A Prayer for Elizabeth

by Eliana Gayle-Schneider
A Prayer for Elizabeth

“I haven’t slept in days. Last night, I was lying in bed, and I shut my eyes, and I cried. I cried because I miss you. I cried because I need you and because I’m hurting.”

 

Scene 1

(Scene opens. JULIAN is sitting at a desk in his empty bedroom there is a stack of books and a pair of headphones on the floor)

 

JULIAN

Dear Elizabeth. I had a crap day at school today. Some moron bumped into me after I got my lunch and my tuna salad spilled all over my shirt. The Grateful Dead one with the stripes. I was gonna throw it out anyway because the skulls scared Amy. Amy’s a grown ass woman and she can’t handle a skull? But like whatever, I’ll get a new one. I’ll get twelve new ones. I’ll buy every single fucking skull shirt just to piss off Amy.

 

(JULIAN kicks his headphones on the ground)

 

(The stage goes dark, the light goes up to CLAIRE in an empty room kneeling with her hands clasped looking up)

 

CLAIRE

Dear God. I am asking for your forgiveness. I missed church this morning.

 

(CLAIRE looks down sorrowfully, then looks back up)

 

CLAIRE

But in my defense it was for an entirely worthy cause! You see, last night there was a boy, a very troubled boy, my neighbor actually, he was in an unhealthy state of… intoxication and he needed to find his way home. When I had returned home after bringing him back safely, It was very late and I forgot to set my alarm and by the time I had awoken from my post-rescue slumber my family had already left for church.

(CLAIRE takes a deep breath)

I realize that my actions were unjustifiable, but all I can ask for now is forgiveness. God bless that boy’s poor soul. And his family’s too. God bless Mother, Father and Gregory. In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

 

Scene 2

(the scene opens with JULIAN, AMY and CARSON sitting around a table)

 

AMY

Julian, elbows off the table.

 

(Julian looks up, and then back down while his elbows remain on the table)

 

AMY

Julian, did you hear me?

 

JULIAN

Yes Amy, I heard you.

 

CARSON

Then why are your elbows on the damn table?

 

(AMY rests her hand on CARSON’s shoulder to calm him. JULIAN removes his elbows from the table)

 

CARSON

You weren’t at church today.

 

(JULIAN shrugs)

 

JULIAN

I overslept.

 

AMY

It’s never too late to reach out to God.

 

JULIAN

Bullshit.

 

AMY

Julian! Carson, how can you sit by and allow this behavior?

 

CARSON

Julian, go to your room.

 

JULIAN

Gladly.

 

(JULIAN stands and pushes his chair out of way)

 

AMY

Make your bed and tidy up the living room, will you? We’re having dinner guests.

 

(JULIAN exits)

 

AMY (calling after JULIAN)

The living room is that way!

 

(AMY points stage left, then rolls her eyes. AMY stands and pushes in her chair)

 

CARSON

Dinner guests?

 

AMY
Robert, Janette and their children. Carson sweetie we already went over this!

 

PAUSE

 

AMY

I’ll be in the kitchen doing the dishes. Talk to your child, please?

 

(CARSON and AMY exit in different directions)

 

Scene 3

 

(JULIAN is sitting at a desk holding a journal)

 

JULIAN

Dear Elizabeth, It’s March 27th. Exactly two and a half years since you died. 21,914 hours.

(Pause)

I haven’t slept in days. Last night, I was lying in bed, and I shut my eyes, and I cried. I cried because I miss you. I cried because I need you and because I’m hurting. I cried because (BEAT) sometimes I think you wanted us to get hurt. I cried because you didn’t love us-me, you didn’t love me enough to stay. I cried because I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do, Elizabeth.

 

(The stage does dark, the light raises on CLAIRE on the ground with her hands clasped)

 

CLAIRE

Dear God, it’s March 27th. Exactly 11 days since I got my braces off. 264 hours. I was the last one in the 9th grade to have their braces off, but I have interpreted that as a sign. You were testing my patience, and I remained faithful, even in my darkest hour when I almost bit Dr. Kalswell. Thank you for blessing me with beautiful teeth, if only the same would happen with Gregory. God bless his youthful soul. God bless mother, and father and the great state of Ohio!

