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The Importance of Study
A medium sized room with white walls and a tiled floor. There are many windows in the back. A wooden table with six chairs sits in the middle of the stage horizontally. Two students occupy chairs on stage right, one in the chair farthest to stage left (with his left side facing the audience), the other in the seat next to him (facing the audience). There is bright lighting coming from the top. The school year is almost over.
(Exhausted from the amount of studying that they had done)
So, let’s go through this one more time…what is the Spanish word for rose?
(With effort and exhaustion)
Oh! Um, er…wait, I know this one…um…well, actually, no I don’t…um, el rose?
No, not even close. It’s “la rosa”.
(Angry with herself)
Ugh, well, just give me the other one. And, anyway, that WAS pretty close.
(With growing enthusiasm)
Yes! And rose?
(Tiredly, happily, and sarcastically)
Correct, and it only took six hours!
(At first annoyed, and then embarrassed after glancing at her watch)
It has not been six…I stand corrected.
Hey, at least you know you’ll do well!
(A little angry)
No, YOU’LL do well, Martin! I think you’re getting us mixed up. You’re averaging something between a 99 and a 102 in that class…you practically speak Spanish fluently!
Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say speaking it –
(Sees ANNA’s cat walk by and pets her)
Anyway, I wouldn’t go as far as to say speaking it FLUENTLY. I just, you know, like it.
(Growing upset and picking up her cat)
For once in my life, I wish I was you. I HATE this subject, and I KNOW I’m going to fail!
(In a relaxing tone)
Dude, stop stressing. Finals end at 10:30 tomorrow morning, which we both know really means 10. And then, well, we’ll have graduation practice until 11:30. After that, we do nothing until 12:15, which is followed by lunch. After that we have the awards assembly, and the next day we have rehearsal in the—
I know this week’s events! What’s the point?
(Still trying to be relaxing)
My POINT is that you need to stop stressing out. School’s almost over, summer’s almost here. Chill.
(At first relaxed, then disgusted)
Yeah, I guess you’re right…no, you’re actually wrong.
What do you mean?
(Rolling her eyes)
We have to stop people from thinking we’re going out. No offense or anything, but I would never date you…you’re like my brother, and you can’t date your brother.
Wait, what do you mean?
Well, if you date your brother, you might get married and have kids, but then it doesn’t work out because they end up with, like, three legs, and it’s just—
(Cutting her off with annoyance)
Not about the kids…people actually think we’re dating?
Yeah, which is pretty shocking to me, considering EVERYBODY knows you and Joanne have liked each other for years!
W-What do you mean? I don’t – psh – I don’t like Joanne.
(Rolling her eyes)
Are you kidding me? Everyone knows you guys like each other.
(At first annoyed, then mystified)
You already said – wait, Joanne LIKES…ME?
(Mocking his tone)
How do you know?
Because anyone with a brain knows?
Wait, but then why does everyone think WE’RE going out?
I don’t know…people are pretty funny that way, though, aren’t they?
6 months later
A small dimly lit room. There is a bright pink carpeted floor with white walls. There are two evenly spaced windows in the back. Posters of softball players and friends are around the set. There is a bed upstage left with the front facing sideways in relation to the audience. A dresser sits in the back between the windows, where snowfall can be seen. There is a dresser between the two windows upstage. A sleeping dog sits on it. There is a desk with a computer (facing opposite the bed) and two chairs upstage right. Two students occupy those chairs.
(Facing the computer screen and intently looking down, also scrolling rapidly on the mouse)
I just …do not…understand….these teachers. (Looking away from computer to MITCHIE) Christmas Eve is in two days! Why do they have to give us homework NOW?
(Looking at Anna with concern)
I feel your pain, girl. But, hey, look, we’re almost done. We just need to find one more thing Aphrodite was a goddess of.
(Rolling her eyes and sighing)
I don’t really understand the point of this. Like, it is so unrealistic. I mean, why would do they all have to be in charge of something? I’m not in charge of, like, chocolates, why should they be –
(Quickly turning to the computer)
Wait, Anna stop ranting. I think I … wait, maybe … hold on a second … AHA! I got it! She was the goddess of…love. Wow. How did we miss that one? It was really obvious.
(Shaking her head)
Haven’t you noticed that people in general tend to miss the most obvious things in life?
(Looking up at Anna, raising her eyebrows, then beginning to type the final answer)
What are you, a philosopher?
(First annoyed, then serious)
Ha-Ha-Hysterical. But, I’m being serious. Often, we’ll see something so obvious that we think…well, we think it’s not even true. Too good to be true, really. And it just slips right through our fingers. Too quickly for us to catch hold of it. Just like…just like…
(Looking away from the computer at her friend after printing it)
Just like you and Martin?
(ANNA stares at her embarrassed and mad)
(MITCHIE speaks sympathetically and standing to pick up the papers from the printer)
It’s okay, I know. You don’t have to hide your feelings from me. I get it. It’s okay to like him.
(Muttering more to herself than to MITCHIE)
We passed ‘like’ a long time ago, my friend…
(Smiling at her friend)
Awww. Is someone in love?
