About the Play
28 Light Years From Now by Rachel Bykowski is the 2020 winner of SETC’s Charles M. Getchell New Play Contest.
SYNOPSIS: 28 Light Years From Now is a play about mothers, daughters, regret and time travel. In 1942, Josie and Fran’s love is tested when Fran reveals she is leaving to help the war effort with the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.) Josie, unable to move past her family’s painful history with war, deserts Fran and never speaks to her again, eventually hearing of Fran’s death in the war. Then, 28 years later, Josie receives a letter from Fran’s grown daughter, Annabelle, who found an old photo of Josie and her mother, who actually passed away only recently. Josie sets off to meet Annabelle, leaving her daughter, life and the present behind to revisit the past one more time as she attempts to fix her broken heart from 28 years ago.
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
PRESENT JOSIE: 47-48 years-old, exists in the time of 1969-1970.
MADDIE: 20-21 years-old, Josie’s daughter, exists in the time of 1969-1970.
ANNABELLE: 23-24 years-old, Fran’s daughter, exists in the time of 1969-1970.
(The actor who plays Maddie also plays all of 1930’s and 1940’s Josie. The actor who plays Annabelle, also plays all of 1930’s and 1940’s Fran)
A secluded field in the Midwest during the 1930’s and 1940’s that is renovated into an industrial parking lot in 1969-1970.
Josie’s kitchen and Maddie’s bedroom in 1969.
Fran’s old bedroom in a small town a few miles outside of Anzio, Italy in 1969-1970.
The set pieces are minimal and should be easy to move on and off stage. The only room with a little more detail should be the bedroom in Italy. There’s a window frame draped with rose pink curtains and the bedroom should give off the hue of lavender.
For the most part, the stage should be fluid, like the space between time.
The play jumps between the past and present. The past is 1930’s and 1940’s and the present is 1969-1970.
Any time there is a letter in a projection it signifies the letter was written sometime in the past. It could be a few days, weeks, months, or 28 years ago. When Maddie writes her letters, they are in the present and do not require a projection.
CONTACT FOR PRODUCTION:
Rachel Bykowski © 2020
Stellar Nebula: A nebula is a giant cloud of dust and gas in space. The gas and dust are created when a star dies, explodes, and launches the gas and dust into space. From this violent death and sacrifice of one star, another star can be born.
July 1942 in a clearing surrounded by dense trees. It’s late at night and that’s a good thing because only the stars can keep secrets. 1942 JOSIE sits in the middle of the field holding a flashlight. She is dressed in her nursing uniform and is noticeably hot from the summer night. She has been waiting for quite some time. She might play with the flashlight’s beam to occupy herself; turning it on and off. Suddenly, a beam from another flashlight appears and startles 1942 JOSIE. She stays quiet and turns her flashlight on and off three times. The other beam answers by turning its light on and off three times. 1942 FRAN enters carrying her flashlight. She is wearing an oversized jacket, far too warm for the July weather. Silence.
The two stand in each other’s beams of light. They circle, moving faster and faster, as the gas and dust swirls tightly together.
1942 JOSIE: Where have you been?
1942 FRAN: To the stars and back.
1942 JOSIE: You said one or two nights.
1942 FRAN: It’s hard to tell time when you’re with the stars.
1942 JOSIE: I almost went home.
1942 FRAN: The stars were watching you.
1942 JOSIE: Staying out // until sunrise.
1942 FRAN: I hitched a ride on the first shooting star.
1942 JOSIE: It’s not like I have work // in the morning or anything.
1942 FRAN: I traveled at the speed of light to get here.
1942 JOSIE: I was worried. Those buses, they break down // all the time.
1942 FRAN: Nothing is more reliable than a star.
1942 JOSIE: I can’t wait for you.
1942 FRAN grabs 1942 JOSIE and plants a longing, passionate kiss on her lips. The stars burst to life.
1942 JOSIE: I thought about going to your parents-
1942 FRAN: -You didn’t!
1942 JOSIE: Well, that woke you up.
1942 FRAN: Josie…
1942 JOSIE: I didn’t.
1942 FRAN: I will always meet you here at our kiss.
1942 JOSIE: They’re going to meet me when we move in together.
1942 FRAN: Roommates…
1942 JOSIE: It’s a start. Realistic.
1942 FRAN: I want to keep dreaming.
1942 JOSIE: How’s your gram?
1942 FRAN: Fine. She was happy I came to see her. What lie did you tell your mom to let you stay out so late.
1942 JOSIE: I’m a twenty-year-old woman, Fran. I don’t need to tell my ma-
FRAN rolls her eyes as if to say, “Yeah, right.”
1942 JOSIE: …I told her you and Daniel broke-up.
1942 FRAN: What!? Why the hell would you say that?
1942 JOSIE: I’ve been staying out ‘til midnight for days. You want me to tell my ma, “Oh, Ma, Fran just wants to grab ANOTHER late-night coffee. Be back before sunrise.”
1942 FRAN: But why Daniel?
1942 JOSIE: People think the only reason girls meet late at night is to cry over boys. Daniel had to go.
1942 FRAN: But he was the perfect cover, Josie!
1942 JOSIE: We’ll make up another boyfriend for you. Or maybe, in a sudden turn of events, Daniel comes crawling back to you on his hands and knees. Saying how wrong he was for ever leaving you.
1942 FRAN: And I take him back?
1942 JOSIE: Of course you do! Did you not hear me say, “Crawling on his hands and knees…?”
1942 FRAN: That would never happen. I would NEVER take someone back after they left me. Once you’re gone, then you’re gone for good. Scorched earth policy, baby.
1942 JOSIE: Aren’t you sweating in that thing?
1942 FRAN: Oh, it’s okay.
1942 JOSIE: It’s over eighty degrees even at night.
1942 JOSIE starts to playfully unbutton 1942 FRAN’s coat. 1942 FRAN stops her.
1942 FRAN: What are you doing?
1942 JOSIE: Well, we are at the kiss.
1942 FRAN: Seriously, stop…
1942 JOSIE: What’s wrong?
1942 FRAN: Look, tonight is not like any other night.
1942 JOSIE: Okay…?
1942 FRAN: Tonight, Josie, tonight, we are going to travel through space and time.
1942 JOSIE: I don’t want to dream anymore. I want something I can feel.
1942 FRAN: You watch. I’m about to make this dream a reality. I finally see everything coming together. I see my future so clearly; I can touch it.
1942 JOSIE: You just started secretarial school. I think you need to slow down.
1942 FRAN: About that…
1942 JOSIE: What? No…
1942 FRAN: Josie, please, let me explain-
1942 JOSIE: -You promised me.
1942 FRAN: I know what I // promised you-
1942 JOSIE: Nursing school. Two years! We helped each other through our programs for two years. Then, you tell me the week before you graduate you just, “Aren’t interested anymore.”
1942 FRAN: No. I said it wasn’t enough. What do you do as a nurse? You take care of sick people all day and for what? For another sick person to roll right in, and then another, and another? What kind of impact are we really making?
1942 JOSIE: We are healing people. Not everyone can do that. It takes a special gift to put someone else’s needs before your own.
1942 FRAN: I promised you whatever I did, I would make you proud.
1942 JOSIE: You know what makes me proud? A steady paycheck!
1942 FRAN: Just listen, actually, no, look.
1942 FRAN takes 1942 JOSIE gently by the chin and directs her attention to the night sky.
1942 FRAN: Do you see it?
1942 JOSIE: I see stars.
1942 FRAN: Yeah, but one in particular…that one, right there, just left of the Big Dipper’s handle.
1942 JOSIE: It’s pretty.
1942 FRAN: It’s yours.
1942 FRAN gets down on one knee to propose.
1942 JOSIE: What the hell are you doing?
1942 JOSIE: What the hell are you doing?
1942 FRAN: There are so many stupid reasons we can’t be together. Well, I say they’re all manmade laws. When you marry someone, you marry them in the eyes of the universe. So, no, I didn’t buy you some manmade ring, to fit in some manmade law I don’t give a shit about. I bought you an eye from the universe.
1942 JOSIE: You can’t buy a star.
1942 FRAN: Sure can! And I did! One of the girls in my class, her boyfriend is studying astronomy at some university. Anyway, she said all I had to do was give her ten dollars-
1942 JOSIE: -What?! Fran! Ten dollars! Are // you crazy?!
1942 FRAN: And she’ll pass it along to her boyfriend and then bam…a star.
1942 JOSIE: Sounds more like you just got swindled out of ten dollars.
1942 FRAN: Can you please just dream with me for a little bit?
1942 JOSIE: Give me something for when I wake up. Something real.
1942 FRAN: Look, the paper came in the mail and everything.
1942 FRAN takes out a piece of paper from her coat pocket.
1942 FRAN: Look at that official astronomy department header. He even gave me some information on the star too. He drew the diagram of where it was located – right at the tip of the Dipper’s handle, about thirty-two-point-two degrees to the left. He said, if the weather cooperates, it’ll be the brightest star in the sky and boy, was he right.
They stand in the light of star. 1942 JOSIE continues to read the paper.
1942 JOSIE: You named the star “my heart.”
1942 FRAN: Well, yeah…it makes sense when we are standing in our kiss and you can see our star perfectly.
1942 JOSIE: I hope that girl took her beau out somewhere nice with that ten.
1942 FRAN: We’re dreaming now.
1942 JOSIE: Do I get my lavender bedroom?
1942 FRAN: With rose pink curtains that border your window and a view of the sea.
1942 JOSIE closes her eyes and imagines hearing the ocean.
1942 JOSIE: I can smell the salt.
1942 FRAN: I’ll take you swimming in it one day.
1942 JOSIE: You know what would really be great? If I got my mom’s hairpin back.
1942 FRAN: It’s not fixed yet.
1942 JOSIE: It’s been nine years! My mom still believes some girl beat me up for it.
1942 FRAN: Well, I technically did beat you…
1942 JOSIE: It was a draw.
1942 FRAN: Do I get an answer?
1942 JOSIE: With the universe as my witness, I do.
They euphorically kiss.
1942 JOSIE: You know, for a scam artist, he really did go into detail on that “official paper.”
1942 FRAN: We’re not done dreaming. He said the star was somewhere between twenty or thirty light years away. Let’s compromise and say that star is twenty-eight light years away. I know, not very scientific, but I bought that star, it’s mine, I can say whatever the hell I want, and that star is twenty-eight light years away.
1942 JOSIE: Okay, okay…
1942 FRAN: It takes twenty-eight years for that star’s light to travel all the way to earth so we can see it right now.
1942 JOSIE: So, the light we are actually seeing is…from…twenty-eight years…in the past?
1942 FRAN: Well, a light year is more of a unit of distance not time, but we’re dreaming right now so…What were you doing twenty-eight years ago?
1942 JOSIE: Nothing. We weren’t even born yet.
1942 FRAN: Right, right, but it was the beginning of us, right? Twenty-eight years ago, your parents met, later got married-
1942 JOSIE: -So did yours.
1942 FRAN: Shotgun wedding. Not nearly as romantic as your parents.
1942 JOSIE: More tragic than romantic.
The beginning was romantic. Young nurse takes care of ailing Great War solider. Saves him from his bedside-
1942 JOSIE: -‘Til she couldn’t save him anymore…
1942 FRAN: I didn’t mean to-
1942 JOSIE: -No, no, I need to stop. I’m ruining my own wedding. Let’s focus on your parents. They created a scandal. That was exciting.
