Spaces Between Us: The Dialogues of Il and Elle

by Nicole M. Christensen

Act I, Scene I:  Stage is black except for two spotlights that suddenly illuminate Il and Elle standing on opposite sides of the stage.

Il: Two roads converged in a yellowed wood . . .

Elle: And being two travelers . . .

[Stage to black, then a spotlight on Il and Elle again.]

Elle: A.

Il: Being.

Elle: Seen.

Il: Divided.

Elle: Equals.

Il: Effectively.

Elle: Geometrically.

Il: Adjusted.

Elle: I.

[Stage to black.]

 

Act I, Scene II

[When stage lights come up Elle is standing center stage and Il is seated downstage facing away from each other. They move, sit, etc. to their own interpretation throughout the remainder of the scene.]

Elle: [Addressing the audience] Am I alone now? [Il sits on the side of the stage, staring off into the distance, not responding] Is anyone there? Can anyone hear me?

Elle: [More insistent, pointing to people in the audience] You, and you, can’t you hear me? I, I’m sure I can see you. . . . Maybe . . . it’s no use. [Elle proceeds to go to opposite side of stage and sit, mirroring ll.]

Il: [Stands slowly surveying the audience, squinting; begins to walk across the stage and suddenly notices Elle.] Hello there. Can you hear me? Hello? [Walks over to Elle and, looks at her.] Ah, sleeping. It figures. My travels always bring me back to here . . . [Paces the stage as he continues. Looks thoughtful for a moment.] Should I wake her? No. That would be awfully inconsiderate. Perhaps she has completed a hard day of work and needs her sleep. She may have just completed a marathon. She could have just given birth! She could be an insomniac for all I know. How could I wake her? I don’t even know her name―[Thinks and looks back to Elle.] But, I would like to know her name. What could it be? Anne? No. . Beth, Claire, Diana, Elizabeth, Francie, Gidget, Helen, Isabelle, Jane, Katharine . . . ah! I know where this leads [Very triumphantly]―Zelda! [Looks back to her.] No. Perhaps I should wake her. I think so; perhaps she has been sleeping for hours. In fact, she may have overslept and will be grateful that I woke her. She has an appointment! Yes, something important I’m sure. So, I will wake her. [Starts to walk towards her.] But how to wake her. I could softly serenade her with Italian arias to gently rouse her from slumber. Hmmm. I could pounce on top of her screaming “The Germans are coming!” No! That’s a terrible idea! But . . . if it were done nude . . . [Looks excited.] No. Probably best not to mention the Germans. I know! I’ll . . .

[She moans.]

Oh no. I’ve woken her . . .

Elle: [Yawns and stretches.] Oh, another day. Much to do, much to do . . . [Il walks over to her and follows her around, trying to get her attention.] Same thing every day . . . busy, busy, busy.

Il: I’m sorry to have woken you, I was only trying . . .

Elle: I’m already late . . .

Il: Let me introduce myself . . .

Elle: The appointments, the meetings! Always piling up . . . [Notices Il for the first time.] Excuse me. You’re in my way . . .

Il: I’m sorry, very sorry. Please, my name is . . .

Elle: I’m too busy right now . . .

Il: No, you don’t understand . . .

Elle: I’m perfectly happy. Please go . . . [Stops, freezes, as does Il, and looks out at the audience.] Well, maybe not perfectly happy . . . But I’m okay . . . and I’m busy. [Sets off again hurrying about the stage.]

Il: [Looking exasperated, watches her for a moment.] Stop it before I shoot!

Elle: [Suddenly halts, turns and looks at him.] What?!

Il: I said, [Clears his throat.] please stop and listen to me.

Elle: No, you didn’t You said, “Stop it before I shoot.” And you screamed it as I recall . . .

Il: [Thinks.] That’s not how I remember it.

Elle: What?

Il: I said, that’s not how I . . .

Elle: No, no, I heard you. Shoot what? You said you were going to shoot . . .

Il: [Thinks.] Oh, I don’t know. It just seemed like the thing to say at the time.

[She starts walking away.]

Well I tried being polite with you . . .

Elle: Tried?! When? I never heard you . . .

Il: Just now! I was trying to get your attention just a few moments ago when you were . . .

Elle: No you weren’t. I saw you, don’t think I didn’t see you. You’ve been sitting by yourself for the longest time. You prefer solitude. You think I didn’t see. You want to be alone.

