I Believe in a Thing Called… – Ross School (2011)
Lights off. The sound of a train rolling to a complete stop #1. Lights up. Voice on loud speaker Cue: backstage mike “ Passengers may now begin boarding, please remember to be considerate of other peoples space. Have a swell ride!”
Val out of breath gets on and finds the only empty seat to sit down at, 10 seconds later Hunter appears and sees that all the seats are taken except for one next to Val. They both fiddle with their luggage.
Val: (out of breath) Excuse me, would you mind helping me with my luggage?
Hunter: Sure, no problem.
Val: Thanks. I never travel light.
Hunter hoists both his and Val’s luggage above their heads.
Val: Window or aisle?
Hunter: I’d rather isle, if that’s okay?
Val: Yeah, yeah works for me.
Hunter takes out a novel, Sorrows of Young Werter, to begin. Val Suddenly hears her phone ring (normal iphone ringtone).
Val: Sorry, I forgot to put my phone on vibrate. (Shuffles through her bag) I swear, if it’s my brother asking for money again….Oh! (She picks it up)
Val: Hey, there! I’m on my way! Just got on.
(pause. train begins to move/ starts up)
Val: I did bring it. I’m not that forgetful. (laughs)
Val: Two weeks seems like an eternity.
Val: This is the hardest part, the last stretch, agonizing over anticipation. You know what I mean? I just—I know, I know. You know.
Val: Not very well. I can’t without you next to me.
Val: What? Yes. Do it. Take the class if it interests you. I would do the same.
Val: No, please. Don’t hold back on my account, okay? I never want that to happen.
Val: Oh well… If it makes you happy(pause)
Val: Let’s talk about it when we see each other.
Val: Okay I (pause)
Val: I do too, so much. See you soon.
(Turns her phone off and puts it on vibrate, for the benefit of Hunter. Slides it in to the right pocket of her bag. Hunter breaks his concentration from his book and looks at her. She’s looking out the window.)
Hunter: I’m guessing that wasn’t your brother calling to ask for your financial assistance? (he smiles)
Val: Umm. No it wasn’t.
Hunter: Sounded like you’re going to see someone special, best friend or boyfriend maybe?
Hunter: Sounds like it has been a while since you’ve seen each other.
Val: Only two weeks.
Hunter: Excuse me for budding into your business, but it didn’t sound as though you were too ecstatic to hang up the phone.
Val: Why would I be “ecstatic” to hang up the phone on my boyfriend? It’s not like I want to get rid of him, or not talk to him.
Hunter: Sure, of course. Yes. I guess I can understand that. I just thought–
Val: No, no. Not at all. I’m excited.
Hunter: My mistake. Don’t pay it any mind.
Val: Yea, it was your mistake.
Hunter: Maybe that’s not what I meant. I sensed, not that I was eves dropping or anything, lingering disappointment?
Val: Look we are obviously very different people. Your tall, and I’m short. I get motion sickness on trains and you can whip out a book and read it without so much as a sign of nausea. See different. So then of course we would have different opinions on my relationship. Let’s just agree to have a pleasant train ride.
Hunter: That wasn’t the most logical argument, but I admire your effort.
Val: (under her breath) insufferable.
Hunter: As I said before I didn’t mean to pry.
(He goes back to reading his book and she goes back to looking out of the window. )
Val: What are you reading?
Hunter: The Sorrows of Young Werther. Heard of it?
Val: I’m an English major. It’s really good.
Hunter: Is that right?
Val: Yea to any hopeless romantic it would be.
Hunter: What would it be to any hopeless romantic?
Val: It would be good. It’s about a man, Werther falling in love with, a girl, Charlotte. But they can’t be together because she is engaged to another man. He yearns for her to give into the love that she inevitably can never return. I won’t give away too much, but the ending is tragic.
Hunter: Tragedies aren’t really for me. Well romantic tragedies. Scratch that, I just don’t understand love. It’s a waste of energy, real or imaginary.
Val: (sighs) I see.
Hunter: Sad. Huh.
Val: What’s sad?
Hunter: It’s pretty damn sad the way people interpret love.
Val: I’m not sure that you’re talking to the right person about the philosophy of love.
Hunter: You seem like that type.
Val: Sorry, did I miss a casting call?
Hunter: Haha. You’re just that girl.
Val: I don’t need a stranger to judge my personality. Thanks for trying though.
Hunter: I don’t mean to be rude or anything. I know that we have different opinions on the subject, but yours is pretty generic.
Val: (looks hurt) I told you we are different.
(Silence count to 5)
Val: Do you honestly think from one phone call you really believe you’ve got me all figured out, that I fall neatly into some general category of society?
Hunter: No. I’m just assuming.
Val: You really don’t have a clue. Love is indefinable, a feeling, something you just know. I don’t believe that it’s perfect, or can ever be perfect. I think that’s more logical than disregarding it completely.
Hunter: Well, the way I see it, the vast majority of people are fooled by the notion of love. How sad is that? We grow up believing that someday, we will find our “one.” Out of the blue they suddenly appear in our lives, and everything changes. What we’re doing before this person entered our lives seems increasingly less important, and as time goes on the two lives mesh together. There’s your definition, it just doesn’t happen for everyone.
Val: Your right it might not happen for everyone, but it’s because some people aren’t open to it.
Hunter: Are you sure? Maybe it’s because people are too open to it.
Val: Its more complicated than that. It really can’t be explained. I agree with you love is not a fairytale. Werther finds the truth in that. The poor guy realizes that Charlotte will never be able to leave the man she is obligated to marry. Crushed, he is never the same again. Love works in mysterious ways. Sometimes it is the only thing that keeps you alive and other times it is what kills you. In so many novels and so many movies and in so many real life relationships the ending is bad. Somehow we still recognize this failure as love, just love gone wrong. Some people need to learn and others have to accept that love isn’t what it seems.
