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Dry Land.

Groping Your Way Through the Dark

An interview with the playwright

BY LUCAS HNATH

Ruby Rae Spiegel and Lucas Hnath met in a playwriting workshop through Young Playwrights Inc. when Spiegel was in high school and Hnath was her teacher. Over the years, Hnath has served as a sounding board and mentor. Here he speaks with Spiegel about her play Dry Land.

LUCAS HNATH: How long did it take to write the play?

RUBY RAE SPIEGEL: It's hard to know because I was writing it while I was at school, so I worked a lot off and on because I would have to study for a test or write a paper. I started it at the end of my sophomore year, and then basically finished a draft two months later and then didn't look at it for a while.

Do you write in order or do you jump around?

I think I write in order--or, at least I write the core of the play in order. The first draft of Dry Land was a two-hander, so it was in order of the two main characters. And then I went back and wrote the two scenes with the two other characters because I first wanted to see what Ester and Amy's arcs were.

Wait, so why did you have the impulse to add in other characters? When did I first read any of this?

I think you read it as a two-hander. Maybe it was even your idea to put in the boy character?

No, don't blame that on me! I would never tell you to do something...

You're always on me for being "precious" about my first drafts, so at least you were very good at pushing me to add characters, go to new places, etc.

Whenever we talk, I'm trying to listen for what you're really saying underneath what you're saying. I think you were feeling the need to bring in somebody else. But, this matter of being "precious," do you still struggle with that?

I've tried so many things to work on that. Before I went to college, I was like, "I'm gonna join an improv group so that I have to come up with stuff on the spot and commit to it," as a kind of exercise in not overthinking it. And now, writing for a TV show ["The OA," a new Netflix series], I'll be curious to see if I'm better at committing to ideas and following through on them. In the writers' room, they just assign you pages for the show and you have to write them on a short deadline--so you can't be precious in that way. But it's very different when it's your own work. Part of writing a play, for me, is trying to figure out what I am truly interested in--what is the core strangeness/tension/beauty of an idea or a feeling that compelled me to spend so many hours sitting in it. But it's hard in the beginning because, for me, the best writing starts with a feeling, and the process of creating the work is a kind of dance of groping your way through the dark.

I'm curious to hear you talk a bit more about the role of the body in your work. What does it do?

You only have a few things to play with onstage, so I always get frustrated when it's just people sitting at a table. It's always a helpful theatrical device to have people in a bodily crisis because it can create an arresting image onstage, and become something that is exchanged and negotiated between the two characters. The pressure on us to maintain our bothes as distinct and self-policed entities separate from one another is something that I'm interested in pushing back on.

Yeah, there's always some coercion of the body happening, and it's a complicated one because many times it's violent. And then there's also something deeply, strangely affectionate happening simultaneously.

Exactly. Like, punching a stomach--that's how the play started for me, with that action in my mind. For Amy, the punches are both painful and perhaps, at times, masochistic, while also allowing a greater sense of relief and freedom for her. They're also, to me, a gateway drug to the physical intimacy of Ester and Amy lying on one another and Ester shaving Amy's back.

My short play Carrie & Francine started because I researched these pro-anorexia, pro-bulimia websites, where they give you "tips and tricks" on how to maintain your eating disorder. I was surprised and moved by the mixture of bodily cruelty that they were advocating while being so supportive of each other. That felt very gendered--the ways that women are physically affectionate toward each other, and also very hostile toward each other's bothes and their own.

It sounds like the experiment you're trying is you're seeing how far you can push something and still empathize with it.

Exactly, which is true of the character of Amy. There's this strong cultural narrative of the girl who had sex for the first time, who's very virginal and was perhaps coerced into sex by an older guy, and then suddenly she's pregnant. And that's the kind of character that's been centered in an empathic narrative of abortion that affirms ideas of purity and all that. And so I tried to work against that model in writing Amy. It was important to me that she's risky with her sexuality and that she is or has tried to carve out a performative sexual identity for herself that pushes against the idea of female purity.

Yeah, there's a desire to use dramatic form as a way to get people to see the world with new eyes.

There, you've said it.

So you're in a TV writers' room now--how does it feel different from writing a play?

It's so relieving in a certain way, because it's not my original work, and my name is not on it. So I feel like, in a certain way, it's like a great writing class--I get to experiment, explore. It's also just been a really nice space to prove to myself that I can actually write in wildly different styles--science fiction, try to embody the voice of a middle-aged Midwestern father, etc. Also, we just debate stuff. So I've learned how to debate structure.

Tell me more about that.

You've always told me that being more articulate about what you're trying to do was helpful because playwriting is a social job, and being clear with collaborators is so important to having your work done the way you want. With my own stuff, I live very much within my head, so I just can go off of a feeling that I have that something doesn't work, whereas with the TV show, I have to argue why something doesn't work for a whole room of people.

I'm curious--this act of becoming more conscious about structure and form; is there a fear that it's going to take something away from your writing process?

A lot of writing for me is manufacturing different head spaces for myself, and so I have certain lists of different writers that I read when I'm trying to pivot out of a head space, especially at school, because that's such a different head space that you have to be in, to be a good student. So I'm curious to see how I'm going to unlearn some structural/Aristotelian awareness so that I can just be in a fresh head space. All this articulation will probably make me a better reviser, which is good. I don't want to stray too far from the core voices that I feel like I specifically can express now that I have more of an ability to slip into voices that I would never think to write.

Annie Baker--I think it was the "Studio 360" podcast--was talking about The Flick, about how film and playwriting are actually quite different, whereas playwriting and music are more similar. And I think that that really rings true to me. Dialogue feels like the stuff of plays, whereas the scene directions feel like the stuff of film.

The montage, the assembling of those disparate parts.

Yeah, or even, like, "She bites down on the pear--it's bitter" is so much more important in film, and says so much more, because you're closer to that action. Whereas that would be totally lost in theatre. That was something that I learned early on in Carrie & Francine. It ends with the two of them moving their hands towards each other and holding hands, and I think that that worked in a very small theatre, but probably only would work there. I had to reread it the other day, because it's going to be published in this series of one-acts, and it's just mortifying. Like, are you mortified by your plays that you wrote five years ago?

Of course! It's hard to look at a lot of my older plays. It makes me ill.

Yeah! It's sickening. That's why I've written so many half-plays that I never finish. Also part of why I'm bad at revising--I just don't want to read my own words a hundred times. A lot of my drive to polish lines is just to make them less revolting for me to read over and over again.

Yeah, but if you stick with it and then work your way through the things that are making you cringe, then it elevates it. It becomes a diamond. So it's worth sticking to it.

Lucas Hnath is a playwright. His play The Christians is running at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles Dec. 2, 2015--Jan. 10, 2016.

Dry Land

BY RUBY RAE SPIEGEL

CAST

AMY: Seventeen. Wears harsh eyeliner to look striking but not pretty. Often is dressed in baggy men's T-shirts and cut-off jean shorts--a look that is both genuinely effortless, and for the purpose of looking effortless. Not exceptionally physically attractive.

ESTER: Eighteen. Very literal. Wears simple, cheesy clothes, maybe from Target. Muscular, with a thick back and thighs. Plain, but nice-looking.

REBA: Seventeen. Full-figured, and not self-conscious. The perfect camp girl, but not a Valley Girl. Only mean in a casual/fun way. Not deep enough to be cruel, simply self-centered.

VICTOR: Twenty. In his own world. Wears skinny pants and old shirts. Maybe wears sneakers that don't quite go with his outfit.

JANITOR: Male. Late thirties to early eighties.

NOTE

1. The abortion in the play should be shown head-on. There should be a considerable amount of blood, and the actress playing Amy should feel comfortable being exposed. If she is hidden or too covered, it will seem as though the abortion is something that should not be seen. It is meant to be seen.

2. Harshness is as true to this play as sweetness.

3. After Scene VII, the Janitor should take his time cleaning the stage.

TIMELINE

SCENE II: Three days after Scene I.

SCENE IV: One week after Scene II.

SCENE V: Three days after Scene IV

SCENE VI: Two weeks after Scene V

SCENE VII: One week after Scene VI.

SCENE VIM: Four days after Scene VII.

SCENE IX: One week after Scene VIII.

SCENE I

An empty girls' locker room after hours. Amy and Ester are in racing bathing suits, maybe Ester has sweatpants over hers. Maybe Amy has the tips of her hair dyed a color.

AMY: Punch me again.

ESTER: You're gonna get bruises.

AMY: No shit Sherlock.

Beat. Ester punches Amy in the stomach.

AMY: That doesn't hurt.

ESTER: I'm thirsty.

AMY: Do it harder and then you can go get a Gatorade.

ESTER: Are you sure coach wasn't waiting up for us? Sometimes he likes to say hi to my mom.

AMY: I told him my mom was picking us up. She isn't pretty like your mom.

ESTER: My mom isn't pretty.

AMY: She wears jean jackets.

ESTER: So?

AMY: Punch me harder.

Ester punches Amy in the stomach.

AMY: How are you so bad at this. It doesn't hurt at all.

ESTER: I'm sorry. I've. Um. I've never done this before.

AMY: Put your back into it.

ESTER: I am putting my back into it.

AMY: Put one leg forward and kind of bend your knee.

Ester punches her again.

AMY: Better.

ESTER: Brendon's going to pick us up?

AMY: Brendon's cousin Dog. He'll drop you off at your house.

ESTER: His name is Dog?

AMY: He's the one with the car.

ESTER: Like the bounty hunter?

AMY: I think it's really Darrin but I'm not sure. I think they call him that because his dog had all these baby dogs and he couldn't give them away so he just has a bunch of dogs now.

He should be a senior like Brendon but he just stopped going.

ESTER: You've met him?

AMY: Punch me again.

ESTER: My arm is dead from practice.

AMY: Brendon says that it even says Dog on his name tag. He works at the Grocery Outlet.

ESTER: Does he have green hair?

AMY: No.

He sold bath salts to those college kids.

ESTER: That's kind of sketchy.

AMY: They were in a Ska band.

ESTER: Oh.

AMY: And he's on parole now so it's fine. That's like what it means to be on parole.

ESTER: Bath salts--don't you like eat cat's faces and shit?

AMY: I don't know.

ESTER: Maybe that's why he's called Dog.

AMY: Don't be gross.

ESTER: When I was ten I bought my mom bath salts for Christmas. Like the actual ones.

AMY: Punch me.

Ester punches Amy in the stomach.

AMY: Fuck that hurt.

ESTER: It did?

AMY: Yeah that was a good one. Did you put your back into it?

ESTER: I'm not sure.

AMY: You probably put your back into it.

Ester punches Amy in the stomach.

Beat.

ESTER: I used to believe in zombies.

AMY: Me too.

ESTER: Really?

AMY: Yeah.

ESTER: Zombies are fucked-up.

Like eating a cat face would be like a nice thing for a zombie.

AMY: I know.

Beat.

ESTER: Do you ever think about the fact that our organs taste like something?

That the insides of us taste like something really specific and we'll never know what. Like steak but our liver or something?