Il: I feel quite lonely right now . . . [Pause.]

Elle: What?

Il: I said, I feel more alone around others, than by myself.

Elle: Strange man. What do you want?

Il: I want truth.

[Pause.]

Elle: I want happiness.

Il: Then we seek the same destination.

Elle: Do you think so?

Il: Yes.

Elle: Perhaps.

[Il walks away from Elle and sits down facing away. She watches him, turns away, then turns back and begins walking toward him as she confronts him . . . ]

Elle: So we’re talking, don’t leave now. Tell me about yourself, where have you been?

Il: [not looking at her] I have been everywhere and nowhere. The paths I have traveled in solitude have brought me back, always, to the same place, the same questions. A bit changed from the journey I grant you, but always my solitary trips have brought me to this place . . .

Elle: [speaking to no one] I have been nowhere and everywhere. In a group, on a schedule I have seen it all and understood nothing. So much to learn and see. But I find I am always bored now . . .

[Il and Elle suddenly look at each other.]

Together: What did you say?

[Pause.]

Il: You must have places to go . . .

Elle: And you must have places . . . also.

[Pause.]

Together: Yes.

[Pause.]

[Exit off of opposite sides of the stage.]

 

Act I, Scene III

[Spotlight on Il and Elle.]

Il: Jade.

Elle: Came.

Il: Elegantly.

Elle: Eminently.

Il: Entering.

[Stage to black.]

[Scene opens with Il and Elle on stage in their original positions as they had been when the play first began.]

Il: There’s the seats, the feel of the air . . . I’m sitting on a stage of some king [Looking around.] . . . yes this definitely has a familiar feel to it . . .

Elle: He said we’d been through it all before.

Il: [Pointing to the audience.] You, and you . . . have we met before? Little balding man! It’s all very strange.

Elle: He said it was like being damned to daily reincarnation to the same hell . . .

Il: I wonder if someone would care to tell me just what’s going on? I don’t understand–

Elle: He never understood . . .

Il: [to the audience] Someone just tell me what I’m supposed to do!

Elle: He created it all himself . . .

Il: I have no control! None at all over this craziness! You’re all fakes!

Elle: We both were creators, at least I thought . . . There was a time I was so sure, but then he said . . .

Il: [ferociously, pointing at the audience while speaking but afterwards turning so he points at Elle] You LIE!

Elle: [desperate] He convinced us both.

Il: It IS a stage and we’re helpless puppets. [Sad laughter.] Puppets and fools. No one’s ever shed any light on this dark play . . . .

Elle: I chose the company of fools over solitary night . . . But it is darker now . . . .

[Stage to black.]

 

Act I, Scene IV

[Spotlight on Il and Elle.]

Elle: Only.

Il: People’s.

Elle: Curiosities.

Il: Are.

Elle: Essential.

[Stage to black.]

[Il and Elle on opposite sides of the stage, facing diagonally away from each other. They speak and react as if they are talking face to face.]

Elle: If I begged you to love me, would you?

Il: No.

Elle: If I begged you to stay, would you?

Il: No. I will leave you. Don’t you understand?

Elle: If I showed you why it is wrong, what you will lose, would you see?

Il: Our eyes are already closed! I see my own path. I see my own light. It is enough . . .

Elle: You are trading gold for stones, don’t you see that?! Do you know what you choose?
Il: I am choosing my own path.

[Short pause.]

You caught me by surprise. I was not ready for you. I see this . . . that it is your fault.

Elle: So you have chosen. I will be miserable. Will you be happy?

[Silence.]

Your choice?

Il: You made me choose. I did not want to.

Elle: You will be happy?

Il: Perhaps I made the wrong choice. I will know years from now . . . maybe not years . . . maybe not ever . . . sometime down the road I’ll look back and . . . there’s no way to ever know! Don’t you see?

[Sinks down to his knees.]

Elle: [softly] The wrong choice?

Il: Pity me.

Elle: Pity? I am your castoff, your Unwanted. You walked away. Now you ask of me . . .

Il: Please. I can barely hear you.

[Short pause.]

Your face is familiar. What is happening?

Elle: You have forgotten already. We’re both in pieces you know. And you’ve forgotten. Isn’t that the way it is? Didn’t I try to warn you? What will become of us?

Il: I don’t know.

Elle: What was your name?

Il: What was yours?

