Close to You

A short and very abstract play.

Close to You

A bare stage. Slowly, a single pool of light to the far left side lights up. It is a perfect circle. Gradually, the intensity of the light brightens, threatening to blind us for a moment until it dims down to tolerance. We wait for a minute until a second pool of light comes up in line with the first on the right side of the stage. This does the same as the first light, brightening with much intensity but then returns to tolerance. Finally, the last pool of light glows in between the others far upstage and center, to reveal the silhouette of A NAKED MAN standing in a tub of water. His back is turned to us. The NAKED MAN can be a father, a brother, a lover, a rapist, or a photographer. We don’t know. What we do know is that the light he is in doesn’t get brighter. It just obeys the laws of darkness, and is barely lit, leaving the man in an uncomfortable night. From stage left, A GIRL walks in backwards, holding an empty leash in her left hand and a basket in the other. She seems to be looking for something, or searching for someone—perhaps the animal that belongs on the leash, or the food that belongs in the basket. This too, we do not know. What we do know is that the basket is white, and the leash is white with red. Both were made to be white, but a crimson design lives on the collar of the leash. The crimson is blood. A GIRL steps into the first stage left pool of light, and blinks eight times in an attempt to clear her vision. She inhales deeply. The sound of her inhale is magnified, and the tiny breath can be heard from six directions. A DRUNK enters from upstage, passes the NAKED MAN, and joins the GIRL, dressed in an elegant evening gown made of green silk. Her wet hair hangs on her cheeks, and she appears to be very pregnant, stretching the delicate fabric too thin around her swollen belly. The two speak.

GIRL: I think I’ve lost something.

DRUNK: I know.

GIRL: I’ve got to find it before… before… before... (She seems to be stuck on a loop)

DRUNK: Before it’s too late. (She reminds)

GIRL: (Smiles) Yes, before it’s too late.

The GIRL attempts to walk along to the next pool of light, on the far right side of the stage, but the DRUNK stops her with a grab to her arm with the leash in it. The GIRL winces in discomfort, but doesn’t cry out. She looks at the cruel hand that is squeezing the life out of it. Their eyes meet and the two speak again.

GIRL: Mother, please let go of my arm.

The DRUNK releases her grip, reaches to the leash, and takes it from the GIRL. She then fastens the collar around the GIRL’s neck, and holds onto the other end.

DRUNK: Give me my bottle.

The GIRL places the white basket on the floor, and opens it up. She pulls out an empty baby bottle, and then a bottle of tequila of her choice. She then fills the baby’s bottle to the brim, secures the top, replaces the tequila inside the basket, and shuts it. The GIRL hands the bottle to the DRUNK after first checking the temperature of the liquid on her wrist. It seems to be satisfactory. The DRUNK puts the bottle up to her lips, and drinks and drinks and drinks and drinks. All gone.

DRUNK: You better find it. (To her mistake)

And as the first pool of light dims, the DRUNK, now sprawled out on the floor, content and falling asleep rubbing her pregnant belly, we hear faint drum beats in the distance. Between each beat we hear—

THE WARNING: Find him. Find him. Find Him.

GIRL: I promise. I’ll find you.

It stops.

The GIRL walks out of the bright light, and into the second pool of light on the right side of the stage, the leash still around her neck and leaving the basket behind.

From off stage right we hear voices laughing. The GIRL opens her arms to the voices in preparation for an embrace… but no one comes. She puts her arms down. The LAUGHTER ensues. The GIRL takes this as her cue to open her arms again. No one comes. She puts her arms down. The LAUGHTER mocks and jeers. The GIRL opens her arms again, only this time she closes her eyes. The LAUGHTER gets louder. It screams with joy. The LAUGHTER laughs so much that eventually the laughs become distorted. Some are laughing. Some are screaming. Some are hissing. It then stops abruptly.

GIRL: (Calling toward the voices) I’ll find you.

Just then a POSTMAN on a bicycle enters from stage left with a tiny package.

