2018 Drama

2018 Drama, 2018 Issue

Drama-01

A Pyrrhic Victory

By: Jessica Suphan

Characters:

GINA

Late twenties to early thirties, she hasn’t eaten, changed her clothes, or taken care of personal hygiene for some time

LAMPYRIDAE (pronunciation: lamb-pyre-ah-die)

Slightly younger than Gina, well-groomed

Setting:

Modern day, but the setting itself is a liminal area; somewhere removed from time and place as humans typically know them


Scene One

An aluminum tree stands center stage with open bottles hanging from its branches by golden string. Buttons, jewels, lace, all sorts of shiny, pretty things are in them. The lighting is twilight but that has no bearing on time. GINA stands against the tree, stroking it, her expression and behavior are spellbound. LAMPYRIDAE enters and is surprised to see GINA.

LAMPYRIDAE:

Oh…

GINA:

Oh hello.

LAMPYRIDAE:

I’m sorry, I didn’t think anyone would be here. This is so hard to find, and it’s two you know, after the lunch hour, so I thought…

GINA:

It’s okay, you can leave a treasure with someone else here. (eager) What did you bring?

LAMPYRIDAE takes a costume necklace from her bag

LAMPYRIDAE:

It’s from my aunt. The faerie who came to me, he said it didn’t matter that the jewels were fake, that I wanted the world to stop and that was enough.

GINA:

No, they don’t care about real, they just care about pretty.

She goes to continue but stops, embarrassed. LAMPYRIDAE nonverbally coaxes her into speaking again.

GINA:

I was just going to say, pretty like you.

LAMPYRIDAE:

Thank you! (she gives Gina a quick once-over, smile flirtatious) So are you.

GINA:

Thank you… Are you a hug or handshake person?

LAMPYRIDAE:

For you, a hug person.

GINA:

(flustered but pleased) It’s really nice to meet you. (unwilling to leave the tree’s side, she pulls LAMPYRIDAE into a hug) What’s your name? I’m Gina.

LAMPYRIDAE:

Gina, that’s a cute name, I’m Lampyridae.

GINA:

Oh wow, that’s beautiful! I’ve never heard that before, what are you? Where are you from?

LAMPYRIDAE:

It’s actually Latin, I gave it to myself when I came out as female, it’s part of the proper name for fireflies. I just love them, so beautiful and free.

GINA:

I so hope you stay that way.

Lampyridae reacts with curious confusion

GINA:

What are you wishing for? (she gives the tree her full attention again, touches a bottle) They can give you so many things…

LAMPYRIDAE:

It’s…it’s for my sister. She’s pregnant, again, and I want her baby to live safe and happy.

GINA:

You don’t need the Fae for that to happen. Are you sure you want to…?

LAMPYRIDAE:

I have to. Her son… (the wound is still fresh) My nephew, he…he drowned three months ago, right before St. Patrick’s Day. So with another baby coming… Nothing can happen to them, it just can’t.

GINA:

Oh… I’m sorry, I wish that hadn’t happened to you…

LAMPYRIDAE:

This is just jewelry, fake jewels, our happiness and the baby’s life are worth way more than that.

GINA:

Well… I’m glad you think so. (she goes to say something without Lampyridae noticing, but no words come out and she gives up)

LAMPYRIDAE:

So what do I do? The faerie said to just put it in a bottle and wish, and the Seelie or UnSeelie court will fulfill it. Is that it? It’s so easy.

GINA:

It’s the easiest thing in the world. Easier than breathing, easier than self-control. Here, let a whim choose which one.

They walk around the tree, Gina’s walk a dance of need

LAMPYRIDAE:

This one, this is it, this one. I love the acorns in it, the lace, the glitter, all the pretty things… (she drops the necklace in, oblivious to Gina’s watchful longing) I wish my sister’s baby will live happily and healthily and safely once they’re born.

GINA:

Do you have any more?

LAMPYRIDAE:

(startled) Any more? Oh, to give away? No, I only had one wish, so I only brought one bauble.

GINA:

Yeah, that makes sense…

LAMPYRIDAE:

You’ve wished, right? Wanting to is how you find this, it’s like a fairy tale or something. What did you wish f- (She cries out in pain, clutching her arm. Gina goes to comfort her but isn’t surprised) Oh god, what, fuck…

She pulls up her sleeve and the audience can see words on her inner arm. They don’t need to be able to read them, but they should spell what Lampyridae reads.

LAMPYRIDAE:

The ability to laugh…?

GINA:

(physically touching the tree again) Oh that’s not a bad one, I’ve got that too. (she wishes she could experience what Lampyridae is about to)

LAMPYRIDAE:

What? What does that-

A laugh bursts from Lampyridae, she suddenly is full of frenzied energy, dancing, running, childish behaviors for the simple ecstasy of life, etc. All that matters is that the audience can sense manic, almost demented glee. It goes on and on and on until she is abruptly cut off from the sensation-it is taken from her, not relinquished. She collapses.