1942 FRAN: I owe her, Josie.
1942 JOSIE: She loves you.
1942 FRAN: In her way. She raised me, sheltered me, fed me …
1942 JOSIE: I would love to meet her.
1942 FRAN: She married a man she fell out of love with because of me.
1942 JOSIE: High school sweethearts got into some trouble. What other option did she have?
1942 FRAN: That’s a nightmare.
1942 JOSIE: She sacrificed for you.
1942 FRAN: I won’t let that go to waste. This locket used to be so heavy, but now, I don’t have to carry it anymore…
1942 FRAN takes a locket out of her pocket and hands it to 1942 JOSIE. The winds shift and push dense clouds into the sky that dim the stars.
1942 JOSIE: Where are you going?
1942 FRAN moves away from 1942 JOSIE and starts to slowly unbutton her coat to reveal a WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) uniform.
1942 FRAN: I was sitting in class and I’m typing and typing. Pressing the keys as hard as I could because I wanted them to make an impression. I wanted what I was doing to mean something. I looked over my work and I realized it meant nothing. I am typing absolute nonsense. I left the classroom and I saw this flier with a woman in uniform and she looked…proud. Like what she was doing had purpose. The flier said, “I’d rather be with them, than waiting.”
1942 JOSIE: …you, you told me… you told me you had to go out of town to visit your grandma.
1942 FRAN: I told my parents that too. I bought a bus ticket and 14 hours later, I was in Des Moines at the Women’s Army Corps headquarters. They interviewed me, fitted me, and assigned me my living quarters, but I told them…I asked if I could have some time because there are people back home… They gave me 48 hours.
1942 JOSIE: …you said your grandma was sick-
1942 FRAN: -My dad, he cried. And in his tears, I saw my mom’s reflection and she looked relieved. She didn’t need to convince him anymore. I would carry his name on this uniform and all those options she sacrificed when I came into this world that pressured her to squeeze into the status quo…I can burst free and make my own status quo for her.
1942 JOSIE: There are other ways to do that.
1942 FRAN: Like what? Our country is at war with evil. Please…look at the light.
1942 JOSIE looks at the star.
1942 FRAN: Twenty-eight years from now, what do you want to remember about this moment?
1942 JOSIE: I’m waking up.
1942 FRAN: Josie…
1942 JOSIE: No, no, you don’t get…you do not get to build me a future in one second then, tear it apart in the next.
1942 FRAN: It’s just Des Moines-
1942 JOSIE: -Iowa. A fourteen-hour drive…we both live twenty minutes, TWENTY MINUTES from our kiss and even those twenty minutes apart are agony for me.
1942 FRAN: This is important to me. I thought you would understand.
1942 JOSIE: I understand that once again you made an impulse decision without concern for anyone but yourself.
1942 FRAN: Don’t say that. If you saw the look on my parents’ faces-
1942 JOSIE: -What about me!? What about my face right now?
1942 FRAN: I have to do this, Josie. Iowa is just training.
1942 JOSIE: And what about after training? You know how I feel about war. Do you know what it does to people?
1942 FRAN: They will never send women into combat-
1942 JOSIE: -My father fought in the Great War and when he came back, my mother…she said he was different than other men. The effects of that war tore them apart.
1942 FRAN: They still loved each other. She was patient, she took care of him-
1942 JOSIE: -Her love couldn’t stop his finger from pulling the trigger could it?
1942 FRAN: That’s not going to happen to me.
1942 JOSIE: So, what? You leave? You get to run off on this spontaneous fantasy of playing little girl solider and what am I supposed to do? Just sit here and wait?
1942 FRAN: Be proud of me. Support me.
1942 JOSIE: For how long?
1942 FRAN: I don’t know…When the war is over-
1942 JOSIE: -And when is that exactly?
1942 FRAN: We can write to each other.
1942 JOSIE: No, I’m sorry, but I refuse to have a relationship with a piece of paper.
1942 FRAN: So, so what? I’m supposed to choose?
1942 JOSIE: Looks like you already made your choice. God damn it, Fran. Our lives are already complicated enough. When people see us walking on the street together, I feel their eyes…Your family doesn’t even know I exist.
1942 FRAN: That can all change with time. The world is changing, Josie. It can’t be this way forever.
1942 JOSIE: I told you, I’m awake. I’m not dreaming anymore.
1942 FRAN: One day, we will be able to tell more than just the stars.
1942 JOSIE: Tell your parents about me.
1942 FRAN: Not yet-
1942 JOSIE: -Not yet? You just married me. We are married in the eyes of the universe.
1942 FRAN: It’s not that simple.
1942 JOSIE: My mom knows about you.
1942 FRAN: She knows what you tell her.
1942 JOSIE: I’ll tell her right now.
1942 JOSIE holds out her hand.
1942 JOSIE: Come on, I’ll walk you right to my front door, sit you down in my living room, and say, “Ma, this is Fran, my wife.”
1942 FRAN: You wouldn’t.
1942 JOSIE: I love you. I will dream with you and believe in lavender rooms with the pink curtains and the ocean outside my window. I will believe you can buy a star. I will believe we can travel through space and time if you take me to your parents right now. I need something real for when I wake up.
1942 FRAN: All I’m asking for is a couple of weeks or months. Maybe a year or two at most! Do you understand how microscopic a couple of years are in the lifespan of a star?
1942 JOSIE: But I’m not a star.
1942 FRAN: Don’t say that. Please, Josie, please I’m begging you. Please. I love you more than anything else in this world. You are my heart.
1942 JOSIE: I’m awake now.
They turn off their flashlights to blackout.
End of Stellar Nebula.
Protostar: Gravity begins to pull together, creating immense pressure and heat. Radiation emits from the center ball of energy and travels into space.
Twenty-seven years into the future from Stellar Nebula. It is July, 1969. Two chairs and a small kitchen table with a radio is wheeled on stage. We are in PRESENT JOSIE’s kitchen. PRESENT JOSIE enters played by a different actor. PRESENT JOSIE is coming home from her night shift at the hospital dressed in her RN uniform. She is exhausted and falls into the kitchen chair to relax. She turns on the radio and searches for a local station. After she settles on a station and lets the music play softly in the background, she looks up and yells.
PRESENT JOSIE: Maddie?!
No one answers. PRESENT JOSIE checks her watch.
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m too early.
A radio broadcaster announces the following. During the ad, PRESENT JOSIE looks at her table, which has never been polished, and wipes her finger across it.
RADIO BROADCAST: This news report is brought to you by our sponsors at Johnson Wax. “In today’s world, a woman’s greatest threat is not overseas, but right in her own home. Week after week, a woman polishes her furniture and ends up polishing the polish and not the furniture. Cut through old polish with Favor and watch your furniture shine.”
PRESENT JOSIE: Who has time to polish?
A recording of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon begins to play. You can use this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9WDsgCIroE. PRESENT JOSIE turns up the volume.
PRESENT JOSIE: I wonder if the stars look the same up there?
RADIO BROADCAST: With a single step, Armstrong has made history. Not just for himself, but for all of us. Suddenly, the stars are within our grasp. All we need to do now is take action and stretch out our arms.
We hear a door opening and closing offstage. PRESENT JOSIE turns down the volume.
PRESENT JOSIE: Should of used the window!
MADDIE, played by the same actor who played 1942 JOSIE, creeps onstage. It is obvious she was out the night before.
MADDIE: You’re home early, Ma.
PRESENT JOSIE: I finished my rounds and the hospital said I could go. Did you sleep well?
MADDIE: I was out, um, getting the mail.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh, of course. And what a nice outfit to get the mail in too. Well, give it here.
MADDIE: We didn’t get any.
PRESENT JOSIE: That’s strange. Let me go check and see if you missed anything.
MADDIE: No, just…I went out last night-
PRESENT JOSIE: -I’m aware.
MADDIE: We were watching the moon landing and I might of had a little too much to drink, so, they let me stay the night.
PRESENT JOSIE: I see. How responsible of you. Which little friend let you stay?
PRESENT JOSIE: Mary? Mary Jones?
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh, you know, that reminds me, Mrs. Jones borrowed one of my baking pans. I should call and thank her for taking care of you and then ask for the pan back-
MADDIE: -No! That’s okay. I already thanked her and I can pick up the pan later.
PRESENT JOSIE: That’s sweet, but I really should thank her. From one mom to another-
MADDIE: -No! Just stop… I did go out with a friend last night-
PRESENT JOSIE: -And did the friend happen to be Jason Terra Jr.?
MADDIE: I’m not always with Jason.
PRESENT JOSIE: Let’s see if Mr. Terra left me a little surprise.
PRESENT JOSIE walks up to MADDIE and flicks MADDIE’s hair away from her neck to reveal a hickey.
PRESENT JOSIE: You got another love bite on your neck. At least he’s consistent.
MADDIE: Can I explain?
PRESENT JOSIE: Explain what? How you snuck off in the middle of the night to meet up with Mr. Jason Terra Jr. at some undisclosed location to have a little roll in the field…? Is that about right?
MADDIE: You think you know everything.
PRESENT JOSIE: I was young once too. But at least I was discreet. I never came home with marks on my body. That’s how gossip starts.
MADDIE: I. AM. A. SEXUAL. BEING. MOTHER!
PRESENT JOSIE: Go get me the mail for real, Sexual Being.
MADDIE huffs and storms out. PRESENT JOSIE stretches her muscles and hums to whatever song is playing. MADDIE reenters with the mail and slaps it on the table.
MADDIE: I wasn’t out with Jason last night.
PRESENT JOSIE: But your neck-
MADDIE: -That’s like two days old.
PRESENT JOSIE: What?-
MADDIE: -I need you to listen // to me.
PRESENT JOSIE: Where did you go last night?
MADDIE: Ma…I’ve been thinking about nursing school.
PRESENT JOSIE: You have a year left.
MADDIE: What if it’s not enough?
PRESENT JOSIE: Enough?
MADDIE: I hate nursing school.
PRESENT JOSIE: Yes, the school part was not my favorite either, but you’ll love being a nurse.
MADDIE: Have you ever wondered what life would have been like if you made a different choice?
PRESENT JOSIE: I like what I do.
MADDIE: All we do is take care of sick people day in and day out. What impact are we really making?
PRESENT JOSIE: We come from a long line of healers.
MADDIE: What if….I just took some time off – Don’t //freak out-
PRESNT JOSIE: Time off? Where is this coming from? // Time off-
MADDIE: Can you stop acting like this?
PRESENT JOSIE: I am acting like your mother. This is Jason’s idea, isn’t?
MADDIE: My idea…but Jason did offer his support while I figure things out.
PRESENT JOSIE: His “support?”
MADDIE: He loves me.
PRESENT JOSIE: Who wouldn’t?
MADDIE: He said he’d help me get on my feet.
PRESENT JOSIE: Money.
PRESENT JOSIE: I can assist you. You don’t need Jason and his Daddy’s money.
MADDIE: Ma, your savings is a wad of cash you hide in a pistachio ice cream container in the freezer.
PRESENT JOSIE: You snoop! Why are you even looking at pistachio? You hate pistachio.
MADDIE: I love pistachio.
PRESENT JOSIE: Since when?
MADDIE: Look, I haven’t made a decision on anything yet, but whatever I do, I want it to matter. I want you to be proud.
RADIO BROADCASTER: We interrupt our program to bring you this special news report on the war in Vietnam.
PRESENT JOSIE: Proud…? Maddie, what happened? Who were you with-
MADDIE springs to the radio and turns up the volume.
RADIO BROADCASTER: The death toll rises to an estimated 10,000 American soldiers dead or missing as the controversial war rages in Vietnam. President Nixon announced his firm belief of the continued training of the South Vietnamese forces to combat the North Vietnamese communist takeover. American troops are needed to assist and prepare the South Vietnamese, but for how long and how many lives, Mr. President?
Music returns to the radio. MADDIE tries to digest the information.
PRESENT JOSIE: I hope Jason is happy.
