The Sketchbook (2018)
(L. to R. Dylan Kruel as Jackson, Eva Doyle as Talia)
by Penelope Green
PIERSON HIGH SCHOOL
Talia – on the prom-planning committee, stayed late to finish up and clean
Jackson – an artist, mysterious, carries a sketchbook
(Scene: Lights up on Talia, waving to the last person to leave the gym, and
Jackson. Talia does not see him.)
Talia: Bye! Thanks for helping out! See you tomorrow! (Exhales, puts her hands on her hips, looks around the gym. She turns to see Jackson standing alone. Startled,
she jumps.) Jesus. Jackson, you scared me.
Jackson: Sorry, I didn’t mean to.
Talia: What are you still doing here?
Jackson: (Shrugs.) I just thought I’d be nice and help you finish up.
Talia: Thanks, but I really don’t need any help. (Looks at clock, offstage.) Also, this went kinda late. Aren’t your parents going to worry about where you are?
Jackson: No, they don’t care. They probably think I’m at a friend’s house. And, you look like you need all the help you can get.
Talia: (Sarcastically.) Oh wow, thanks. (Laughs shyly. Shifts her weight form one foot to the other. Looks at the unfinished banner on the ground, giving in.) I guess I do need some help to finish this. (Sits down in front of the unfinished banner, picks up a paintbrush.)
(Jackson walks over to Talia, sits down next to her. Looks over the banner.)
Jackson: Can I help? Art’s kinda my thing.
(Talia starts to paint the banner.)
Talia: Yeah, I know. I see your stuff in the hallways all the time. You’re really good.
Jackson: (Shyly.) Thanks.
Talia: Okay, I actually can’t paint to save my life. (She hands the paintbrush to Jackson.) But I know you can.
Jackson: (Smiling, leans back and rests on his hands.) Oh no, I’d rather watch you try.
Talia: Oh, come on! I need help! Prom is tomorrow night. I can’t do this by myself. The Eiffel Tower is too complicated. How about you paint the Eiffel Tower, and I’ll keep working on the background? (She extends her hand with the paintbrush towards Jackson, slightly shaking the paintbrush for emphasis.)
Jackson: (Laughing.) Fine, but the background is the easiest part!
Talia: (Laughing.) Hey! You know I can’t draw. Or paint, for that matter. You’ve seen my stuff in art class, right?
Jackson: (Looking at Talia questioningly.) You know I’m in your art class?
Talia: (Looking over at him.) Of course. Unlike other people I know, I actually pay attention to who is in my classes. I know you’re also in a couple of my other classes, too.
Jackson: Oh. I’m used to people not knowing that I exist. I’m not necessarily the “popular type.” (Bends his fingers symbolizing air quotes.)
Talia: Oh, I’m sorry.
Jackson: (Turning back to banner, shrugging.) Ah, don’t be sorry. It doesn’t matter.
Talia: (Realizing she’s been looking at him a little too long, turns back to the banner.) Wow. That’s great so far!
Jackson: Thanks. It’s not my best work, but it’ll do.
Talia: No, I think it looks great! And it’s finally done. (She reaches for Jackson’s sketchbook.) Can I see some of your other stuff? I mean, if you don’t mind.
Jackson: (Picks up his sketchbook and hands it to Talia.) Yeah, sure.
Talia: (Flips open the book. Sees portrait drawings of an old man.) Who is this?
Jackson: That’s my grandfather. He was probably my favorite person to draw, but he died last year. (Looks down at the floor.)
Talia: Oh, I’m sorry. That must’ve been really hard.
Jackson: Yeah, it was. We were really close. He’s actually the one who got me into drawing. But it’s okay. (Changing the subject, pointing inside the sketchbook.) I also like to draw landscapes, which is cool too, I guess.
Talia: Yeah, these are actually some of the best drawings I’ve ever seen. Why don’t you show these, or use them in art class?
Jackson: I don’t know, I guess because they’re my secret, special drawings that no one knows a bout. Except me. And you. (Jokingly.) You have to swear to secrecy, or I’m going to have to kill you. Do you swear to tell no one, under any circumstances? (He holds out his pinkie, a smile tugging at his lips.)