(Looking away, blushing, and speaking childishly)
I’m not saying it out loud.
(Putting the papers away and once again sympathetic)
You don’t have to. Once again, I’m here for you if you need to talk.
(Walking over to the bed and petting her dog on the way)
It’s just so hard. Hi, Aimee! Honestly, he and Joanne are the most annoying couple EVER.
(Lands face down on the bed)
(Walking over there and patting her friend on the shoulder)
I feel your pain girl, and I’m not in love with the kid. I just want to yell at them all the time ‘GO THE *censored* AWAY!’
(Making an exasperated sound)
STOP SAYING THAT!
Alright, you’ve known me for forever; you know I have a potty mouth.
(Looking up at her friend)
Not THAT. Stop saying I’m in l-
(Putting a pillow over her head)
I hate everything.
Now, now, hating everything isn’t the answer…would you like me to sing about it?
(Sitting sharply up)
Nah, I’m good. Feel free NOT to sing to me.
That’s what I thought. Maybe you should just…tell him. What’s the worst that can happen?
(Look at MITCHIE as if she’s insane)
Need I answer that?
5 months later
In a large brightly lit library, with 12 shelves of books stage left and 6 square tables with a chair on each side taking up the rest of the stage. A librarian’s desk is upstage center. Students sporadically occupy the chairs throughout the room, and a librarian occupies the librarian’s desk. MARTIN and MITCHIE sit in the opposite each other in the most downstage right chairs. It’s raining.
(Looking up from her textbook and binder; whispering)
Can you believe that we have to do inequalities AGAIN? I mean, I got a 98 on that quiz last year, but I seriously don’t understand why we need to do this continually.
(Looking up at his friend; whispering)
Two reasons. One: because the next topic we’re studying has to do with inequalities. And two: it probably has something to do with us being stupid enough to take Honors Geometry as freshmen. What did you get for number three?
(Annoyed; voice rising)
I got ‘i is less than three-u’. And, ugh, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
(Exasperated; voice rising)
Thanks, but seriously, it’s not like Mrs. Charleston had anything intelligent to say during those guidance meetings. You would have thought that, with her “24 years of experience” she would have something smart to say.
Yeah, I clearly stand corrected.
(Bursting into laughter)
(Smiling; voice getting louder with the encouragement of his friend)
And all she really did was walk around with her stupid purse talking about her years “guiding her students on the path of greatness.” Is that even grammatically correct?
Stop it! I…can’t…breathe!
(Voice at full volume now)
And then…and then the best was when she would come up to her students from behind and say –
(Sternly and annoyed with the pair)
MARTIN and MITCHIE
(Innocently and grimacing)
(BOTH look back down at their books)
(Looking back at her friend; whispering again)
To be perfectly honest, the only reason I was even passing this class was because of Anna. She was like my own personal tutor!
(Looking out at the rainy window; whispering)
Yeah, she was so smart…I feel so bad for her.
(Looking at him curiously; still whispering)
Wait, you know where she’s been? Well, what’s wrong with her? I’ve been really worried!
(Avoiding his gaze; still whispering)
I mean...we've been family friends for a while...you know that...and...it had to have been a month ago...they found she's had a tapeworm since birth. It was really horrible, no one knew what-
(Much louder than he expected to)
WHAT?! Why did I not know about this?
(Looking at her apologetically)
Sorry...my friend..he...er...he told something shocking.
(LIBRARIAN just raises her eyebrows at him and looks away)
(MITCHIE looking back at her friend; whispering again)
Why did you never tell me? I thought I was your number one person to tell all of your dirty gossip to.
(Sighing, then looking at his friend)
Look, I didn't want to tell you...Anna and I’ve been best friends for so long-
(Smirking, but still whispering)
Yeah, you could have fooled me.
(Defensively, though softly)
Do NOT question my friendship with Anna!
(Raising his eyebrows at him)
Alright, after you and Joanne went out, you guys barely spoke, and you still barely speak now. I probably shouldn't have even brought her up. Seems to be quite the touchy subject.
(Even more defensive, loud, and defiant)
If what you're saying is that I broke up with her because I still had feelings for Anna, you have another guess coming to you.
(Concerned; still speaking softly)
OK, that's not what I said at –
(Discovery and slyness in her voice)
Hang on. Did you just say STILL? As in 'once before' as in 'at one time you had feelings for her' as in 'you kind of wanted to be more than friends'? You liked Anna! Do you still? Ohmigosh, revelation, why didn't this happen on my last biology test...
(Cutting her off and speaking very loudly)
I thought you knew me better than to think that I would date somebody while I still had feelings for someone else, Mitchie. You...you...
(Looking as stern as ever and standing from her chair)
If I hear another peep out of you two, you will both be kicked out of the library.
(Looking at her with concern, yet still angry)
My apologies, Miss.
(Turning back to MITCHIE)
I can't believe you would say-
(Looking him straight in the face; quietly)
-the truth? What people have been thinking for years, but you've been too thick to realize until your best friend was dying? I'm sorry, but that's not my fault. Don't get mad at me for the things you've done wrong in your life. I don't have control over that – you do.