POSTMAN: You left before I could give you this. You would be lost without it, babe. Call me later, ok? I love you.

The POSTMAN circles around the GIRL, and tosses the package in the air and exits. As the package is suspended in the air, we hear a gun shot off stage that makes the GIRL jump. Out from stage right, the voices that belong to the LAUGHTER run out onstage. BOYS, GIRLS, GRANDMOTHER and JEALOUSY run out with balloons. The BOYS also carry plastic guns. The GIRLS also carry knitting needles as knives. They are playing some sort of game, and they release the balloons into the air. The package has landed in the spot of its choice. GRANDMOTHER and JEALOUSY walk up to the GIRL. They speak.

JEALOUSY: Look at her. Look at how darling she is. Isn’t she darling, mother?

GRANDMOTHER: Last her saw I day the as Pretty .

JEALOUSY: (Lifts up the dress of the GIRL to reveal her underwear and she gasps) No one is going to fuck you with those stupid things on. Mother, tell her. Tell her how no one would even think or come close to fucking her if she’s got panties on. Your mother knows it. Has she not told you that panties make you a prude? You’re not so pretty anymore. You’re just a tease.

The BOYS and GIRLS pause for a moment in their game to stare at the GIRL, with her underwear exposed.

BOYS and GIRLS: No one is going to fuck you with those stupid things on!

They resume their game. The GIRLS seem to be winning. Someone fortunate kicks the package towards the NAKED MAN.

JEALOUSY: Mother, tell her!

GRANDMOTHER: You for you love will someone Heaven of image the in you made God .

JEALOUSY slaps GRANDMOTHER across the face, causing her to fall. The GIRLS, who were once running, all fall to the floor.

They are dead. The BOYS win.

JEALOUSY yanks on the leash as the BOYS crowd around the GIRL, and pulls on her dress attempting to see the “prude,” except for one BOY. He makes his way, tentatively, to the NAKED MAN standing in the tub upstage. The GIRL watches him in horror, and attempts to fight her way out of her fan club. She breaks free and runs to the BOY. The GIRL is suspended in darkness, unable to enter into the dim light. She is not allowed in. JEALOUSY and the BOYS are trapped within their light, unable to chase after her. She kneels down, and opens her arms wide for his embrace.

BOY: (To the NAKED MAN) I want to be just like you.

He then prepares to move towards the GIRL’s loving arms, but the NAKED MAN, in one swift motion, stops him and snaps the BOY’s neck, turning his torso ever so slightly. His body falls to the floor. The BOYS fall with him.

They are dead. JEALOUSY wins.

JEALOUSY, just like her sister, lies down on the floor in the pile of bodies and exhales, rubbing her belly. She does not die. Both lights inhabited by the DRUNK and JEALOUSLY dim down and are extinguished. All that is left is the eerie glow of the only light remaining, upstage. The GIRL, who is allowed to enter now, walks into the glow and picks up the package from the POSTMAN, and opens it. It’s a tiny bar of soap. The NAKED MAN holds out his hand.

NAKED MAN: You found me.

GIRL: Yes. I was looking everywhere for you. You are supposed to have this. (She removes the collar of the leash around her neck, and hands it to him. He fastens it around his neck and the GIRL pats his head)

NAKED MAN: I’ve been a very bad boy without it. (He indicates to the dead body of the BOY. He sits down in the tub of water)

GIRL: (Sighs) I suppose you have.

The GIRL steps into the tub with the NAKED MAN and in her dress. She sits in it, in between his legs. The GIRL makes sure to hold onto the leash with one hand while she lifts her leg and begins to clean it with the tiny bar of soap. And very softly, overhead, “They Long to Be” by the Carpenters is sung by the dead bodies on the stage.


fact or fiction
Melanie Ernestina
Melanie Ernestina
Read next: The State
Melanie Ernestina

An Afro-Latina that has a few things to say.

See all posts by Melanie Ernestina