Talia: (Laughing, intertwines her pinkie with his.) I solemnly swear to not tell a soul. But I think they belong in a museum.
Jackson: (Laughing.) Yeah, well, you swore.
Talia: (Laughing, puts her hands up in mock surrender.) Okay! Okay!
(They both look at each other, laughing, until Talia turns away from the intensity of Jackson’s eyes.)
Talia: What else do you have in here? (She flips to the next section of Jackson’s sketchbook.)
Jackson: No, wait! (Lunges out to try and grab the sketchbook, but it’s too late.)
Talia: (Looks intently at the drawings, speaks slowly and softly.) Are these … is this me? (Looks up at Jackson quizzically.)
Jackson: (Blushing, grabs the sketchbook, stumbling on his words.) I’m – I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for you to see those. (Saying more to himself than Talia, hurriedly gathers his stuff:) God, I shouldn’t have let you see my drawings. I’m so stupid. (Looking at Talia.) I’m really sorry, but – but I need to head home. (Stands up and turns to leave.)
Talia: (Stands up.) Wait, Jackson.
Jackson: (Turns back to face her.) Look, I know this is probably weird for you and makes me look like a stalker, but it’s not what it looks –
Talia: Why me?
Jackson: (Raises an eyebrow.) Wait, what?
Talia: Why did you choose to draw me?
Jackson: (Takes a deep breath.) You really want to know?
Talia: (Jokingly, laughs slightly.) Yes, of course! What kind of question is that?
Jackson: (Slightly less tense, laughs a little.) Okay, well, um, I think you’re the prettiest girl in the entire class. Whenever you walk in, talking and laughing with your friends, you brighten up the room, and I’m just like, “wow.”
Talia: Jackson, I –
Jackson: And I always thought, “there’s no possible way that she could like me” or “why would she date me?” So, I decided to draw you. My grandfather always told me to draw what made me feel something, or something that caught my eye that was unique and beautiful, and you caught my eye. (Looks expectantly at Talia.)
Talia: (Speechless, almost.) I don’t know what to say …
Jackson: (Looks at the floor.) No, I get it, you’re mad. I mean, I would be too, and I understand if you don’t want to talk to me ever again.
Talia: (Smiling.) I don’t know what to say, but I do know that you’ve caught my eye, too.
Jackson: (Shocked, but smiles.) Wait, really?
Talia: (Laughs.) Yeah, silly. Why do you think I asked you if you wanted to help out with the prom preparations?
Jackson: Oh, I thought you were just being nice. (Smiles shyly.)
Talia: (Laughs, lightly hitting his arm.) No! I wanted you to come. And I’m glad you did (Pause) because I’ve always liked you too.
Jackson: (Raises his eyebrow.) Really?
Talia: Yes, ever since I saw your work in the hallway, reading your name under it, then waiting for art class to find out who you were, because I knew for sure you were in my class. And then, when I finally matched a name to a face, there you were, sketching in your sketchbook.
Jackson: Huh, never thought someone was looking at me from afar. I thought that was just me. (Laughs.)
Talia: (Laughing.) Nope. But I wasn’t expecting you to stay here this late. Or be this open with me. But I’m happy you did.
Jackson: (Shrugging shoulders.) Yeah, well, I guess I’m full of surprises.
Talia: That is very true. (Laughs.)
Jackson: (Laughs, looks down nervously before looking back up at Talia.) Do you want to go to prom with me?
Talia: (Smiles) What?
Jackson: Do you want to go to prom with me? I mean we should be rewarded for our hard work, right? (Gestures to the finished banner.)
Talia: Oh, I definitely think we should. In this beautiful gym the school has so humbly bestowed upon us, drinking bad punch and eating bite-sized croissants (Laughing.)
Jackson: (Smiling.) So … is that a yes?
Talia: Yes! Of course! I would be honored. (Bows.)
Jackson: (Smiling.) Okay, then I’ll pick you up at seven?
Talia: Sounds perfect.
(Talia grabs Jackson’s hand and they walk offstage together. Lights fade to black.)
L. to R. Dylan Kruel (Jackson), Penelope Green (playwright), Eva Doyle (Talia)