Fragment Friday: The Song That Set Her Free

As you may recall, Natalie and I participated in a community project to help support the arts in our local schools.

Natalie has shared her play with you, and I thought that I would share part of mine for Fragment Friday. There are a lot of things that I want to change in this 10 minute play. I see a lot of holes, character flaws and it may be a little over dramatic.

But it’s mine.

I took my writing and put it on display for strangers to see. I do that weekly with this blog. However, it is one thing to imagine readers sitting at their computer screen, it is quite another to have your words, actions, and ideas put on display in front of a living, breathing audience.

I sat in anonymity watching the play unfold before the spectators. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. The actors were outstanding. The director got to the heart of the matter in the play. And I? I felt as if there were a flashing light above my head, and yet, at the same time, completely invisible as I sat there with a group of people who did not know, that I was the playwright. I saw open, raw reaction. Looking back, I’m still amazed that I did it.

The play was taken from a piece of flash fiction which I wrote for the blog. I’ve since removed the piece because I’d like to work on it without having it…out. (Writers sometimes have strange relationships with their work.)

As always, comments, ideas, and feedback are welcome.

Now, on with the show….

The Song That Set Her Free

By Lori King

Leah: A traditional housewife and mother

Marty: A husband, an up and coming Lawyer

Jessica: Leah and Marty’s oldest daughter (age 11)

Patrick: Their second child (age 6)

Mary: Their third child (age 3)

Anne: Leah’s best friend

The Song That Set Her Free

(Leah, dressed in a full skirt and heels, is standing stage right, at a stove in a modest kitchen, flipping pancakes in the early morning. There is a table center stage fully set for breakfast. Five chairs surround the table. There is a laundry hamper, ironing board and some shelves stage right, down stage from the stove. A notebook and pen sit on the shelf among some other books. There is a sink upstage from the table and a box of laundry detergent sits next to it. Stage left and down stage sits a wooden rocking chair and a bar stool.)

MARTY:

(Enters stage right in a bathrobe and slippers. A towel is draped over his arm. His hair is messy. He yawns.)

Good morning. Are the kids still in bed?

LEAH:

I was just about to call them.

MARTY:

I have to get to work early today. We have a client first thing. Maybe I should just eat…

LEAH:

Marty, we don’t get very much family time because you’re so busy…

MARTY:

Okay, okay….but I’ve got to leave early so you’d better get them up.

(Marty exits stage left and the sound of a shower is heard. He begins to sing.)

LEAH:

Jessica? Jessica? It’s time to get up. Can you get your brother and sister dressed?

JESSICA:

(Enters stage right fully dressed.)

Yeah, mom.

I was already awake. I’ve been reading. Have you ever read Jane Eyre?

LEAH:

Yes! I loved it when I was your age!

JESSICA:

I love it! But Mr. Rochester seems mean.

LEAH:

Just keep reading. You’ll end up loving him. Now, please hurry and get the other kids up. Can you have them wash their face and hands? Daddy will be out of the shower in a minute and we’re going to sit down to breakfast.

JESSICA:

Sure Mom.

(Jessica exits stage right)

LEAH:

(Leah quickly finishes preparing for breakfast and begins to set out all of the food on the table.)

MARTY:

(Enters stage left, clean cut and shaved, dressed in a business suit.)

What’s for breakfast?

LEAH:

Pancakes, eggs, bacon and some fresh berries.

MARTY:

The pancakes are going to be cold before we eat. You should have gotten the kids up earlier.

LEAH:

(Sighs)

 I know. They’ll be here in a minute.

(She pours milk into glasses as they wait for the children to join them.)

(The children enter stage right noisily arguing about where to sit. A glass of milk gets spilled as they sit.)

MARTY:

Leah…

(He gestures to the mess on the table in disgust.)

LEAH:

(Hurries to wipe up the mess and calmly gets the children seated and the children begin to eat.)

MARTY:

Can I get some coffee?

(He shakes a coffee cup in Leah’s direction.)

LEAH:

(Hurries to fill the coffee cup, and speaks to the children periodically. Coaxing them to eat, to stay clean, to mind their manners as she cuts pancakes into bite size pieces for her youngest.)

Do you know what time you’ll be home from work?

MARTY:

Leah. It just depends on how long it takes. If I have a client come in late, I’ll be home late.

LEAH:

Will you call if you’re going to be late?

MARTY:

I will if I remember.

LEAH:

Does Kathleen stay with you when you stay late?

MARTY:

Of course she does, she’s my assistant.

LEAH:

I don’t like the way she talks to you.

MARTY:

This again, Leah? It’s nothing. It’s just the way she IS. She’s like that with everyone.

LEAH:

Well, ‘everyone’ isn’t my husband. You are.

MARTY:

What do you want me to do? She’s a valuable asset to the firm. I’m not going to fire her. You worry too much. We’re a busy firm; we need an assistant. That’s all there is to it. Speaking of, I’d better get out the door. I need to get to work.

