V.1 The Game (short play)

This is the first version of the first short play that I wrote while studying English with a creative writing focus at Wellesley College.

PRIMARY GOAL

I wanted to explore both a post-adolescent struggle with defining one's sexuality as well as convincing the audience to trust an unreliable narrator

LESSONS

For the second draft, I aim to do the following:

- allude to the source of tension and confusion in Shayla's relationship more ambiguously, leaving the audience to form some parts of the picture

- explore a different, more unique setting and characters. In this iteration, neither the characters nor the setting feel as memorable as they have the potential to be

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The Game

SHAYLA – sarcastic, intelligent, musically-inclined, former frontwoman of alternative band Sinister Plaything, slender, long-ish ebony hair, green cat’s eyes, early 20s

REEVE – average, not particularly remarkable, dark hair and eyes, early 20s

LEIGH – bubbly, blond, tall, preppy, typical college student, early 20s

This extremely cluttered dorm room is the quintessential expression of the carefree existence of a college student; bed unmade, plastic soda bottles here and there with various amounts of liquids still encased, mounds of clothes, clean and reeking, strewn about to no apparent end. Mindless rap blasts beyond the thin walls, seeping under the doorframe in an attempt to merge with the more temperate, alternative music playing within the actual room. A tired, raven-haired girl is strumming a guitar with the music in a sad, sad attempt to pick up the tune before her consciousness fades completely. The rap music begins to die away as SHAYLA sets down her Fender, hits mute on her laptop, and, casually kicking a pile of shirts off of her bed into the tornado, she settles down into some semblance of a sleeping position.

Then…a knock at the door.

SHAYLA rises reluctantly, her shoulder-length hair already mussed from a few moments of drifting. Enter REEVE as the door creaks open, a lone boy wandering the hallways of the all-girls floor.

SHAYLA

Yeah?

REEVE

I just thought I heard good music coming from someplace. And this definitely is (he glances around at the mess with an eyebrow raised) some place.

SHAYLA

This is just what happens when the maid takes off for a week, I swear. But the groovy tunes are a nice constant, sure.

REEVE

Would it be too forward of me to plead sanctuary? Frankly, I’m starting to feel words like ‘wankster’ creep into my vocabulary and by denying me refuge, you would be indirectly responsible for letting this happen.

SHAYLA

Unfortunately for you, I have a high tolerance for guilt. And I was just starting to fall asleep, too…

REEVE

Maybe you’re sleeping now.

SHAYLA

Impossible. (flops back down onto bed, rubbing eyes) You’d be taller. And Johnny Depp.

REEVE

Why do girls always like the brooding sort? And 5’9 is reportedly the national average, I’ll have you know.

SHAYLA

(looks up to see that REEVE hasn’t left his post at the doorframe) Well, come on in, then, Mr. Average. Is that a mean, median, or mode? I always get so confused.

REEVE

I tend to lean towards the mean. Medians satisfy middle children, and the mode is just for the popular kids. (stands about awkwardly for a moment only) I’m pleading sanctuary, for Christ sakes. The least you could do is get me off my weary feet.

SHAYLA

Oh, how rude of me. (digs through an enormous pile of who knows what, tossing pizza boxes aside until a chair emerges) There you are, sahib.

REEVE

So you were saying – I mean sleeping – I mean remembering how good it feels to play the guitar again. To remember the band. To remember his –

SHAYLA

(sits up straight, attempting to be alert through the groggy fog, continually corrects herself) What? You don’t even know what you’re talking about – who you’re talking about – when you’re talking about – whatever. I’m not sleeping. What’re you doing here again?

REEVE

You brought me here; you always bring me here. Why’re you at Brown?

SHAYLA

Dad was here, so I’m here; that was always how it was gonna be. I was even in the Ivy League section of the maternity ward.

REEVE

They have those?

SHAYLA

Only the people who matter know.

REEVE

Brown wasn’t always how it was gonna be. You tried something else – someone else – somewhere else. New places –

SHAYLA

(suddenly remembering) - New York.

REEVE

A mysterious man –

SHAYLA

- Sam. But you couldn’t know. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to play this game. Not anymore.

REEVE

But you’ve already started.

SHAYLA

(covers top portion of face with a pillow) Then I quit.

REEVE

The decision to not play is playing.

SHAYLA

No, it’s picking another game.

REEVE

Not playing is part of the game. The only way to not play is to ignore the game, but you’ve already acknowledged it and therefore you must play.

SHAYLA

(tosses pillow aside) But I’m not sleepy, not yet. And anyway, I stopped playing that game two years ago.

REEVE

Before or after you found out?

SHAYLA

There was no momentous discovery, no mind-expanding epiphany. I think I always knew – at least, a part of me always knew. I just didn’t want to see the furtive glances, the decline of intimacy. Least of all did I want to hear the improvement in his lyrical poetry. That’s what just…burrowed under my skin. Sex with someone else, I could take. Stolen kisses, okay. But it was all about the subtext then. To know that all of those words – those words that he said were for me were really…

REEVE

You at least deserved more than a letter. You can’t tell me that watching your band’s bassist – and coincidentally, your boyfriend at the time – run off with an (cheeky pause) exotic dancer was part of your five-year plan.

SHAYLA

College certainly wasn’t. (searches through mess by her bed for a CD) And it’s not like people plan these things – can see these things – want to see these things. True geniuses often experience moments of madness, which takes all shapes and forms, not excluding those of blond titty-bar dancers. (finds what she’s looking for, extends CD to him) Here.

REEVE

(takes it, turning it over in his hands) “Sinister Plaything.” The band name alone spells disaster.

SHAYLA

Shut up; it’s our demo. I’d give you the record we cut after we got signed, but I find that my vocals are less jaded on this one. You know, before I found out – before we broke up – before the band broke up – before I woke up.