LAMPYRIDAE:

What…?

GINA:

(sitting but still in contact with the tree) Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it the most powerful, the most perfect ecstasy you’ve ever felt? Isn’t it better than everything else in life? Don’t you love it?

LAMPYRIDAE:

(certain) Yes. (dropping the certainty) But what…what was that, what’re these? (she cannot get the words off)

GINA:

It was your wish coming true. Magic done on your behalf, wasn’t it perfect, wasn’t it the most wonderful feeling?

LAMPYRIDAE:

Yes but what are these?

GINA:

It’s your offering for the wish to come true.

LAMPYRIDAE:

No, that was the necklace, laughter isn’t something you can offer anyways.

GINA:

The necklace let them know you wanted something; being able to laugh is your payment. They’ll take it.

LAMPYRIDAE:

No they won’t, it’s not something you can take, and I just did! (she laughs) See?

GINA:

The Fae like all that apprehension, and fear, and build up, they think it’s funny. (genuine) I’m sorry beautiful, no one ever knows until it’s too late. I couldn’t tell you. The words don’t come out until you already know. They’ll take your laughter whenever they feel like it.

LAMPYRIDAE:

(she takes Gina’s hand for comfort) No! (her attention is drawn back to the tree, voice heavy with consideration) Does it hurt? Because, just, that joy…

GINA:

It doesn’t hurt at all. Please, be careful though. (she tugs on Lampyridae’s hand) You’re beautiful and self-confident, please be careful. They give you so much but they take so much too.

LAMPYRIDAE:

(shifts closer and puts her head on a flustered Gina’s shoulder) What’s going to get taken from you?

Gina hesitates and then rolls up both her sleeves and exposes her stomach and her back. She is covered in words.

GINA:

(hopeful Lampyridae will still like her) So much. My tastebuds, one of my arms, being able to cry, to play the flute, my eyes, my womb, being able to hear my son’s voice, to hear my daughter’s laugh, anger, being able to tell animals apart, social graces… So many. (her eyes are drawn back to the tree) Are you sure I can’t bum an offering?

LAMPYRIDAE:

No, no I’m sure… (she cups Gina’s cheek, trying to get her gaze back) How did this happen to you? You’re, you’re in bad shape but you’re still so compassionate, what…?

GINA:

I hope they never take that. But don’t worry, I’m happy like this. Once you give enough offerings, even just being around the tree teeters on that joy. I just have to go get an offering real fast, make a wish, and I can feel it again. The best part is, they never take anything that’ll keep you from making more wishes.

LAMPYRIDAE:

Yeah…

She looks to the tree, and for a moment both are hypnotized by it. Lampyridae yanks her attention away, frightened for herself

LAMPYRIDAE:

I have to go.

GINA:

Oh…will you come back?

LAMPYRIDAE:

…I hope not. (she cups Gina’s cheek) Are you sure I can’t do anything for you? You’ve given up so much, I can’t just…

GINA:

Can you get an offering for me? (reacting to Lampyridae’s horror) No, never mind, it’s okay. I love this tree, the Fae. All I have to do is make wishes and I can be in ecstasy forever.

LAMPYRIDAE:

I really have to go.

She darts away, at first just to get away. But as she leaves she looks back. We cannot tell for sure if she is looking at Gina or the tree. After a pregnant pause, she leaves completely. Gina curls against the tree happily. She begins to show signs of withdrawal, and darts offstage. Quickly, she returns with something pretty and rushes to a bottle.

GINA:

I wish… (she pauses, drawing a bit away) I wish… (she drops the pretty thing into the bottle) I wish Lampyridae never comes back, never makes another wish.

She clutches her arm and cries out in pain but does not look. There is an expectant pause before the same ecstasy that grabbed Lampyridae snatches her up. It’s up to the director and actor whether making so many wishes heightens the effect, has built up a tolerance in her, keeps it the same, etc. She’s filled with manic pleasure. Uncontrollable glee that on her is truly scary. It’s snatched from her. Gina stumbles to a halt, she’s quick to have as much physical contact with the tree as possible.

GINA:

Yes, yes… (she makes pleased noises, languid and content) Two days was two too long, oh I needed that…


Scene Two

Time doesn’t pass here so there is no change in lighting. A woman stumbles on, clutching her cell phone, a complete emotional and physical catastrophe.

WOMAN:

Please, please help! (her body language implores Gina) Please, I just, I need a wish, I need it now! I just lost my job, you don’t understand, I have pets, I need my job back! I’m already behind on bills, we’ll be out on the street at the end of the month! Tell me, tell me, how do I make a wish, we’ll starve! (dissolves into full-body sobs)

GINA:

Why should I give a fuck?

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