(He wipes his mouth on a napkin, kisses the kids and begins to walk stage right. Before he exits he turns back.)

Tomorrow I’m going bowling with Hank. Can you make sure my bowling shirt is clean?

LEAH:

I’ll wash it right after breakfast.

MARTY:

Don’t forget. Last week I smelled like old socks.

(He grins at her and exits stage right.)

LEAH: (sighs) Okay kiddos. Let’s get breakfast cleaned up so that we can get to the park, okay?

(The children begin to assemble their dishes and carry them to the kitchen sink. Leah takes a shirt from the hamper, goes to the sink and begins to scrub laundry detergent into a stain.)

 THE SCENE ENDS

(Leah is sitting at the table with her best friend Anne. Two cups of coffee sit on the table. Several children play quietly stage left.)

LEAH:

I don’t know Anne. It’s just a feeling I get. He’ll never support me doing anything outside the house.

ANNE:

Leah, you put him through school, you gave him three kids, you fix his meals, you clean his clothes. He will be alright if you take some time to yourself. He can take care of the kids for one or two nights a week.

LEAH:

But he’s never done it before and he has such a short temper with the younger ones. He’ll put a lot of pressure on Jessica if I’m gone.

ANNE:

Give him a chance. Just tell him what you want.

LEAH:

I don’t think he’ll care.

ANNE:

Why don’t you tell me what you want? Maybe it will help you clarify it with Marty.

LEAH:

(takes a deep breath)

When I was in high school, Mr. Hammond, my English teacher, told me I should write. He loved my stories and encouraged me to submit some of my work to magazines. I published a few short stories and won a few competitions. It felt wonderful! When I was writing, I felt like I was fulfilling a purpose, like I was communicating from my soul. I want to do it again. I want to start writing!

ANNE:

Leah, you deserve to do this! When you tell Marty, he’s going to ask you how you’re going to do it because you’re both so busy.

LEAH:

If he can watch the kids for two nights a week, I’d be able to get a lot of writing done. I could get dinner on the table and then go to the library for a couple hours. It wouldn’t take long before I had a few stories to send in, or even a book. I just need two nights a week.

ANNE:

That doesn’t sound like a lot to ask.

LEAH:

He’d have to clean up dinner.

ANNE:

It wouldn’t hurt him. He’s a grown man. He can clean up after himself and his children a couple of nights a week.

LEAH:

But what about Jessica?

ANNE:

She’ll be okay. Just make sure Marty knows that HE needs to be the one who takes care of things. He can’t just sit and read his paper. He needs to help her. If you set up a schedule, the rest of the family can pitch in to help.

LEAH:

I don’t know. It’s time for my children to begin to pursue their dreams. The time to pursue mine has already passed. Jessica loves to sing. I want her to keep doing that if her heart tells her she should. The time for me to make the decision to write a novel was made when I said ‘I do’ to Marty. He will never support me in this. Some decisions we make are permanent.

ANNE:

(thinks for a moment and then replies)

Leah, how are you going to teach your children to go after their dreams if you don’t go after yours?

LEAH:

(Looking over at the children as they play.)

I can’t, can I.

ANNE:

Just tell him. He’ll hear you out.

LEAH:

I hope so.

END SCENE

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Fragment Friday

We have some exciting news! Each Friday we will be sharing a small portion of our writing with you. We’ll have essays, fiction, articles, poems…everything. We encourage you to provide feedback. Tell us where you think the story is going to go. Let us know what we did right, what we could do together, what you liked and what you didn’t.

Tonight I am sharing with you a short piece of a story I began about 7 months ago.

Yellow

Luke leaned his aging body over a monstrous engine tightening a bolt into place. He sighed, put his hands inside the pockets of his overalls and starred at the machine for a moment before he retrieved a tiny notebook, opened it and checked several figures.

He went to the glass container filled with a clear yellowish liquid and opened a valve. The Lukefluid dripped slowly into the machine. Tiny bubbles floated up through the liquid bursting as they came to the top.

Walking around to a key and a large red button, Luke simultaneously turned the key and pushed the button. The engine coughed and then produced a constant rumbling growl.

Luke yelled with enthusiasm and despite his age leapt into the air.

“I’ve done it!” he said in his thick Irish accent as he turned to his basset hound. “Do you smell that? It’s clean and sweet. We’ve made it, boy! We’ve made it!”

The dog answered by wagging his tail and rolling to his back.

Luke turned off the machine and yelled over to his lounging puppy. “Hey, boy, let’s go make a phone call.” He climbed the creaking stairs which were coated with flaking, waxy residue.

The dog, realizing he wasn’t going to get his belly rubbed followed his master up the stairs.

Luke dialed his nephew’s number, forgetting to check what time it would be on the east coast of the United States.

“Hello?” a groggy female voice came across the phone.