Elle: It’s a tragedy you know.

Il: No. It could have been prevented.

Elle: A fine drama then.

Il: It means nothing.

Elle: It means everything.

Il: I am the fool.

Elle: We play the fools.

Il: We were never wise enough for the part.

Elle: What was your name?

Il: Ah, it is time to say goodbye I think.

Elle: You said goodbye before you knew me.

Il: Is it too late?

Elle: Never.

Il: Then we begin where we left off.

Elle: No. Begin anew.

[Stage to black.]

 

Act I, Scene V

[Spotlight on Il and Elle.]

Il: Tears . . .

Elle: Ubiquitous.

[Stage to black.]

Elle: Hello? Where is everyone? Can you hear me . . .?

Il: Can you hear me? Where are you?

Elle: I’m here. I promise I’m here. But where are you?

Il: I’m HERE! I’m HERE! COME FIND ME! [Laughter that turns somewhat mad.] Someone come find me . . . [softer, aching] Someone come help me . . .

Elle: Help me . . . [The sound of wind.] It was an echo . . .

Il: Only an echo.

Elle: No one heard me . . .

Il: Hear me . . .

Elle: He MUST be out there . . .

Il: Where am I? Where are you?

Elle: There’s no one.

Il: There’s only one.

[Short pause.]

[Bright white light shines from above the stage in a small circle onto stage center.]

Il: What is it? Hello?

[Male voice from offstage, fatherly, quiet, peaceful.]

Voice: I know.

Il: [frightened] Who are you?

Voice: I am here. Come.

Il: What is this?

[Il’s face is suddenly illuminated as it comes into the light onstage. One of his hands starts to go into the light as he smiles and looks up.]

Elle: [Laughter, self-righteous, mocking.]

[Il, shocked, looks toward the laughter and disappears from the light.]

What are you doing?

[More laughter.]

Il: I don’t know, I don’t understand, I only . . .

Elle: Fool! Just like you said, we’re (all) fools, but now you’ve forgotten?!

[Laughter.]

Il: Have we all forgotten?

Elle: A pathetic image. You on the stage alone, hopeless. You’ve stolen my role, the one I made famous . . .

Il: The victim.

Elle: Are you? Tell me, are you?!

[Short pause.]

Voice: You are ashamed.

Il: [Face again illuminated by the light.] I don’t understand. Is it possible?

Elle: Absurd.

Il: But the light . . .

[Spotlight vanishes, stage lights come up, Il and Elle are next to each other onstage. Il is crouched down on the stage, Elle is standing beside him.]

Il: It’s gone. Where did it go? Where is . . .

[Frantically starts darting about the stage, looking under and around imaginary objects.]

Elle: What do you seek?

Il: Truth.

Elle: [Strikes a match and holds it to the audience.] Look.

[Il keeps frantically searching.]

Look!

[Il freezes and looks over at her, transfixed by the flame; approaches her slowly, entranced.]

Elle: You want truth? [sadly] Here.

[Il reached up to the light and Elle blows it out. Stage black.]

 

Act I, Scene VI

[Spotlight on Il and Elle.]

Elle: Vetoes.

Il: Double your.

Elle: Expertness.

Il: Why?

Elle: Zero.

[Stage to black.]

[Il and Elle are in the same positions with same lighting from Scene One.]

Elle: [addressing the audience] Am I alone now?

[Il sits on the side of the stage, staring off into the distance, not responding.]

Am I alone now? Is anyone there? Can anyone hear me? [more insistent-pointing to people in the audience]

You and you, can’t you hear me? I . . .

Il: [Stands suddenly and addresses Elle.] Okay, give it a rest . . .

Elle: I beg your pardon.

Il: No you don’t, you . . . well all right. There. You’re pardoned.

Elle: What?

Il: You begged, I granted, full of grace as I am. But please stop this incessant questioning.

Elle: I only wanted to know if . . .

Il: You know very well that they can hear you. Just like I could hear you. But is anyone listening?

Elle: Well, you obviously heard me.

Il: I was participating in the rarest activity yet known to man. I was thinking. I was deep in meditative thought, when your incessant questioning shattered the fragile shell of my contemplation.

Elle: Oh that was beautiful. And I’m sorry that I disturbed you.

Il: I think you’re the more disturbed.

Elle: Pardon?

Il: Granted.

[Short pause.]

