out there, there’s that perfect someone you’re meant to find…a soulmate or something like that, but then again my Mom’s always said that there are lots of different people you can be happy with…

Sara: which one do you like better?

Zak: I’m not sure…on one hand, it’s very comforting and romantic to imagine that somewhere out there, there’s just that one perfect person…but what if you mess it up? What if you’ve already met them, and they passed you up, or you passed them up?

Sara: But if it’s something special won’t you just know?

Zak: You got me there. But say you recognize it, and you get together with them, but for whatever reason it doesn’t work out? Then you couldn’t be happy, ever.

Sara: But if there’s lots of people you could still mess things up.

Zak: I suppose you could. Still it seems like you’d get so many chances in your life, you’re bound to get it right at least once.

Sara: Mark and I are in love.

(A beat)

Zak: I’m glad to hear that.

Sara: We are. We’re going to get married some time soon. I mean he hasn’t said anything, but I can tell he’s thinking about it. He’s so sweet. Our anniversary is coming up, and I think he’s going to propose then.

Zak: hmm…

Sara: We’ve been together since the first day of Freshmen year. We met in the food court just like my parents did, and he had these amazing eyes-

Zak: And you’re not worried?

Sara: Worried about what?

Zak: About getting involved like that this early. You two got together the first day of Freshman year, right? So how do you even know that he’s “the one”? It’s been what? Four years now?


Sara:
Two years.

Zak: Just two years? You’re planning on getting hitched two years into your college experience? Why would you want to cut your single life short before it even begins?

Sara: My parents did.

Zak: Yeah but, so what? I mean my parents met in college too, but I haven’t gotten myself latched to anyone. It’s hard to even find a woman around here I can talk to, let alone someone I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Sara: What can I say? Boys just fall in love with me.

Zak: Right. Still it seems, well, rather sudden.

Sara: It beats sitting around on a stump by yourself.

Zak: Touche’.

(A beat)

Zak: Do you ever feel like you’ve got something to do? Something really big. Big and important. Something that you need to do before you die, before you can be happy…(Looks over at Sara. She doesn’t answer) Well I do. Maybe that’s why my chest hurts, because there’s something inside of me that knows something’s got to happen, but it doesn’t. It knows something is missing. Whatever I’m supposed to do, I haven’t done it yet. You know I’ve had a canvas hung up on my wall for almost a year now? I made this perfect canvas, and I’m too afraid to paint anything on it. Something should go there, I just don’t know what, and even if I did, I could mess it up, and then I won’t have the canvas anymore. I’ve stared at it for hours on end, waiting for some kind of inspiration…but there’s nothing. It just sits there and looks right back at me.

Sara: You paint?

Zak: Not really. I mean I feel like I should paint. I mean the canvas is right there, begging to be painted on, but I just…don’t.

Sara: Why not?

Zak: I don’t have any paints.

Sara: So why don’t you go buy some?

Zak: The time isn’t right yet. The paints are really expensive and I have so much else–

Sara: That’s an excuse.

Zak: I suppose it is.

Sara: So are you going to buy them?

Zak: No.

Sara: What the hell is wrong with you?

Zak: (Surprised) Nothing’s wrong with me.

Sara: You want to paint?

Zak: Yes.

Sara: But you won’t paint.

Zak: No.

Sara: (Gives ZAK a shove) Then everything’s wrong with you!

Zak: I don’t have to take this.

Sara: Yes you do. You do have to take this because you won’t get off that damn stump!

SARA turns and walks a few feet away. ZAK opens his mouth, as if to speak, then closes it. (A beat)

Zak: (To himself) It just seems more real to me if it’s empty.

Sara: What?

Zak: It just seems more real to me if it’s empty…I mean, that’s been my life up till now hasn’t it? Just, potential. Nothing’s happened. Nothing’s changed. Something could change, but it probably won’t. After all this talk about romance and destiny I’ll probably just end up going home…That’s how life is. It’s like a Beckett play…

Sara: A what?

Zak: Nothing. Forget I said anything.

(A beat)

Sara: Get up.

Zak: What?

Sara: Get up.

Zak: No.

SARA Grabs ZAK by his arm and starts pulling.

Zak: (Pulling back) What are you doing–?

Sara: I’m making you–.

Zak: (Grabbing the stump with his other hand) Are you crazy?–

Sara: Grow a pair–

Zak: HELP! HELP–!

Sara: And Get. Your ASS–

Zak: I’M BEING–!

Sara: THE. HELL. OFF. THIS. STUMP!

ZAK’s arm slips out of SARA’s grip and she tumbles backwards and falls. ZAK lands back on the stump. SARA lays on the ground.

Sara: Ouch…Zak: Are you okay?

Sara: I’m fine…Are you getting up?

ZAK is silent. (Lights down)