Waiting for Phone Calls – Pierson High School (2012)


Emily Selynkova and Denis Hartnett perform in Casey Grubb's play, "Waiting for Phone Calls." Photo by Star Black.

Emily Selynkova and Denis Hartnett perform in Casey Grubb’s play, “Waiting for Phone Calls.” Photo by Star Black.

Waiting for Phone Calls by Casey Grubb

Click here to watch a video of this performance.

Jane has the “The Old Soul Song” by Bright Eyes playing from .25secs until Peter pauses it at .48secs. She looks up annoyed.

Jane- What the hell?

Peter- You never call dad anymore. (He is standing in the kitchen drinking milk…She is sitting at the counter on a stool)

Jane- I’m usually busy (looking down at hands)

Peter- You could just say hi and let him know you’re okay.

Jane- I’m fine, you can tell him that.

Peter- He knows you’re fine, but he just wants to hear your voice. Jane we don’t know how long he has with us. (He says this hesitantly, as if he doesn’t want to spark Jane’s defensive personality)

Jane- Is this supposed to make me feel bad? He went to war, he killed people and that makes him a good citizen? And you’re gonna go off and do the same thing.

Peter- I’m doing the job he couldn’t finish.

Jane- You can’t end the war, the only way the war will end is if we bring troops home and start solving our problems with words not guns.

Peter- That’s just the way things are. I may not be able to end the war going over with the troops but I have a less likely chance staying here.

Jane- Do you even want to do this? Don’t you think it’s completely immoral? The guy who raised us and fed us and clothed us is sitting in a hospital bed dying of blood poisoning from a gun shot. Getting killed on the battlefield won’t stop war, it only feeds the killer.

Peter- It doesn’t matter what I think, it’s my civic duty.

Jane- You’re not serious, civic duty? You aren’t being drafted. This conservative thinking is a way of the past. What about college?

Peter- I’ll go to college when I am done serving, we can’t afford it now anyway.

Jane- You are more than capable of a getting a scholarship. I’ve never seen you get anything lower than an A.

Peter- You can’t change my mind. (Chuckles a little, before speaking)

Jane- You can’t cure dad.

They are silent for a moment, and then Peter straightens up and acts like nothing was ever said. Jane acts unapologetic as always.

Peter- Do you want to watch TV or something?

Jane- No, I have a lot of homework.

Peter- You said you finished it, why don’t you ever want to be with me anymore? (Look’s over at her)

Jane- I do, I just can’t handle you right now. (Looks straight ahead, avoiding eye contact)

Peter- Handle what Jane, am I really that hard to be around?

Jane- Do I have to answer that question? (Look’s at him)

Peter- Why are you always so angry?

Jane sighs and looks at him as if to say “I don’t know”

Jane- So are we still going to your friend’s poetry reading?

Peter- I didn’t want to go so I just told them you’d be bored to death.

Jane- Please don’t ever use me as an excuse again okay? I’m going; I just guess you won’t be my ride.

Peter- You can’t go down there that late on your own. Dad would kill me.

Jane- Well guess what, I’m going. And I don’t get bored, that’s probably the biggest insult ever. It’s a senseless and demeaning word.

Peter- Stop it. Stop acting like your better than everyone else. You’ve just turned so snobby and irritable.

Jane- Well you wouldn’t understand me because you never listen when we talk.

Peter- Oh I understand you, there isn’t much to grasp. You know a few years ago I was you. You are just another 14 year old girl who thinks they’re special and unique. Well guess what? You’re not. You’re just like everyone else Jane. You are 14.  You don’t know anything yet.

Jane- I don’t know anything? You weren’t the only person who had to grow up fast. Stop undermining me and trying to act like the big guy. At the end of the day I’m your equal. Biologically we are all human beings, numbered or not, my age doesn’t define anything about me. I’m not 14 I’m Jane, your not 18, your Peter.

Peter- No I am your guardian, I’ve been raising you for two years. You have no experience in life, you try to act like an adult but it’s really unattractive.

