Thwarted – Prize winner Shapiro Writing Contest, University of Toledo, Spring 2015
BECKY: 32, stay-at-home mother of a three year old daughter. Recently started to take classes at a local community college to gain a degree in social working, a life long dream of hers. Bohemian in look and style.
LANDON: 37, husband of Becky, father of their three year old daughter. Mechanical Engineer, works in the car industry. Trendy in look but more preppy than Becky.
MAIA: 3 year old daughter – recorded
NIKKI: Landon’s 25-year-old sister – recorded
Mid-sized city in the mid-west. Stage is split: 2/3rd is a homely living room and 1/3rd is a downstairs half-bath.
Front door to the house is stage right and enters straight into the living room. Furniture includes: a mismatching love-seat and armchair – both covered in too many cushions; a reclaimed wood coffee table; a buffet cabinet with assortment of trinkets, photographs, a toddler’s artwork and a vase of flowers on top; a free standing coat stand. A toddler’s toys are dotted about the living room that the characters have to step over and around throughout the scene. There is an archway at the back of the room that leads to a kitchen offstage.
The half-bath has a toilet (upstage, facing the audience), a sink and an under-sink cabinet – a mirror hangs above the sink and there is a trash can. Bathroom is in darkness at the start of the scene.
One wet and cold Saturday late afternoon. They’ve just returned home from Landon’s mother’s birthday party. Maia is spending the weekend with her Aunt. The present.
THWARTED by Morag Hastie
(BECKY and LANDON enter from stage right. BECKY leads the way dressed in long duffle coat, hat, scarf, gloves. LANDON follows holding a large golf umbrella over both of them. LANDON is dressed in a short, down coat with scarf. BECKY bursts through the door and starts to stamp her feet to warm up. LANDON stops before the door, turns to shake the umbrella off before entering through the door. BECKY starts to peel off her outer layers and hangs them on the coat stand)
BECKY: Your Mom is batshit crazy! I mean any women that goes through childbirth more than twice is crazy but to do it eight times… that’s certifiable. How did you grow up sane in amongst that rabble? And why do we have to do such a huge birthday party for her every year? I mean, I get the big birthdays, but every year?
LANDON: Makes for plenty of relatives to take Maia off our hands!
BECKY: True… I guess.
LANDON: (moves towards the archway to the kitchen) Speaking of which – a beer to toast our weekend of freedom?
LANDON: Oh, come on. Indulge a little!
BECKY: I had way too many cupcakes at the party, I feel positively sick.
LANDON: (talking over his shoulder as he exists for the kitchen) I’ll get you one, it’ll counteract the sugar!
(BECKY grabs at a flowery cloth back pack that she dropped by the coat stand, and pulls out a smart phone. She rapidly taps out a text, then places it on the coffee table and sits at the end of the love-seat, legs tucked underneath her, and stares distractedly into space while she fidgets with a cushion. LANDON re-enters the living room from the kitchen carrying two glasses of whisky, places one glass on the coffee table in front of BECKY then sits in the arm chair holding the other glass and puts his feet up on the coffee table and takes a swig)
BECKY: (beat before she notices the glass) What the? Thought you were getting a beer?
LANDON: (smirking) I figured what the hell? Nikki has Maia till Tuesday. Gives us three whole toddler-free nights, we’ve got to celebrate? Sushi! Let’s get sushi for dinner!
BECKY: (too quickly) No.
LANDON: Why on earth not? You love sushi. (moves to the buffet and rummages through a draw for a take-out menu) I know we’ve got an old menu for that place on Central …
BECKY: Really, I’m not in the mood. That frosting was ridiculous – I don’t think I can eat anything else today.
LANDON: Here it is! (smoothes out the paper menu on the buffet)
BECKY: (more intently fidgeting with the cushion) Anyway … I had a sushi lunch with the girls last week, can’t we do something else?
LANDON: What girls?
BECKY: The Mom Mafia… (interrupted by her phone vibrating with an incoming text message)
LANDON: Tell me you didn’t text Nikki already? We barely left twenty minutes ago!
BECKY: I was just checking in… but look she sent a selfie of the two of them! (holds up the phone for LANDON to see)
LANDON: Good lord, would you look at her, our baby girl isn’t a baby anymore.
BECKY: (smiling warmly) No, she is not.
LANDON: (sitting back in the armchair) Three next month! (beat) So, when we having another one?
