Wednesday, April 18, 2007

good medicine: a play in two acts

[Dramatis Personae

LEAH, a young woman of 22, soon to be 23.
MAN, a fellow Odell Park enthusiast.
NEIL, an elderly gentleman of 92

SCENE: Fredericton, New Brunswick]

Act One

Scene: Odell Park. The place where three wide paths meet, and form a big open circle underneath tall pines and birches. There is a bench here, and the ground is covered in snow, which is itself covered in bits of fallen trees--needles, bark, lichen. There are footprints in the snow and dog prints too. The sky is overcast and there is a wind that makes the green branches sway back and forth. The deciduous trees' branches are bare, and they sway too, forming silhouettes against the gray sky. LEAH is sitting on the backrest of the bench in a black coat, a black toque, a bright blue scarf, and blue jeans, her feet in brown Doc Marten boots resting on the seat of the bench, because it is covered in snow. Her head is tilted back and she is looking up at the sky through tree branches, thinking about things. A MAN in a blue jacket approaches from a long way down the path.

LEAH looks at him, then back up at the sky. He is still too far away to speak to. When he comes closer, she turns her head and smiles at him, as you do with anyone you meet on Odell's paths. He is middle aged and walking swiftly, looks to be of East Indian origin. He doesn't pause to speak, but keeps walking as the two converse.

LEAH: Hi..!

MAN: Hello there. This is a nice place to rest, isn't it?

LEAH (smiling broadly): Yes, yes it is.

MAN: You look lovely, sitting there.

LEAH: Thank you! (pause) Have a good day.

MAN: You, too.

He is gone down another path, his blue jacket long on his torso, his compliment left hanging in the forest air for LEAH to smile at.

Act Two

Scene: Living room of NEIL's house. NEIL is LEAH's landlord, a man of 92. Up until last year, when he got sick, he still gardened, walked regularly to church, and drove as far as Ottawa. Over the three years that LEAH has been his tenant they have become good friends. Today she is paying a quick visit to impart some news; she does this fairly regularly because soon she will be leaving and she wants to see NEIL as much as she can. NEIL is in a mechanically-reclining chair which he operates with a button. The television is on behind LEAH. After a friendly conversation LEAH is ready to go back downstairs but decides she will ask another question.

LEAH: Do you ever read Maeve Binchy novels, Neil?

NEIL: Nope.

LEAH: They're not Harlequins, you might not like them!

(Both laugh at this. NEIL recently admitted he reads Harlequin romances.)

LEAH: Well, I'll go back down below and curl up with a blanket, a cup of tea and a good book.

NEIL: It's amazing how you don't get sick of that diet!

LEAH: Yes, I know! One thing I'm glad for, out of this whole thing, is having the just sit and read, and do things like watch the crows and squirrels do their thing.

NEIL (agreeing): And just let things happen.

LEAH: Exactly.

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