AMY: That's crazy.

ESTER: Right?

AMY: One time this boy put his mouth on my vagina and then when he kissed me he tasted like sour milk. So I guess I taste like sour milk, which in a way kind of makes sense.

ESTER: Yeah?

AMY: I think so. One of my English teachers in middle school called me "acerbic."

Ester punches Amy.

ESTER: Did it feel good?

AMY: Did what feel good?

ESTER: When the boy put his mouth on you.

AMY: Oh.

I don't know.

Maybe.

ESTER: It looks like it would feel really good.

AMY: I was really drunk.

Sometimes I get so drunk I think I'm someone else.

Beat.

AMY (Recovering from a somewhat awkward *moment of vulnerability): Punch me.

Ester punches Amy.

ESTER: Have you ever...have you ever swum on your period before?

AMY: Yeah, of course I have.

ESTER: Ob.

AMY: What?

ESTER: No. I don't know. I guess I'm just a little worried I'm going to get my period on Friday.

For the guy who's coming.

AMY: So?

ESTER: Well you have a strong stomach I guess.

AMY: I cramp.

ESTER: I've punched you like ten times.

AMY: It's different.

ESTER: Florida State doesn't even have that good of a team.

AMY: Didn't you say that they like film you underwater?

ESTER: That's what it said on the website.

AMY: So they're loaded. That's all that matters.

ESTER: I guess. I guess they're loaded.

AMY: And even if you don't get a scholarship, it's still in-state so it's not that bad money-wise. Like half of the people who 1 know who graduated last year go there.

But I wanna go to like a small school. Like in the Midwest or something, with a lake. I probably could if I do like a ton of hours at the Fish Fry my senior year--don't tell anyone that.

ESTER: Tell anyone what?

AMY: Nothing.

Beat.

ESTER: It isn't fair that it's this one time.

Ester punches Amy in the stomach.

ESTER: That he only comes this one time and if I fuck it up I fuck it up and that's that.

AMY: The Olympics is only one time.

ESTER: What if my tampon falls out? What if there are streaks of blood behind me and everyone has to evacuate the pool?

AMY: What?

ESTER: I've never swum on it before.

AMY: How?

ESTER: I was swimming too hard to get it.

Too skinny.

AMY: Shit.

Ester punches Amy. Amy makes a sound.

ESTER: Did that hurt?

AMY: A little.

ESTER: Good.

AMY: Your tampon won't fall out. That doesn't happen.

Beat.

ESTER: I got it last year at a Halloween party and it's really scarred me I think.

AMY: It didn't scar you.

ESTER: I was making out with Wolverine. I remember his claws felt like he was planting seeds in my back and he said he didn't get the irony of Bugs Bunny with blood dripping down his leg.

AMY: He said "irony"?

ESTER: He talked to me about this poet that he really liked. Who likes poets?

AMY: Nobody. Nobody likes poets.

He was probably trying to sleep with you.

ESTER: Maybe.

Ester punches Amy in the stomach.

ESTER: This was when I was living in Tampa.

AMY: Oh.

ESTER: I used to live in Tampa.

A moment.

AMY: Go get a Gatorade. Here.

Amy takes out some dollars from her hag and gives them to Ester.

ESTER: You don't have to--

AMY: Can you get me a blue one. I feel kind of ill.

ESTER: Okay.

Ester exits. Amy lies down on her hack. She looks up at the ceiling. She feels her stomach. Ester comes back with two blue Gatorades and a bag of chips.

AMY: You don't have to get everything that I get.

ESTER: I didn't, I also got Sun Chips.

AMY: I don't think it's working.

ESTER: You said you feel ill maybe that means that it's working.

Ester gives Amy the Gatorade.

AMY: Maybe it means you've been punching me in the stomach over and over again and I had nachos for lunch.

ESTER: Sorry.

Ester sits on the ground against the lockers. Amy drinks her Gatorade. Ester watches her for a moment and then drinks hers. Silence.

ESTER: Can I ask you a stupid question?

AMY: What?

ESTER: No. It's stupid.

AMY: So?

Beat.

ESTER: Why didn't you ask Reba to do...Why didn't you ask Reba?

AMY: Oh.

ESTER: I mean I'm really happy that you asked me. It's just...I don't know...I've never been to your house.

AMY: Reba's dad is a doctor.

ESTER: Oh. Like a--

AMY: No.

Well he's a dentist but I'm sure he knows a lot of doctors. She might want to tell him.

ESTER: Right.

AMY: He's filled in a bunch of my cavities for free.

ESTER: That's nice.

AMY: Yeah it is nice.

Beat.

ESTER: I didn't mean to make anything weird or sad or anything. I'm really happy that you asked me. I think you're like...one of the coolest people I know.

Ester winces at herself. Amy luckily doesn't notice.

AMY: Who's sad? No one's sad.

ESTER: No, I know.

Silence.

AMY: I used to be on the cheerleading squad.

That was sad. Once I walked in on two of them giving head to bananas.

ESTER: No.

AMY: Yeah.

ESTER: Why? Why were they doing that?

AMY: I was so surprised to see them with food.

Like none of them would ever eat anything. I think one girl's dad hurricane-proofed all their windows with all the money he saved on her food.

Beat.

ESTER: Oh.

AMY: Fuck I didn't mean to--

ESTER: No, no. I just swam a lot.

Amy nods. Beat.

ESTER: I like Reba.

AMY: I like Reba too. She's my best friend.

ESTER: Yeah.

Short silence.

ESTER: There are other things to do if this doesn't work.

AMY: I know.

ESTER: Isn't there some kind of surgical--

AMY: They would have to tell my mom.

ESTER: Oh.

(Carefully) Would that really be the worst--

AMY: Don't.

Beat.

AMY: And I'd get the internet pill thing if I had my own credit card but even if I did have one, I don't have a fake which you need for the second one, because apparently they always fucking check at drugstores now.

Beat.

ESTER: Does Brendon have a / credit--

AMY (Sharply): He's a dick.

ESTER: Okay.

Beat.

AMY: And totally broke anyway saving up for community college.

So.

Silence.

AMY: Ester.

ESTER: What?

Beat.

AMY: Why can't you fool the aborted baby?

Beat.

ESTER: Why?

AMY: Because it wasn't born yesterday.

A beat. They smile. They both laugh.

Blackout.

SCENE II

Ester walks through the door. Amy is sitting against the lockers with an unlit cigarette in her mouth. She is reading a porn magazine, and is obviously posed to look nonchalant.

AMY (Without looking up): You're really fucking late.

ESTER: I'm sorry, my bike--

AMY: I was about to leave.

ESTER: I know it took me like twenty minutes to undo my bike lock. A part of the plastic came loose. Mr. Kendal had to help me.

Where did you get that cigarette?

AMY (Icily): From my bag.

I'm trying to quit.

ESTER: I'm really sorry--I had these bike problems and Mr. Kendal wanted to talk to me about my last paper because he thinks that I have a lot of potential, but if I spend all my time focused on swimming or whatever and not applying myself I'll end up without a job or something...anyway I didn't want to be rude but I really tried to end the conversation.

AMY: He cries in his car during lunch.

ESTER: You've had him?

AMY: Did you get the fucking detergent?

Beat.

ESTER: They didn't have the organic kind that you wanted.

AMY: What did you get?

ESTER: Tide Pods?

AMY: ...

ESTER: It was all they had. Oh and Purex. I got a bottle of Purex too.

They were both on sale so you don't have to worry about paying me extra.

AM Y: It doesn't matter. I'm not actually going to drink detergent anyway.

ESTER: You're not...

AMY: While you were gone I realized it was a totally fucked idea.

ESTER (Genuinely relieved): Oh thank god. Because I was biking over and thinking about how people drink detergent if they want to the you know. Or like become retarded.

AMY: What kind of person wants to become retarded?

ESTER: I don't know.

AMY: They're probably already retarded, Ester. Ester laughs.

ESTER: Yeah.

I'm sorry I didn't mean for you to be waiting for so long.

AMY: I thought--I thought you fucking...

Beat.

ESTER: Left? I didn't.

It was just my bike, and Mr. Kendal and stuff.

Beat.

AM Y: I got the magazine from the boys' locker room. It's porn.

ESTER: Oh.

AMY: Come sit.

Amy pats the ground next to her. Ester sits a little far from Amy, maybe because of the porn.

AMY: The boys' locker room stinks.

ESTER: That's what I've heard.

AMY: There were some moldy shorts in the corner.

Short silence.

ESTER: How's the porn?

AMY: Kind of gross. But also kind of hot.

Ester nods.

AMY: Do you want a cig?

ESTER: I'm okay. Cigarettes aren't really my thing.

AMY: What's your thing?

ESTER: I don't know. That's a really good question.

I used to eat Play-Doh? Maybe that's my thing?

AMY: Everyone used to eat Play-Doh.

Amy points to a page in the magazine.

AMY: This girl used to eat Play-Doh.

ESTER: Yeah.

She looks like she was made in a wax museum.

AMY: That's all the airbrushing.

Remember when I told you what it felt like when I was a cheerleader? It's what it feels like to be this girl. Like all bent over and shit. Like sexy but also really ugly because it's sex and sex is ugly.

ESTER: I don't think sex is ugly.

AMY: You've had sex?

ESTER: One time. On a trampoline.

AMY: Shit. Really?

ESTER:It was with my neighbor Josh. 1 wouldn't really count it as sex because it didn't really feel like anything. But I just wanted to try it once to see what it was like.

AMY: What was it like?

ESTER: A little bouncy? But also nice I guess?

Beat.

AMY: You can try sitting on my stomach.

ESTER: What?

AMY: That was another thing you could do from that website.

ESTER: The one that told you to drink laundry detergent?

AMY: Do you have a credit card and a fake ID that looks like/me?

ESTER: No.

AMY: Wanna help me douche with peroxide or fall down a flight of stairs?

ESTER: ...

AMY: I thought so.

Short silence.

ESTER: Yeah okay.

AMY: Yeah?

ESTER: Okay yeah whatever.

Amy slides down onto the floor so that she is lying down.

ESTER: I just climb on top of you?

AMY: Yeah, just like sit right here.

Amy puts her hands to her stomach.

ESTER: Okay.

Ester does a kind of dance around Amy, trying to position herself correctly. She finally sits on Amys stomach, facing out. She is suppressing giggles.

AMY: What?

ESTER: No, nothing.

AMY: What?

ESTER: It's just squishy that's all. You have a kind of squishy tummy.

AMY: Fuck you.

ESTER: Like a little turtle's tummy.

AMY: I don't have a fucking turtle's tummy.

Ester stints bouncing a little on Amy's stomach. Amy starts laughing.

AMY: Stop! You're going to make me pee.

Ester keeps bouncing.

AMY: No, I'm so ticklish! Stop! Stop! I'm going to pee!

Shit!

Ester stops bouncing.

ESTER: What?

AMY: No nothing.

ESTER (Breaks out into a big smile): Oh my god. You peed your pants didn't you.

