A small excerpt from a play I’m working on. Trying to experiment with struggles and perceptions of who needs who more, who’s weaker or stronger, who’s actually weaker or stronger, who can deal, who needs help yada yada.
Uma: [a sarcastic laugh and pours herself a drink] It’s like peeling off dry skin with you. [stirs with one finger]. Uma!
Maya: [Observes the world outside the window. She is clearly detached but gives off the impression that it’s an act. Unlike Uma’s drink, Maya is hard to stir up] I feel ill.
Uma: No don’t you dare. [Walks briskly toward the chair, using her eyes to push Maya back down].
You have to stop this dramatic display of utmost shock. Haven’t you had enough? Don’t you want to scream? Cry? Punch a dry wall? Something?
Maya: [quietly] No.
Uma: [sarcastic] Oh! Stellar!
Maya: You know I get migraines. I need to lie down.
Uma: No no no, not this time goddammnit! This time you will sit down. This time you’re going to listen to what I have to say whether you like it or not.
Maya: [Tries to get up from her chair] I don’t need this right now.
Uma: [stomps forward] You don’t need this right now? YOU?
I don’t need this but I’m here aren’t I? Doing something? Attempting to try and make things easier?
Maya: You’re not making things easier for my headache. [she says this in a cool manner with no genuine intent to seem bratty]
Uma: Oh for the love of god, she’s dead all right! Dead, dead, dead, dead DEAD!
Maya: [looks down] I know.
Uma: Really? Do you? Because you seem like you’re in one of your dazes again. I mean all I see are the same wandering, careless eyes on a bigger body. Can’t you grow up and I don’t know – express! [Uma is sophisticated with her chunky jewelry and well matched outfit. She is blunt with everyone and seems hardened by the past. Therefore, she doesn’t come off as a nag]
Maya: I don’t need to make a scene and neither do you. [Maya is quiet but in ways she is just as sharp as Uma] Why are you picking at a wound that is dead? You said it yourself, she’s dead.
Uma: Not the problem though. [walks around the room, almost like she’s circling Maya] This problem of – just- communication- we just need to talk it – try to –
Maya: [cutting her short] I need to rest. Please. [she says this with haste to dismiss her sister but primarily to escape this conversation]
Uma: [A pause of eye contact between the two. She turns around feeling defeated, making her way back to the liquor cabinet] Remember that time she worked four jobs? Of course you don’t. You don’t remember how she’d come home with blisters on her feet after missing the bus.
Maya: She never complained. That’s what I remember most.
Uma: [Pours another drink] She should have. To rile up some fraction of your immovable soul. You didn’t bother. You never tried hard at school. I had to stand up for you, make your lunch, do your homework, while you’d stare into nothingness? She worked those four jobs for both of us! So we’d make something of ourselves. So one day we wouldn’t get knocked up by some ghost of a man who’d leave a
nine teen year old on her own, wasting away her dreams to single-handedly raise two mistakes.
[A pause] Well I wasn’t a mistake.
[Points at Maya with her drink] You were. The introvert. The ‘artist’. And where did all that smudged out, charcoal chicken shit get you huh? Tell me, Maya!
Answer will you! [Maya continues to stare out of the window]
WILL YOU JUST TRY TO GIVE A QUARTER OF A SHIT FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE? FOR MA?
Maya: Stop it.
Uma: [condescendingly] Oh no do you feel faint?
Maya: I’m not doing this Uma.
Uma: Then what are you doing? [chuckles] Huh? I mean [her expression soon melts into a solemn look as though her emotions have taken too many blows through dodges] what are-how is this supposed to. I –
Maya: Maybe Uncle Raj is the person to talk to. You know I’m not the best at this. [hint of concern]
Uma: Yes you’ve always been the quieter twin but don’t-don’t [chokes up]. Don’t be so oblivious. So distant. I – I can’t be strong for both of us. You can’t ask that of me. [Maya is unshaken by these words and continues to walk to the door].
You’re my sister [Maya stops before reaching for the door handle].
I know you need me and I need you here with me too. Can you do that? Can you?
[Maya turns around. There is a gleam in her eyes, almost as though she will let go of her aloofness. But she simply breaks eye contact and looks at the ground]
The one time you land a job – Lord knows how- that doesn’t involve Ma paying for all your acrylic paints while you stick a paintbrush between your toes [holds her wrist to her nose and sniffs] and then this. She was so proud, telling me over the phone. For a second I thought you got all your ducks in a row [kisses her teeth]
Maya: I wish it too sometimes. I- [clenching the door handle behind her back] Usually the one behind the wheel gets it worse. [Uma looks to the bottom of her glass in an attempt of imitated apathy]
She uh .. she wanted me to get a steady job. [she lets go of the handle and proceeds forward] You know, to pay the bills. I said no. But then she gave me that look. That one where her eyes would widen and say “you don’t know what I’ve put myself through. You don’t know what I’ve done to get you here”. And I just… broke a little.
She got me the job -some client from her old accounting days- and you know Ma, she had to be there every step of the way. Even the forty minute car ride.
[Shakes her head] It’s just – someone in that car deserved it and it was not her.
Uma: [Lets out a sardonic chuckle] Are you seriously trying to tell me that Ma’s ..
was some karmic retribution of yours that happened to go off track? It wasn’t because of you okay! Things happen!
Maya: [mumbling] That’s all it was. It was an accident.
Uma: [simply acknowledging] I know Maya. I never blamed-
Maya: You didn’t even see the size of that truck! We were at a red light! We-we were waiting! HE CAME OUT OF NOWHERE! The blood and her screams.. it was like an anchor was pulling me down. Drowning us both. So don’t say that- [her tears gush and her eyes are dart around with confusion and fear]
Uma: Maya I just said it wasn’t because of-
Maya: She was just sitting [speaks in muffles through her sobs] beside me with her hands twisted-oh god-there was so much glass and blood. I called out to her like when we were little and would get frantic thinking we’d lost her for a second at the park. But this time she was right by me, Uma [in heaving cries] and I… I wish it was me.
Uma: That makes one of us [she doesn’t say this as a stab at Maya, but to break the tension]. Because I don’t wish it were you …. or Ma. So don’t, for second, for millionth of a thousandth of a blink of an eye, wish something like that. If anything, it should have been that lard-ass of a truck driver.
Maya: [giggles] Lucky he had some cushioning.
Uma: [embraces Maya] You know how people say they’re there for you? It’s not necessarily proximity or you know a call or an email. It’s like this phenomenon of comfort. Knowing somebody is by you, on your side and now that Ma’s … [Maya clutches onto her while Uma hugs her back] We gotta be there for each other.
Maya: Yeah..Each other’s halves. [pause] Where do we go from here? [sniffles]
Uma: Let’s not. Let’s just get our shit together first. You and me – against the world.
Maya: Yeah. [pause] She’d like that.
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