ceremonials

CHARACTERS

ELISE, f, late 20s

 

HER EXES

GEORGIE, f, appears 21

RIVER, f, appears to be mid thirties

WILLA, f, appears to be mid-twenties

TED, m, appears to be early thirties

 

WAITER, to be played by either RIVER or TED

 

 

 

SETTING: The play takes place within Elise’s dream but should appear as real as possible. All of the characters sit at the diner table, waiting for food.

 

                                                              ELISE, RIVER, and WILLA all sit at the table

                                                            with a glass of wine in front of them. Both ELISE

                                                            and WILLA have red wine, RIVER has white wine.

                                                            ELISE stares at her left hand for a beat or two

                                                            before…

 

RIVER

So when did he propose?

 

ELISE

(still looking at her hand)

He hasn’t yet.

 

WILLA

You’re looking at your hand like it might be cancerous.

 

Pause. ELISE stops looking at her hand.

 

ELISE

How have you two been?

 

WILLA

 

RIVER

Best I can be, I suppose.

 

ELISE

What are you two doing these days?

 

RIVER

Service work.

 

ELISE

You’re not a doctor?

 

RIVER

I am. I work with a research facility in Ethiopia.

 

ELISE

Oh. Right. Service work. What about you Willa?

 

WILLA

I’m flying to Paris soon.

 

 

RIVER

What’s in Paris?

 

WILLA and ELISE

Fashion week.

 

RIVER

 

ELISE

That’s exciting.

 

RIVER

I thought you two went to Stanford together.

 

WILLA and ELISE

We did.

 

RIVER

I thought you majored in engineering?

 

WILLA

I did.

 

RIVER

 

Pause. Awkward Silence.

 

ELISE

Food should be out soon.

 

WILLA and RIVER

 

RIVER

What have you been up to, Elise?

 

ELISE

Working at the gallery on fifth.

 

WILLA

Curating?

 

ELISE nods. She begins to stare at her hand again.

 

RIVER

It’s a bit surprising.

 

WILLA

Why? All Elise has ever talked about was—

 

RIVER

The engagement, Willa.

 

ELISE

He hasn’t proposed yet.

 

RIVER

But he obviously is about to.

 

TED enters with a glass of scotch and sits down.

 

WILLA

How do you know?

 

TED

She found the ring.

 

WILLA

Is it gorgeous? I bet it’s gorgeous.

 

TED

It’s handcrafted. Good man.

 

WILLA

Hand-crafted? Is he a blacksmith?

 

ELISE

It’s made out of red oak. And yes, it’s gorgeous.

 

Pause.

 

WILLA

I always hated white wine. Too sweet.

 

RIVER

I wasn’t your biggest fan either, Willa. You were obviously the fun one.

 

WILLA

And what were you? The old one?

 

ELISE slides further down into her seat.

 

WILLA

Sorry. I shouldn’t have—

 

RIVER

I’m barely older than Elise.

 

TED

Five years older.

 

RIVER

And who were you?

 

TED

The authority figure. The assistant professor.

 

ELISE

You were a grad student.

 

TED

I was still your professor.

 

Pause.

 

ELISE

I need to—know something.

 

ELISE takes a large gulp from her glass.

 

RIVER

 

ELISE

What?

 

TED

You were absolutely unattainable.

 

ELISE

That’s not—

 

WILLA

And you always had all of your defenses up. All the time.

 

RIVER

But you made it seem like you were wide open. Like love was apart of your bucket list or something.

 

TED

And it could be anybody. They just had to have the right timing.

 

WILLA

It was all bullsh—

 

ELISE

Did any of you want to marry me? Ever? That’s my question.

 

Pause.

 

ELISE

Don’t all speak at once.

 

TED

It’s a complicated question, Ellie.

 

ELISE

Is it?

 

RIVER

Ellie? Was that your nickname for her?

 

TED

What was yours?

 

WILLA

 

RIVER

That’s disgusting.

 

ELISE

Guys! Please just answer the question.

 

Pause.

 

RIVER

I would’ve wanted whatever you wanted. You could’ve asked me to go live on Jupiter and I would’ve said yes.

 

 

WILLA

It was such a whirlwind, you know? Before I knew it, you were gone.

 

TED

You presented yourself as temporary. I had no way of knowing.

 

WILLA

No way of knowing.

 

RIVER

No way of knowing.

 

ELISE

Of knowing what?