AMY: No I didn't.

ESTER: Yes you did.

AMY (Unconvincingly): No I did not.

Ester rolls off Amy. Ester and Amy are laughing. They lie there next to each other.

AMY: Why did you move here? From Tampa.

ESTER (Sharply): Why do you want to know?

AMY: I dunno.

Beat.

ESTER: My parents got a divorce and I bit myself so hard that I bled.

AMY: Shit.

ESTER: And some other stuff.

My old coach was bad for me they thought. Which 1 guess he was. That's basically why we moved, to get away from him.

AMY: What was he like?

ESTER: Amazing.

One time I cracked my head doing a flip turn because I was so dizzy from swimming and he wouldn't let me stop. I came out of the pool at the end and he put iodine in my hair with his fingers and told me I was the strongest person he knew.

AMY: Did he ever...

ESTER: No it wasn't like that. But sometimes it felt that way I guess. I don't know.

Sometimes I think he made me feel too alive if that makes sense.

I don't know.

Short silence.

AMY: I peed my pants a little.

ESTER: I knew it.

AMY: We should go before I start to smell homeless.

Short beat.

ESTER: In a minute.

They lie there. There is an intimacy to their bodies. Silence.

ESTER: I'm going to ask my mom for her debit card. I can tell her the charges are for like a new medicine that I need.

AMY: Ester. I don't...

ESTER: She has a thousand dollars in savings in case there's another 9/11. But in Florida.

AMY: Thanks.

Silence.

AMY: Sometimes I think I hear its heart beating.

ESTER: Really?

AMY: No. I don't know.

I hope not.

Blackout.

SCENE III

Amy and Reba enter. They are in their day clothes. Reba is texting. She has the kind of slow dazed walk of a person who is fully immersed in their phone. She laughs at a text. Amy walks over to her locker and fishes through it. Reba adjusts her shorts and realizes she has to pee.

REBA: Wait, I'm gonna pee.

She walks into the area with the bathroom stalls. Amy finds the pack of cigarettes from her locker and a lighter, and puts a textbook in her bag.

The sound of a toilet flushing. Reba walks out. She is texting and laughing. She shows Amy a text. Amy laughs.

They exit.

Blackout.

SCENE IV

Ester and Amy sit facing each other on a bench. There is a bottle of cheap vodka on the floor next to them. They each have a shot glass in front of them. At this point they are buzzed and giggly.

There is warmth between them. They take a shot.

ESTER: I once got food poisoning after I drank a whole bottle of Andre.

AMY: You didn't get food poisoning you got alcohol poisoning.

ESTER: I also ate like a whole jar of expired Skippy.

AMY: Why?

ESTER: I don't know.

AMY: 1 used to shoplift oranges.

ESTER: Oranges?

Amy solemnly nods. Ester smiles. Amy pours them both another shot. They take it. After Ester takes the shot she gets on the floor and does several push-ups.

AMY: I have another joke.

ESTER (While doing push-ups): Tell me.

AMY: Okay. A sadist, a masochist, a murderer, a necrophile, a zoophile--that's a person who's into animals. Like sexually.

ESTER: I know.

AMY: Right. So there's a sadist, a masochist, a murderer, a necrophile, and a zoophile.

And they're all sitting on a bench in a mental institution thinking about what to do.

"Let's have sex with the cat," says the zoophile.

"Let's have sex with the cat and then torture it," says the sadist.

"Let's have sex with the cat, torture it and then kill it," says the murderer.

"Let's have sex with the cat, torture it, kill it and then have sex with it again," says the necrophile.

There was silence, and then the masochist says: "Meow."

They both laugh.

ESTER: Oh my god. That's crazy.

Meow.

AMY: Meow.

ESTER: I love cats. But not like in a weird way.

AMY: I have another.

What do you call a black woman who's had nine abortions?.

ESTER: What?

AMY: A crime fighter.

Ester stops doing push-ups.

ESTER: Oh.

AMY: It's not funny.

ESTER: Yeah.

AMY: Because it's racist.

Brendon told it to me.

He's a fucking dick.

Ester nods.

ESTER (Trying out the word): What a dick. Amy pours them both another shot. They take it. Ester bends over and lightly beats the backs of her hamstrings with her fists.

AMY: I used to hang out a lot at the Rock Shop.

You know the store by the freeway where you can crack rocks that look like regular dull rocks but actually have this crazy dyed crystal stuff on the inside? I used to hang out there all the time and crack rocks. And hang out with the boys who worked behind the counter and then I went through puberty and they told me that I couldn't crack the rocks anymore. That it was weird for someone my age with the way I look to be cracking rocks while kids had birthday parties.

So you know what I did?

Beat.

ESTER: Oh, no. What did you do?

AMY: I replaced some of the rocks with regular rocks, like from my yard.

I never went back to see what happened but 1 bet they really had to explain when the birthday boy or whatever cracked this big rock and all there was was more rock. That there wasn't anything special hiding underneath that it was just more rock.

Beat.

ESTER: That's crazy.

I went through puberty really late, which I'm happy about. I would have hated having boobs. For swimming.

AMY: 1 feel like it's all happening again. It's disgusting.

Amy touches her breasts and makes a face. She then pours herself a shot. Ester motions that she doesn't want another.

Amy takes hers.

AMY: You don't think it will just come out deformed?

ESTER (Stops exercising): What?

AMY: The thing? It might just come out like a jellyfish.

ESTER: Ob.

AMY: Like with a Down's syndrome-y forehead.

ESTER: Or Down's syndrome.

AMY: Yeah.

I have a cousin with Down's syndrome.

He's really stupid. I mean he can't help it I guess. But he's really stupid.

ESTER (Attempting to change the mood): What if it had no toes?

AMY: Or like a ton of toes.

ESTER: That might be cool. It could like use its feet as its hands.

AMY: We could use our feet as our hands we just don't take advantage of it.

Amy lifts up her legs like a spider and strokes Ester with her feet. Ester giggles.

ESTER: Ew what are you doing?

AMY (In a voice): Caressing you.

ESTER: Ew.

Amy pours herself another shot. She takes it.

AMY: Maybe punch me.

Like after I take a shot punch me. The shot will make it weaker and then you can just punch it to really mess it up.

ESTER: Okay.

Beat.

ESTER: But can you not...can you not say it?

AMY: What?

ESTER: I don't know. Like I'll punch you. But I don't want to think about punching...

AMY: What the fuck does that mean?

ESTER: Nothing. No, I'm not saying anything. I really really want you to be...free you know? To make your choice? But it also...like I don't know it just...like that there's some...thing. In there.

AMY (Sharply): Then don't fucking think about it.

ESTER: Okay. I just. I know you probably think about--

Amy bolts up. She starts pacing around.

AMY: Look I'm the one who's fucked. If you can't--

ESTER: I can.

AMY: But if you can't--

ESTER: Stop. You're...you know I can.

AMY: Reba could kill a deer.

ESTER: I could too. I could kill a deer too.

AMY: She could cut the throat of a deer an

ALIVE deer and like laugh about it with her cool older brothers okay?

ESTER: I could laugh about it.

AMY: She could let it bleed and scream and she could name it fucking Bambi, like while all of its blood was falling out of it because she hung it on like a tree or something. And she could skin it and eat it and like write a Facebook status about it and get like...fifty likes. Like a hundred likes.

ESTER: Take a shot.

AMY: No.

ESTER: Sit down and take a fucking shot.

Amy walks over to the bench. She sits. Ester pours her a shot. Amy takes a shot. Ester punches her really hard. They make eye contact.

Ester pours another shot for Amy. Amy takes it. Ester punches her almost immediately. Amy clutches her stomach. Beat. She stumbles over to the other side of the room and sits on the floor.

Ester watches her. Ester takes a shot. Maybe she pulls her knees up to her face. Silence.

ESTER: The guy postponed coming to see me swim.

He wants me to come up to Florida State two weekends from now so he can film me.

AMY: So?

ESTER: So I think he hates me.

They are both pretty drunk by now.

AMY: It's literally swimming toward a wall really fast and then swimming toward another wall really fast.

ESTER: Fuck you.

AMY: You can't swim for the rest of your life. That isn't fucking realistic Ester.

ESTER: Okay what do you want to do? What are your big plans?

Sell bath salts at outlet grocery stores? Be in a motorcycle gang? Kill deer for meat?

AMY: No.

ESTER: Blow every swim coach in the West Palm Beach area?

AMY: You're an asshole.

ESTER: Shelly told me.

AMY: Fuck Shelly.

ESTER: What do you want to do?

AMY: Get the fuck out of Florida. That's what I want to do.

I want to get the fuck out of this town with these boring fucking people, or else I'll the.

ESTER: Okay but like what do you want to do? Like as a person? You have to want to be something like fireman or like a dental hygienist.

AMY: A writer.

ESTER: What?

AMY: I want to be a writer.

ESTER: Really?

Beat.

ESTER: Cool.

AMY: Like Herman Melville.

ESTER: I didn't even know you liked to--

AMY: I don't like advertise it or anything. I don't like write it on my fucking face.

ESTER: Okay.

AMY: You can't fucking tell anyone that or I'll kill you.

ESTER: Yeah okay. Silence.

ESTER: Hey Amy?

AMY: What?

ESTER: You're my friend, right?

Amy laughs.

AMY: You're so drunk.

ESTER: No I'm not.

AMY: You're so fucking wasted.

Punch me.

ESTER: Come over here.

Amy doesn't. Silence.

AMY: Do people call me a slut?

ESTER: What?

AMY: Behind my back do people call me a slut?

Beat.

ESTER: No.

Beat.

ESTER: Why would you think--

AMY: I made out with a dog on a dare.

ESTER: Dog has bad teeth.

AMY: No. A dog. Like a real fucking dog.

Beat.

AMY: And 1 wore a halter top to the first day of fifth grade.

ESTER: That's cool.

AMY: What?

ESTER: I said that's cool.

Beat.

AMY (Snaps. She sits up. She gets increasingly loud): No, Ester.

No.

It wasn't cool it was slutty. It was realty fucking slutty. God.

You know what it was? It was some pedophile's wet fucking dream.

Beat. Amy stands up. She is in her own world.

AMY: I've jacked off two different boys who worked at two different gas stations.

ESTER: Okay.

AMY: Is that some cool Gossip Girl shit, Ester?

ESTER: No.

AMY: I've had anal sex on a trundle bed. And I enjoyed it. I fucking enjoyed it.

ESTER: I don't know what I--

AMY: Fuck.

She looks like she's about to puke. She puts her hand to her mouth. She holds it in.

AMY: Punch me hard.

Beat.

AMY: Punch me!

ESTER: What?

AMY (Yelling): Punch me!

Beat.

ESTER: I don't think I...I don't think that I want to.

AMY: Oh.

Beat. Amy softens.

AMY: Okay.

ESTER: I'm sorry.

AMY: No.

Amy sits back down on the bench.

Beat.

Amy runs to the bathroom.

Ester is alone. A moment.

Blackout.