PRESENT JOSIE: -I can’t believe you are dating someone who worked on that man’s campaign. Especially when you voted for the other guy-
MADDIE: -Ma!… Marcus’s number was drawn.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh my God. What? How?
MADDIE: What do you mean, how?
PRESENT JOSIE: They just shipped her other boy back in a body bag.
MADDIE: I know.
PRESENT JOSIE: They can’t do that to a mother…they just-
MADDIE: -The draft doesn’t care. As long as you have sons-
PRESENT JOSIE: – I should call Rosie.
MADDIE: No! Ma! No! I promised Marcus I wouldn’t say anything.
PRESENT JOSIE: I helped her bring both those boys into this world.
MADDIE: I know. I know! But Mrs. Centauri hasn’t told anyone. When Marcus told me, he made me swear.
PRESENT JOSIE: When does he leave?
MADDIE: Today. I was with him last night. We went to this middle of nowhere diner so we could be alone. Be yourselves. We ordered our favorite; breakfast for dinner, but I don’t know, when we were finished with our pancakes and eggs, all my hands could do was pay the check.
PRESENT JOSIE : I’m so sorry, Maddie.
MADDIE: What if something happens? What if Marcus gets hurt or-
PRESENT JOSIE: -You can’t think that way. As of today, Marcus is alive with a belly full of pancakes and eggs. Thinking about what could happen won’t save them if…I lost someone in the war. The day my friend left to join the fight in Europe I shut down, but that didn’t spare me any pain when I got the news my friend died on the battlefield. We can’t travel through time and see the future. So, you focus on the present. Marcus is alive. Understand?
MADDIE: But what can I DO?
PRESENT JOSIE: There’s not much else we can do.
PRESENT JOSIE sifts through the mail. There is one letter that catches her attention.
MADDIE: So, that’s it? I just told you my best friend since birth is shipped off to Vietnam // and you’re concerned about the mail?
PRESENT JOSIE: Who do I know in London? Maddie, what do you want me to do? We have to wait.
MADDIE: I can’t stand waiting.. You know why I hate nursing school? Because it’s easy. It’s so easy for me – the anatomy, the definitions, the medicine – all of it is so easy. I want to DO something, Ma. I want to get my hands dirty. Make a real impact, not just on one patient, but on the world. I want a challenge.
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m not against you becoming a doctor.
MADDIE: You are so frustrating!
PRESENT JOSIE: Maddie, we are living in a world where people are walking on the moon. The moon, Maddie! When I was your age…I thought the stars were out of reach.
MADDIE: The moon’s not a star.
MADDIE heads for the door.
PRESENT JOSIE: Where are you going?
PRESENT JOSIE: You just got home and you have a hickey on your neck. You can’t go out.
MADDIE: I’m not going to stand in this room while you talk about walking on the moon and touching stars while my friend is on the earth.
PRESENT JOSIE: When will you be home?
MADDIE: I’m twenty!
MADDIE exits slamming the door behind her. PRESENT JOSIE attempts to shake off her frustration and returns to the mail. She looks at the letter from London with confusion and curiosity. After a moment she opens the envelope. She begins to read the letter. A projection of the letter appears and ANNABELLE’s voiceover is heard.
ANNABELLE (V.O.): Dear Ms. Josephine Rigel, I hope this letter finds you well. I apologize for how long it took me to find you. I live in London and locating a person across an ocean is no easy task. My mother, Fran Vega, passed away in the Spring. Her and I lost touch when I was a young girl. However, I received a letter and a box full of possessions from her life in America. I found a picture of you with Fran that I enclosed with this letter. I don’t quite understand the significance of your relationship to Fran, but I’m hoping you can help me better understand who Fran was as I put her to rest.
PRESENT JOSIE grips the letter in her hands in complete shock. She opens the envelope and takes out the photo. We see a projection of the picture. It is a photo of 1942 Josie with Fran. They are sitting on a porch. Fran is resting her head on Josie’s shoulder with her eyes closed and Josie is looking down on her lovingly.
PRESENT JOSIE flips over the photo. The projector displays the handwritten caption “Me and Josephine Rigel (My heart). June, 1942.”
Lights fade to a tight spot on PRESENT JOSIE staring at the photo. The music on the radio changes to a popular love song from the 40’s. 1942 FRAN enters dressed in her WAAC uniform. PRESENT JOSIE turns and faces 1942 FRAN.
PRESENT JOSIE: Where did you go?
1942 FRAN: Come, dream with me.
End of scene one.
Lights up on a room filled with open boxes. It is October,1969. MADDIE enters the room carrying a heavy box. She looks around for a place to put it, but is having no luck finding space.
MADDIE: You have got to be joking!
The box is heavy. She needs to put it down. She kicks a few boxes out of the way and drops the box in the new opening. As she drops the box, we hear something break.
MADDIE rips open the box and begins to look for what is broken. She pulls out a picture frame with Josie and her ex-husband on their wedding day.
PRESENT JOSIE enters.
PRESENT JOSIE: Don’t open the boxes!
MADDIE: Nice to see you too. You’re welcome for bringing this over.
PRESENT JOSIE: Thank you. But please, just don’t touch anything. I have a system for keeping track of what’s important.
PRESENT JOSIE: What have you got there?
MADDIE: I’m sorry. The box was really heavy, and I dropped it.
MADDIE hands PRESENT JOSIE the broken picture.
MADDIE: You and Daddy looked so young when you got married.
PRESENT JOSIE: We were. Very young.
PRESENT JOSIE drops the photo in a trashcan and starts to look through the box.
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m sorry, Maddie. I need to focus on what’s important.
MADDIE fishes the frame out of the trash.
MADDIE: Okay, well, maybe you don’t want it, but I would like to show my future daughter who her grandparents were when they were younger.
PRESENT JOSIE: Young and dumb.
MADDIE: History. MY history. Where I came from.
PRESENT JOSIE: You came from two people who tried to do what society told us to do. Come home from war, get married, have some kids. No one said anything about compatibility or happiness.
MADDIE: You should find someone who makes you happy.
PRESENT JOSIE: Why? I got you.
MADDIE: You should find someone who makes you feel the way Jason makes me feel.
PRESENT JOSIE: I woke up from that dream. Besides Jason is a little too, rich for my taste.
MADDIE: Daddy likes Jason.
PRESENT JOSIE: Your father also likes 24-year-old secretaries that look like they just started menstruating yesterday.
MADDIE: Shelley is okay if you got to know her.
PRESENT JOSIE: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen your father happy. If Shelley makes him happy, then great. I just have no idea what a 24-year-old girl and a 50-year-old man have in common that’s not in the bedroom.
PRESENT JOSIE: Are there anymore boxes?
MADDIE: Don’t know if we can fit anymore. I can see I’ve lost my bed.
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m sorry, I just figured since you spend the school year with your father, I could spread out in here.
MADDIE: I didn’t realize that meant I was getting evicted from your home.
PRESENT JOSIE: You’re not getting evicted. BUT, for now, I just need some room to work. So…?
MADDIE: There’s one more box downstairs.
PRESENT JOSIE: Thank you.
PRESENT JOSIE exits to retrieve the box. MADDIE takes in the chaos of her bedroom. She becomes curious and decides to riffle through the open box. She pulls out a wedding dress and holds it up to her body. She enjoys the feel of the fabric and the way it looks against her. PRESENT JOSIE enters with a box.
PRESENT JOSIE: What did I say?
MADDIE: This is like an antique.
PRESENT JOSIE: Thanks.
MADDIE: No, I mean, it’s gorgeous.
PRESENT JOSIE: Your grandmother wore it before me.
MADDIE: You never talk about her.
PRESENT JOSIE: She was sad.
MADDIE: Well, tell me one happy thing.
PRESENT JOSIE: She wanted to travel. She would cut out pictures in travel magazines and pin them all over her bedroom. There was one picture I really liked. It was some cottage, somewhere in Italy. It was a lavender bedroom with rose pink curtains bordering a window that overlooked the sea. When things got…sad at home, I would picture her and I in that bedroom and she would have a smile on her face looking out that window. She deserved to be there. She even had some money saved. Not a lot, but from the time she was a young girl, little by little, she scraped it together and hid it in an old tin can. By the time she was old enough, she had enough to go, but instead she had to take care of grandpa after the war.
MADDIE: Can I keep this?
PRESENT JOSIE: What do you want with a wedding dress?
MADDIE: Wear it. When me and Jason get married-
PRESENT JOSIE: -Maddie-
MADDIE: -Ma, just…please.
PRESENT JOSIE: I swear that dress has no luck. Nothing but young women wore this and found themselves in unhappy marriages.
MADDIE: I can be the one to change it.
PRESENT JOSIE: Even if I say no, it’s not going to matter, is it?
MADDIE shakes her head no.
PRESENT JOSIE: Fine. I won’t say this on your wedding day, but remember, I told you so.
PRESENT JOSIE goes back to the boxes.
MADDIE: What are you looking for?
PRESENT JOSIE: Did the mail come in yet?
MADDIE: I didn’t check.
PRESENT JOSIE: Can you?
MADDIE: Is this about your…pen pal? I don’t know what to call her.
PRESENT JOSIE: Annabelle. Her name is Annabelle.
MADDIE gives a coy smile and laughs a little under her breath.
PRESENT JOSIE: What?
MADDIE: Nothing. It’s just…If I didn’t know anything…from just reading the letters, I would think you two are like… lovers or something.
PRESENT JOSIE: What?! Excuse me? When did you-…You read the letters?
MADDIE: Sometimes you’re tired and forget them on the table before you go to bed.
PRESENT JOSIE: I am trying to help a young woman-
MADDIE: -Very young woman-
PRESENT JOSIE: -Piece together clues from her deceased, estranged mother.
MADDIE: I know. It’s just, if I didn’t know that…you know, the way you talk about what her smile looks like in your imagination. The color of her lips…
PRESENT JOSIE: It’s a compliment.
MADDIE: Or the way she talks about how she can smell your perfume on the letters and it, “lingers with her until the next letter.”
PRESENT JOSIE: You can go now.
MADDIE: You should go.
PRESENT JOSIE: Go where?
MADDIE: There! Oh! It’s just like in the movies. You get a letter from a stranger, but it’s not a stranger at all. You have more in common than you know. So, the hero takes off on this journey across the seas and finds the difficult answers to their past, all the while falling in love, and rekindling their passion for life.
PRESENT JOSIE: First of all, that sounds like a terrible movie. I would never sit through that romantic trash. Second, how much do you think it costs to go on a “journey across the seas?”
MADDIE: Can’t you just dream?
PRESENT JOSIE: Fine. I’ll tell you what. IF this were a movie, I would somehow be given the means to go on this quest by some generous benefactor, right? IF some secret admirer sends me the cash, I’ll book my seat the next day. But for now, digging through old boxes is the least I can do for an old friend.
MADDIE: Was Fran like your Marcus?
PRESENT JOSIE: In a way…You know, I always thought you and Marcus would end up together.
MADDIE: Oh…no, no I don’t think that would ever happen.
PRESENT JOSIE: Why not. He’s a lovely boy. Smart, cute…
MADDIE: Ma…Marcus is not interested in someone like me.
PRESENT JOSIE: What’s that supposed to mean.
MADDIE: He doesn’t look at any girl that way.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh…
MADDIE: …How do you feel about that?
PRESENT JOSIE: …Can you go check the mail for me?
MADDIE exits for the mail. 1942 FRAN enters. She is a memory from the past.
1942 FRAN: The world is changing, Josie. It can’t be this way forever.
PRESENT JOSIE: You were alive this whole time?…and with a daughter? Your mother held a funeral for you. I…I left my heart in your empty grave. I cried over your death once, I’m not going to do it again. All these boxes. I should of never opened them. Don’t even know what I’m looking for.
