35: A One Act Play

I wrote this short play one night after hearing a disconcerting radio report that many high schoolers today don’t expect to live past the age of 35. Of course, there were limiting factors to this seemingly well-researched statement like location, race, household income, life trauma, etc., but what stuck with me was the fact that there are teenagers out there who genuinely don’t expect to see 40. So I started reading a little into the research and wrote a few scenes about one such fictional teen who’s infatuated with a girl he never plans to love. Here’s the first scene:

35

Scene: ADELE sits barefoot and alone on a large blanket on the beach. She has a guitar and is softly singing to herself.

ADELE: Your eyes are full, full of the future of us. The air changes as you look across at me in that wondering way. It is as if I knew you before we spoke. Do our hearts know something we don’t? Conspiring, converging without giving us any say… You sing me to sleep, talk down my walls, look through my windows as I wait. You could be the thief I give the key to…

ALEX enters from behind with a yellow rose.

ALEX: (Singing) Come to me, Angel of Music! Sing for me Angel of Music!

ADELE: (Surprised and visibly flustered) Alex! You scared me.

ALEX: Well, you were expecting me, weren’t you?

ADELE: Of course. I guess I was just in my own little world.

ALEX: Yeah, what was that anyways? It was pretty.

ADELE: Just a song I’m working on. Who’s the rose for?

ALEX: (Dreamily) Jamie. My beautiful, adorable Jamie that doesn’t know I exist.

ADELE: (Flatly) Imagine that.

ALEX: I know. It’s kind of hard to miss me. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. She hasn’t quite caught on to my (dramatically) “seven different kinds of smoke.”

ADELE: Well can you blame her? You’re one of a million guys vying for a moment’s glance from her. Especially after a summer in Europe, buddy your chances are slimmer by the day.

ALEX: Easy for you to say. You’re her best friend, so you hear all the gory details of jocks and dicks asking her out. What she really needs to see is that I’m one in a million and she’ll never have a better time with anyone else—American or European.

ADELE: Alex, if all you’re looking for is a good time, I can assure you that’s the very reason Jamie will never go out with you. Despite the chipper cheerleader exterior, Jamie is a woman of substance.

ALEX: Oh, I know… God, I know she is. That’s what makes me different from the 999,999 other guys looking “for a moment’s glance” as you say. I really do care about her. I just don’t want to put a ring on her finger or anything.

(A moment of tense silence. ADELE is absentmindedly strumming her guitar.)

ADELE: Alex, if you’re not interested in forever, what’s the point of love? (Flustered by the word) I mean, uh, why would you want Jamie to fall in love with you if you don’t want to marry her?

ALEX: Simple. It’s on my list.

ADELE: (She hits a sour chord on the guitar in shock.) What?

ALEX: I know it seems shallow at first, but I have this “Feel List.” It’s a list of 35 sensations I want to feel before I die.

ADELE: 35? Why 35?

ALEX: Well, I figure 35 will last me right up until I die.

ADELE: You’re planning to die at 35?

ALEX: Maybe before. I might shoot myself if I make it to 40.

ADELE: Well that’s a little morbid, don’t you think?

ALEX: Whatever. I just can’t see myself old. Only the good die young, right?

ADELE: (Annoyed) How appropriate a reference.

ALEX: Why’s that?

ADELE: Have I taught you nothing about Billy Joel? That song is about deflowering a Catholic school girl.

ALEX: Really? Wow, I never kn—hey! I have no intention of “deflowering” anything….Unless, of course, she lets me.

ADELE: I’m sure that’s a “sensation” you’ve already checked off your list.

 

(To Be Continued…)

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