SCENE V

The locker room is empty. After a moment Ester, Amy and Reba walk on. They are all dripping wet--they just got out of the pool. They are still in their swim caps with their goggles pushed up to their foreheads. They are a little exhausted. They have their towels around their shoulders.

REBA: My shoulders fucking kill.

AMY: Yeah I'm too tired to take a shower.

REBA: I have an air bubble in my stomach--you know that thing? Like when you feel like you have a bubble and you can't pop it?

ESTER: Maybe you swallowed some chlorine.

AMY: Reb do you have any aspirin?

REBA: No it's in my other bag.

Amy and Reba sit on the bench. They dry themselves with their towels.

AMY: He kept us way too late.

REBA: Yeah I'm hungry. I want guacamole.

Or like a spicy wrap from Polio.

ESTER: That's why he let us out early last time.

AMY: But Ashley didn't even show up.

You can't make the three of us stay longer to do our medley if one of the girls isn't even here. And she's the only one who has actually been DQ'd for a false start.

REBA: I think she has chicken pox.

AMY: But like who has chicken pox when they're eighteen?

REBA: Yeah.

Beat.

ESTER: I had a chicken pox party when I was seven.

AMY: Gross.

REBA: What's a chicken pox party?

ESTER: It's like when a bunch of parents bring their kids over to play with a kid who has chicken pox so that their kids will get it and so they won't have it when they're older and it's like way worse for you.

REBA: Weird.

That's like rainbow parties. My parents were so freaked out about those and I was like I wish I was invited to a rainbow party you know? Like you get to wear burgundy lipstick or something and give a guy head in a cool den. Reba turns to Amy and takes off her goggles. Reba bends over and Amy palls off Reba's swim cap from the back. Amy bends over and Reba does the same thing.

Ester watches them,. She takes off her own swim cap. Maybe she pulls a few hairs and it is a little painful.

Beat. Reba examines her hair.

REBA: God. My hair is so effing dry.

AMY: That's because you put lemon in it.

REBA: But it has to be the chlorine partly, right? It was even worse when I wore those cloth caps and the water really gets in there.

ESTER: Oh yeah, like those Speedo ones? I used to wear those too in middle school.

AMY: You also used to straighten your hair.

REBA: I know. That's so embarrassing.

ESTER: Your hair is already straight.

REBA: I think I'm going to spray some perfume in it to get the smell out.

AMY: Since when do you care so much?

REBA: I dunno. I think I'm just so fucking bored. Literally sometimes I light matches for fun that's how fucking bored I am.

AMY: Do you wanna get Chipot after this?

REBA: Yeah is your mom picking you up?

AMY: No, Dog.

REBA: Oh sweet. Do you think he'll have weed on him? He's so much cheaper than Melanie.

AMY: You buy from Melanie? I heard her stuff is... (Searching for the word...unsure of her choice...faking confidence) dank.

Reba considers the word "dank." Reba thought this was a good thing, but also is not sure. She assumes Amy knows more about weed than she does, so she accepts it.

REBA: Yeah. I don't know, I don't really care. She lends me her Harry Potter books because they're like constantly checked out from the library so I feel weirdly obligated to buy her dank weed.

AMY (Playful): You're so lame.

ESTER: I love Harry Potter.

REBA: Same. I don't know why I never read them before. I'm such a Hermione.

AMY: Are you kidding me? You're not a fucking Hermione. All you do is eat tacos and smoke.

REBA: You don't get it. It's deeper than that.

We're like soul sisters.

AMY: You know what you are--you're a Hufflepuff.

REBA: Don't even say that. I know it's a joke but like don't even say that.

Amy laughs.

ESTER: I think you'd be a Gryffindor.

REBA: Thank you.

AMY: She's just sucking up to you.

ESTER: No I'm not. I'm not--

REBA: I need a brush, I forgot my brush.

AMY: Here.

Amy hands Reba her brush.

REBA: Do you still have athlete's foot?

AMY: No.

REBA: Really?

AMY: If I had athlete's foot you'd see pieces of my feet everywhere.

REBA: True.

Reba takes the brush.

ESTER: I had swimmer's ear for like a whole summer.

REBA: Yeah?

Ester nods. Beat.

REBA (To Ester): Do you just feel like we're totally slowing you down all the time? Sometimes I feel like a fucking whale.

ESTER: No, no. It's just different.

Varsity was super different at my old school.

REBA: You didn't have a dipshit for a coach.

ESTER: Oh yeah. Bryan kind of sucks.

REBA: Totally sucks.

ESTER: My old coach was really cool and intense. But you couldn't do stuff like smoke or anything so you probably wouldn't have liked it anyway. He pushed us so much that it was almost like a body high when you left the pool.

REBA: Oh sweet.

AMY: Not to be super annoying but did you bring your fake today for me?

REBA: Oh shit. I totally forgot. My b. (To Ester, referring to fake ID) The girl in the photo is super ugly. I like take offense when they let me buy shit.

AMY: Can you bring it to practice on Thursday?

ESTER: We have practice on Friday.

AMY: Okay Friday, whatever.

REBA: But doesn't your mom still have that whole bottle of Vicodin?

AMY: What?

REBA: That's like even better than booze.

AMY: She needs it for her back.

REBA: Since when?

What's even happening this weekend?

AMY: I'm going to text you about the fake okay? So you'll remember?

REBA: Okay fine. I'll bring it on Thursday.

ESTER: Friday.

REBA: I want to go to a party.

AMY: Maybe Ben's having a party? But he like never has them anymore after he got his Xbox.

REBA: I heard he masturbates to the cartoon girls in Grand Theft Auto and then kills them right after cuz he feels so guilty. He's Catholic so it totally makes sense.

AMY: Gross.

REBA: Other people have parties don't they?

What about Dog and his friends?

AMY: Reba none of them are cute.

REBA: Yeah but they'd smoke us up.

AMY: So?

REBA: Ester do you know any senior parties that are happening this weekend?

ESTER: Oh. Um. Maybe, I can look into it.

REBA: What about Jamie, don't his parents have an outdoor hot tub?

ESTER: I don't know. I have club swimming Saturday and Sunday morning so 1 don't actually go out that much.

REBA: I heard they have a hot tub. But that could be a total bold-face lie.

AMY: Bold-face?

REBA: That's an expression.

AMY: I know it's an expression.

REBA: Ask Brendon, he probably knows like some underground thing with hash or something.

ESTER: Brendon's a dick.

REBA: Why?

Amy gives Ester a look.

ESTER: Um. I just don't like him.

He...smells. Like meth.

REBA: He smells like meth?

AMY (Trying to divert the conversation): I think Terry's tryna fuck me. So I might text him.

REBA: Brendon's way cuter. And the last time 1 smelled him he did not smell like meth...

Not that I have any idea what that would smell / like anyway.

AMY: What about you and that guy from the Gap?

REBA: Oh him. I think he has a lazy eye.

AMY: Oh really?

ESTER: I had a boyfriend in Tampa with a lazy eye.

REBA: No you didn't.

ESTER: Yeah I did.

REBA: That's so fucking funny.

ESTER: I kind of never knew if we were about to kiss because I didn't know if he was looking at me. We dated for like two months.

REBA: Why did you break up?

ESTER: Oh urn. He got like really into his church and also mostly because he was just really weird.

REBA: That's so funny.

The guy from the Gap is otherwise really hot though.

AMY: Have you started your Bio paper? Not to be a dick.

REBA: Eff no.

AMY: Okay good.

REBA: I'm just going to pick something about like ferns or something. I bet they have a Wikipedia page about ferns.

AMY: Yeah but I'm so fucking bad it like takes me forever to like even write a page.

REBA: That's because you're terrible at it.

AMY: I know.

ESTER: I'm sure you're not.

AMY: What?

ESTER: You can't be that bad at writing papers if you love to write.

REBA: Love what?

ESTER: I mean if you're good at creative stuff you know?

Amy gives her a look.

REBA: Oh my god who told you that?

ESTER: Wh / at?

REBA: That's so funny--Amy's like the worst writer. I was in English with her last year and she wrote all these weird depressing poems and I was like what is going on? It was seriously so funny. Nobody knew what to do. They were about like sad fish or something right?

AMY: It was a metaphor.

REBA: I literally think it was called "Fish Sticks."

AMY (Sharply): Ester aren't you going to take a shower?

ESTER: No. No, I don't feel like it.

AMY: You never shower here.

ESTER: You guys aren't showering here / either.

REBA: Yeah you like never shower here.

What are you afraid of catching Amy's athlete's foot?

ESTER: I shower here sometimes I just like my soap at home better.

AMY: I think she's in love with me.

Beat.

ESTER: What?

AMY: I think you're a little bit in love with me. That's why you don't shower here, you're embarrassed because you don't want me to see you naked.

Reba laughs.

ESTER: I'm not in love with / you.

REBA: Hey everyone's a little gay though right? I made out with a girl at a party over the summer.

ESTER: I'm not--

REBA: It was a dare though.

AMY: You totally are that's why you look like you're about to cry.

Ester's eyes well up.

REBA (Laughing a hit): Okay.

Amy slowly walks toward Ester, almost in a trance. AMY: You think I didn't see you hanging up my suit when I was in the shower? The way you look at me when I dry my hair? You think I hang out with you because I like you? I let you follow me around because I know you'd do anything for me because you fucking-worship me.

ESTER: I don't worship you--Amy

traps Ester against the lockers.

AMY: How many times have you thought about kissing me?

ESTER: No times--I haven't--

AMY: How many times have you thought about my arms and my legs about me dripping wet in a bathing suit, smelling like chlorine and sunscreen and totally fucking ready for your dick.

ESTER: I don't have a dick--

AMY: You love me more than you've loved anything ever and I know you want to kiss me right now so fucking bad look at me Ester.

Look at me. Look at me.

(Amy gets very quiet and close to Ester. Her face almost touching Ester's)

Look at me.

Ester pushes past Amy in tears and grabs her bags and bolts out of the locker room.

Short silence.

REBA: Shit.

Long beat.

AMY: Whatever. She'll get over it.

Beat.

REBA: You really think she's gay for you?

AMY: Yeah. Yeah she's totally gay for me.

REBA: Shit.

She's probably seen my vagina like a hundred times.

AMY: Who hasn't?

Reba smiles.

REBA: Yeah.

The lazy-eyed guy from the rap?

They both laugh.

AMY: That's true.

Blackout.

SCENE VI

Ester and Victor stand in the carpeted hallway of a college dorm. Ester is holding a sleeping bag and an overnight bag. Victor is fuming. Victor bangs on the wall with his fist and paces. Ester stands there looking at him. Ester intermittently itches herself throughout the scene.

VICTOR: What a--

ESTER: It's really. It's ok / ay.

VICTOR: What a fucking--

ESTER: It's okay--

VICTOR (Bubbling with frustration. Maybe slapping the wall): Of course I told him we'd have a guest like five times. It's like he lacks even--

ESTER: I swear I / don't--

VICTOR: Even a modicum of human decency.

ESTER: 1 don't mind waiting.