BECKY: (stands and moves to the buffet. busies herself tidying the photographs etc) You always start in with this when we’ve spent the day with your family …
LANDON: No I don’t. Anyway. We said we’d talk about this when Maia hit three … so…
BECKY: She isn’t three yet.
LANDON: Oh, come on. She’s three.
BECKY: You said it yourself – we’ve got a toddler free weekend. We should go to the movies. When was the last time we got to go to the movies? Isn’t that new comic book movie out? The one you’ve been going on about …
LANDON: The timing is perfect. Maia is basically done with diapers, and she’ll be starting with pre-school in the summer. You’re gonna need something new to fill your day.
BECKY: (with a flash of anger) I do have something to fill my day. Classes, remember! We agreed I could take on more once Maia was at pre-school.
LANDON: But didn’t you see how she was with Andrew’s baby today – doting over him and rocking him – she’ll make a perfect big sister. She’ll be your little helper.
BECKY: (non-committal grunt)
LANDON: And once there is two of them they will totally entertain themselves. I’m getting old, I don’t think my knees can handle playing puppy for hours on end much longer. For the sake of my aging knees we have to do it.
(BECKY’S phone vibrates with another message and she rushes to pick up but LANDON reaches it first and holding it up reads …)
It’s Nikki again
(LANDON swipes the smartphone and a video starts playing. They both watch it – the excited voice of a three-year-old bursts out injected with that of a women)
Mama, I paint with nik-nik … I paint for you, mama
Say ‘Love you mama and dada’
Loooove yoooou mamadada
(video ends. LANDON smiles proudly still looking at the phone but BECKY smiles sadly with a hint of tears in her eyes. without looking at BECKY, LANDON moves towards the kitchen again, with his empty whiskey glass in his hand)
This whiskey has made me hungry – I’m gonna get a snack. We still got that great stilton?
(LANDON exits to the kitchen and the clattering of drawers/cupboards and plates can be heard. BECKY stares at her still untouched whiskey glass for a moment before taking it and dumping the contents, ice and all, into the vase of cut flowers on the buffet. She returns the empty glass to the coffee table)
LANDON: (Offstage) I saw this great mini-van at the dealer the other day. It was fire-engine red! You and the kids are going to rock driving around town in one just like it.
BECKY: You know what I think about bloody minivans ..
LANDON: (Re-enters carrying a tray of food, blue cheese, deli meats, pâté) I’m totally playing with you… I found that stilton and some liver pâte at the back of the fridge… what happened to your whisky?
BECKY: I drank it.
LANDON: What? You …
LANDON: Huh. (beat) I gotta pee.
(Simultaneous action. LANDON enters the half-bath and turns on the light. he then makes a song and dance of pretending to go to the toilet – noisily lifts the seat, starts singing an out-of-tune song louder than is necessary. he then goes to the under sink cabinet (the door opens towards the audience so he half disappears behind the door) while still singing. in the living room BECKY snatches at her phone and makes a call while standing with her back to the bathroom)
BECKY: He knows … No, I didn’t tell him but somehow he knows … He has to know, he has been offering me whisky and sushi! … I don’t know, perhaps …
(reappears from the depths of the cabinet empty handed. looks around the bathroom annoyed before zeroing in on the trash can and starts pulling out wads of tissues. at the bottom he finds his prize – he holds an at-home pregnancy stick aloft triumphantly)
I knew it!
(he bursts out of the bathroom in time to catch the end of the phone conversation)
BECKY: (still with her back to the bathroom) I know, I know, Nikki, but I’m not ready to talk about it, if I tell him it’s real … I don’t know what I want yet… No! I haven’t decided anything …
LANDON: What’s going on?
BECKY: (sharply turns to find LANDON standing in the bathroom doorway still holding the pregnancy test) I have to go.
LANDON: You told Nikki before me…? When …? (brandishing the test like a weapon) When did you take this? How long have you … you told Nikki before me?
BECKY: This …
LANDON: And what do you mean you don’t know what you want? What the hell does that mean? You don’t known what you want? Becks?
BECKY: Will you let me speak!
LANDON: (moves to sit on the edge of the arm chair poker straight and defensive. still clutching the pregnancy test) Please, speak.
BECKY: (perches on the edge of the love-seat at the most distant point from LANDON that she can be. takes a moment to gather herself) This morning. I took the test this morning.
LANDON: And you told Nikki before me? Why would you do that?
BECKY: She walked in on me being sick at your Mom’s.
LANDON: When were you going to tell me?
BECKY: I don’t know. Soon. I just needed a minute.
LANDON: A minute for what? This is great news! This is what we want.