Elle: Look, I’m busy.

Il: I believe it.

Elle: You’re mocking me.

Il: Am not.

Elle: Are too!

Il: D2 . . . No I’m not. Ask them.

[Smiles and points to the audience.]

[Man in black comes running across the stage, screaming, ranting, pulling his sweatshirt off – a black T-shirt underneath – and flings the sweatshirt onto Il’s head as he runs past Il and Elle.]

Il: [Stands in shock and reaches up to touch the sweatshirt now draped casually over his head.]

Well then, that was . . . totally uncalled for.

[Tries to stand with some dignity.]

Elle: [Bursts out in uncontrollable laughter, pointing at his head, tries several times to regain her composure, and is unsuccessful.]

Il: What? What?

[Elle continues laughing.]

Il: They really need to do something about this. [Pointing in the direction of the man in black.] This could be dangerous. I could have, well, I could have lost something.
[Man in black comes running across the stage as before in opposite directing twirling black pants above his head – revealing red polka-dot boxers – and runs up to Il and drapes the pants over his shoulder and continues wildly off stage.]

Elle: [Breaks out in uncontrollable laughter.]

Il: Ahem. [Clears his throat repeatedly, getting louder, hoping to silence Elle’s laughter. Finally speaks.] You know, it’s not one bit funny. [dryly] I’m just glad he wasn’t wearing armor. I could have been killed.

Elle: [laughing] Oh, that would have been, that would have been . . . [Il glares at her.] that would have been terrible.

[Elle turns away to hide her laugh; the man in black emerges again twirling his red polka-dot boxers with a board reading “Censored” covering his midsection; man runs directly into Elle, knocking her to the floor, and flinging the boxers in her direction.]

Il: [Smiles and slowly walks over to Elle, so enraged she can’t speak; stands rocking at her feet smiling.]

[Furious, Elle picks up the boxers and throws them at Il; Il takes them.]

Well thank you. They’ll fit just fine. Yes, really good quality actually.

[Il extends a hand to help Elle up.]

Elle: No. You’re a royal idiot, you know that? A raving lunatic. Just look at you.

[Stands up.]

Il: You’re absolutely right. What was I thinking? [Proceeds to place boxers upside down on his head.] Your majesty. [Bows.]

[Elle turns trying to remain annoyed.]

I realize that you, pinnacle of tolerance and advocate of lunatics everywhere, you could not possibly be offended. Surely you of all people can find the humor here.

[Elle is still defiant through smiling; Il takes boxers off of head.]

To return to your earlier question, I . . .

[Man in black reappears with nothing but “censor” sign, large bunny slippers, and a black top hat, begins running across the stage yelling.]

Do you mind? [pointing to the man] We’re having a moment here.

[Man stops abruptly, turns dejected, and walks off the stage from side he entered.]

Elle: You were saying?

Il: To answer your earlier question . . . [Clears throat, looks away, looks back.] I was listening.

[Il walks slowly past Elle offstage, lights out.]

Act II, Scene I

Elle: Zero.

Il: Wise.

Elle: Experts.

[Stage to black.]

[Lights come up; Il and Elle are seated facing one another at a small table, pantomiming a meal conversation.]

Il: So, where did you say you were from?

Elle: California.

Il: Oh . . . they must have lots of . . . stuff in California . . .

Elle: Yes.

[Scene freezes for the following and all subsequent asides as Elle talks facing the audience . . . ]

Elle: [aside] Well, you’re a scintillating conversationalist.

Il: I mean, I’ve just heard it’s really, uh, crowded there.

Elle: Yes.

[Freezes.]

Il: [aside, facing audience] Well, you’re a scintillating conversationalist.

Il: [to Elle] So, are there really, a lot of people back home?

[Freezes.]

Elle: [aside] I can’t believe this.

Elle: [to Il] Uh, yes.

[Freezes.]

Il: [aside] Come on! Throw me a bone, I’m dying here!

Elle: So, where are you from?

Il: North Dakota.

Elle: Oh . . . [Turning head to give disturbed expression to audience and re-facing Il.] Boy, that’s . . . unusual. I didn’t know if anyone actually lived up there. I thought maybe we’d sold off North Dakota to Canada twenty years ago [Laughs but stops when sees Il’s stony response.]

Il: No, I’m from North Dakota.

[Elle begins speaking to the audience, moving around to her own interpretation. Through next monologue, Il is frozen in background.]