(Sighing, folding his arms, and putting his head down; mumbling through his sleeves)
It's just that...what if she didn't like me back? What would I have done then?
(Looking up and shaking his head)
I wasn't losing my best friend because of stupid teenage hormones.
(Unbelieving and picking up her things)
If she was really your best friend, you'd be able to tell her anything. That's what best friends are for, you know. I think you need a moment to sort out your thoughts. See you later.
(Looking at his departing friend)
(Looks down at his hands and mutters then Neon Trees lyrics to himself)
Here we go again, I kind of wanna be more than friends...
(Stage freezes, all except MARTIN)
Nobody understands it. They don't get what she does to me and seeing her hurting kills me inside. She's my best friend, but has there ever been more than that? Am I really that thick? It pains me to think that 4 honors classes would lead me to girl troubles. I wish this would all stop, but wishes don't come true, and maybe there's a reason for that. If all of my hormones did stop, I wouldn't know that...that...that maybe I am in love. Is this really what it's like? If it is, it sucks. It hurts...the vulnerability of me...wow. It's killing me, more than seeing her struggle. Or maybe that is what's killing me. Or maybe the thought of being love and the thought of the one person I love and could probably ever love is dying. What if I never get to tell her, and she loves me, too? What would I do then? Certainly, I wouldn't be able to go on. But, what if I do, and she doesn't love me back? Then I'd just be embarrassed. But then again, what if she loves me? What if this is what she's going through right now. Sometimes I wonder if the tapeworm is the only thing eating her up inside. And sometimes I hope it's not.
4 hours later
In a very small dimly lit hospital room. The walls are blue and there is single bed is on stage left. There are two windows and one whiteboard on the back of the stage, evenly spaced. There are a lot of chairs lining the wall of stage right, unoccupied. The bed is occupied, and a person sits on the edge of the bed.
(With a textbook on her lap, thinking hard, speaking very weakly)
So, what you're saying is that the arteries and stuff are connected to the heart, and we only realized this because some random dude during the early part of the Scientific Revolution told us so? Wow, they were not the brightest lights in –
(Laughing and putting a hand on her shoulder somewhat innocently)
Why are you studying for this? Are you even coming to school tomorrow?
If I even ever come back to school again.
(Shocked, taking his hand off her shoulder, and enthusiastically)
Don't say that!
(Smiling and sighing)
It's kind of morbid, isn't? Talking about your own death? I wish I wouldn't have to do that to all of my friends and family, but do I have control? No. In a way, I just...I don't know, I kind of wish it would just happen, just so that everyone will stop worrying.
Please stop saying that! If you do, then I'll never get to...oh no.
(Looking at him sympathetically)
You'll never get what, Martin?
(Exasperated and nervous)
I'll never get to tell you...that...that...uh...I mean...it's just that...
(Interrupting him knowingly and sympathetically)
What? You can tell me anything, you know. I'm your best friend.
(Sighing and ready)
I love you.
(MARTIN enthusiastically and blushing)
Well, don't smirk! That was hard for me to-
(Looking him in the face and resting a hand on his shoulder)
I love you, too. But if what you're thinking is that we have time to...be together...well....I'm not sure if that will happen.
B-but you can't leave me.
W-w-what am I going to do w-without you?
You'll have to manage, I'm afraid.
How long do you have?
(Lying down weakly)
Good-bye, Martin. I hope you never forget me.
(Shocked and turning very upset)
(Repeating in same exhausted, weak tone)
(ANNA begins to fall asleep)
(Watches her for a few seconds until he knows she is asleep)
(He kisses her forehead and walks out of the room)
One year later
In a brightly lit classroom. There are 25 desks and chairs. 15 are occupied, all grouped together. One desk towards the middle of this clump is empty. A movable whiteboard sits on stage left. A door is next to it. The teacher is conducting the class at the board. A teacher’s desk is on stage right. One large window is in the back.
OK, class, what did you get for number 37? Who wants to show us on the board?
(MARTIN raises his hand)
(Looking down at his paper)
I got… “i is less than thirteen u”.
Excellent! Do you want to come to the board?
(Standing with his paper)
(MITCHIE raises her hand)
(A little flustered and alarmed)
Why – I don’t know. Why do I feel like I’ve seen these problems before?
Because you have. I give similar work to what you had last year – at least as a review. I just like helping my students out a bit.
(The door opens. All the students except for MARTIN turn to look at the door. ANNA walks in to the classroom.)
(Some excited, others shocked, others smiling, etc.)
(MITCHIE stands up and runs to hug her, along with 3 others)
(Turns around to see the commotion)
Oh my – what the – how can you – wha –
(Surprised and running to help him up)
Ohmigosh, are you OK?
(Embarassed – blushing)
Yeah, I’m…I’m…uh…how’d you get here?
(Staring at him with mock-disgust)
Well, my mom drove me and –
And, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to see you, Martin.
And the rest of you…but mostly Martin.
But then…how did you survive?
(Sighs and then begins)
Where should I begin?
Concord, North Carolina
Winterville, North Carolina
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