VICTOR: I just can't understand how you can be so fucking deaf to even the simplest request of the person who lives with you.

ESTER: Yeah...

VICTOR: You know in a lot of ways he's a lot like my brother which is perfect you know, a really perfect kind of joke.

ESTER: Like 1 said I just need some / sleep.

VICTOR: ()f course my brother is actually deaf.

ESTER: Oh. I...

VICTOR: And I love him but sometimes I have to hold his face so that he can see me talking and that's kind of how I feel you know?

ESTER: Sure...

Like I said I just need some / sleep.

VICTOR: But he's just an...asshole.

ESTER: Maybe they'll be done soon?

VICTOR: She likes to sing afterwards. Well, not sing but like hum him songs. It's really weird.

ESTER: Oh.

VICTOR: Sometimes they don't even notice that I'm asleep in the top bunk. Like they think I'm a stack of pillows or something. He probably wouldn't even care is what's so--Christ.

ESTER: I'm sorry.

VICTOR: No no, it's fine, it's just. You know. Respect. Some people just fundamentally lack respect.

ESTER: Right.

Victor hits the wall, and then kind of stays there, with his hands on the wall and his head down. Ester doesn't really know what to do. She looks around. Ester awkwardly itches herself. She puts her sleeping bag on the ground and makes a kind of chair, and then sits.

Beat.

VICTOR (Not quite to her): There're some cushions in the common room.

Victor leaves. A moment. He comes back with big couch cushions.

ESTER: Great, thanks.

Victor gives her one, which she puts on top of her sleeping bag, and he sits on two next to her.

Beat.

VICTOR: I don't want you to think that I hate him or anything. He's an okay guy just, kind of inconsiderate.

(Regaining his frustration) I told him like five times that a girl--a prospective swimmer--is sleeping on our floor, thinking that he'd care. He does water polo. Or plays water polo, I don't know. I've never actually seen him do it. ESTER: Oh, cool.

Beat.

VICTOR: I know you need like a long good sleep before tomorrow. My mom told me on the phone like seven times.

She's really good friends with your mom or something?

ESTER: Yeah. They kind of just started hanging out I guess, but yeah. They really like each other.

VICTOR: My mom said your mom really "gets her." Which I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

ESTER: Yeah I think that they just drink a lot of frozen margaritas together and go dancing at Polio Frijoles.

VICTOR: Well that's horrible to think about. ESTER: I know.

Beat. Ester vigorously itches herself.

VICTOR: Bug bite?

ESTER: What?

VICTOR: I said bug bite?

ESTER: No.

Silence.

VICTOR: So swimming huh? You really like it a lot?

ESTER: Yeah. It's great.

VICTOR: Do you really think it's great or is that like something that you feel like you have to say?

ESTER: What?

VICTOR: I just mean do you do it because you're good at it or do you really like it?

ESTER: I really like it.

VICTOR: Oh. Okay.

That's cool then. That's cool.

Beat.

VICTOR: Sorry, it's just that this school can make you a little sports-averse if that's not your thing.

That, and I used to play piano and I hated it but I like won competitions for playing piano so I felt like I had to keep doing it, even though 1 hated it.

ESTER: Do you still play?

VICTOR: No. I quit last week.

ESTER: Oh.

VICTOR: Yeah. It was kind of life-altering.

Beat.

VICTOR: I might start a band here.

ESTER: Cool.

VICTOR: I was in one in high school. I played the keyboard. But I might try to learn how to produce or something. People say that you should try new things sophomore year, before you have to like declare your major or whatever.

ESTER: Your band--The Mortgage Brokers, right?

VICTOR: Yeah--how do you know that?

ESTER: People talk about how you or one of the other guys dumped punch into the sound system at the end of a show at an assembly or something.

VICTOR: That was Rickey. He's gay now, which is crazy to think about. He goes to Wisconsin, which is like a much better school if you're into music. And Jake also goes there. He might be gay too--he was the one we all thought would be, he wore these...pants.

Beat.

VICTOR: I'm not gay/if you were--

ESTER: I know.

VICTOR: I mean it doesn't matter or whatever.

I'm just not.

ESTER: You dated Mallory Klein.

VICTOR: Oh yeah. Mallory.

ESTER: She was in my homeroom.

VICTOR: Oh.

ESTER: I really liked her. She had nice hair.

VICTOR: Oh yeah. I guess.

Beat.

ESTER: Why did you decide to come here if you hate sports so much?

VICTOR: My brother has cystic fibrosis--as well as being deaf, which is a thing for a lot of people with CF--anyway he probably won't live for that long, so I wanted to be near home. I drive down and see him some weekends.

ESTER: Oh. I'm sorry.

VICTOR: You don't have to act sorry.

ESTER: I'm not acting sorry.

VICTOR: Everybody likes to act sorry about that shit and it's like it's fine you know that's life.

ESTER: I'm not acting--I'm just trying to have a conversation.

VICTOR: Ye /ah.

ESTER: While we wait for your roommate to finish having sex. Or finish singing or whatever.

VICTOR: It's the girl that sings, but yeah. No, you're right, I'm sorry.

Beat.

VICTOR: I'm sorry it's just like hard for me not to see you as like--I don't know I'm sure this sounds completely ludicrous to you, but--an oppressive force.

ESTER: An oppressive force?

VICTOR: Not you. But like. I don't know. You're getting scouted for swimming.

Like you'll probably get some boyfriend like my roommate you know? Or at least your picture on the wall or something with your whole team, smiling, being really physically fit together. Eating all the meat in the dining halls in your sweatpants and wet hair--at your reserved table. Smiling.

And I'll be like listening to the Vampire Weekend Pandora station in the common room with my RA named Fred.

Beat.

ESTER: I've been sleeping in my swimsuit.

VICTOR: What?

ESTER: I've been sleeping in my swimsuit. For superstitious reasons.

I haven't taken it off for a week.

VICTOR: Why?

ESTER: Because of this thing tomorrow. Swimming for the coach.

One day he's going to come watch me at a meet, and the next he wants me to come swim my best while he's taping me from under the water, like invading all that space. And I've only seen his face once on a website, like a weird confusing blue website. And this is the only place I'm getting recruited for because a year and a half ago I had this thing where I couldn't swim for like three months so all the other schools dropped me.

And I have a rash. Like a really bad rash.

I think. I haven't seen it.

VICTOR: Shit.

ESTER: Yeah. So.

VICTOR: Are you okay?

ESTER: I mean whatever.

I'm not trying to make you feel bad for me, I'm just saying that I'm not like physically fit and smiling.

VICTOR: Have you told anybody?

ESTER: No. I mean, I just told you, just now.

VICTOR: You haven't told anybody? It could be like welded to your skin or something, or infected.

ESTER: It's probably infected, it really really itches. But I'll take if off tomorrow anyway so.

VICTOR: I'm the only person you told?

ESTER: Not like in a special way. I just. My mom is out of town, and her boyfriend is a car salesman with a kid. Who I hate. And I haven't spoken to my best friend who might be my ex-best friend, I don't know, we haven't spoken in a week and she's not coming to practice so, I told you.

Do you feel special?

VICTOR: Hey you know I think we really got off on the wrong foot.

ESTER: Yeah. Well.

VICTOR: I'm sorry that you're so nervous for your swim test tomorrow.

I'm sure that's really nerve-racking.

ESTER: It just might be my future is all. And there was a time where I didn't even know if I liked myself enough to want a future so it feels really scary to want this. Like a lot.

VICTOR: I used to vomit before my piano competitions.

ESTER: I used to vomit all the time.

Beat.

VICTOR: Hey, this is really weird to say now probably but I think you're really beautiful.

ESTER: Yeah?

VICTOR: Yeah.

Beat.

VICTOR: I'd like to kiss you if that's okay.

ESTER: Um...maybe later?

VICTOR: Okay.

ESTER: I'm sorry.

VICTOR: No.

Silence. Ester vigorously itches herself.

VICTOR: I have an idea--hey I have an idea.

ESTER: What?

VICTOR: I have some calamine lotion in the bathroom. I could put some on you to stop the itch. I promise it wouldn't be anything weird, it could just maybe make you feel better for tomorrow.

ESTER: Calamine lotion?

VICTOR: It's for poison oak and stuff like that. I used to work at the nature preserve near the Sun Lake Resorts. We'd get all kinds of itches. Chiggers mostly, but you have to put nail polish on those.

Ester itches herself again.

ESTER: I don't know...I don't want to take it off, I know that sounds crazy.

VICTOR: You wouldn't have to. I could just put some on your back and stuff, underneath it.

ESTER: Here? In the hallway?

VICTOR: Everybody's out right now anyway. And I could get you a towel to cover yourself with. But you obviously don't have to if you don't want.

Beat. Ester considers this. She itches herself.

ESTER: Okay.

VICTOR: Okay?

ESTER: Yeah. Okay.

VICTOR: I'll be back in a second.

Victor leaves. Ester watches him go. A moment. Victor comes back, maybe he's a little out of breath from rushing. He shows her the calamine lotion. He kind of hovers over her, not really knowing what to do. She stands. She looks down the hall to check for people, and then takes off her shirt. She is wearing her suit underneath.

ESTER: Close your eyes.

Victor closes his eyes. She takes a breath. She takes the towel from him and peels off the straps of her suit clutching the towel to her chest. The rash is really bad.

VICTOR: Can I open?

ESTER: Yeah.

What does it look like?

VICTOR (It looks bad): Um. Like a rash. Like a pretty not great rash.

ESTER: Okay. But does it look infected?

VICTOR: Maybe a little. I don't know, I'm not really an expert.

ESTER: I thought you--

VICTOR: I don't know, yeah. It looks infected a bit. But like, nothing to worry about. Ester starts to breathe heavily.

VICTOR: Hey, you're doing really great. I know this is like, a big thing.

I'm just going to put some cream on it now okay?

ESTER: Okay.

He puts some lotion in his hand. He makes a tiny face and then starts rubbing it into her back. Ester breathes a little easier.

VICTOR: How does that feel?

ESTER: Good.

He puts more in his hand and starts spreading it around more.

Ester takes a breath.

Short silence.

VICTOR: So why couldn't you tell your best friend, or ex-best friend?

ESTER: What?

VICTOR: You said that your best friend and you had a kind of falling out.

ESTER: Oh. Yeah. I don't know. We haven't really talked.

VICTOR: Do I know her?

ESTER: Oh. Um. Maybe. Amy Macklin?

VICTOR: Oh.

ESTER: What?

VICTOR: No, nothing. Yeah Amy.

I didn't really know her that well. She seemed nice.

ESTER: She's not. Nice.

Beat.

VICTOR: She's not nice but you still...

ESTER: She's more than that. She doesn't need to be nice.

You probably wouldn't understand.

VICTOR: No, I get that. She's like, a remarkable person.

ESTER: Yeah.

VICTOR: One of the guys I worked with on the preserve wrestled alligators sometimes.

Victor starts blowing on Ester's back.

VICTOR: I'm just making sure that it dries.

