30 Plays – Day 10

The way that I write is changing! I’m actually finding that I can come up with an idea quicker, get invested in the characters, and envisage a full-length play as I write. In the first few days, I was really just writing anything and not caring where it went. But recently, I’ve really felt like these plays have potential. Maybe not anything that audiences will love, or a script so good it would be guaranteed production, but potential for ME. Potential for me to be so passionate about the idea that I’d be willing to spend months (years!) of my life writing and rewriting the script. So there is some value in doing these writing exercises every day!

This was my prompt for today:

Relatives going through a deceased loved one’s belongings find something shocking.

And without any further ado, here is the script:


The loungeroom of an elderly lady. A nana’s sitting room. Family photos and ornaments and a cupboard displaying fancy china plates and knick knacks. Lounge suite with crocheted rugs.

Allan and Emily, siblings, late 40s, sit in chairs, waiting. Allan clearly had a punk phase in his youth, and the remnants are still there in his piercings and sculpted hair.

Emily, smaller, is dressed in a lavender pantsuit, trying to be Hilary Clinton.

They wait.

The doorbell rings.

Emily jumps up to open the door, and she lets in Miriam, early 50s. Miriam is a colourful, big personality who has tried to subdue her loudly patterned outfit with a black cardigan.

MIRIAM: Emily, honey, sweets, I am so sorry. Really just devastated. How are you holding up?

EMILY: Well…

Beat.

Miriam looks around awkwardly.

MIRIAM: Yes.

You must be Allan. Miriam. Saw you at the funeral, but you were with your partner, and… Obviously I saw you as a kid, I don’t know if you remember.

ALLAN: Yep, I remember you.

MIRIAM: Daniel’s just run up to the service station. Just got some crazy idea about getting a drink or something. I don’t know. Obviously, you have drinks here.

ALLAN: And Eleanor?

MIRIAM: Yeah, just outside, she’s on the phone to her husband. Ex. Don’t worry, you won’t hear yelling or anything, won’t disturb the neighbours. They are actually the best of friends. Strange, really. Just the definition of amicable divorce. If they weren’t separated, I’d try to set them up on a date!

ALLAN: Right.

He glances at Emily. They share a millisecond look that carries about a thousand sibling meanings.

MIRIAM: Um, did you get the flowers? We sent them a few days ago. Really great bunch of Dianthus. Don’t see them too often, do you?

EMILY: Yes, I remember those. Apologies – we haven’t sent thank you cards.

MIRIAM: No!

Pause. Emily looks at Allan, and he nods.

ALLAN: We asked you to come over –

EMILY: Allan, I think we should wait.

ALLAN: Well, we can’t just…

EMILY: I want to tell them together.

MIRIAM: What’s happened? Is it about your mum?

ALLAN: Yes.

EMILY: Allan.

ALLAN: Fine.

MIRIAM: Is everything ok?

EMILY: It would be more polite to wait.

Beat. They all sit and wait. Miriam fidgets.

EMILY: Miriam, would you like a cup of tea?

MIRIAM: Uh … chamomile?

EMILY: Of course.

Emily gets up and exits to the kitchen. Miriam is left confused, while Allan tries not to make eye contact. Silence. Miriam can’t wait any longer.

MIRIAM: What’s happened with your Mum? Did I do something?! I didn’t cause her…?

ALLAN: No!

MIRIAM: Should I be worried?

ALLAN: Emily really wants us to tell both of you at the same time.

MIRIAM: Can you give me a clue?

ALLAN: Well…

MIRIAM: Please?

ALLAN: I suppose you could try to guess, and if you happened to work it out…

MIRIAM: Is this something about inheritance?

ALLAN: Ooh, good question. I hadn’t thought of that. Let me just think it through… errr, no, I don’t think that’s part of it.

MIRIAM: Did your mum want us to do something for her, or for you?

ALLAN: Nope.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

MIRIAM: Did she tell you to do something for me?

ALLAN: No, colder.

MIRIAM: Is it something that she told you about?

ALLAN: Oooh, no, definitely not. Freezing.

MIRIAM: Something she didn’t tell you?

ALLAN: Warmer.

MIRIAM: Something you found out?

ALLAN: Getting much warmer.

MIRIAM: A secret?

ALLAN: Hot!