REEVE

Oh yeah, it says right here: “Lead vocals and electric guitar: SHAYLA.” So you’re one of those single-name artists, huh? You’re obviously still sleeping.

SHAYLA

If only I were! The worst mistake I made tonight, aside from forcing myself to ingest overcooked ramen, was letting you creep back in. Who the hell are you to scrutinize the games that I’ve played?

REEVE

Reeve. Or Rêve, if you’d like. That’s what the French call me. And I’ve already heard this demo just as many times as you have. Exactly as many times as you have, in fact.

SHAYLA

Wait, rêve…I took some French, believe it or no. That means “dream,” doesn’t it? Well, lucky for the frogs I’m stuck with you for a while, Mr. Dream, or whoever you are.

REEVE

Only while you’re sleeping.

SHAYLA

This is already too long a while.

REEVE

Do you mean to say that you actually think that we’re here, you and I, two perfect strangers, discussing your intimate past in some college dorm room?

SHAYLA

Aren’t we? (pinches self, flinching at the pain) I’m certainly here, all right.

REEVE

Well so am I.

SHAYLA

Aren’t you even going to try the pinch test? They say it works.

REEVE

Why should I? I already know that I’m here. And they know I’m here, too.

SHAYLA

Well, if I know that you’re here, and you know that you’re here, doesn’t that mean –

REEVE

Not at all. It depends where when why we exist. We’re talking about planes of reality here.

SHAYLA

(looks at him with tired eyes, incredulous at her own stupidity) I’m never giving anyone sanctuary again, even if the worst misery-laden emo shit starts blasting from the party room.

REEVE

You don’t mean that.

SHAYLA

It’s as true as I’m lonely – as I’m here, with you – as I’m awake.

REEVE

Then you may want to re-check your sources.

SHAYLA

I’ll prove it to you, that I’m awake – tell me something that no one else could possibly know, my biggest secret.

REEVE

(small pause, then gently supplies) I don’t think you’ll like this game.

SHAYLA

Why not? Whatever it is, I’m already in on it. This game can’t possibly hurt me.

REEVE

Maybe you don’t know what this game entails.

SHAYLA

Enlighten me, then.

REEVE

Sam didn’t leave you for a woman.

SHAYLA

Of course he did! Why make up stories, why leave me that note, why else…

REEVE

You already know. This is your game, remember? Are you having fun yet?

SHAYLA

Not at all, frankly. How could his lyrics be so good without inspiration?

REEVE

What makes you think that he didn’t have inspiration?

SHAYLA

But you just said that he didn’t run off with anyone –

REEVE

I said he didn’t run off with a woman.

SHAYLA

(harsh moment of realization) Now I think I’m sleeping. (trying to talk it through, increasingly sarcastic and bitter) But they – I thought that Sam and Hunter were just friends. They had this great bassist-drummer relationship. Those are really rare, ya know? Why wouldn’t I encourage it? Night out with the boys again, Sam? Sure, go right on ahead; oh, and who’ll be going? Just you and Hunter? That’s really so, so great. How could I ever be the man that he really wanted? I tried to be one of the guys – I really, really did – but damn my anatomy! It came to the point where he only wanted to enter me from behind, so that he could pretend, so that he didn’t have to look into my eyes and remember that he was with me and not with Hunter…and as much as I hated it – as it hurt me, and I mean really hurt me – I did what he wanted. And for what? For love? (said slowly and pointedly, separating the words) I don’t know what that is.

REEVE

(a brief silence) I warned you that you’d hate it. But you already knew.

SHAYLA

Just let me know when it’s my turn to feed your life through a shredder.

REEVE

(peers out the window as light starts to break through) Dawn’s coming.

SHAYLA

Well, time certainly flies when one spends the bulk of the night ripping out the sutures on her broken heart. Despite all of this fun, you need to go.

REEVE

(stands up with CD in hand, dodging a falling stack of papers) I’m already going. And you know, you can actually use this desk for more mind-expanding things than staging what looks like an epic battle between your Nightmare Before Christmas figurines. Like, say, studying.

SHAYLA

Hey, I have a fab idea – next time you come, you can rip out my heart and whisk my pillows. Be sure to remember your feather duster. (lies down on bed, covering her eyes with her arm, exasperated) There will be a next time, won’t there?

REEVE

Maybe you’ll remember, maybe you won’t, but every time you close your eyes, I’ll be there.

(a silent beat)

SHAYLA

(sits up, realizing that the pest is STILL there) I trust you can find your own way out. I’d hate to bother Jeeves at this hour.

REEVE

(opens the door) You know, Sinister Plaything could still work. At the very least, you can still work.

SHAYLA

We’ll see about that – I’m still playing that game.

(REEVE exits, finally leaving SHAYLA in peace. She only relaxes for a few moments, as in bursts her roommate, LEIGH)

LEIGH

WOW what a night, what a night!

SHAYLA

(notes LEIGH’s smeared eyeliner and mussed hair) Good to know that neither of us slept.

LEIGH

(confused) You’ve been sitting alone in the dark, wide awake this whole time?

SHAYLA

Of course not! This stupid guy…what’s his name…Reeve. He was here with me, rambling about old stuff with Sam – I can’t remember…anyway, he walked out just a second ago.

LEIGH

Oh yeah, Sam – that guy who turned out to be gay, right? Or bi? Or whatever…well I’ve been just outside our door, on the phone for hours – with Hot Boy Jim from last Saturday, ‘member? Hate to break it to you, hon, but I didn’t see anybody.

SHAYLA

Maybe I didn’t, either.

LEIGH

You sure do have the strangest dreams, Shay.

(Blackout)

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