30 Minutes (2018)
by Rachel McKelvey
YAWP, Summer 2017
(The lights are dim. There is a clock in the back of the stage and a phone on stage right. Carmen is sitting in the middle of the floor, the clock is ticking loudly as she takes a medicine bottle and leans back, swallowing a mouthful of pills. After, she looks at a picture in front of her and sighs.)
Carmen: (She looks back at the clock for a moment) Okay. According to the website this will take about… thirty more minutes.
(A moment of nothing but the clock ticking as she looks back at her picture.)
Carmen: The Park. September fifteen. My last birthday.
Carmen: I remember that. Samantha, Carter, Benson. They were all there. Mom, and dad too. The best part was the cake (she laughs weakly) which our traditional knife was used to cut the slices. Mom always said she would use it on my wedding day. But heck, not like there was ever going to be one.
(Another weak laugh, before she looks down.)
Carmen: Everything was good until that night. Then I felt…drained. I couldn’t be happy…it felt like I didn’t deserve it, like the next moment it would disappear.
(She puts the photo down for a moment beside her, facing down.)
Carmen: Words of ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘I love you’ became just as empty as my medicine bottle. It’s like I could’ve just sold them to a thrift store. Everyone stopped and then…everyone vanished.
(Suddenly out of the darkness a figure appears. She looks exactly like Carmen. She comes up from behind her.)
Carmen 2: Did they?
Carmen: It was obvious. The silent murmurs, the uncomfortable faces, and the way they stopped talking. Even just how… hurt.
Carmen 2: They didn’t know.
Carmen: No, I saw it all. You weren’t even there. (She stands up, her shoulders slouched and her arms crossed. She turns away from the other Carmen as if avoiding her.)
Carmen 2: You didn’t see everything. You were still veiled.
Carmen: It was real. I felt it. I saw it. I even tasted it. It was bitter, and cold in my mouth. (She walks away a little bit more.)
Carmen 2: Like I said, not everything.
Carmen: If I didn’t see everything then I probably would’ve been dead.
Carmen 2: Naivety is only another part to living.
Carmen: I know that.
Carmen 2: But you’re denying it right now. You’re denying a lot of things.
(Carmen looks down, almost irritated, she looks at the clock.)
Carmen: This won’t be important in twenty minutes from now. Just… just shut up!
(The other Carmen bends over and picks up the picture, then faces the opposite way Carmen is while looking at it.)
Carmen 2: You’ll never see this again, you know that, right? No more park, no more birthdays, no more mom and dad.
Carmen: (She turns around) So? I know that.
Carmen 2: You’ll never even be able to see your mother cut your wedding cake.
Carmen: There would never be a wedding. If I couldn’t keep my friends how could I keep a partner?
Carmen 2: But you didn’t lose them.
Carmen: You’ve got this all wrong.
Carmen 2: They didn’t understand. They didn’t see. They needed time.
Carmen: Time for what? To continue to leave me behind? Because if that is so then that’s perfectly correct! (She grabs the photo, and holds it tightly in her hand, crumpling it.) You act like this is easy…like you think this doesn’t hit me every five seconds.
Carmen 2: It wasn’t easy for them either.
Carmen: Well it sure was easy for Samantha to drive away the moment I came out of Seven Eleven. (She turns away.)
Carmen 2: She didn’t see.
Carmen: Because she didn’t care when I sat on the curb and cried. Because she didn’t care when I had to walk home alone. Because she didn’t care at all.
Carmen 2: Do you even remember what happened the next day?
Carmen: She said sorry. But it was hollow.
Carmen 2: She was scared most likely. You saw that.
Carmen: I don’t think so. My own parents, adults… they didn’t even ask. Didn’t even bother when I was upset.
Carmen 2: How do you know? You don’t see a person’s mind unless you are in it.
Carmen: All you even hear from school counselors are clichés and tv tropes. And you’ve heard it again and again like… like the ticking of a clock.
(A second or two passes by, as all that is audible is the clock.)
Carmen 2: Sometimes that’s all people can think of. Thinking is only the death and rebirth of humankind.
Carmen: Each time all they did was slowly back away, l- like I had a disease. (She pauses in her thought, mouth still open, then she screams, tears flowing.) Do I have a disea-
Carmen 2: (Cutting her off harshly) It wasn’t your fault.
Carmen: (Her voice growing louder and trembling) You don’t know that.
Carmen 2: It wasn’t your fault.
Carmen: I said, you don’t know that.
Carmen 2: (She goes around and stops right next to Carmen, her arms crossed) Well, you don’t at all.
Carmen: I should’ve just done this before. (Her hands shake.)
Carmen 2: No. You know they still care, you only let yourself believe they didn’t.
(The clock chimes, Carmen turns and she drops the photo, almost panicked.)
Carmen: I have twelve minutes.
Carmen 2: No, you have a choice. (She picks up the photo, showing her.)
Carmen: I don’t know. (She closes her eyes and gulps.)
Carmen 2: Why did they talk to you? Why did they ask how you were doing?
Carmen: (She falls to her knees.) I don’t – I don’t think I know.
Carmen 2: Out of the billions of people in the world they chose to listen to you, to know you. And why?
Carmen: Ten minutes.
Carmen 2: Ten minutes won’t explain what it means. (She looks at the phone.)
Carmen: (She looks at the phone with drowsy eyes) Why does it matter?
Carmen 2: Maybe things slip out of your hands, but does that mean you’ll never get to pick them back up.
(Carmen takes the picture and rubs it in between her fingers.)
Carmen 2: What will this fix?
Carmen: I…The cycle. The crash, the… the manic feeling of finally feeling something good right before it crumbles down and every piece of it begins to crush you again. It will end…
Carmen 2: Everything. Everything will be gone and nothing will have been fixed. Every piece of life, every part of you, both good and bad will be gone. Wiped out. And you can’t go back. All the things you could’ve seen. Completely. Gone.
Carmen: Isn’t that what I want?!
Carmen 2: Is it?
Carmen: I want to actually feel…good.
Carmen 2: The only way to begin to pave forward is to take a step.
Carmen: Do you… really think I should do this?
Carmen 2: Nine minutes is all you have to decide.
(Carmen scrambles to the phone, dialing as fast as she can, she picks it up and takes a heavy breath.)