MIRIAM: A secret that she kept from everyone?

ALLAN: You’re so good at this game!

MIRIAM: A secret about me?

ALLAN:

Emily shuffles back in.

EMILY: Miriam, do you have sugar or honey in your tea?

MIRIAM: What?!… sorry, tea, uh, yes. Honey. Just a little. If you have it.

EMILY: I have a few biscuits left from the wake. You’re not gluten free or anything, are you?

MIRIAM: Nope, nope, all good.

EMILY: Good. (She’s about to return to the kitchen when she remembers) And Daniel, is he gluten or –

MIRIAM: Nope. Eleanor, too. All of us are just rubbish tips; you can chuck anything in and we’ll cope. Thank you!

EMILY: Lovely.

Emily exits. Miriam waits a half second and then turns back to Allan.

MIRIAM: Is it a secret about me?

Beat.

ALLAN: It affects you.

MIRIAM: But she didn’t tell you?

ALLAN: We worked it out.

MIRIAM: Please tell me.

ALLAN: She’d kill me.

Emily returns with the cup of tea and a plate of biscuits.

She sits.

EMILY: So, I understand that you’re a painter now. Tell me about that.

The doorbell rings.

MIRIAM: Oh, thank Christ.

Emily opens the door and lets Eleanor in. Eleanor grabs Emily and embraces her tightly. A big, deliberate, mindful hug. She even rubs Emily’s back.

EMILY: Thank you, Eleanor, that’s very kind.

ELEANOR: I just want you to know that I’m here for you. When our Mum died, I was such a wreck. Just wrecked. I felt like a little island. Shipwrecked. And you know what brought me back? Touch. Just human touch. Hugs. My daughter and my son holding my hands. It thawed me.

Actually –  sorry. I know not everyone likes touching. I shouldn’t have presumed.

She steps past Emily and sees Allan.

ALLAN: Hello, Eleanor.

ELEANOR: Allan.

ALLAN: I like hugs.

Beat.

Eleanor cracks up laughing.

ELEANOR: You are still such a fuck boy!

Emily is startled, but Allan laughs. They hug.

MIRIAM: Eleanor…

ELEANOR: Ooh, biscuits! Are these for us? I haven’t had these little chocolate cream ones in years. Always tried to kick the sugar habit, but I just can’t. Such a sweet tooth.

And how are you holding up? Just sucks, doesn’t it? There’s nothing I can say that will ever make that pain go away. But like I said – hugs. Hugs are magical. And massages. Seriously, go get a massage.

EMILY: We’re doing ok.

ELEANOR: It’s hard when it’s that sudden, isn’t it? And she was still pretty young.

ALLAN: Yeah.

MIRIAM: Eleanor?

ELEANOR: Yes?

MIRIAM: They’ve asked us here for a reason.

ELEANOR: Oh, yes. Is it about the house? I’m happy to connect you with a good realtor in this area, or some help getting it valued.

ALLAN: No, we need to tell you something.

ELEANOR: Oh. Is everyone alright?

EMILY: Actually, Allan, I think we should wait.

MIRIAM: What?!

ALLAN: Emily?

EMILY: You said Daniel wasn’t too far away… I think you’d want your husband beside you for this.

ELEANOR: What’s going on?

MIRIAM: Look, my mind is racing now with all of the possible secrets you’ve got about me, can’t you just tell me?

ELEANOR: Secrets about you?

ALLAN: It’s not about either of you. Well, sort of. It’s about your family… and ours.

EMILY: Allan, can we please just stop? I think that the respectful move here would be to wait for Miriam’s husband to arrive, so she has some support.

ELEANOR: Will I need support?

ALLAN: I’m here for you.

ELEANOR: I could call my ex-husband, and he’ll be here in 20 minutes.

MIRIAM: NO!

ALLAN: Can we just tell them?

EMILY: No, Allan, we can’t. We’re going to wait for Daniel.

Beat.

Miriam grabs her phone and starts dialling. Her husband, Daniel picks up.

MIRIAM: Get here right now. No. Now. This is important.

EMILY: Eleanor, can I get you a tea?

ELEANOR: Do you have bourbon in the house?

EMILY: No.

ALLAN: Yeah, we do.

ELEANOR: Bourbon for Miriam. I’ll have, I don’t know, what did your Mum drink? Sherry or whatever.