BECKY: It’s what you want.
LANDON: You don’t?
BECKY: (standing. pacing) I don’t know.
LANDON: You are pregnant. We are having another child.
BECKY: But are we? We have, you know … options.
LANDON: (stands angrily) What the hell do you mean options? We don’t have options. … You can’t mean … No. You don’t mean (angry hiss) abortion!
BECKY: I …
LANDON: Abortion! You want to get rid of our child?
BECKY: No… I mean …
LANDON: Who are you? This isn’t you. You are a mother. A loving, wonderful mother. And you love being a mother. You love Maia (beat) I don’t you?
BECKY: Yes! Of course I do. I love her completely. This isn’t about her.
LANDON: Then who is it about?
BECKY: It’s just …
LANDON: Abortion? Why would you even? We aren’t people that get abortions!
BECKY: What on earth does that mean?
LANDON: Come on, you know what I mean.
BECKY: No, really. What people is abortion for exactly?
LANDON: Not us. You know, teenagers, or poor people. People who are … Are you worried about money? Cause we are fine.
BECKY: I know we are fine…
LANDON: Stupid people! That is who abortion for.
BECKY: We were stupid. We got trashed on whisky and forgot the fucking condom!
LANDON: And that is reason to kill our baby?
BECKY: It isn’t a baby. Not yet – it is just a bunch of cells!
(LANDON sits down on the arm chair in dumbfounded silence. Stares into space. BECKY sits on the love-seat again)
BECKY: I’m sorry.
LANDON: (with sudden concern) Oh God, you’re scared.
LANDON: Of course you are. How could you not be. It’s Lucy, right? (moves over to the love seat) Oh, Becks. I totally get it now. Losing a baby like that – so late in pregnancy. I just can’t even imagine. It’s horrible. But we aren’t them. It’s not going to happen to us.
BECKY: You can’t know that. We aren’t special. (beat) But no, I’m not scared. Not of that.
LANDON: Then what are you scared of?
BECKY: What if we have this child and I resent it? I resent it so much that it destroys this perfect family we already have?
LANDON: Don’t be stupid. You aren’t going to resent it. You are going to love it. And nurture it and teach it. Just like you have with Maia.
BECKY: But can’t we even talk about it. Is it really so terrible to think about all the options?
LANDON: There are no options. We are not killing our baby. Period.
BECKY: (standing and full of anger) You aren’t listening to me. I don’t know if I want another baby. I don’t know if I can do it all again. I had plans. There are other things I want.
LANDON: (with venom) Perhaps you should have thought about that three weeks ago.
BECKY: That’s cold.
LANDON It’s the truth though… right? (beat) So, this is the plan now. We are having a sibling for Maia.
BECKY: But what about me? When is it my turn?
LANDON: Your turn for what?
BECKY: A life outside of this! (gestures around the toddler-centric room)
LANDON: What are you talking about? You have a life. I would think it could be considered a bloody good life too.
BECKY: It is always about anyone but me. It was about you and your work and what opportunities came along for you. So we ended up here, in this God-forgotten town that doesn’t even come close to the list of places we talked about living. And then it became about Maia and I had to quit work cause I earned less, oh and well, I have the boobs. Right, that was the rational, wasn’t it?
LANDON: You said you wanted to stay home. You said you wanted to move here! And now you are going to use it against me?
BECKY: I did want it. Mostly. And I have loved it. I have loved being at home with Maia. But you know that I’ve wanted to be a social worker for years, you know this, and finally it was going to be my turn. I was going to get my degree and not have to spend my day thinking about the color and frequency of my child’s poo or constantly impaling myself on lego bricks. It was my turn. My turn to feel like a functioning adult again but then we get drunk on whisky and before I even know if I want to do it all again I’m staring at another year of nursing for forty-five minutes every two god-damn hours and spending my days with other moms one-upping each other about what milestones their precious darlings have reached. I don’t think I can do it all again. I just don’t know. I just need a fucking minute.
(BECKY runs to the bathroom and slams the door shut then angrily hits the toilet seat closed – she sinks down to sitting on the toilet seat and paces her head in her hands. LANDON reaches for BECKY’S phone that is still sitting on the coffee table and makes a call)
LANDON: How could you not tell me? You should have told me! … What? … Jesus, Nikki why did you let her play with marbles?
(LANDON hangs up abruptly and signs heavily, hanging his head. Then shouts to BECKY in the bathroom …)
We have to go. Maia has a marble stuck up her nose.