Beat. Victor blows.

ESTER: She's not nice. And she's a slut. I know you were thinking that.

VICTOR: I wasn't.

ESTER: It's true. She says so herself.

VICTOR: Yeah. Well. People say a lot of things. I'm sure she's not actually (Almost in a whisper) a slut.

Ester pulls away from him. She has a sudden shift in demeanor.

ESTER: God. You don't understand anything. Stop--stop blowing on me.

VICTOR: I'm sorry. I--did 1 say something? didn't mean to...

Ester turns away from him and puts her straps back on, and then her shirt. Victor just watches her. He doesn't know what to say. Ester sits down, somewhat rigidly.

VICTOR (Confused): I'm sorry.

He stands there looking at her. She does not return his look. He sits back down, confused. He wipes his hands on the bottom of the cushion.

Silence.

ESTER: It still itches.

VICTOR: It doesn't work right away.

ESTER: Yeah.

Silence.

VICTOR: I didn't mean to say anything rude about your friend Amy. We just--well. I guess I kind of lied. I did know her a little. You can't tell her this--what I'm about to tell you.

Beat. Ester doesn't want to give in.

She does.

ESTER: What?

VICTOR: I don't know if I should--

ESTER: Tell me.

VICTOR: Okay. Um.

Well last year we kissed at a party. I was a freshman, here, and she was in tenth grade I guess, then. I was at the party because I couldn't sleep. It was my dad's birthday the day before that's why I was home, and I just felt so...

Anyway, we made out in the yard. She didn't want to go any further and that was fine with me, I just wanted some company I guess. But after we kissed for like five minutes, like not long at all, she said she wanted me to walk in there and tell everyone that she gave me head and that I came all over her face. I thought that was really weird. She seemed so sad and anxious, like she wasn't even interested in me but like in proving something. But I did. I really couldn't tell you why but I told my friend who was there who I guess told the other people who were there and the girl whose house it was kicked her out. I remember the look on her face when the girl kicked her out, calling her ah, calling her a bitch and stuff like that. She flipped everyone off and then she wiped her face with the palm of her hand. Like a big wipe like this.

Victor demonstrates.

VICTOR: I don't know. That's why I said that. But maybe she is a slut now, I really wouldn't know. I just go down to see my brother.

Beat.

ESTER: You kissed her?

VICTOR: Mmmhhm.

Beat.

ESTER: What did she taste like?

VICTOR: What did she taste like? I don't remember. It was like a year ago.

Beat. Ester nods.

Short silence.

ESTER: Did her hair smell like anything?

VICTOR: Yeah. Yeah, I think it did.

ESTER: Like chlorine?

VICTOR: No. I think she was off-season then.

ESTER: There is no off-season.

VICTOR: Oh.

ESTER: But it smelled like something?

VICTOR: Yeah. Conditioner...Like sweet herbal conditioner.

Beat.

ESTER: You can kiss me now.

Victor turns to look at her. Beat. Blackout.

SCENE VII

Ester sits alone in the locker room. She is fully dressed. She sits on the bench with a large black and white cookie. She unwraps it. She puts it down. She picks at her fingernails. Amy enters. She is in a baggy sweatshirt and gym shorts and old beat-up knockoff UGGs. She looks terrible. Ester sees her and gets up.

AMY: Hi.

ESTER: Hi.

Beat.

AMY: Thanks for uh. Leaving the door open.

Beat.

ESTER: I bought a cookie.

AMY: Yeah?

ESTER: Do you want it?

Amy nods. Ester gives her the cookie. Amy stands there. She takes a bite.

AMY: It's weird that these come in the vending machines.

Do you think that someone bakes them?

Amy takes a bite of cookie.

AMY: Maybe a machine does--

Ester gathers up her anger.

ESTER: I want my debit card back.

Amy laughs. A beat. Amy looks at Ester's face. She laughs again, a really hard, almost uncontrollable laugh.

ESTER: Fuck you.

AMY (Laughing): That's what this is about--

ESTER: Give me my fucking debit card.

AMY: I don't have it.

ESTER: You should have texted me. After you stopped coming to practice you should have texted me.

AMY: I left it at home.

ESTER: You have to get it.

AMY: Now?

ESTER: Take the fucking bus and get it, I'm not afraid of you.

AMY: Look at you. You got some balls now.

ESTER: You can go fuck yourself.

AMY: Sorry, already did.

ESTER: That's not funny, that's like not a funny joke because I don't feel bad for you. And I'm not in love with you. I couldn't care less about you is the actual truth. I know you're not the way you say you are and I think that's bullshit. Like actual bullshit. And I need you to get me my debit card.

AMY: I don't know where I put it.

ESTER: I went to Florida State last weekend did you know that?

I took a bus to Florida State alone and had to like sleep in this boy's bed and meet the coach who looks like a fucking uncle and he gave me a pat on my back.

And the boy made me sleep in his bed and he slept on the floor and he had these fucking hot sheets.

Amy is hit with a sharp pain. Ester has her back to her; so she doesn't notice.

ESTER: And I need that card back because I don't need a reason, it's mine and I want it back. Amy rolls onto the floor, moaning, holding her stomach and panting. Ester sees her, and doesn't know what to do.

ESTER: What are you--

Ester rushes over to Amy, on the floor.

ESTER: What's going on?

AMY: Fuck--

ESTER: What did you do? Amy what did you do? Amy moans.

ESTER: Should I call an ambulance?

AMY: No--Don't fucking...

ESTER: Tell me what you did.

Please, Amy.

Did you--with a knitting needle?

Did you swallow detergent?

Amy moans and writhes in pain.

ESTER: You have to tell me so I know if I need to get help.

Please, Any. Please fucking talk to me or I'm calling an ambulance.

AMY: Don't--I'll kill you.

ESTER: Amy, what the fuck did you do?

She makes a sound. Amy's shirt comes up a little.

ESTER: You have bruises all over.

Did you make yourself fall down the stairs? Because you could be bleeding internally and we should go to a hospital.

Amy relaxes. She stops moaning. The pain is gone.

AMY: Stop, stop. I'm okay.

She sits up clutching her stomach.

AMY: Can you please get off me.

Ester moves to sit a few feet away from Amy. Beat.

ESTER: What the fuck was that.

AMY: You gave me those bruises so.

ESTER: What the fuck just happened.

AMY: Nothing.

Silence. Amy stands up. She gets a bottle of water and drinks.

ESTER: I'm literally the only person who is here for you right now and won't tell your mother so you could either tell me or not tell me--it's really fucking up to you, because you scared the shit out of me right / there.

AMY: I took the pill thing. Okay?

This registers on Ester's face.

AMY: Like four hours ago. The second pill that induces labor. It's already dead--I took that one yesterday.

Beat.

AMY: There are two of them and I took the first one alone in my bathroom and that was fine but I had these crazy dreams where a dead pig was strapped to my back and it started to smell and then this other one where my eyes fell out and rolled down this long street that looked like it was out of a Shel Silverstein book and then I woke up and spent the morning vomiting alone in my bathroom but I got really paranoid that my mom would find out so I went to the mall and I saw Ms. Soren shopping for bras and vomited in the bathroom of the Ruby Tuesday's and I put the second pill up my vagina because that's where it's supposed to go but then this Mexican woman came in to clean and told me that I had to get out but I couldn't go home because I looked up the side effects and you like bleed brown thick blood everywhere so when you texted me I came. You can leave if you want I don't fucking care. I just need to be here because I have nowhere else to go.

Ester nods. Beat.

ESTER: How much cramping have you had?

AMY: I've already had three of those on the bus over here.

I just have to wait until I bleed.

ESTER: Okay.

Silence.

ESTER: Who brought you to the mall?

AMY: Brendon.

ESTER: Oh.

AMY: Yeah. He dropped me off at The Cheesecake Factory.

He was driving to the DMV.

Beat.

ESTER: Are you guys...

AMY: No.

He has a girlfriend.

She's a freshman. Softball.

ESTER: Cool.

AMY: Not really.

ESTER: Yeah.

Beat.

AMY: He likes to fuck on his grandmother's plastic covered couches so I guess that's her problem now.

Ester smiles.

ESTER: How many times did you guys actually...

AMY: Three. Two were at parties.

Long beat.

ESTER: I read your story in the lit mag. I thought it was really good and like cool that it was in an ant farm.

Beat.

AMY: I had an ant farm growing up so. I guess that's where it came from.

ESTER: It reminded me a lot of Animal Farm. Except different, obviously. Not about communism.

AMY: It was about communism.

ESTER: Oh. Um. I could see that too.

AMY: I'm fucking with you.

Ester smiles.

ESTER: Oh.

AMY: But thanks.

Beat.

AMY: How was ah. Florida State.

ESTER: It was fine.

AMY: Who did you stay with?

ESTER: My mom's friend's son.

AMY: With the sheets.

ESTER: Yeah.

AMY: Did he go here?

Beat.

ESTER: I don't think so.

Beat.

ESTER: Do you want some water?

AMY: Gatorade.

ESTER: Okay.

Ester gets up.

AMY: I have some in my bag--Fuck.

ESTER: What?

Amy crumples over again.

AMY: Ahhh.

Ester unzips Amy's swim bag and takes out a Gatorade. She sits next to Amy and feeds her the drink. Amy clutches her stomach. She pants.

ESTER: Put your face on the floor.

Amy rolls onto the ground and puts her face on the tile.

AMY: Don't look at me.

Ester looks away. Amy pants and writhes. Silence as she does this.

Amy lets out a breath. She relaxes. The pain subsides. She sits herself up.

AMY: Tylenol.

Ester nods and gets Tylenol from Amy's bag. She gives her the Gatorade and a pill. She takes it.

ESTER: What should I...if you do feel something what should I...

AMY: Hold my hand.

ESTER: Okay.

Ester holds her hand.

AMY: Not now.

Ester lets go.

ESTER: Oh.

AMY: When it's happening. For the pain.

ESTER: Right.

Silence.

ESTER: Should we like get towels do you think?

AMY: Towels?

ESTER: For the...I don't know...you said there would be a lot of...

AMY: Oh. Yeah.

Beat.

ESTER: Or like newspaper?

AMY: Yeah.

ESTER: That's what we did when we were potty training my dog.

Not that...

Beat. Ester gets up and goes into her bag. She takes out a newspaper.

ESTER: We're doing papier-mache sculptures in art.

I'm making an ostrich.

Amy nods. Beat.

Ester takes the newspaper apart. She spreads the pages on the ground.

AMY: There might be a thing that comes out.

ESTER: What?

AMY: Like when it happens. When I go into labor, there might be a thing. I know it freaks you out to think about it as a thing so I thought you should know that if you're gonna stay.

ESTER: Oh.

Beat.

AMY: I'm thirteen weeks. So it's like a lemon.

ESTER: Um. Okay.

Long beat.

AMY: I'm actually allergic to lemons.

And tree nuts.

And all fin fish.

Beat.

Amy clutches her abdomen.

AMY: Can I have another Tylenol?