1942 FRAN doesn’t hear her. She is only a memory.
1942 FRAN: One day, we will be able to tell more than just the stars. But ‘til then, you always know where to find my heart.
1942 FRAN is standing over an unopened box. PRESENT JOSIE dives for the box as MADDIE reenters and 1942 FRAN exits. PRESENT JOSIE finds a shoebox that contains the letter about the star and the locket.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh, thank you!
MADDIE: It’s just the mail. You got a package this time.
MADDIE hands the mail over to PRESENT JOSIE. Sound of a car horn is heard. Sound of a car horn is heard.
MADDIE: That’s Jason.
PRESENT JOSIE: Beeping his horn?
MADDIE: He knows you don’t like him.
PRESENT JOSIE: He knows you’re not a pizza delivery, right?
MADDIE: He’s taking me to get a dress.
PRESENT JOSIE: For what?
MADDIE: It’s a fundraiser in the city and some members of the Nixon administration will be there. It’s a chance for him to rub some elbows.
PRESENT JOSIE: With the same people who are keeping us in this war.
MADDIE: It’s not that simple.
PRESENT JOSIE: What you have in your closet isn’t good enough?
Car horn is heard.
MADDIE: I have to go.
PRESENT JOSIE: Maddie…thank you for staying in school. It’s just one more year and you’ll never regret being able to take care of yourself.
Car horn is heard.
MADDIE: Maybe…maybe we can all get together, you know, for dinner? You, me, Daddy, Shelly, Jason. You know, like a family?
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh, the restaurant is going to think the circus is in town with our freakshow family.
MADDIE: Times are changing, Ma. It would mean a lot to me. How about for my birthday?
PRESENT JOSIE: Maddie…
PRESENT JOSIE: Fine. For your birthday. Count me in.
PRESENT JOSIE: I would never miss your birthday.
MADDIE smiles and exits. PRESENT JOSIE returns to the package and tears it open. A projection of the letter appears and ANNABELLE’s voiceover is heard.
ANNABELLE (V.O.): Dear Josie, I keep rereading your last letter waiting for the next to come. Was that lilac I smelled? Stood out from your usual rose. I wonder if your change in scent had anything to with me telling you lilacs are my favorite flower.
My roommate, Clare, she thinks I’ve gone batty. Locking myself in a room for days, just reading our letters over and over again. I tell her I’m just working on my thesis. I think it’s best if I spare her the details.
I still have so many questions I wish I could have asked Fran. However, it appears that things have become a touch more complicated. I was recently contacted by Fran’s attorney. There is a cottage, Fran’s home, just outside of Anzio, Italy. She sold the house and the land to the town council. Enclosed with this letter is your half of the sale.
The projection disappears as PRESENT JOSIE digs into the package and pulls out a paper check.
PRESENT JOSIE: What?
PRESENT JOSIE returns to the letter. It reappears on the projection.
ANNABELLE (V.O.): The checks are enough for both of us to travel to Anzio if we wish to help clean up the house and sort through the rest of Fran’s affairs.
I’m going to Anzio after Fall semester to finally put an end to this mystery. I heard it’s a very small town. They don’t have personal telephones yet. Time moves slower there. Perhaps I am dreaming but, maybe I can convince you meet me there? I know it’s crazy, but sometimes you have to put the wish out into the universe and see if it’ll answer.
Whatever you decide, I understand and thank you for all the help you’ve already given.
P.S. Thank you for including a picture of yourself in your last letter. It helps to know who I’m talking to. To be fair, I included one of myself. People tell me I look a little like my mother. Tell me, do you smell my perfume? I know you like lavender.
PRESENT JOSIE digs into the envelope and pulls out a photo of ANNABELLE. The projection shows the picture of ANNABELLE, played by the same actor as 1942 FRAN. PRESENT JOSIE’s jaw drops. She brings the letter to her nose and takes a deep breath of the lavender scent. The lights fade on stage. A tight spot remains on PRESENT JOSIE as she puts on the locket. Some boxes are cleared away as we are transported back to the empty field, “the kiss.”
It is nighttime in the Spring of 1938. 1938 FRAN appears. She finds a flashlight and flashes the light three times. A light from offstage answers, flashing its light three times. PRESENT JOSIE turns in the direction of the other light to see her younger-self, played by the actor portraying MADDIE, at sixteen-years-old. PRESENT JOSIE stands and watches the memory unfold.
1938 JOSIE: Sorry I’m late.
1938 FRAN: It’s okay. I just got here too. I had to wait for my parents to fall asleep.
1938 JOSIE: Oh, that sounds a lot easier than me. My ma…she has trouble falling asleep at night.
1938 FRAN: Oh, I’m sorry. You don’t have to talk about it.
1938 JOSIE: Thanks…
1938 FRAN: How did you get out of the house?
1938 JOSIE: Oh, I had to tell my ma a fib.
1938 FRAN: What did you say?
1938 JOSIE: That um, you were having problems with your boyfriend and you needed to talk about it.
1938 FRAN: I don’t have a boyfriend.
1938 JOSIE: Well, you do now. His name is Daniel, he goes to your school, and he’s a senior.
1938 FRAN: Oh, I’m dating a senior? Not too bad for being a Junior.
Awkward silence again.
1938 JOSIE: So, um, I don’t think we can stay out long.
1938 FRAN: Right. Sorry. I needed to ask you a question.
1938 JOSIE: Okay…
1938 FRAN: You know, it might sound a little crazy, in fact, I don’t really know how to ask it. It’s a feeling I’ve had…about you…for a long time. And, my mom, my mom always says when something you think is absolutely crazy you have to put the wish out into the universe and see if it’ll answer. And now, since we are out here, standing underneath the eyes of the universe-
1938 JOSIE: -Eyes of the universe?
1938 FRAN: The stars.
1938 JOSIE: Oh…that’s-
1938 FRAN: -What?
1938 JOSIE: Kind of romantic.
1938 FRAN: Right, so with the entire universe watching I wanted to see if-
1938 JOSIE runs up and kisses 1938 FRAN. After a moment they finally pull away.
1938 FRAN: Um…
1938 JOSIE: Sorry was that…I don’t know what I was thinking…I’m so embarrassed. I don’t know what that was or-
1938 FRAN reaches out and pulls 1938 JOSIE in for another kiss. They pull apart still holding each other.
1938 JOSIE: What is this?
1938 FRAN: I don’t know. I’ve never kissed anyone before.
1938 JOSIE: I have.
1938 FRAN: Really?
1938 JOSIE: I was twelve, he was a boy from the neighborhood. He ate paste.
1938 FRAN: Ew, so is this better?
1938 JOSIE: Way better. But not just because of the paste.
1938 FRAN: Yeah, yeah I think so too. I don’t know if there is a word for it.
1938 JOSIE: Well, there is. It’s not a good word.
1938 FRAN: Those are words made by men. I could care less.
1938 JOSIE: I can tell.
They kiss again.
1938 FRAN: Do you think the stars can keep our secret?
1938 JOSIE: Are you dreaming again?
1938 FRAN: This is real.
1938 JOSIE: It can only be real here, in the dark.
1938 FRAN: No, don’t wake up yet. This is not a black hole, this…this is our kiss. You come from the south lip…
1938 FRAN traces 1938 JOSIE’s lower lip with her finger.
1938 JOSIE: And you come from the north lip…
1938 JOSIE traces 1938 FRAN’s upper lip with her finger and they kiss again.
1938 JOSIE: This can’t be real.
1938 FRAN: Don’t wake up.
1938 JOSIE: I have to go.
1938 FRAN: Will you meet me here tomorrow?
1938 JOSIE: Wherever you are, I will be there.
1938 FRAN: What if I’m thousands of miles away?
1938 JOSIE: Make it a million and I’ll still find you.
1938 FRAN: Promise?
1938 JOSIE kisses 1938 FRAN. 1938 FRAN exits leaving 1938 JOSIE standing in the field.
1938 JOSIE/PRESENT JOSIE: I’ll see you soon.
1938 JOSIE exits leaving the flashlight on the ground for PRESENT JOSIE. PRESENT JOSIE stands alone in the field as the lights slowly start to come up. As the lights rise, PRESENT JOSIE finds a winter coat, perhaps in one of the boxes, and puts in on. It is now January,1970. PRESENT JOSIE is standing in the field. She takes the star letter out of her coat and reads it.
PRESENT JOSIE: Corner of the Big Dipper’s handle. Thirty-two point two degrees…
PRESENT JOSIE stares into the night sky. Car lights sudden enter the scene. They flash at PRESENT JOSIE three times. We hear a car door opening and closing as MADDIE enters, obviously cold.
MADDIE: Have you gone crazy?
PRESENT JOSIE: Nice car.
MADDIE: Jason didn’t want me taking the bus so late at night.
PRESENT JOSIE: You look very pretty.
MADDIE: Yeah, well, it’s my birthday, so…
PRESENT JOSIE: You know, I thought you were going to be a New Years baby. Everyone was so sure. Even the doctors predicted, January first you would be born.
MADDIE: The restaurant was really nice. Daddy picked it because they serve your favorite wine.
PRESENT JOSIE: January first came and went. You had plans of your own.
MADDIE: Shelley was also excited to see you…not that you care
PRESENT JOSIE: You kept everyone waiting four more weeks. You were going to come out when you were ready. You always did things your way. I admire that about you.
MADDIE: Jason brought you flowers.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh…?
MADDIE: Oh, I threw them in the trash.
PRESENT JOSIE: That’s fair.
MADDIE: I went to your house first. Walked into what was my room. I swear the boxes and papers seem to quadruple every time I come over. I got your note and came here. So, what do you want?
PRESENT JOSIE: Here.
PRESENT JOSIE hands MADDIE the pistachio ice cream container.
MADDIE: Not really in the mood for ice cream.
PRESENT JOSIE: Just open it.
MADDIE opens the container and pulls out a large wad of cash.
PRESENT JOSIE: If you look in the swirl, it’s kind of interesting. You’ll see some bills from the teens and twenties. They were your grandmother’s. I just kept adding on and well…
MADDIE: What’s this for?
PRESENT JOSIE: Whatever you want. You can save a little more and put a down payment on your own home. Buy your own car. Buy a one-way ticket to anywhere in the world and just go. This money has no strings attached. You don’t owe anyone.
MADDIE: Ma, I’m engaged. Jason proposed at dinner. A room full of strangers witnessed the most important moment of my life, but my own mother wasn’t there-
PRESENT JOSIE: -Oh God, please don’t call that the most important moment of your life.
MADDIE: You know what? I should of stood you up and let you freeze out here.
MADDIE goes to exit.
PRESENT JOSIE: Maddie! I’m…I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry.
PRESENT JOSIE: Well, don’t just stand there. Show me the ring!
MADDIE approaches PRESENT JOSIE with her hand outstretched. PRESENT JOISE takes MADDIE’s hand in hers and examines the ring.
PRESENT JOSIE: Wow…that is quite something. Bet you can see that from the moon.
MADDIE: You like it?
PRESENT JOSIE: Does it make you happy?
MADDIE: Why did you want to meet in this parking lot?
PRESENT JOSIE: It wasn’t always a parking lot. This used to be a very pretty field when I was about your age. There weren’t any streetlights or a single house around for miles. It was covered by some heavy trees like a small forest. It was a place you could be yourself and do what makes you happy.
MADDIE: You can be yourself with me, Ma.
PRESENT JOSIE: Made me think of Marcus and your little diner. Have you heard from him?
MADDIE: Last letter I got was over a month ago.
PRESENT JOSIE: They keep those boys busy.