Elle: This is just unbelievable. Am I sitting here, listening to this backwater turkey ramble about North Dakota? Some hick that I met, no, not through a friend, not through work, not even a dating service, but the Internet? I have hit a new low. It’s not like I’m some loser. I graduated from college five years ago with an Ivy League degree and loan payments to prove it. Now, I have a great job – okay it’s a good job, but in a few years I’ll move up the ladder. Point is, I’m successful, right? I’m in good shape, literate, I know what’s going on in the world. But you want to hear about my day? Well, I’ll spare you the gory details, but it has so far been twelve hours of raw, backbreaking, nerve-wracking, knuckle-whitening, traffic-jamming, muscle-cramping, panty-hose-running, raining, slipping, falling hell! [Short pause.] Wasn’t I supposed to be happy?

[Sits back down in her chair – Il comes to life.]

Elle: This isn’t happiness.

Il: What? You don’t like the food?

Elle: Yes – never mind.

[Elle freezes.]

Il: [to audience] Never mind? Okay, fine. Don’t eat your $25 dinner, which I’m paying for, thank you very much. Maybe for a city girl that’s no big deal, but for a boy from North Dakota – well. You want to know how often my family ate out at nice restaurants when I was growing up? Oh, let’s see . . . NEVER. Yeah, that’s right. Big occasions growing up – well, I just picture Mom, laughing, making enough food to feed the county. Those are some of my best memories, actually. I don’t have an important diploma, well, only high school, but that doesn’t count I know. You know what I do right now? I paint. No, not one of those sophisticated Rembrandt or Monet types. I paint houses, and fences through a little company I own. Hey, it does all right, people like to keep fresh paint on their homes, despite what’s going on inside of them. But I never go to a fancy place like this. What am I doing here? It’s not a question – what am I doing, period. My first time on the Internet too, and I start talking to her. What was I thinking? What am I so desperate to find that I’d stand for this . . .

[Sits.]

Elle: I’m glad to be sitting. I’m so tired.

Il: But where’s – the rest?

Elle: At the end of the day, I’m always looking for a rest . . . I think we all need it.

Il: We do.

Elle: [Raises glass to toast with Il.] To sleep, perchance to dream . . .

Il: Of the rest.

[Glasses clink.]

[Stage to black.]

Act II, Scene II

[Spotlight on Il and Elle.]

Elle: Double your . . .

Il: Vehemence.

Elle: Using.

Il: Teaching.

[Stage lights up; Il center stage seated in a chair. He moves around, stands, etc., during this scene to his own liking. He is addressing the audience.]

Il: I’ve got a problem. Do you want me to tell you? No, no, I shouldn’t; you’ve all got problems of your own, and who am I to be burdening you with my petty things? After all, shouldn’t I be an alpha male? Strong, burly, able to bend tall sycamores with my bare hands . . . I don’t need advice, right? [Short pause.] I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. I don’t even know what an alpha male is. I just read that in some magazine and I thought, well shoot, I’ll be an alpha male. But what about beta males? Why don’t we hear about them? Is there a gamma make? [Laughs.] Or females, why is this designation only male? Hi there, are you an epsilon female? You look like you’d go well with a theta male. What the hell is an epsilon female? Or male? Well, forget it. So I’ll tell you my problem. It’s greetings. I never know what to say after “Hi.” I mean, you can’t very well just say “Hi” and leave it at that. It’s, “Hi, how are you?” But maybe I don’t care how you are, I’m just walking by and I want to say “Hi,” and “How are you?” just gets tacked onto the end like some kind of vestigial limb. It’s the veritable pinky toe of the greeting world. “Hi, how are you, don’t answer!” I know it’s horrible. But I know you all think this. You’re walking down the street and someone you recognize is coming towards you and what do you say? “How are things?” or “How are you?” or “How’s it going?”, right? Has anyone ever said something beside “Fine,” or “Great,” or “Okay,” in response? Would you care if they did?

[Elle enters from stage right and talks as she hurries across the stage.]

Elle: Hey there! Long time no see!

Il: There’s a reason for that.

Elle: Have a good one! Bye!

Il: No, no, that was too fast. I bet she just didn’t hear me, so she assumed of course, that I’d said . . .

[Elle walking from stage left to stage right.]

Elle: Hi!

Il: Hi.

Elle: How’s it going?