ESTER: Oh. Yeah.

Ester gives Amy the bottle of Tylenol that she's been holding. It was just a cramp.

Amy takes a pill with some Gatorade.

ESTER: If the thing...if the lemon comes out what should 1 do with it?

Beat.

ESTER: You don't have to...

I'll figure something out. You don't have to think about that right now.

Beat.

AMY: Throw it away.

ESTER: In the locker-room garbage?

AMY: I don't...Put it in a bag.

A Ziploc bag.

Ester nods. Beat.

ESTER: Do you have a Ziploc bag?

AMY: Do I...No I don't have a fucking Ziploc bag.

ESTER: You didn't bring...

AMY (Her voice is raised): No I didn't fucking think to bring a Ziploc bag I wasn't--I'm not--

ESTER: Okay I just, I don't have one either--

AMY: Fucking put it in newspaper I don't know.

ESTER: But won't people...won't people be able to smell it?

AMY: Smell it?

ESTER: Yeah, like rotting flesh...it would probably smell really...

AMY: I don't. I don't know. I've never...

ESTER: I mean me either, obviously.

AMY: Put it in the locker.

ESTER: Okay but what if someone opens it and there's a--

AMY: I don't have like a whole kit I'm not a fucking--I don't have a whole fucking kit for this like it's just me, I'm not.

ESTER: Okay, okay. I'll figure something out.

Short silence. Amy turns to Ester.

AMY: You don't have to stay.

ESTER: I know that.

AMY: No do you hear me? I'm saying you can fucking go, Ester. I would go if I were you. This is my Ricked situation I deserve this.

ESTER: I'm not going.

AMY: One woman on the internet said that she shat and vomited all over herself while she like cried forever.

ESTER: Okay.

AMY: It's going to be really gross and horrible and the lemon--

ESTER: I used to get a ton of nosebleeds.

AMY: Great. That's fucking great.

ESTER: I'm saying that I'm not afraid of shit.

I stepped on a rusty nail on a roller coaster and I had to get my dad to rip it out of my foot when we were like in the sky.

AMY: I broke both my arms in a car accident when I was eleven. And my arms looked like alien arms and I had to get two surgeries and I bled into my armpits so bad that they started to smell like blood. Okay? Like old armpit-y blood.

ESTER: Okay.

Beat.

ESTER: I tried to commit suicide. Last year. Off a roof.

Beat. Amy registers this--she nods. Silence. Ester stands up.

ESTER: Do you want another cookie?

Beat.

AMY: Okay.

Ester exits. Amy sits against the lockers. She puts a hand to her stomach. She feels a slight pain, and a wetness between her legs. She opens her legs and reaches into the crotch of her shorts; her hand comes back covered in blood. She is now bleeding profusely. She is not sitting where Ester had spread the newspapers, so the blood is leaking onto the tiles. She starts hyperventilating looking at the blood on her hands. Quietly at first she begins calling Esters name, but quickly escalates to panicked cries.

AMY: Ester? Ester!

Ester!

Ester!

Between cries of her name, Ester walks in.

ESTER (With her head down): Black or white?

AMY (Sobbing): Ester.

Ester looks up. There is blood everywhere and Amy is crying--obviously deeply frightened.

ESTER: Oh my...

AMY: I thought you...1 thought you--It just started happening--I don't know how to--

ESTER: Okay. Okay, just breathe.

I'm here.

Ester rushes over to Amy.

AMY (Hyper-ventilating): What the fuck is--I don't feel, I don't feel anything.

ESTER: Okay. Let's get you over to the newspapers.

Ester attempts to maneuver Amy. She resists.

AMY: Don't fucking touch me--

ESTER: I'm sorry I have to touch you, I have to.

AMY (Screaming): Don't look at me!

ESTER: I have to look at you, please let me help, Amy, you can do this--It's just like a period, okay? Just some blood nothing to be ashamed of.

AMY: Don't look at me! Don't fucking look at me! Don't look at/ me!

ESTER: I'm going to move you over to the newspaper and then get my duffle bag so you can rest your back on it okay?

Ester attempts to move her again, getting blood all over her hands and body.

AMY: Don't touch me! Don't fucking touch me you fucking dyke!

Amy swats Ester away. They are caught in a moment of bodily struggle when there is a knock on the door. They freeze. The Janitor opens the door holding a mop handle in a wheeled bucket. Amy and Ester are frozen--deer in the headlights. The Janitor looks at them, also caught off guard. Ester realizes after the Janitor looks at her hands, that they are covered in blood. She puts them down. They both straighten themselves, though Amy has to support herself on Ester's body because of the pain.

JANITOR: I'm sorry, miss, I heard...

'They are frozen. Silence.

JANITOR: The pool closes--

ESTER: At eight.

We know. We're...

We're on the swim team.

The Janitor looks at Amy. He looks at Ester. Beat.

ESTER: We're doing a...

AMY: Thing.

ESTER: A thing for art class. An ostrich.

He looks at them again. Silence.

JANITOR: I'll come back in two hours to clean.

ESTER: Okay.

JANITOR: Then I lock the building.

ESTER: Okay.

Beat.

The Janitor nods. He exits. A short moment. Amy collapses on the ground, crying. Ester holds her. Amy begins to heave. She lets out a moan. Ester untangles herself from. Amy and gets her swim bag and props Amy's back up on it sitting on the newspapers. Amy tries to unbutton her shorts feverishly but she can't. Ester helps her and rolls them down with Amy's underwear.

AMY: Hold my hand.

Ester holds her hand. Amy is bleeding heavily onto the newspapers. Amy is in enormous pain. She cries and moans underneath her breath. Ester is crouched beside her, not caring that her pants are covered in blood, holding Amy's hand.

Ester looks between Amy's legs.

AMY (Crying, terrified): What the fuck is--

ESTER: It's okay. This is normal, you're just going into labor. It it's supposed to feel really bad. That's normal.

AMY: I don't--

ESTER: It's okay. You're going to be okay.

AMY: This isn't how I--this isn't how I was supposed to be.

ESTER: I know.

AMY: I can't--I can't do this--

ESTER: Yes you can.

AMY: I can't--this isn't--

ESTER: You're doing great.

AMY: I don't want--

ESTER: I know. I really do know.

AMY: Ahhh it fucking--

ESTER: I know.

AMY: It really fucking hurts--I want to cut it all off--

ESTER: Just breathe.

AMY (Really crying): I hate it. I fucking hate it--this isn't me.

I might have ah an amniotic fluid embolism, or ah uterine rupture?

ESTER: You're okay.

AMY (Slurring her words together): Abortifacient--what the fuck does any of that mean you know I don't know what it is, I tried to know, look it up online but I don't even--I secrete a protective mucus. What the fuck is a protective mucus? I don't even--the fuck can mucus protect you from anything?

ESTER: Just breathe, okay? You're going to be okay just breathe.

Amy lets out several escalating deep moans.

Throughout this exchange Amy is moaning and screaming and gasping for breath.

AMY: Tell me about--tell me about practice.

ESTER: Practice?

AMY: Fucking swim practice Ester.

ESTER (East): Oh um. It's good. Boring... we're just doing a lot of stuff with ah starts? And finishes. Oh! You missed, Brian tried to do something fun, because we had to stay late for a fire drill the day before so the next practice he tried to do something fun. I le dropped a watermelon on the bottom of the pool, the deep end, and he said he would get...are you--

AMY: Keep going, keep--

ESTER: Oh, yeah, okay. He said he would get ice cream for whoever got it--

AMY: Who got it?

ESTER: Oh. Me. I got it.

Yeah.

I mean I dropped it on the floor by accident, once I got it out of the pool. So I mostly just had to clean it up.

AMY: What was it like?

ESTER: The watermelon?

AMY: Yes--the fucking watermelon.

ESTER: Sticky? And pink? Lot of ah, of rind. With seeds. All over the tiles and some got in the pool. Like little floating chunks of pink ah...watermelon?

Amy screams.

ESTER: Are you ah--are you--oh that's some okay that's just some diarrhea I guess, which is line. Let's just--Amy look at me we have to move you so that it doesn't get inside you. It's nothing to be ashamed of, let's just move you a little.

Ester maneuvers her over.

ESTER: Okay yeah. So I dropped the watermelon, and a lot got into the pool and some girls had to like swim for them, and the cleaning guys got so mad at me, they had to drain the whole pool because of all the juice. And I ate some. One of the chunks. Reflexively I just ate some off of the tiles when nobody was looking cuz I didn't want to clean it up. And it tasted good. Kind of like chlorine, but good, sweet. And there were ah...shards of rind in the drain. We had to ah pick them out. With our hands from the drain.

Amy lets out a deep ay. Amy expels the fetus (we don't really see it).

ESTER: Okay. Great--you. Great. Amy is exhausted and cries.

ESTER: Hey--ah--let go for a sec.

Amy lets go of Ester's hand. Amy relaxes back. She is still breathing heavily but she seems to be in less pain. Ester takes a breath and takes some newspapers from the floor and wraps the thing in newspaper.

Ester takes the fetus wrapped in newspaper and exits to the bathroom stalls. The sound of a toilet flushing. Ester enters with wet paper towels. She wipes the sweat off of Amy's face.

ESTER: You're okay.

AMY: I'm...

ESTER: You did it.

AMY: I'm still bleeding.

ESTER: I know. You will for a while I think but that's okay.

Ester moves Amy over slightly and curls her body around Amy's. They lie there in the pool of blood. Amy is still panting. Ester holds Amy's hand. Amy closes her eyes. Silence. The sound of Amy breathing.

AMY (Almost under her breath): Let go.

ESTER: What?

AMY: Let go of my hand.

ESTER: No.

Blackout.

Amy and Ester are gone. The locker room is empty. The lights are dim. The Janitor walks in wheeling a bucket and a mop. Maybe he is listening to music on an MP3 player. He is not shocked, simply doing his job. He soaks the mop and then wrings it out. The sound of water. He begins to mop the stage. He puts the mop back in the bucket. He takes a moment to gather up some errant newspapers pushed to the corners and puts them in a trash bag. He goes into the bathroom and brings out a semi-full trash bag, and sets it next to the other bag. He begins mopping again. He wipes down the bench with a rag. He looks around, everything is clean. The Janitor exits to the bathroom area with the wheeling bucket, mop and bags.

SCENE VIII

Amy and Ester are sitting on the bench of the locker room. Amy is shaving Esters back and upper arms, while Ester reads from index cards. Her reading is stiff and presentational, like a child reciting for school.

ESTER: The history of draining the Everglades is a long and meaningful history.

The Everglades are a large and important part of Florida Bay. Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." The people during the 1800s did not take Einstein's wise advice, and wanted to drain the Everglades, an important piece of nature, so that people could live there.

Before human activity in the Everglades, the swamplands were as far as the eye could see--I plagiarized that.

AMY: Oh. I wouldn't be able to tell.

ESTER: Yeah? Okay, great.

(Reading again)

Many tried to drain the Everglades, an interesting topic that 1 will come back to in this presentation, but it wasn't until 1947 that it really happened.