MADDIE: I keep thinking about our last meal at the diner. Breakfast for dinner. Pancakes and eggs. Then I thought, I’m going to head home, and I’ll be able to wake up and eat pancakes and eggs tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, but not Marcus. He’s not eating pancakes and eggs right now.
PRESENT JOSIE: Probably not.
MADDIE: Why should I get to?
PRESENT JOSIE: You can’t think that way.
MADDIE: Daddy says he fought because he had a sense of duty. It gave him purpose-
PRESENT JOSIE: -Purpose? Why does everyone think going off to war is the only way to have a purpose.
MADDIE: War runs in our blood. I feel it. Especially now.
PRESENT JOSIE: Maddie-
MADDIE: -I know what war did to you.
PRESENT JOSIE: You don’t know the half of it.
MADDIE: I believe there are some things in this world worth fighting for. If you believe you can make real change for the good-
PRESENT JOSIE: -Good? Good? And what about this war? What makes this one so good? What are we even fighting this war for, huh? Ever think to ask that?
PRESENT JOSIE: No, of course not. Your generation never thinks. You just “do.” You never think about the future or the people you leave behind. You have so many options, Maddie.
MADDIE: All wrapped up in an ice cream container?
PRESENT JOSIE: It’s a foundation. Ask yourself, “What does MADDIE want?” And go.
MADDIE: You’re going to see her, aren’t you?
MADDIE: I saw the suitcases in your bedroom.
PRESENT JOSIE: It’s just for a few weeks. Three. I’ll be home before March.
MADDIE: When are you leaving?
PRESENT JOSIE: Tomorrow.
MADDIE: And you were going to tell me…?
PRESENT JOSIE: Right now.
PRESENT JOSIE: No, things are more complicated. I’m going to meet Annabelle in this little town, outside of Anzio, Italy. We both have some business there to settle.
MADDIE: Okay, so you need this more than me.
MADDIE holds the ice cream container out to PRESENT JOSIE.
PRESENT JOSIE: It’s fine, really. Fran…Fran had this way of making big plans and not telling anyone. I’ll send a telegram as soon as I get there.
PRESENT JOSIE: It’s a small town. They don’t have personal phones.
MADDIE: Jesus, are you traveling back in time?
PRESENT JOSIE: You can write to me for the whole time I’m there.
MADDIE: I feel like that’s the only way I can talk to anyone now.
PRESENT JOSIE: It’ll take about 10 days for the letters to get to me, but I will always respond.
MADDIE: Big things are happening, Ma.
PRESENT JOSIE: I won’t miss them.
MADDIE: Why did you want to meet here?
PRESENT JOSIE: I don’t think you’d understand.
MADDIE: I think you’d be surprised by what I understand. I’m your daughter.
PRESENT JOSIE: I know and you will always been my daughter. But one day you’ll understand that I wasn’t always your mother.
Lights fade to blackout.
End scene two.
A Star: Hydrogen and helium, held together by gravity, create this glowing orb of gas. At its core, nuclear fusion reacts to support the star against gravity, generating photons and heat.
Lights up on an empty stage. PRESENT JOISE enters carrying suitcases. She feels as if she is walking in a dream. She stands in an open field, looking around, a little lost. After a moment, FRAN enters. PRESENT JOSIE stops and stares as if she has seen a ghost. Neither women say anything for a moment.
PRESENT JOSIE: This can’t be real.
PRESENT JOSIE: Am I dreaming?
PRESENT JOSIE: Fran?
FRAN approaches then suddenly the dream is gone and instead we are in 1970 in a small town just outside of Anzio, Italy. It is ANNABELLE, played by the same actor as FRAN, standing in front of PRESENT JOISE.
ANNABELLE: Josie? Josephine Rigel, right?
PRESENT JOSIE: …
ANNABELLE: It’s me, Annabelle.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh, hi, Annabelle…
ANNABELLE: Can I hug you?
PRESENT JOSIE: Sure, I think that’s alright.
They hug like two long lost souls finally meeting.
ANNABELLE: Is everything alright?
PRESENT JOSIE: Sorry, I don’t mean to…you look…
ANNABELLE: I recognized you from your picture. But I probably would have recognized you from the photo of you and Fran. You haven’t changed at all.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh, you’re very sweet. But I think my wrinkles and stretch marks would have something to say about that.
ANNABELLE: I don’t see them.
Silence. They take in the living photos of each other.
ANNABELLE: Are those your bags?
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh, yes-
ANNABELLE: -I’ll take them.
ANNABELLE takes the suitcases and begins to exit.
ANNABELLE: Everything alright? Did you forget something?
PRESENT JOSIE: No, I just…this is the farthest I’ve ever been from home.
ANNABELLE: It’s just a few more steps.
PRESENT JOSIE follows ANNABELLE as they exit. Lights fade.
End of scene one.
Lights up on an empty stage. It is March, 1944. 1944 JOSIE enters wearing all black carrying the shoebox we saw earlier. She stands over an open grave plot. Silence. She takes a piece of paper out of the shoebox and begins to read. A projection appears of the letter dated July 27, 1942. We hear FRAN’s voiceover.
FRAN (V.O.): My Heart, I have to try because it hurts too much not to. It’s only been a week since we last spoke at our kiss. I think about that moment every day and I honestly don’t regret the decision that I made but-
Before the audience can read the rest, the projection is ripped off the screen as 1944 JOSIE angrily crumples the letter and throws it into the grave. She takes out another letter from the shoebox. The projection appears of the letter dated August 30, 1942.
FRAN (V.O.): My Heart, It’s been a month and I still haven’t heard from you. Training is rigorous at the WAAC, but it is the only thing that keeps me distracted from thoughts of you. Please, I am still willing to work on this. Can’t we try together?
Rip, crumple, throw, new letter dated September 11, 1942
FRAN (V.O.): “My Heart, It’s been months-”
Rip, crumple, throw, new letter dated October 4, 1942.
FRAN (V.O.): “My Heart,-”
Rip, crumple, throw, new letter dated November 18, 1942.
FRAN (V.O.): “My Breaking Heart,- ”
Rip, crumple, throw, new letter dated December 31, 1942
FRAN (V.O.): Josie, They are shipping me off after the New Year. I can’t go into too much detail other than to say this will be the start of my dream. To do something meaningful. Something to be proud of. Please, write to me before I go. Anything-”
Rip, crumple, throw, new letter dated July 20, 1943.
FRAN (V.O.): Josephine, I wrote to your mother. Don’t worry, she only knows what you told her. Is it true? Is it true what she told me? Tell me it’s not. Tell me you’re just angry and it means nothing. What have you done to us? What have you done to my heart? You’ve given it away and shattered it to pieces-
Rip, crumple, throw. 1944 JOSIE begins to not even read and just throw letter after letter into the grave. She finds another to read. The projection of the letter appears dated January 30, 1944.
FRAN (V.O.): I made to Italy. I can’t give you my exact location. I don’t know how many of these letters I’ll be able to send because this is war. I wanted to tell you, I came here because I heard they needed nurses. Finally, after all that studying, I’m going to put that degree to some use. It makes sense here. I’m doing something, here.
Rip, crumple, throw. 1944 JOSIE takes out one last letter. The projection appears, it is the star letter. 1944 JOSIE holds the letter close to her heart. She places it back in the shoebox. She takes off the locket and places it in the shoebox as well.
End of scene two.
Lights up on stage. We enter Fran’s bedroom. It looks as if someone began to pack-up but never finished. The windows have been boarded up, boxes scattered, and whatever furniture is in the room is covered with cloth. The lighting is so dim we can barely see the beautiful lavender color of the room. ANNABELLE and PRESENT JOSIE enter.
ANNABELLE: So, as you can see, the house isn’t very large. This was her bedroom.
PRESENT JOSIE looks around the bedroom. She notices the color of the wall and touches it..
ANNABELLE: She really loved purple.
PRESENT JOSIE: Lavender.
What’s that sound?
ANNABELLE: Sound? Oh, it’s the sea.
PRESENT JOSIE hurries over to the boarded up windows, but can’t see through the cracks.
ANNABELLE: It’s less than half a mile away. You could probably see it if it wasn’t for the boards.
PRESENT JOSIE: Who did this?
ANNABELLE: The town council. Her attorney didn’t know if I’d ever come here so, they just started boarding things up. As for the boxes, that’s me. I couldn’t decide if I should pack things up or unpack. I thought I should wait for you.
PRESENT JOSIE is still taking in the room.
ANNABELLE: You must be very tired.
PRESENT JOSIE: I guess that’s a word for it.
ANNABELLE: Flying in a plane though, that’s…like a dream.
PRESENT JOSIE: All this feels a little bit like a dream.
ANNABELLE: I took the ferry and trains. Figured I would save the money. Might need it for something important.
ANNABELLE: I can take you to the // Inn
PRESENT JOSIE: Here is fine.
ANNABELLE: Oh, I thought// you would rather –
PRESENT JOSIE: I didn’t mean to //assume.
ANNABELLE: No, no it’s fine. I just thought…the town council said we can stay here as long as we like, until they find buyers.
PRESENT JOSIE: Are you staying…here?
ANNABELLE: Oh, no. // No I-
PRESENT JOSIE: It was // your mother’s-
ANNABELLE: It’s complicated.
PRESENT JOSIE: I think I need to be here.
PRESENT JOSIE: I think Fran wants us both to be here.
ANNABELLE: Oh, um, that reminds me.
ANNABELLE begins looking at all the boxes.
ANNABELLE: Here we go. This box. It’s yours.
PRESENT JOSIE: Mine?
ANNABELLE: From Fran. I guess we both got a box of secrets.
PRESENT JOSIE: What was in yours?
ANNABELLE: There was a rock.
PRESENT JOSIE: A rock?
ANNABELLE: Yes, like a stone…you know what, wait a minute…
ANNABELLE begins scanning all the boxes in the room until she finds one and tips it over. Hundreds of stones spill out.
PRESENT JOSIE: What in the world…?
ANNABELLE: There’s other boxes like this too. Filled with stones.
PRESENT JOSIE picks up a stone and examines it.
ANNABELLE: Maybe you have a stone in yours?
PRESENT JOSIE: I opened a lot of boxes to get here. I think I’ll wait on this one.
ANNABELLE: I don’t understand why she came here.
PRESENT JOSIE: We have three weeks to find out.
ANNABELLE: Doesn’t seem like enough time.
PRESENT JOSIE: A lot can happen in three weeks. A LOT has happened in six months.
ANNABELLE: I feel like my entire world is upside-down.
PRESENT JOSIE: That’s how I felt when I first met your mom.
PRESENT JOSIE: Do you want to play a game?
PRESENT JOSIE: It sounds silly. Your mom and I got off to a rocky start when we first met. We were just two lost eleven-year-old girls. It helped us get to know each other
ANNABELLE: Okay, we can try.
They both take a seat on the bed.
PRESENT JOSIE: Okay, so pretend you’re dreaming.
ANNABELLE: Good or bad dream?
PRESENT JOSIE: Something bad and we’ll make it good. Anything is possible when you’re dreaming.
PRESENT JOSIE: Where are you?
ANNABELLE: My apartment in London.
PRESENT JOSIE: What’s bad about it?
ANNABELLE: Our mirror…the mirror on the vanity. It’s shattered.
PRESENT JOSIE: Seven years’ bad luck. That’s no good. Let’s sweep up the pieces and I’ll buy you a new one.
ANNABELLE: That’s kind of you.
PRESENT JOSIE: Don’t wake up yet.
ANNABELLE: Buy me one that can never break.
PRESENT JOSIE: I’ll keep dreaming with you.