Il: My hand just fell off – just absolutely fell off at the wrist, right into my lap, blood everywhere . . .

Elle: Hey great, talk to you later!

[Short pause.]

Il: Now that’s just sad. Where does this come from? Who started this . . . ?

Elle: Hello again.

Il: Oh brother.

Elle: You don’t look too well today – are you okay?

Il: Actually, I’ve got some really bad diarrhea, and you know, things have just been moving through me so fast . . .

Elle: Wow that’s neat! Well, I’ve gotta run. See you!

[Exits.]

Il: So, that’s my problem. Not the digestive tract thing, the greeting thing. But what’s the alternative? I asked a friend about this once. He said, tell them you appreciate them. But I’m trying to see how that would play out. “Hi there! You know, I appreciate you.” What does the other person respond? “Thanks. Seek counseling”? Another friend suggested a compliment. Something like, “Hi! I like that sweater you’re wearing.” I could see this occasionally working with a female friend, but with a guy? If some guy walked past me and complimented my slacks I think I’d be worried. I’d be thinking, Why did Bob just compliment my slacks? Is there something on them? Is my fly down? Is he gay? This is a bad thing, definitely not an improvement over “How are you?”

Elle: [Walking from stage right to left.] Hey there! Nice tie.

Il: She wants me.

[Stage to black.]

Act II, Scene III

[Spotlights on Il and Elle.]

Elle: Essentials.

Il: Are.

Elle: Curious.

Il: Pieces.

Elle: Only.

Il: Understood.

[Stage to black. Stage lights up. Side view of Elle lying on ground stage left, Il lying as a mirror image to Elle stage right.]

Elle: Hello?

Il: Hello?

Elle: Uh, you over there. Come help me up.

Il: Come help you up? Whatever for?

Elle: Because I want to get up.

Il: Well get up then.

Elle: But I can’t.

Il: You can’t? What’s wrong with you? Leg broken or something?

Elle: No. I just . . . I don’t know. I want you to come over here and pull me up.

Il: That’s absurd. If you want to get up on your feet, just stand up.

Elle: No.

Il: You haven’t even tried.

Elle: Yes I have.

Il: When?

Elle: Just now

[Pause.]

Elle: There, I tried again. See, it’s no use.

Il: I don’t believe you. You’re not trying at all.

Elle: Okay, fine. [exaggerated groaning] There. I really tried. Now come over here and help me.

Il: In case you haven’t noticed, I too am lying prostrate on the ground.

Elle: Oh. Well, why don’t you get up?

Il: Why would I want to do that? I rather like it down here.

Elle: Like it? Why?

Il: Well, one has a brilliant view of the stars.

Elle: What stars? It’s the middle of the day, you idiot!

Il: Yes, all right, it’s day.

Elle: And a cloudy day I might add!

Il: But I imagine that if it weren’t a cloudy day, one would have a brilliant view of the stars . . .

Elle: Oh, that’s fine, just fine.

Il: Look, I don’t have to justify myself to you. If you don’t like it, get up and go. I wish that you would, in fact.

Elle: What’s that sound?

Il: What sound?

Elle: It sounds like a rumbling, or a volcano . . . or some sort of engine?

Il: Anything’s possible.

Elle: Could it be a car?

Il: The fact that we’re lying in the middle of a road makes it a definite possibility.

Elle: Then perhaps we’d better leave.

Il: Go ahead.

Elle: Well, help me up . . . It’s essential that someone help me up!

Il: I’m not listening . . . [overlapping Elle’s next line] la, la, la, la, la, la, la . . .

Elle: Get your butt off the ground and help me!

Il: [Arches his back so his butt is off the ground.] Is that better?

Elle: Oh, shut up!

Il: Hmm, the roar is getting louder.

Elle: How observant of you.

Il: Perspicacious is my middle name. Say, I remember a crack in the road between us.

Elle: It matches the one in your head.

Il: That was bitter. Something’s definitely coming our way.

Elle: Yes, something’s coming.

Il: I can hear the wheels scraping across the hot pavement now . . .

Elle: You can not. I barely hear a distant rumbling.

Il: My senses are more acute. The gears are gleaming as they speed along the pavement.

Elle: You’re imagining things.

Il: An unpredictable driver swerves his vehicle left, then right, then left . . . only a few more feet and then . . .