(Looking up from the page)

Even places that don't look like there's hair.

AMY: What?

ESTER: Shave even the places that don't look like there's hair. The little hairs can still make like a millisecond of difference.

AMY: Yeah, I know. Keep going.

Beat.

ESTER: The Everglades were a place where many animals and plants lived. And then later some Indians called the Seminoles. And then after that--because the Seminoles were killed--the Americans, who killed them.

The interesting history of draining the Everglades shows that Florida used to be a lot of wet swamp, but now is the modern place with Jamba Juice that we--

AMY: Jamba Juices.

She writes a note on the index card.

ESTER: The modern place with Jamba Juices that we live in today.

Ester gives the index cards to Amy. Ester takes the razor and shaves the inside of her thighs carefully.

Amy's reading has a sweet edge of judgment.

AMY: But people didn't like the Everglades for the swamp it was. Early Americans didn't like that it was a swamp because it was hard to live in. A different kind of people liked it though, the Seminole Indians that I mentioned earlier in this presentation...

(Amy looks at Ester, who is not noticing)

The Seminoles, a tribe of Creeks who assimilated other peoples into their own peoples, made their living in the Everglades region after being forced there by the U.S. military in the Seminole Wars of around the 1800s. Almost 4,000 Seminoles were killed in the war or were removed.

ESTER: That too.

AMY: Oh. I think that that's fine. That's just a fact.

ESTER: Oh right yeah.

Ester takes the index cards back. She lies on the floor twirling the razor in one hand. Halfway through the last paragraph, Amy also gets on the floor and lies close to her.

ESTER: The U.S. military won the war, but was totally unprepared for the conditions they found in the Everglades. Solthers' legs, feet and

arms were cut open on the sawgrass and gangrene infection set in, taking many lives and limbs--that--

AMY: It's fine.

ESTER: Many died of mosquito-oriented illness. Although it was very difficult, as I have just demonstrated in this presentation, the Americans much later succeeded at draining the Everglades they were so afraid of. In 1947, Congress formed the Centra Florida Control Project--after all of the canals and levees and such, about half of the original Everglades has been turned into farms or towns. They even built an airport. In this way, it is amazing to think that everything we stand on now, the airports, the parking lots, the drugstores--used to just be the Everglades.

Beat.

Blackout.

SCENE IX

Ten or so girls from the swim team enter the locker room. There is a warm bustle in the atmosphere--the girls chat with each other, they take off their sweatshirts and shorts and roll them up and shove them in their lockers; they have swimsuits on. Ester and Amy are standing next to each other. They look relaxed. Ester is talking to another girl next to her; Ester leaves the locker room and wheels in an old TV on a cart; she maybe bumps into a girl and says something to her. She leaves it in the corner and changes out of her pants. Girls are putting swim caps over each other's heads and trickling into the pool area. There are maybe four girls left on stage including Ester and Amy. Ester and Amy are getting dressed for the pool slowly. They're laughing.

AMY: 1 think that by the time I'm twenty-seven I'll have really good cheese, like the stuff that you see on little tables in the supermarket, like not next to the string cheese or the cottage cheese cuz it's just like better than that you know? I'll have like a whole drawer full of it. Like Gouda, and cheddar--obviously--and goat maybe, with flecks of green shit in it.

ESTER: Herbs?

AMY: Yeah, herbs.

And I'll serve it to my friends when they come over and everybody will be like wow, this is really good cheese. And I'll have all my books next to my cheese. Like some old books, like classics, but also some new ones about like important world issues. Like wells. Like what it's like not having wells. And we'll talk about the books. And like we'll all read Raymond Carver and have debates about whether he was really that good or like if he just like wrote really short sentences and that was it.

ESTER: Will you play tennis?

AMY: No, I don't think so, no. Like I'm not saying that I want to be rich, I just want to be around people who care about things like books and cheese.

ESTER: I care about cheese.

AMY: No you don't.

ESTER: Yeah, I don't.

They laugh a bit.

ESTER: I like frozen mac-and-cheese. I guess that's different.

AMY: That's okay. You'll be the person who doesn't like cheese so it's not like all about the cheese.

ESTER: Okay good.

They smile at each other. By this time all of the other girls on the swim team have gone into the pool area.

AMY: Maybe I'll have a boyfriend, then, who lives in a ranch house.

ESTER: Yeah?

AMY: Or like a partner. That's what I'll call him.

ESTER: Isn't that mostly for gay people.

AMY: No, straight people too, who don't like labels.

ESTER: He'll be like a doctor, or a really smart accountant.

AMY: Yeah...I don't know what he'll do.

But he'll be really...nice.

And you'll like him a lot.

ESTER: Yeah.

Ester bends over, Amy stretches Ester's cap over her head. Amy then bends over and Ester does the same.

AMY: Okay, we're already so late we should go in.

ESTER: Yeah.

AMY: You still need to get into fucking college--can't have him riding you for "dawdling?

ESTER: Oh, yeah.

AMY: Don't you hate when he says that?

Dawdling? It reminds me of ducks.

ESTER: Yeah.

Beat.

ESTER: I got in.

AMY: Got in what?

ESTER: I got the letter yesterday. I don't know why I didn't tell you.

Beat.

AMY: Oh.

Oh. Wow. Congratulations.

ESTER: Yeah.

AMY: Wow.

ESTER: Yeah, I didn't expect to find out so soon.

AMY:...

ESTER: They sent me the DVD that they taped of me swimming. I beat my time by half a second in freestyle.

They also added this message at the end, from the girl who's going to be like my mentor on the team. It's kind of like in sororities when you have a "big." She seems really nice and pretty funny. She's from Arizona.

AMY: Arizona's nice.

ESTER: Yeah.

AMY: The Grand Canyon.

Beat.

ESTER: Yeah, that's why I brought the TV out of coach's office so we could all watch it after practice--some girls said that they wanted to watch it, so.

AMY: Oh. Cool.

An awkward beat.

ESTER: It isn't till next year. The whole summer.

AMY: Yeah.

(With longing in her voice) Punch me.

ESTER: What?

AMY: It was a joke--like I'm uh sad or something.

ESTER: Oh.

Beat.

ESTER: You can be / sad--

AMY: That's good that they filmed from underwater because you look so angry doing fly and coming up for air. Like you look like you're possessed by like a shark.

ESTER: Oh...yeah.

AMY: You know that thing when you make that face...

ESTER: Yeah...

Beat.

AMY: I...um...

Amy is about to say something maybe emotional.

Reba enters.

REBA: Oh. Hi guys. I thought I was super late.

Beat.

ESTER: You are.

REBA: I'm so full of Hawaiian pizza too--I ate like a whole box an hour ago. I don't even know if I can swim.

Beat.

ESTER: Cool.

REBA: Do I have pineapple in my teeth?

Reba goes up to Ester and shows her teeth.

ESTER: Oh no--you're good.

REBA: Fuck--it feels like little pieces of grass. Wait lemme just get changed.

Reba gets her cap and goggles from her locker. She quickly takes off her sweatpants, puts her hair in a bun and puts on her cap and goggles. Amy and Ester just stand there.

REBA (Into her locker): I saw my perverted uncle at the pizza place isn't that so weird? Amy you've met him. I mean he's not actually perverted perverted, but he has this little pube-y beard and like breathes really loudly. He kept on talking about my aunt is on a tomato juice diet or something? I don't know. I told him that that's probably like way too much salt you know?

Reba is done changing.

REBA: Okay!

Reba walks out and Ester and Amy follow. Beat on the empty locker room. Amy returns.

AMY (To offstage as she reenters): I just forgot my... Amy sits on the bench. Amy walks over to the TV and rolls it over to the bench. She sits with her back to the audience. She turns on the TV. We see the menu option for Ester's swim tape. Amy chooses play. On the screen, we see Ester dive into the water and then we see her swimming from the vantage point of underwater. Beat. Amy watches, then puts her head in her hands. We can see her back heave, we know that she is crying. A moment, she looks up and starts watching the video again. The lights slowly dim, so that the TV is just a lone, glowing square. Beat.

Blackout.

END OF PLAY

BY RUBY RAE SPIEGEL

Tina Ivlev as Ester, Sarah Mezzanotte as Amy, and ensemble in the world premiere of Dry Land, produced by Colt Coeur at HERE Arts Center, directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT Ruby Rae Spiegel's Dry Land premiered Off Broadway in 2014 in a sold-out, critically acclaimed run at Colt Coeur, following development at New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater Readings Festival and the Ojai Playwrights Conference. A finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the play has since gone on to be produced across the United States and in London. Ruby's play Carrie & Francine premiered in the Summer Shorts Festival in 2011 at 59E59 alongside work by Neil LaBute and Christopher Durang. Dubbed "the prodigy of Summer Shorts" by the Theatre Development Fund, she was a winner of Stephen Sondheim 's Young Playwrights Inc.'s National Playwriting Competition. She received the same award in 2010 for All Ye Know. Ruby currently writes for Netflix's forthcoming original series "The OA." She is a 2015 graduate of Yale University.

ABOUT THE PLAY The world premiere of Dry Land was produced by Colt Coeur (Adrienne Campbell-Holt, founding artistic director; Amy C. Ashton, managing director) at HERE Arts Center (Kristin Marting, artistic director; Kim Whitener, producing director) in New York City on September 6, 2014. It was directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt; scenic design was by John McDermott; lighting design was by Grant Yeager; costume design was by Ashley Rose Horton; sound design was by Amy Altadonna and the production stage manager was Sarah Devon Ford. The play was performed by Sarah Mezzanotte (Amy), Tina lvlev (Ester), Alice Kremelberg (Reba), Matthew Stadelmann (Victor) and Jim Ireland (Janitor). Dry Land opened at Company One Theatre (Shawn LaCount, artistic director; Sarah Shampnois, managing director) in Boston on October 2, 2015. It was directed by Steven Bogart; scenic design was by Courtney Nelson; lighting design was by Daisy Long; costume design was by Miranda Kau Giurleo; sound design was by Andrew Dun can Will; the dramaturg was Jessie Baxter and the production stage manager was Ariel Welch. The play was performed by Stephanie Recio (Amy), Eva Hughes (Ester), Alex Lonati (Reba), Kadahj Bennett (Victor), Paul Trainor (Janitor), Sophia Koevary (Ensemble), Ashley Wisneski (Ensemble), Karoline Xu (Ensemble) and Lauren Miller (Ensemble).

Dry Land is copyright [c] 2015 by Ruby Rae Spiegel. All inquiries regarding rights should be addressed to Scott Chaloff c/o William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, 11 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10019, SChaloff@wmeentertainment.com, (212) 586-5100. Professionals and amateurs are he re by warned that performances of Dry Land are subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan American Copyright Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproductions, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid upon the question of readings, permission for which must be secured from the author's agent in writing.
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Title Annotation:PLAYSCRIPT; interview with Ruby Rae Spiegel
Author:Hnath, Lucas
Publication:American Theatre
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2015
Words:16861
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