 

Scene 4

(The scene opens with a dimly lit room with a long table stage right. CARSON is sitting at the head of table. ROBERT, JULIAN and GREGORY are sitting on the left side of the table, JANETTE, CLAIRE and AMY are sitting on the left side. They are eating.)

 

ROBERT

Amy, this very well might be the best roast beef in all of Columbus.

 

JANETTE

You’re gonna have to fight me for that title!

 

(Laughter)

 

AMY

Thank you Robert. It’s always a pleasure to have you and your family over. Isn’t it Carson?

 

CARSON

Um, yes yes. Lovely company. Robert, have you finalized that deal with the Roger’s?

 

ROBERT

I’m trying. But with a bit more urgency this time. After we lost the big sale in Cleveland-

 

JANETTE

Business is not for the table.

 

(JANETTE adjusts the napkin on her lap)

 

JANETTE

Julian, look at how you’ve matured! Is that facial hair, I see?

 

(JULIAN looks down. CARSON, ROBERT, JANETTE and AMY laugh)

 

AMY

You would see him more if he left his room and went to church. You know, Julian, you would have liked last week’s sermon.

 

ROBERT

Ladies, can’t you see you’re embarrassing the poor boy?

 

JANETTE

I remember when you were just a little boy and you used to have that grand swing set in your yard! Can you believe it’s been four years since we moved?

 

ROBERT

Four wonderful years!

 

CARSON

Has it really been so long?

 

ROBERT

Well we reconnected after Elizabeth-

 

JANETTE

Robert!

 

CARSON (softly)

No, no it’s alright.

 

AMY

Julian, how about you show Gregory and Claire your bedroom? (to ROBERT) he has lots of fun posters.

 

(JULIAN looks at CARSON, sighs and then stands, pushes in his chair and begins to exit)

 

JULIAN (to GREGORY and CLAIRE)

You coming?

 

(GREGORY, CLAIRE and JULIAN exit)

 

ROBERT

Carson I didn’t mean to-

 

CARSON

No, no it’s alright. She was always a big hit with dinner guests. I don’t know if you remember but five years ago, we hosted a new years party. She bought a karaoke machine and the two of us belted out Elton John the whole night long.

 

(AMY stands and removes two plates from the table. JANETTE stands)

 

JANETTE

Amy let me give you a hand with those dishes.

 

AMY

Oh, thank you.

 

JANETTE

Now, you just have to tell me where you got those shoes! I haven’t seen pumps like those since my college years!

 

(AMY and JANETTE continue their conversation silently while walking stage left. The light shifts to CARSON and ROBERT)

 

ROBERT

I like her.

 

CARSON

Pardon?

 

ROBERT

Amy, the girl, I like her. She’s a keeper.

 

CARSON

Yeah, shes great. Plus she makes a mean roast beef!

 

ROBERT

She’s also easy on the eyes

 

(ROBERT and CARSON laugh)

 

ROBERT

So, you haven’t made it official?

 

CARSON

What?

 

ROBERT

You know, I don’t see a ring

 

CARSON

Oh, well we haven’t really thought too much about-

 

ROBERT

Don’t get me wrong, it’s just that you two have been living together for almost a year now. Right?

 

CARSON

Yeah, it’s just that…I guess I don’t think we’re ready.

 

ROBERT

It’s the sex, isn’t it?

 

CARSON

What? No. – I mean

 

ROBERT

You can be honest, I won’t judge. God won’t judge.

 

CARSON

What’s this God bullshit coming out of your mouth? You haven’t gone to church since the stone age. (PAUSE) And the fact of the matter is, I’m just not ready for that kind of commitment. I mean (PAUSE) marriage? It just feels too soon.

 

ROBERT

Elizabeth has been gone for what; 3 years?