Elle: [Jumps up off the ground and yells.] Ahh! We’re going to be hit!

[Small boy enters stage opposite from Elle on a tricycle, peddles across the stage. Elle watches, then bows her head.]

Il: [Jumps up.] Well, that was dramatic. I honestly didn’t know how it would turn out.

Elle: You could’ve helped me up.

Il: I could have. But now you don’t need me. I set you free.

Elle: I set myself free.

Il: [Lays back down.] If you say so.

[Elle walks off stage; lights out.]

 

Act II, Scene IV

[Spotlights on Il and Elle.]

Il: Important.

Elle: Elements.

Il: Come.

Elle: Jailed.

Il: I.

Elle: A child.

Il: Jeered.

[Stage to black. Spotlight on Elle in middle of stage.]

Elle: Question: are we more alone in solitude or in a crowd? Does loneliness increase in direct proportion to the amount of space between one person and another? Or is it something else entirely? [Short pause.] I’ve often wondered about this because sometimes, surrounded by people, even friends, I feel suddenly much more removed than when simply by myself. Isn’t that strange? When I am alone, there is only one voice that I hear. I hear myself. But then, in a crowd-I hear what everyone else is saying, but I can’t hear my own voice. And if they’re not listening to me, and I can’t even hear me, then where have I gone? Have I disappeared? Where could I find me? In solitude. But is solitude without others? Or something else? [Short pause.] In a group or by myself, I am one, I am alone, I am in solitude, though not necessarily lonely. Lonely is a place where the voices you long to hear can no longer be heard. It is not an empty space – loneliness is when the space within you is filled with everything around you, and what is within you has been silenced. Lonely and alone are strangers you meet; but solitude you invite to stay.

[Stage to black.]

 

Act II, Scene V

[The following are said in quick succession.]

Elle: Goodbye.

Il: Hello.

Elle: We play like always.

Il: But, yes.

Elle: But, no.

Il: Yes.

Elle: I suppose.

Il: Of course.

Elle: Not at all.

Il: Absolutely.

Elle: Uh . . .

Il: No!

Elle: That’s me!

Il: Yes!

Elle: Yes! So . . .

Il: No, you messed up that time!

Elle: Ah, yes.

Il: No. For you, no.

Elle: Yes

[Short pause.]

Il: Again, one more time?

Elle: Begin.

Il: Finish.

Elle: My life.

Il: My life.

Elle: Happiness.

Il: Education.

Elle: But no! That’s not true . . .

Il: It depends on the professor . . .

Elle: It depends on the student.

Il: The truth.

Elle: Philosophy.

Il: Religion.

Elle: Political science.

Il: Oh, that . . .

Elle: You messed up that time!

Il: Like always.

Elle: Like never.

Il: We play like . . .

Elle: Children.

Il: Adults.

Elle: The truth is somewhere . . .

Il: Between us.

Elle: Hello.

Il: Goodbye.

 

Act I, Scene VI

Elle: Genius.

Il: Affects.

Elle: Immediate.

Il: Decisions . . .

Elle: Sleep.

Il: Becomes.

Elle: Awake.

[Stage to black. Il and Elle in original positions.]

Il: And so we’ve traveled one road.

Elle: Two roads converge.

Il: Many roads converge.

Elle: Two roads diverge.

Il: Today.

Elle: Each day.

Il: Each moment.

Elle: As two diverge.

Il: Two converge.

Elle: And on and on.

Il: Ad infinitum.

Elle: Have I known you?

Il: [to the audience] Have I known you?

Elle: [to the audience] Have I known anyone?

Il: [to the audience] Have you known anyone?

Elle: But yes.

Il: But no.

Elle and Il: But of course.

[Short pause.]

Il: I’ll tell you a problem.

Elle: I’ll tell you nothing.

Il: [Walking toward Elle.] Together.

Elle: [Looking away.] Alone.

Il: Once upon a time, in a village.

Elle: A city, a country, a space . . .

Il: Far, far way.

Elle: [Looking at Il.] Right here . . . [Looking at the audience.] Between us.

Il: A man.

Elle: A woman, a child.

Il: Said, “Hello.”

Elle: Goodbye.

Il: “Can you hear me?”

Elle: No.

Il: One answered.

[Pause.]

Elle: No one?

[Pause.]

Il: No.

Elle: One?

Il: [Pause, smile.] Yes.

[Stage to black.]

End of Play