They sit with their secrets and wishes. ANNABELLE lays her head on PRESENT JOSIE’s shoulder as a faint smile comes over her face. PRESENT JOSIE looks down on her and smiles. They look exactly like the photo of 1942 Fran and Josie.
End of scene three..
Lights up on MADDIE. She is in the process of writing a letter to PRESENT JOSIE. Please note, the staging should not reflect any sort of actual writing. The actor shouldn’t even have a pen or paper in hand. She is simply speaking in the moment.
MADDIE: Dear Ma, I was happy to hear you made it safely. Thank you for “telegramming” when you got settled. Is that even the right word? “Telegramming?” I know that by the time you get this letter, you’ll be a week away from coming home, but I have so much on my mind. I wanted to at least write it down and get my thoughts in order.
I finally got a letter from Marcus! He said he wrote it the second they found a safe place in Danang. “Safe place.” I love that phrase. I write to Marcus almost every day now.
Jason tries to comfort me. He says it’s my duty to write to brave men like Marcus and let him know how proud we are of them at home and how Jason wishes he could fight alongside of him. Shielding him from every bullet.
So, I write and write and write and write and then I look to my left and see my pancakes and eggs and then I look back at my paper and the words mean…nothing.
I really can’t wait for you to come home, Ma. I thought a lot about what you said before you left and whatever you are trying to find, I hope you do.
My pancakes are cold… God, it’s such a fucking waste.
Lights fade on MADDIE as she exits. We shift to the bedroom in Italy. The bedroom is starting to look a bit more like a bedroom. Some boxes have been cleared away. The bed is made, covered in a lavender bedspread. PRESENT JOSIE is on the floor sorting through the rest of the boxes. Her unopened box sits in the corner. She finds a set of rose pink curtains. She holds them lovingly in her hands. ANNABELLE enters.
ANNABELLE: Everyday I come in here, it’s starting to look more and more like a home….
PRESENT JOSIE: Hey there. Um… Buongiorno.
ANNABELLE: Pronunciation is getting better. Find anymore puzzle pieces?
PRESENT JOSIE: Nothing yet, but…can you help me with these?
PRESENT JOSIE and ANNABELLE hang the curtains over the boarded window. They stand back to admire the view.
ANNABELLE: Pretty color.
PRESENT JOSIE: Rose pink.
PRESENT JOSIE goes back to the boxes.
ANNABELLE: You forgot one.
ANNABELLE motions to PRESENT JOSIE’s unopened box.
PRESENT JOSIE: Yes…I’m saving it for last. Look what I found!
PRESENT JOSIE pulls out a photo album.
ANNABELLE: A photo album.
PRESENT JOSIE: It’s better than more stones. Here.
ANNABELLE: Oh, that’s okay. There’s still some boxes in the cellar-
PRESENT JOSIE: -No, these boxes were full of objects that made this place feel like home. I bet you’re in here.
ANNABELLE reluctantly takes the album and begins to silently flip through it. PRESENT JOSIE busies herself with more boxes.
ANNABELLE: There’s still so many.
PRESENT JOSIE: And so little time.
ANNABELLE: Maybe. What if we could stop time?
PRESENT JOSIE: What do you mean?
ANNABELLE: I wrote to my university. I’m not going back this semester.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh…no…no, Annabelle. You can’t do that.
ANNABELLE: Put a wish out into the universe.
PRESENT JOSIE: They could find buyers any day now.
ANNABELLE: But they haven’t yet.
PRESENT JOSIE: My daughter did the same thing too. Wanted to take a year off to figure out what she wanted-
ANNABELLE: -I know what I want. I want a reason for what an eight-year-old girl could have possibly done for her mother to walk out and take with her the history that is owed to her daughter.
PRESENT JOSIE: Annabelle, you can’t. Your school…it’s so important.
ANNABELLE: Yes, history. History is so important that I dedicated my life to it. By the time I graduate, I will have a master’s degree and know everything there is to know about wars, generals, emperors, kings, queens, and their entire families, but I don’t know my own.
PRESENT JOSIE: I don’t know a single woman who is a professor. A professor of history! A master’s degree! You can’t…you can’t give that up.
ANNABELLE: I already told the school and extended my stay at the inn. They haven’t decided when they’re starting renovations, so I have more time.
PRESENT JOSIE: And when the inn closes, where will you stay? You want to keep digging up the past. You can’t even stand to be in this house. You can’t even call Fran your mother.
ANNABELLE: Did she want me? Did she love me or is that a dream?
PRESENT JOSIE: Why would you ask that?
ANNABELLE picks up the photo album and skims through the pages.
ANNABELLE: You see this album? This album from a box of “things that reminded her of home?” I’m nowhere in it. In fact, there is nothing in this entire house that would remind her of me. But then, sixteen years later, I get a box full of questions and a picture of you and Fran. And now, you want to ignore the fact that we both traveled thousands of miles for this woman and you just want to leave?
PRESENT JOSIE: I don’t know what I was thinking. Once you bury someone, you need to let them be. It’s dangerous to dig around in the past; you can get buried too.
ANNABELLE: I was eight years old when I came downstairs dressed head to toe in Fran’s clothes. Her dress was swimming on me. I could barely walk in her shoes. I said, “Look at me, Mama. I’m just like you.” Nothing. Not even a smile. Instead all she said to me was, “My heart was shattered. It was given away to someone else.” She was gone the next day.
PRESENT JOSIE: What about your home?
ANNABELLE: It’s shattered
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m sure your roommate will // wonder where you are.
ANNABELLE: My “roommate?” Are you being serious right now? You, you of all people? “Roommate.”
PRESENT JOSIE: That’s what you called her.
ANNABELLE: You know that’s not what Clare is…. was….
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m sorry, but you can go back and fix things.
ANNABELLE: No, I can’t. Clare told me if I left…If I came here, I could never come back to her.
PRESENT JOSIE: Why would she say that? It’s only three weeks.
ANNABELLE: But it’s been six months of letters. Letters every week and photos and words. So many words between you and me that I didn’t share with her. I couldn’t share with her. I just kept all the letters hidden. But she found them. And she read them. All of them. She said, something was different in these letters. She said there was too much weight in the words we used.
PRESENT JOSIE: There was an entire ocean between us.
ANNABELLE: I kept a picture of you; two in fact. The one you sent when you were my age and the other more recent photo. I put them both in a frame. When I looked at the photos, I would see two women, the same woman, side by side, years apart and I have so many questions for what happened in between because that is where my story begins.
I tried to explain that to Clare before I left. Instead, she took the picture frame, threw it across the bedroom, and it shattered the mirror on our vanity. Our vanity, the first thing we bought when we moved in together. The first thing that was not mine, not hers, but ours. The only thing left for me there is broken. I can’t do anything with the broken pieces.
Do you think that’s how Fran felt?
Why did her heart shatter?
PRESENT JOSIE: I can’t stay.
ANNABELLE: Why not?
PRESENT JOSIE: My flight leaves in a few days.
ANNABELLE: Cancel it.
PRESENT JOSIE: I won’t get that money back, Annabelle. And, and I have a job, a daughter, a home.
ANNABELLE: Must be nice.
PRESENT JOSIE: What are you? Twenty-three?
ANNABELLE: Twenty-four next month.
PRESENT JOSIE: Take it from someone who’s been there. I buried this once. You don’t need to dig up a ghost who left you.
ANNABELLE: I was content. I was content because I made myself hate her for leaving me. Then suddenly, there she is. Thrust back into my life with a box, a letter, a stone, and a picture. And I’m staring at this picture and I see where my hair came from, and my eyes, and my cheeks, and my lips…I see where my lips came from but I don’t know their history. I don’t know anything about these lips. Where they came from, what they tasted, all their secrets. And I feel like all my answers are right in front of me. I want to know what my lips know…
ANNABELLE approaches PRESENT JOSIE, slightly pauses then kisses her. PRESENT JOSIE is taken aback at first, but she does not pull away from the kiss. She leans in more. Lights fade on their kiss.
End of scene four..
Red Giant: A giant star nearing the end of its cycle still trying to cling to the last remaining hydrogen that fuels its dwindling nuclear fusion.
Lights up on MADDIE writing another letter.
MADDIE: Dear Mom,
Thank you for writing, but –
I’m sorry, but –
I’m ready to talk now. I’m sorry, but I was very angry –
I am still upset. You should be here –
You need to be here.
Your hospital is calling me asking when exactly you’ll be back and I don’t know what to tell them. Three weeks have now turned into over a month. You didn’t give me a lot of details other than you are “sorting through the past.”
That’s not the actual reason I’m writing this. Dad told me I needed to write this. He said it’s not right for a mother and daughter not to speak.
Jason’s number was picked. He’s going to the same void that swallowed Marcus.
Maybe this is what I’m supposed to do. Maybe I’m supposed to wait here and give people something to come home to. But is that it? Shouldn’t I be doing more? You said that when the men came home from the war, this was your duty. But, wouldn’t you rather be with them, than waiting?
I don’t know what I’m saying….
…We’re getting married. The wedding is in two weeks. Nothing big. Dad convinced me to tell you, so you should thank him.
I don’t know what you are trying to sort through, but things are happening here, in the present that are important for you to be a part of too.
I’ll save you a seat at the wedding,
Lights fade on MADDIE as she exits. Lights shift to the bedroom in Italy. Only a few boxes remain. We finally see the room as it was when FRAN was alive. PRESENT JOSIE enters carrying a toolbox. She approaches the window and takes out a hammer. She attempts to unhinge a difficult nail. ANNABELLE enters carrying a box. She is nervous to see PRESENT JOSIE.
PRESENT JOSIE: Hello.
PRESENT JOSIE goes back to work on the nail. Silence.
ANNABELLE: How did you sleep?
PRESENT JOSIE: Like I do every night.
ANNABELLE: I found a puzzle piece.
PRESENT JOSIE: Oh?
ANNABELLE: I met another person who knew Fran. She said Fran would stop by her farm to get some water before she would head south east toward Anzio’s coast. She said Fran did it every week like it was her church. She would expect her at sunrise and at night she would come back with a stone. These stones! She must have made that journey over a thousand times. Why would she do that?
PRESENT JOSIE: Maybe it had something to do with the war?
ANNABELLE: She never talked about that. All I know is that’s how her and my father met. Two Americans with nothing left at home, wanted to start a new life with the Brits. Neither of them spoke of the war.
PRESENT JOSIE: My ex-husband was the same way. Some things are too big for words. You just have to be around people who feel them too. It was the only thing we ever agreed on.
ANNABELLE: The inn keeper, he told me they are beginning renovations soon. They said they’re going to close for the rest of March through Summer.
PRESENT JOSIE: Where will you stay?
ANNABELLE: Well, the nearest inn is about 80 klicks away so, I thought maybe I could look into renting a room somewhere or-
PRESENT JOSIE: -This is just ridiculous.
PRESENT JOSIE: You could…Could you help me with this, please?
ANNABELLE: I thought you were never going to remove these.
PRESENT JOSIE: I was saving them for last.
ANNABELLE: You still have one box left.
PRESENT JOSIE: Not yet. Soon, I promise. But this…you should be here, for this.
ANNABELLE finds another hammer in the toolbox and the two begin to pull the nails out of the last board. They both grab the board.
PRESENT JOSIE: 1…2…3…
They tear the board off as light floods into the room. We immediately hear the sound of the sea so much we can smell the salt. They stand in awe in the warmth of the light as their fingers intertwine out of impulse. They stand holding hands for a moment. Perhaps PRESENT JOISE notices first. This is how she and Fran would have stood in the window. ANNABELLE looks at her hand. She does not let go.
ANNABELLE: I have something to //show you.
PRESENT JOSIE: You should stay.
PRESENT JOSIE: You don’t want to?