 

CARSON

Two and a half. Exactly two and half, this day.

 

ROBERT

Do you hear yourself Carson? You’re stuck in the past. Now I know this is not my place, but hear me out when I say that the girl won’t stick around much longer if she knows theres not gonna be any commitment.

 

CARSON

I didn’t say there wasn’t gonna be commitment, I just said not yet.

 

ROBERT

You’re just scared.

 

CARSON

Don’t tell me how I feel. I’m not scared, I’m just not …ready, alright?

 

ROBERT

Fine, fine. I’m just saying, a single man of your age, it’s difficult to find a decent woman

 

CARSON

You did pretty well yourself with Janette.

 

ROBERT

Oh shes wonderful, until she blows all my money on stretching out her forehead and making her mouth bigger.

 

(They laugh)

 

ROBERT

But seriously, if she wants get herself a job and spend her own money on those colorful powder sets, be my guest! But my money? Hell, I have a family to provide for!

 

CARSON

Women, (sigh) truly a species of their own.

 

Scene 5

 

(ROBERT is sitting on the bed. CLAIRE is sitting on the ground holding a poster. JULIAN is lying on the ground with his headphones in, listening to music)

 

CLAIRE (to JULIAN)

You call these fun posters?

 

(CLAIRE holds up a Led Zeppelin poster. JULIAN removes his headphones)

 

JULIAN

It’s vintage

 

CLAIRE

It’s ugly

 

JULIAN

You just don’t know good music

 

CLAIRE

I know plenty of good music

 

JULIAN

You’re young and seemingly uncultured.

 

CLAIRE

You have no right to speak to me that way!

 

(CLAIRE folds her arms)

 

JULIAN

Listen little girl, if your gonna throw a fit I’ll gladly show you the door

 

CLAIRE

Your parents would not be pleased to hear of your lack of hospitality.

 

JULIAN

(mockingly) ‘My parents’ don’t give a shit as to how ‘hospitable’ I am.

 

CLAIRE

With language like that it’s no wonder I don’t see you at church.

 

JULIAN

You’re one of those Jesus freaks?

 

CLAIRE

Jesus freaks? You can’t call me that just because I don’t waste my life with alcohol like you.

 

(JULIAN sits up, and looks to GREGORY)

 

JULIAN (to CLAIRE)

Keep it down, will ya?

 

CLAIRE (to GREGORY)

Gregory, will you help mother with the dishes?

 

GREGORY

But I don’t want to

 

CLAIRE

Gregory, dishes. now.

 

GREGORY

But I-

 

CLAIRE

Gregory when you go to hell because you wouldn’t help the woman who gave you the gift of life-

 

GREGORY

Fine. But I’m telling mother that you yelled at me

 

(GREGORY exits before CLAIRE gets a chance to respond)

 

CLAIRE

He can be so annoying sometimes. Like people need to learn not to talk back to-

 

JULIAN

You’re not going to tell anyone.

 

CLAIRE

What?

 

JULIAN

Tell anyone about our run-in last night and I swear to God I will find you and-

 

CLAIRE

And what? I don’t even think you remember what happened last night because you were too busy regurgitating everything ever on to my new blouse. Just saying. Plus, you should be thanking me for practically saving your life.

 

JULIAN

Saving my life?

 

(JULIAN laughs)

 

CLAIRE

It’s not a joking matter! You could have had alcohol poisoning and died! And no one could have been there to save your dying soul.

 

JULIAN

What do you know about alcohol poisoning? Better yet- what do you know about soul? What are you, eleven?

 

CLAIRE

I’m a petite fifteen! And I refused to be treated unjustly due to my appearance.

 

JULIAN

Listen, kid. You stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours-

 

JANETTE (from off stage)

Claire, come down sweetie. It’s time to go.

 

CLAIRE

Well this has been pleasant

 

(CLAIRE exits)

 

JULIAN (calling after CLAIRE)

Wait, kid! Um, Claire! We never made our agreement.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.