Jane- YOU’RE MY FUCKING BROTHER…We’ve been living through the same things these past two years, you didn’t get it any worse than I did.

Peter- We understood it differently, you were only twelve. You hadn’t had life experiences up until that point.

Jane- So to have any experience or knowledge of the world I have to be a sixteen year old that snorts coke between doing girls? It may be an experience I haven’t encountered but it doesn’t mean I haven’t dealt with anything before this. So I think I have good enough reason not to listen to everything you tell me to do. I can’t live if I’m constantly ordered around, how the hell will I ever make it on my own if I don’t learn? And yeah Peter your right, I’m not smart. How could anyone smart engage in an argument with you?

Peter- Jane shut up. If you keep acting like you are more important than everyone you won’t get out of this town for long.

Jane- You’d be surprised how many people like me Peter. Because I don’t take any shit from people like you.

Peter- I cleaned up the second my family needed me. It may not excuse the things I did or said while under the influence but I don’t deserve to be persecuted for it years later after I’ve proved that I am a responsible adult.

Jane- I’m not persecuting you, I’m just explaining that maybe you aren’t that fit of caretaker. You know for me, the suffering and helpless child. (Jane says this sarcastically)

Peter- I’m doing all I can. I’m sorry life isn’t fair for us, but it isn’t always fair for anyone. (He sounds hopeless)

Jane- I know I’m not special or the only person in the world who’s ever felt anything. (She sounds sorry)

Peter- What do you feel?

Jane- I’m never happy, I’m mostly sad. But then there’s those days when I can’t read myself. Nothing’s black and white, it’s like I’m waiting to feel something. So Peter I’m sorry if I’m not happy, or making everything harder. But I’m trying to figure things out just like you. (When saying this line she lightens up, she has never had someone to tell this)

Peter- Just like me, I guess you’re right. You’re just like me. (He realizes that she was right about equality)

Jane- I’m happy you think that. But Peter, what do you feel? I don’t think anyone’s ever asked you. (She says questionably)

Peter- I feel like everything I do from now on will affect the way things turn out in a few years. I’m scared to lose our father, but I’m also scared I’ll lose all the progress I’ve made these past years. It would almost be easier if he just died now, I’m putting my life on hold waiting for the phone call to tell me he’s gone. (You can clearly sense how anxious he is)

Jane- I’ve been waiting for that call since the day he left.

Peter- Jane, will you please see him. I know you are angry, but he only did what he believed was right in his heart. You will regret not going when he’s gone. Today may be your only chance.

Jane- No, I don’t really want to see anyone.

Peter- He’s not just anyone.

Jane- I know, but I can’t face it. I can’t see him dying in front of me. (Starting to tear up)

Peter- He will die regardless of whether you come or not but he won’t pass until you accept it.

Jane- It’s too much for me to accept.

Peter- He has accepted it. That is why I want you to see him; it will make moving on easier.

Jane- I miss him already.

Peter- I miss him too.

Jane- Peter I know I’m gonna be okay, but you’re gonna be okay too. I don’t make promises, but we all get to be okay at some point.

Peter- I believe you.

Peter- I think you see a lot more in me than I see, you think I’m better than the war. I’ve wanted to be a soldier since I knew what it was. I thought it was what I was cut out for, seen as how that’s what all the men in our family did. But you make me see things outside of the family, and I want to thank you for all that’s been said today. I realized that going to war is a personal decision, not a family trait. So I’m going to war, only because that’s what I need to do, not what dad wants me to do.

Jane acknowledges what he said but she knows that nothing more needs to be said so they continue there day like nothing had happened.

“The Old Soul Song” plays again from .48secs Peter pauses it again at 1:15

Peter- Also, I was wrong to say some of those things earlier, you are much smarter than a lot of people I know that are my age. You’ve taught more than they have.

Jane- What time are visiting hours at the hospital?

*Song plays again and drifts off into silence*

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