EMILY: All right.

She leaves.

MIRIAM: Allan, tell me what’s going on.

ALLAN: She will literally kill me.

ELEANOR: She won’t literally –

ALLAN: I know what literally means. And my sister is one stressful day away from grabbing a knife and swinging wildly.

ELEANOR: It’s fine, we can wait.

MIRIAM: They discovered something after Lynette died. A secret that she didn’t tell anyone, that affects us.

ELEANOR: What – is she actually our real mum? (to Allan) Are you my brother?

ALLAN: (Laughing very loudly) Jesus Christ, no, that would be weird!

Beat.

MIRIAM: Why…?

ELEANOR: Well, look, it’s probably something that’s not too bad. Is it actually pretty anti-climactic, after all this? Are we building it up, too much? Unless your mum was a serial killer who tried to kill us and failed, then I don’t think anything you can tell me will be that shocking.

Allan doesn’t say anything.

ELEANOR: I mean, it’s not bad bad, is it? It’s not going to send me into years of therapy or make me want to kill myself is it?

Allan doesn’t say anything.

MIRIAM: Allan?

Emily returns with the two drinks. Miriam grabs her bourbon and skulls it, while Eleanor scoffs down two biscuits.

The doorbell rings.

MIRIAM: (standing up) Ok, ok, finally.

She pushes in front of Emily to get to the front door, and ushers her husband in. Daniel, also fifties, is a quiet, woolly man in a thick jumper and a big wristwatch. He carries a plastic bag full of groceries.

DANIEL: Are you alright?

MIRIAM: Yes, yes. Come on, get in here. Sit down.

DANIEL: Emily, thanks for having us, I hope you’re managing alright these days. Allan, nice to meet you properly.

ALLAN: Yep, all good, mate.

DANIEL: I thought it would be rude to come empty handed, so I’ve just grabbed a few biscuits and things.

EMILY: Sorry, I’m gluten intolerant.

DANIEL: Oh. What about Minties? They were on special.

EMILY: I’ll go and get a bowl.

MIRIAM: No!

ELEANOR: Miriam. Calm down.

MIRIAM: Please. Can we just cut to the chase and do this?

ALLAN: God, yes.

DANIEL: Do what?

MIRIAM: They know a secret about us.

DANIEL: (eyes wide at Miriam) Not the –

MIRIAM: No! Not us us. Eleanor and I.

Eleanor gives Miriam and Daniel a side-eye.

ALLAN: (To Emily) Can we just finally tell them?

EMILY: I’m just worried how they’ll take it. I don’t know if I can… If the words will… how to…

ALLAN: Fine. (to Eleanor and Miriam) We discovered some letters between your Mum and our Mum. From the last ten years or so.

ELEANOR: Love letters?!

EMILY: No!

ALLAN: It seems from what we could piece together, and based on –

EMILY: Our mother was your older sister.

Silence.

MIRIAM: Sorry… Lynette was my older sister…? Mum had a child before us?

ALLAN: Yeah.

ELEANOR: She had a child and had to give her up? Is she a half sister?

EMILY: We don’t think so. We think possibly your parents had a child, raised her, and then once she was grown up, they decided to have a second family. You two.

Beat.

MIRIAM: You know what? This is a huge shock, but I was expecting something far worse! I can handle this. This isn’t too bad.

DANIEL: No one’s been hurt.

ELEANOR: Are you fucking insane? Mum and Dad completely lied to us, just lied about this big chunk of their lives. We had a sister, for christ’s sake!

DANIEL: But we can work with this.

ELEANOR: Shut up, Daniel.

ALLAN: So, do I call you Aunty Eleanor, or…?

Eleanor grabs her sherry and walks out.

MIRIAM: All this time… you never knew that our mum was your grandmother?

ALLAN: Mum never spoke about her parents, never wanted us to meet them.

MIRIAM: Why?

EMILY: Maybe you should read the letters yourselves.

DANIEL: Was it a falling out?

EMILY: You should read the letters.


Whew! Today’s script is quite long, and it really feels like the first act in a longer play. Maybe the next act would go back in time to explore the Mum and Dad’s first family, with their daughter, Lynette. What happened to make this family fracture so badly, to make them erase each other? Not entirely sure! Any good ideas?!

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