ANNABELLE: She left me for this place.
PRESENT JOSIE: I know.
ANNABELLE: And Clare…I can just hear her saying, “I told you so.”
PRESENT JOSIE: Annabelle, I should have been on a plane weeks ago –
ANNABELLE: -I’m sorry
PRESENT JOSIE: -It’s not your fault.
ANNABELLE: I shouldn’t have-
PRESENT JOSIE: -I didn’t pull away. Something is happening here. Something that is too big for words. But you should be here –
ANNABELLE: -I don’t know-
PRESENT JOSIE: -The option is here if you want it, that’s all I’m saying.
ANNABELLE: I have a few more days left at the inn. I’ll think about it.
PRESENT JOSIE: Yes. Absolutely. We’ll take things slow.
PRESENT JOSIE turns to admire the view out the window. Silence.
ANNABELLE: Oh, I almost forgot…you got a letter, from your daughter.
PRESENT JOSIE: Really?!
PRESENT JOSIE excitedly grabs the letter and tears it open.
PRESENT JOSIE: I thought she would never write to me. Her father said she was so angry.
ANNABELLE: Did you tell him why you were staying longer?
PRESENT JOSIE: Just sorting through the past…
PRESENT JOSIE begins to read the letter. A projection appears of the letter dated March 11, 1970. It is the letter we saw Maddie write earlier.
PRESENT JOSIE: I have to go!
ANNABELLE: What? What do you mean? What’s going on?
PRESENT JOSIE: This letter was sent…10 days ago. Okay, so I still have some time…
PRESENT JOSIE starts to frantically throw her belongings into a suitcase.
ANNABELLE: Josie, Josie! Tell me what’s going on?
PRESENT JOSIE: How the hell am I going to get back?
ANNABELLE: Josie, stop!
PRESENT JOSIE: Maddie is getting married.
PRESENT JOSIE: I don’t know. She said in two weeks. Two weeks when she wrote this letter so, it’s this weekend. I have to go.
ANNABELLE: You’ll never find a flight, not this last minute.
PRESENT JOSIE: I have to try.
ANNABELLE: Josie, calm down. Please, sit. You’re not going to find a plane today, not at a price you can afford.
PRESENT JOSIE: I have to think of something.
ANNABELLE: Why do you want to go?
PRESENT JOSIE: What do you mean, why? It’s my daughter.
ANNABELLE: I understand that. But I also understand that it is your daughter, who is a grown woman, who waited until two weeks before her wedding to tell her mother who is across the ocean.
PRESENT JOSIE: What are you trying to say?
ANNABELLE: What if you don’t make it?
PRESENT JOSIE: I have to make it.
ANNABELLE: It doesn’t sound like she wants you there.
PRESENT JOSIE: You don’t understand. She was mad at me. Understandable so. I mean, I just picked up and left with little warning, telling her I’ll be home in three weeks. Then, I write to say three weeks is turning into a month and-
ANNABELLE: -Did you forget that you are more than just a mother?
PRESENT JOSIE: You do not have children.
ANNABELLE: You have a daughter, yes, but not a child. You have taken care of so many people your whole life. Isn’t it time to take care of yourself?
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m sorry-
ANNABELLE: -Wait! Just, please, before you finish, wait…
ANNABELLE opens the box she brought in.
ANNABELLE: This is the box Fran sent me. The box with the stone, her letter, the picture of you two, and this…
ANNABELLE pulls out Fran’s old WAAC uniform.
ANNABELLE: I didn’t understand it at first. She never talked about her time in the war. I wanted to ask you about it, but then we kissed. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. If you were going to stay. If you even wanted to see me again. And then I thought…I thought…
ANNABELLE begins to undress down to her negligee then dress herself in the uniform while she speaks.
ANNABELLE: I got it cleaned and pressed so it looks like the first day she wore it. Right before she left her home. This was the last thing you saw her in, wasn’t it?
ANNABELLE stands in the uniform. She is identical to Fran. PRESENT JOSIE cannot believe her eyes. She reaches out to touch ANNABELLE’s face and the past itself.
PRESENT JOSIE: They told us she died. Nurses camp bombed in Anzio. Nothing was left to ship back.
Say you’ll stay
ANNABELLE: Is this a dream?
PRESENT JOSIE: I want you to say, “Please, Josie, please I’m begging you. Please. I love you more than anything else in this world. You are my heart…. If you stay, I will stay.”
ANNABELLE: Please, Josie, please I’m begging you. Please. I love you more than anything else in this world. You are my heart…. If you stay, I will stay
End scene one.
Lights up on the empty field. It is August, 1933. 1933 JOSIE, about eleven-years-old, played by 1942 JOSIE, enters carrying a small knapsack of books dressed for school. She is clearly lost. She stops in the middle of the field trying to figure out which direction to go. 1933 FRAN enters, about eleven-years-old, played by 1942 FRAN, also carrying a knapsack of books. She stops and stares at 1933 JOSIE; she is a little shocked by her presence in the field.
1933 FRAN: What are you doing here?
1933 JOSIE: Oh, um, nothing. I’m just-
1933 FRAN: -How did you find this place?
1933 JOSIE: I was just walking.
1933 FRAN: Walking where?
1933 JOSIE: To school.
1933 FRAN: Why don’t you just take the path along Main Street like everyone else at your school?
1933 JOSIE: What? Do you own this field?
1933 FRAN: Yes.
1933 JOSIE: Really?
1933 FRAN: Uh huh…so you better get your lost butt back up on Main Street before I get you for trespassing.
1933 JOSIE: You gonna to call the coppers?
1933 FRAN: Don’t need them. I am the law in this field and I carry out my own punishments.
1933 JOSIE: And what are the punishments?
1933 FRAN: For trespassing…
1933 FRAN pulls a ruler from her knapsack.
1933 FRAN: I beat you with my ruler.
1933 FRAN approaches 1933 JOSIE ruler in hand. 1933 JOSIE stands her ground. 1933 FRAN inches closer as if to say, “I’m not kidding.” 1933 JOSIE holds still, reaches into her knapsack, and pulls out her own ruler.
1933 FRAN: I knew you were trouble when I first saw you.
1933 JOSIE: I don’t want it to come to this.
1933 FRAN: Put your weapon down.
1933 JOSIE: You first.
1933 FRAN: ….
1933 JOSIE: …
They launch at each other and “sword fight.” It gets as heated as you can get with two 12-inch wooden rulers.1933 JOSIE manages to knock 1933 FRAN’s ruler out of her hand. Thinking fast, 1933 FRAN grabs 1933 JOSIE by the hair and pulls hard. Something pinches her and she lets go as a decorative hairpin falls to the ground.
1933 FRAN: You got a knife in there?
1933 JOSIE: Oh no!
1933 JOSIE drops to her knees to retrieve the pin.
1933 JOSIE: Oh no! No no no no no…
1933 FRAN: What is that?
1933 JOSIE: You broke it.
1933 FRAN: I’m…sorry? I didn’t mean to…
1933 JOSIE: This is my ma’s. My gram gave it to her.
1933 FRAN: Oh, shit…
1933 JOSIE is preoccupied with her pin.
1933 FRAN: Here, let me see it-
1933 JOSIE: -Get away from me.
1933 FRAN: No, come on, I’m really sorry. Let me take a look. I bet I can fix it.
1933 JOSIE: I can’t believe this. I promised my ma I would be so careful with it.
1933 FRAN: Look, I can fix it for you, or at least my mom can…I promise, she’s really good with this stuff.
1933 JOSIE: I don’t want your help, I don’t want your ma’s help, I don’t want anything to do with anyone who’s related to you. I bet I’m going to be late for school now.
1933 JOSIE frantically gathers her things.
1933 FRAN: Do you even know where you’re going? Let me help-
1933 JOSIE: -Don’t touch me.
1933 FRAN: You can get turned around in these trees.
1933 JOSIE trots off in the wrong direction and exits.
1933 FRAN: That’s the wrong way.
1933 JOSIE reenters, ignores 1933 FRAN, and trots off in the other direction.
1933 FRAN: That’s not right either.
1933 JOSIE comes back on stage and tries to get her bearings while ignoring 1933 FRAN.
1933 FRAN: Anyone ever tell you how stubborn you are?
1933 JOSIE: Why are you here?
1933 FRAN: It’s peaceful here. People stay away from it cause they’re scared of getting lost. No one can find me here, at least, not ‘til today.
1933 JOSIE: Who are you hiding from?
1933 FRAN: I dunno. You’re here too.
1933 JOSIE: I don’t know how it is at your school but, the girls at my school are just…mean. I guess I don’t really fit in. Me and my ma just moved here-
1933 FRAN: -Your dad get a job here?
1933 JOSIE: No…No. It’s just me and my ma.
1933 FRAN: Oh….um…You want to go north, through those oaks. You take about twenty steps and you’ll see a tiny creek, make a right and follow the creek all the way to end. Then look to your left, there’s a clearing. Walk through it and you’ll be at the end of Main street with your school a block away.
1933 FRAN: That’s okay. I’ll talk to the trees and tell them you’re welcome here.
1933 JOSIE: Trees can’t talk
1933 FRAN: Have you ever had a dream that was bananas?
1933 JOSIE: Yes, but it’s a dream.
1933 FRAN: Well, when you’re sleeping you don’t know that. You just go along with whatever nutty thing happens. You don’t question it and sometimes, it turns out to be a really good dream and makes you feel really good when you wake up. Dreams help bad things seem good.
1933 JOSIE: Okay…
1933 FRAN: So, the next time you cut through here, you don’t have to be scared cause I’ll tell the trees to clear a path for you.
1933 JOSIE: How about the stars?
1933 FRAN: What do you mean?
1933 JOSIE: In case I have to walk at night. Can you tell the stars to help light the way?
1933 FRAN: I’ll send the message tonight.
1933 JOSIE: Thanks. I should go.
1933 FRAN: Wait, um, here, take this…
1933 FRAN unclasps a locket from around her neck and gives it to 1933 JOSIE.
1933 JOSIE: No! Are you joking? That’s beautiful, I would never-
1933 FRAN: -Take it and give me your hairpin so my mom can fix it.
1933 JOSIE: No, I can’t-
1933 FRAN: -It’s from your mom. That’s so important.
1933 JOSIE: I’ll tell her it was my fault. Someone beat me up for it.
1933 FRAN: No! Look…I know how important that hairpin is. It’s just like this locket. It’s an even trade.
1933 JOSIE: How?
1933 FRAN: I’m gonna tell you a secret that I’ve never told anyone, okay?
1933 JOSIE: Why would you do that?
1933 FRAN: We both found this place for a reason. Maybe you’re supposed to be my secret keeper.
1933 JOSIE: Okay…I won’t tell anyone.
1933 FRAN: My parents got pregnant with me BEFORE they got married. So, my mom gave my dad this locket with my picture in it to remind him that I can make them proud. He wore it for years, ‘til I became old enough to carry it. One day, I’m gonna give it to my daughter and maybe one day, she’ll give it to her daughter, and you know, it’ll start this long chain so wherever the locket winds up, we’re all connected.
You take this, I’ll take your hairpin, we’ll meet here and trade them back.
1933 JOSIE takes the locket and hands the hairpin over to 1933 FRAN.
1933 JOSIE: I’m Josie.
1933 FRAN: I’m Fran. I’ll wait for you, right here.
End of scene two.
Supernova: A calamitous explosion that causes a star to expel most of its mass creating a luminous spectacle of light.
Lights up on MADDIE. She appears in the white wedding dress. She attempts to write another letter. She stands in disbelief. She cannot find the words to describe her hurt. She gasps, holds back sobs, but remains strong. She lets her anger course through her blood until her mother becomes her enemy. She exits without writing a letter.
