Innocence and Ignorance (2015)
Innocence and Ignorance by Cristina Rocha
Scene 1 (In Elizabeth’s bedroom, center stage/stage right lit up, with projection of sumptuous bed in the background)
Elizabeth: (Writing in her diary) Dearest diary, Annie doesn’t know how fortunate she is to be cared about and actually matter. She never once has to seek the love and appreciation of her father. Ever since Louis, my parents have never showed an inch of appreciation for me, nor have I for them. I may be surrounded by expensive things but expensive things don’t love you; they don’t tell you how great you are or comfort you when you are scared.
Annie: (Standing outside Elizabeth’s room and looking at locket) Mother, please watch over me and please watch over Father.
(Annie knocks on the door of Elizabeth’s room; a tall girl with bouncy blonde bologna curls answers.)
Elizabeth: (sighs) Speak of the devil!
Annie: (sarcastically) Nice to see you, too. (Annie forces a fake smile and walks in the house) So, where will I be sleeping?
Elizabeth: Well if it were up to me you would be sleeping in the barn. Unfortunately, Mother cares about Uncle Charles deeply and respects his request to take care of you while he is away, so you will be sleeping in my room.
Elizabeth: (gesturing for Annie to come in) So?
Annie: So what?
Elizabeth: So where are the rest of your things?
Annie: (gestures toward her bag) That is all I have.
Elizabeth: Oh right, mother did say that you were, you were (mutters to self)….Oh what were the words she told me to use? (Looks back at Annie) Oh right, “financially depressed.” (Muttering to self again) I would have just said broke but mother is what she is.
Annie: Well, Elizabeth, I wouldn’t be “financially depressed,” or even have to live here for that matter if YOUR king didn’t tax us so much.
Elizabeth: My king? Oh, sweetie I live here in New York now, he is not my king anymore.
Annie: You are loyal to him so he is still your king.
Elizabeth: Well I suppose if you put it like that….Now, if you would go wash up, it’s something you do when you have money.
(Annie exits and Elizabeth notices Annie’s bag. Elizabeth then starts pulling things out of Annie’s bag while making faces and grossed out noises. Finally, Elizabeth pulls out a letter and starts reading it.)
Elizabeth: (reads to herself) Dear Annie-
(Annie re-enters the room and Elizabeth, in panic, drops the letter out the window behind her)
Annie: What was that?
Elizabeth: What was what?
Annie: Whatever you just threw.
Elizabeth: (In an obnoxious tone) What are you talking about? I think all of that “poor people” water is getting to your head. Anyway, let me tell you the rules.
Elizabeth: Of course there are rules, what did you think? That I was going to let you to roam around like some hooligan?
Annie: Well I was not intending on running- (Elizabeth cuts her off)
Elizabeth: Yes, so, the garden is off limits, as well as the sitting room, the stables, mother and father’s bedroom, and the room at the end of the hall. Any questions?
Annie: Yes, why- (gets cut off again)
Elizabeth: Good, now mother and I will be going to the market. She would like to know if you would like to come.
Annie: Uh, I-(gets cut off for the third time)
Elizabeth: Great, I will see- (this time Annie cuts her off)
Elizabeth: What Annie?
Annie: Please stop interrupting me!
Annie: I am going to stay here and settle in.
Elizabeth: Okay whatever you say. (Elizabeth exits the room)
Annie: Finally silence. Now I can go check out those restricted areas. (Annie exits the bedroom)
(Now, there is a projection of a yellow rose bush and stage left is lit, while stage right stays dark. Annie enters the garden and kneels down.)
Annie: Ooh roses! Oh mother, I remember how dad would bring you roses home everyday, yellow roses. You would light up! Oh I miss your smile mom, I really do!
(She turns and happens to see a letter, which she reads.)
Annie: Dear Annie, I am ill. General Washington had us cross the Delaware River on Christmas Eve to sneak up on the British, and I believe I have caught pneumonia. It kills me to say this, but I do not believe I will be seeing you again. I’m afraid this is one battle I can’t win. Stay strong my little ladybug; I will be reunited with your mother soon and we will be watching over you. Annie, I will love you always, Daddy.
Scene 2 (Later that day Elizabeth comes home in a bad mood and we hear her offstage.)
Elizabeth: All right mother! (She enters the garden and upon seeing Annie there, she becomes furious.) WHY ARE YOU IN MY GARDEN!?!?! (No response.) Well, you can’t be here because this is MY garden and no one has been allowed here since – since – oh, never mind! Just leave! This is a very important place to me and I’m not ready to share it yet!
Annie: Well, Elizabeth I personally am not very fond of you reading my letters either, but I guess things happen.
Elizabeth: (Sighing) I’m sorry I know I shouldn’t read your things. It’s just that your life seemed so put together, unlike mine. Besides, all I could read was “Dear Annie.” What did it even say?
Annie: My dad has pneumonia; I don’t think I will see him again. (Annie looks at the ground and twists her locket.)
Elizabeth: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. (Beat) Six years ago, my older brother Louis was killed in the Boston Massacre. He was only visiting Boston at the time and had just turned 16. Later that week we heard about it. Five men were killed in what they called the bloody massacre, and one of those men was my brother. Mother was furious. She went to the trials and learned that those soldiers who were involved were being provoked. People in the crowds were shouting at them, telling them to shoot. Other people were throwing clubs and seashells, until finally the soldiers had to protect themselves. They opened fire into the crowd. That is why we became loyal to the king. (She pauses, and then continues.) Louis and I used to come out to the garden and sit right where we are. We would talk and laugh and he would point out the different kinds of birds that would pass by. He would take me to the stables and show me how to ride and care for the horses. Oh I miss him so much!
Annie: (Starts crying, but looks at Elizabeth.) I miss my parents, too. Maybe it was better this way…That I didn’t see my father when he was ill…That I didn’t see his pain, and that he didn’t have to see mine. (She reaches into the envelope and pulls out a small button with a note attached.)
Annie: The button from father’s coat! (Reading the note aloud) “There will always be a piece of me close to your heart.”
Elizabeth: (Stops crying) What does that mean?
Annie: (Opens her locket) It means he wants me to keep it in Mother’s locket. She gave it to me before she passed, and I never take it off.
Elizabeth: That’s sweet. (She smiles) I never thought about keeping something of Louis’s.
Annie: Well, it isn’t the things that keep them here with you, it’s more of just a reminder. Louis will always be with you at heart.
Elizabeth: Thanks Annie.
Annie: There is no need to thank me. I am just telling you what I have learned from others.
Elizabeth: Well how about we just start off with a clean slate and forget everything that happened?
Annie: Elizabeth you kept those letters from me! I can’t just forget about it and move on as if nothing ever happened! I can forgive you, but people don’t change overnight.
Elizabeth: I understand, I will work to become a better person, if you will give me a chance.
Annie: Of course! (They hug)
Scene 3 (Weeks later, Annie is holding her suitcase while alone in the garden, which has the same lighting and screen projection that we had after the previous blackout.)
Annie: Father, I hope you are alright and back with Mother. I don’t know if you know this, but you won the Battle of Trenton – the British never saw it coming! We are still seeking the help of France, but I do believe luck is on our side. Elizabeth tells me she still misses her brother but she doesn’t feel lonely now that I am here. I know you knew the Elizabeth before Louis died and I am sure she was a wonderful person. I love and miss you both so much.
Elizabeth: (Offstage) Come on, Annie!
Annie: I have to go now. We are moving to a larger home in Boston. It was my idea. I told them this way they can be closer to Louis.
(Annie stands up and looks around the garden. Then she picks up her bags and leaves.)