Hunter: Since you’re teaching me about it, you’re still accepting it?
Val: No— I mean. I don’t really know.
Hunter: If you give the advice you should take it.
Val: It’s only my opinion.
Hunter: Then what’s your opinion on being miles from your “one,” having the ability to seldom see him, and still say the words “I- love- you?” Only you didn’t, just then.
Val: Just when?
Hunter: On the phone, he said them and you didn’t.
Val: I agreed, because I do. It’s not like I said thank you!
Hunter: You can’t even say it now.
[Five minutes till the next stop, please remember all luggage.]
Val: How far are you going?
Hunter: End of the line.
Val: Me too.
Hunter: Huh. To someone that you can’t even say “love” to?
Val: Maybe. I could get off, and go back home.
Hunter: It’s that bad. Geez…(goes back to his book)
Val: It’s not that bad.
Hunter: (still looking at his book) Yeah I’m giving it a whirl, won’t judge a book by its cover, you know? (smiles in a quirky- I – know- something- you- don’t kind of way)
Val: No, no, no (whispers kind of) My relationship.
Hunter: Oh that thing, aren’t you thinking of turning around mid trip without giving your significant other a heads up? Yea, sure, not that bad.
Val: I keep asking myself questions, kind of like soul searching, whether or not we should stick with it, if it is or isn’t going to work out.
Val: Only words.
Hunter: Excuse me? I don’t read picture books anymore.
Val: We have become only words, even if the words express the meaning behind it all. The relationship I mean. We find ourselves connected through text messages, and phone calls. I can’t tell if he’s angry or happy sometimes.
It’s only like it used to be when we’re together, the distance gets in the way. It’s something to get used to I guess. When I go home after I see him I cant help but feel, a little sorry for us. There is love there! Whatever definition, meaning, and emotion you want that to mean, it is there. But. I know that feeling will deplete, as my train home gets closer to the final destination, it always does.
Hunter: Hey! If you really do think that, get off now! That could be your way of accepting the fact that, most of the time love’s difficult.
Val: I could get off now! Save myself the heartache, cause one day it will all be over. Why should it be any different for me?
Hunter: Exactly! Looks like you’ve got everything figured out. Have a safe trip home! Need help with your luggage?
[Train comes to a complete stop. Loudspeaker voice: All doors opening, passengers may begin to exit!]
Val: As I go back home the relationship that I am so used to feeling slowly diminishes. It becomes more of a farfetched dream then something tangible. I don’t know if I can do it anymore.
[Hunter and Val both get up. Hunter hands Val her luggage.]
Val: Thanks for your help.
Hunter: Not a problem. Safe trip.
[Val exists stage right. Hunter lets out a big sigh and smiles putting his feet up.]
[Wait 5 seconds. Val enters.]
Val: Can I have my seat back?
[The train starts up again.]
Val: I realized something! [She hoists her luggage above her head, moves his legs, and sits down.]
Val: At what moment does one say, enough, nothing lasts forever even life its self is transitory?
Hunter: Oh God.
Val: Yea! Of course love cannot last forever because we won’t last forever.
Hunter: But wouldn’t —
Val: In the Sorrows of Young Werther, Werther leaves Charlotte because her fiancée comes back. Though they are apart, and she is distracted by her obligations, his desire to see her again grows so strong that he cannot keep himself away from her.
Hunter: Did someone have caffeine? [Genuinely surprised]
Val: No! No! No! [smiling/laughing]
Hunter: I swear coffee these days.
Val: That’s it though! There, right there! That’s It!
Hunter: What, what?! [looks around]
Val: I can’t bare the thought of not sharing our lives with one another. Every day we say good morning, even if it is through a text or a phone conversation, he tells me everything and I feel safe. It’s not the same though. It will never be the same, but we are making it work. I forget that sometimes, it can be done. Us, living our separate lives, separate priorities, but when we come together I’m happy.
Hunter: How did you forget that it makes you happy?
Val: It’s hard to see when it isn’t immediate.
Hunter: You’re an English major and it took you this long to figure out that “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?” [Says quotes sarcastically]
Val: (laughs almost crying a little) I really do love him.
[Loudspeaker voice: We will be making our last stop in five minutes, please prepare your travel belongings, all doors will open.]
Hunter: I was wrong about you. You’re not “that” girl.
Val: Thanks…means a lot.
Hunter: I’m Hunter.
Val: Val. [shake hands]
Hunter: My “one” turned out to be the worst decision of my life. Two years. Wasted away on her. She stole my money, and slept with my best friend. I thought it was love, obviously not.
Val: I’m really sorry. Don’t be too trusting, okay? Keep your guard up a little it makes you more mysterious.
[both laugh. The train comes to a complete stop. #3 Loudspeaker voice: Cue: backstage mike Last stop! Please remember all luggage.]
Val: Thank you hunter. You’re a really good listener.
Hunter: Your fun to listen to Val. All over the place, but fun.
[Both grab their luggage from above them]
Val: I didn’t even ask. Where are you going?
Hunter: I’m going home.
Val: I guess I am too.
Hunter: Good luck.
[Val’s phone rings again (normal iphone ringtone)]
Val: Thanks! [They both smile as they part separate ways. Val stage right and hunter stage left.]
[Val picks up her phone, it’s her boyfriend. As she begins to walk off the audience hears her say…]
Val: I’m here.
Lights fade. End Scene.