 

Pause. GEORGIE slowly walks in. As she sits down,

                                                            everyone else exits. ELISE’s entire demeanor

                                                            changes when she sees GEORGIE.

 

GEORGIE

They had no way of knowing if you’d stay.

 

ELISE

I didn’t think you’d come.

 

GEORGIE

I wasn’t sure I was supposed to.

 

ELISE

Of course you’re supposed—how are you?

 

GEORGIE

I’m dead, Elise. So, you know, surviving.

 

ELISE smiles and takes another sip of wine.

 

ELISE

You’ve ruined me forever, you know that?

 

GEORGIE

Nobody’s ruined forever. Not really.

 

ELISE

He loves me, Georgie.

 

GEORGIE

You love him back.

 

ELISE

Only sometimes.
Pause.

 

ELISE

I don’t want to ruin him.

 

GEORGIE

Then don’t.

 

ELISE

So. Heaven or hell? Nirvana or reincarnation?

 

GEORGIE just smiles.

 

ELISE

Right. Secrets of the universe. (pause) When I wake up, I’m going to have to say—

 

GEORGIE

Make up your mind, Elise.

 

ELISE

I know he’s going to do it as soon as I wake up. He’ll roll over and pretend like he’s just thought of it and then—

 

GEORGIE

Giving you absolutely no time to panic and freak out.

 

ELISE

I need time to panic and freak out. It’s who I am. I’m a panicker.

 

GEORGIE

You’re definitely a disaster.

 

Pause.

 

ELISE

Was there anything I could’ve said to save you?

 

GEORGIE shakes her head.

 

ELISE

Right. A determined mind.

 

GEORGIE

I am sorry.

 

ELISE

For dying?

 

GEORGIE

For loving you.

 

ELISE

For ruining me, you mean.

 

GEORGIE

No. I convinced you of….permanency. I shouldn’t have.

 

ELISE

You were the last time I knew for sure.

 

GEORGIE

That should’ve been your first red flag.

 

Pause.

 

ELISE

I thought they’d help.

 

GEORGIE

The exes? One of them is still banking on you coming back.

 

ELISE

River never did let things go.

 

GEORGIE

Not River. She’s married now.

 

ELISE

Married? To who?

 

GEORGIE

Some scientist who’s working on the cure to cancer. Or is it AIDS? One of them.

 

ELISE

One of them? How informed of you.

 

GEORGIE

I was never that type. You know that.

 

ELISE

That’s not exactly something to brag about.

 

GEORGIE

Who’s bragging?

 

Pause.

 

ELISE

What do I say when he asks?

 

GEORGIE

Something kind.

 

ELISE

You think I should let him down gently?

 

GEORGIE

I think you should face what you’re actually afraid of.

 

Silence.

 

ELISE

I don’t want to be wrong. I don’t want to—

 

GEORGIE

Can you imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was always right?

 

ELISE

Mistakes keep us happy.

 

GEORGIE

You remembered.

 

ELISE

I could ruin his life.

 

GEORIGE

The others seem fine.

 

ELISE

Seem? Are they not okay?

 

GEORGIE

 

Pause.

 

GEORGIE

You deserve a wind storm.

 

ELISE

A unnatural force of emotion.

 

GEORGIE

A love that bends beyond time.

 

ELISE

Across the universe.

 

GEORGIE

Written deep down in your genetic code.

 

Pause.

 

ELISE

Your letter.

 

GEORGIE

Remember how it ends?

 

ELISE

A heart that can extend lifetimes, a expansion of self.

 

GEORGIE and ELISE

This is only the start. I’ll see you again.

 

Pause.

 

GEORGIE

I shouldn’t have.

 

ELISE

What?

 

GEORGIE

I can’t extend beyond lifetimes. I can’t love you beyond…beyond this. And maybe, maybe someone can. But I can’t.

 

ELISE

Georgie—

 

GEORGIE

Love isn’t about lasting lifetimes, Elise. Just this one. This is the only lifetime that matters.

 

GEORGIE pushes away from the table and walks

                                                            away. ELISE sits at the table by herself staring.

                                                            She touches her ring finger on her left hand and

                                                            lets out a small grin.
WAITER (off-stage, v.o.)

Your dinner is ready. Would you like it now or should I wait?

 

ELISE looks towards the kitchen, smiling.

 

ELISE

Now’s fine.

 

Blackout. THE END.

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