Lights shift to PRESENT JOSIE and ANNABELLE lying in bed together in complete bliss. ANNABELLE starts to closely, but playfully examine PRESENT JOSIE’s body.
PRESENT JOSIE: What are you doing?
ANNABELLE: When we first met, you said you had stretch marks.
PRESENT JOSIE: Okay…?
ANNABELLE: And I think I finally found one-
PRESENT JOSIE: -Stop it, you evil thing.
They laugh and kiss. ANNABELLE gets out of bed revealing her negligee. PRESENT JOSIE stares at her in disbelief.
ANNABELLE: Are you scanning for my stretch marks?
PRESENT JOSIE: There’s no stretch marks on the past. No blemishes. No scars. Just happiness.
ANNABELLE: You’re silly when you get romantic. What’s the plan for today?
PRESENT JOSIE: This sounds good.
ANNABELLE: We can’t stay in bed all day. Come on, don’t you want to stretch your legs a bit?
PRESENT JOSIE: Can’t we just stay in this dream?
ANNABELLE: Maybe we can take a walk down to the market and you can try telegramming your daughter.
PRESENT JOSIE: Not yet.
ANNABELLE: You missed her wedding.
PRESENT JOSIE: Exactly. I need to give her time. Trust me. I know my daughter. She won’t want to hear from me yet.
ANNABELLE: But you will write to her.
PRESENT JOSIE: Yes, of course.
ANNABELLE: And what will you say?
PRESENT JOSIE: That I’m sorry and I hope one day she understands and I…really don’t know. This is all new territory to me.
ANNABELLE: No other details about who…what’s keeping you here?
PRESENT JOSIE: What details should I include?
ANNABELLE: I’m going to make some coffee.
PRESENT JOSIE: Hey, come here.
PRESENT JOSIE kisses ANNABELLE then ANNABELLE exits. PRESENT JOSIE takes a moment to breath in the scent from the pillows then, slowly rises and stretches out of bed. She checks her face in a mirror and examines her body. She pinches her triceps and belly skin. She might even lift up her breasts and push them into a higher position only to watch them fall. She tries to convince herself that she feels like 1942, but she looks like 1970. ANNABELLE reenters without coffee. Instead she carries PRESENT JOSIE’s unopened box and lays it on the floor.
ANNABELLE: I think it’s time.
PRESENT JOSIE: What are you doing with that?
ANNABELLE: Somehow it magically wound up in the cellar. Come on, we have to do something and since you don’t want to leave this place…we might as well.
PRESENT JOSIE: Annabelle, I said I would.
ANNABELLE: Why not now?
PRESENT JOSIE: Because…
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m not ready.
ANNABELLE: I moved in here. I stayed.
PRESENT JOSIE: I know. And thank you. That means so much to me.
ANNABELLE: Opening this box would mean so much to me.
PRESENT JOSIE: Why don’t we take that walk? Or better yet, a swim! It’ll clear our heads and then we can talk about opening the box.
ANNABELLE: I don’t feel like swimming.
PRESENT JOSIE: Don’t feel like swimming? Sure, the water will be a little crisp for the Spring but, look, look out that window! How can you see that view and not want to dive right in? Isn’t that what you always dreamed of?
ANNABELLE: No, it wasn’t my dream. I want something different.
ANNABELLE references the box.
PRESENT JOSIE: Can we talk about that when we get back? It’s a gorgeous day with the Italian coast at our fingertips. We are standing in our lavender room with the wind blowing though the rose pink curtains. This is what we always dreamed –
ANNABELLE: -No! No. I never dreamed this.
PRESENT JOSIE: Yes…sorry. I just –
ANNABELLE: -Open the box.
PRESENT JOSIE: If it’s so important to you, then you do it. I’m not going to participate in this.
ANNABELLE: You already have! Both of us traveled thousands of miles and now you don’t want to finish it?
PRESENT JOSIE: That’s right! I don’t want to finish it because I ALREADY finished this once. It’s amazing. It really is. All my life I take care of other people and then people have the audacity to tell me, do something selfish. Selfish…like it’s a good thing! A safe, kind, exciting word. So, you know what? I do! I do and I love it! It feels so good to ask myself what I want. What will make me happy.
PRESENT JOSIE starts for the door.
ANNABELLE: Where are you going?
PRESENT JOSIE: I said I wanted to go for a swim. That is what will make ME happy.
ANNABELLE: And the box?
PRESENT JOSIE: Let me give you some advice that I wish someone told me twenty-eight years ago….do what makes you happy. You have such a limited amount time before life takes over and pushes you down a path you never agreed to be on.
PRESENT JOSIE exits leaving ANNABELLE alone with the box.
End scene one.
Lights up on an empty stage. 1943 JOSIE enters wearing a slip. On the opposite side of the stage, 1943 FRAN enters, also wearing a slip. The two women are in the same time, 1943, but different places. 1943 JOSIE is home in the States preparing for her wedding day. 1943 FRAN is preparing to be leave for the battlefield in Algiers. Both of these places are battlegrounds.
Next to each woman is a pile of clothes. They move in unison, facing forward. Slowly, 1943 JOSIE begins to dress herself for her wedding day: white dress, pumps, hair in a bun, finally a bouquet. 1943 FRAN dresses for war: WAAC uniform, boots, hair in a bun, and nursing sash on her arm. They stand in silence on stage. One of them should write a letter. Please, please! Write the letter now! Say something! Anything!
They turn to face each other. They walk by without noticing the other into their separate futures.
End of scene two.
Lights up on the bedroom. PRESENT JOSIE sits on the bed staring at the unopened box. She sits down by the box and brings it closer to her. ANNABELLE quietly enters.
PRESENT JOSIE: You didn’t open it.
ANNABELLE: She didn’t address it to me.
PRESENT JOSIE: You didn’t have to leave.
ANNABELLE: It’s fine. The inn keeper said his sister-in-law had a room and…they’re sweet and the room is nice.
PRESENT JOSIE: I’m happy you came back.
ANNABELLE: You haven’t been to the post office.
PRESENT JOSIE: No. I don’t think anyone is a fan of me recently.
ANNABELLE reaches into her tote and pulls out a package.
ANNABELLE: This came for you. Maddie
PRESENT JOSIE jumps up and grabs the package. ANNABELLE turns to leave.
PRESENT JOSIE: Wait, please. Don’t leave. I don’t know what she is going to say and I think…I think I may need…
ANNABELLE: You can’t stay here anymore.
PRESENT JOSIE: Why? They sold?
ANNABELLE: To me.
PRESENT JOSIE: How?
ANNABELLE: Had some of Fran’s money left over. Worked out a special mother/daughter deal with the town council since they weren’t making any money on it sitting vacant. They let me buy just the house, not the land.
PRESENT JOSIE: What are you going to do?
ANNABELLE: Whatever I want. I could stay here for a little, until someone buys the land, or I can just knock it down and be done with it.
PRESENT JOSIE: No…No, Annabelle please, I know you’re angry but you can’t. This house…this room, it’s all I ever wanted.
ANNABELLE: You know what I want.
PRESENT JOSIE: Okay.
PRESENT JOSIE: Sit with me.
ANNABELLE and PRESENT JOSIE sit around the box. PRESENT JOSIE takes a deep breath and cuts into the tape. She pulls out a stone.
ANNABELLE: Add it to the collection…
PRESENT JOSIE: Hold on…
PRESENT JOSIE reaches in and pulls out a photo of Fran holding baby Annabelle. PRESENT JOSIE gives the photo to ANNABELLE as a projection appears. Fran is lovingly gazing down at Annabelle. ANNABELLE is lost in time staring at the photo.
ANNABELLE: She looks…happy.
PRESENT JOSIE smiles and does not interrupt her moment. She reaches into the box and pulls out a letter. A projection of the letter appears dated April 25, 1969. We hear FRAN’s voiceover.
FRAN (V.O.): Dear Josie, Are you even reading this right now? I imagine this letter sitting in the darkness of the box and then the box being thrown into the darkness of a dumpster and then that dumpster getting thrown into the darkness of a landfill.
And I would deserve it.
Those words seem so small and light on this paper. I wanted you to feel the weight of my words. So, I came back to the war-torn beach where one explosion created my escape from my pride and heartache. I came back to that beach every week with the intention to write to you. But the words carried no weight. So, I took a stone from the sands instead. Every week, I would return, ready to write, then take a stone, and another, and another, and another. I could feel their weight.
Are you happy? I guess I’ll never know. The doctors can’t do much and say I should just make myself comfortable.
Dreaming of you comforts me.
I dream of you staring out a window in a lavender room, bordered by rose pink curtains, looking at the sea. I finally fixed the pin. Now, you can look out the window with your mother.
PRESENT JOSIE reaches into the box and pulls out her mother’s hairpin
FRAN (V.O.): I figured that was the least I could do for you. To make one dream a reality.
Now, I need you to do me a favor. Since I made this dream real for you. I need you to make another dream real. If you have even a speck of our light left inside of you, please, let my daughter dream. I remember what it was like to have a mother like me. It’s better to let her dream.
ANNABELLE: What did she say?
PRESENT JOSIE: A lot of things.
ANNABELLE: Anything about me?
PRESENT JOSIE: Did you know your mother could travel through time and predict the future?
ANNABELLE: I’m done dreaming.
PRESENT JOSIE: No, this is real. Fran predicted that exact moment in your photo. She told me she had a dream where she’s sitting on a couch and she feels happy. Like the happiest she has ever been. And she feels something heavy in her arms. When she looks down, she sees this beautiful, smiling girl. Fran whispers, “Hello Annabelle.” She said you had her eyes, her hair, her smile… She wanted you. Oh, how she dreamed of you. But, she didn’t think she could ever come back. That’s why she collected these stones. She wanted to remember your weight in her arms.
PRESENT JOSIE hands ANNABELLE the stone. ANNABELLE feels the weight of the stone then embraces PRESENT JOSIE.
ANNABELLE: Your daughter will forgive you.
PRESENT JOSIE: Here’s hoping.
PRESENT JOSIE picks up the package from MADDIE and opens it. She pulls out the container of pistachio ice cream. Confused, PRESENT JOSIE begins to read the letter that was in the package. A projection appears. It is not a letter at all, but copies of official enlistment papers for Maddie to serve as an army nurse in Vietnam. As PRESENT JOSIE turns the pages over and over she finds on the back, written almost as if it was a second thought. We hear MADDIE’s voiceover.
MADDIE (V.O.): You were right about the dress. Can’t buy a car where I’m going.
PRESENT JOSIE rips into the pistachio container and pulls out the wad of money she gave Maddie.
ANNABELLE: What is it?
PRESENT JOSIE: This can’t be happening…this can’t happen again.
She lets the papers fall to the floor. ANNABELLE picks them up and skims.
PRESENT JOSIE: It can’t have her. I won’t let it take her.
PRESENT JOSIE jumps up and pulls the suitcase out from under her bed.
ANNABELLE: What are you doing?
PRESENT JOSIE: I have to go.
ANNABELLE: Wait, Josie.
PRESENT JOSIE: I can’t stay, Annabelle.
ANNABELLE: What did Fran mean when she said, “Her heart was shattered.”
PRESENT JOSIE: She made a choice.
ANNABELLE: She said, “My heart was given away to someone else…”
PRESENT JOSIE: All she had to do was stay and none of this would have happened.
ANNABELLE: You left her?
PRESENT JOSIE: I did what every girl in my town did. The boys were coming home from the war. They were bruised, scarred, they needed someone to take care of them… I found the first boy who treated me well and married him.
ANNABELLE: You deserted her.
PRESENT JOSIE: Wars have done things to my family- When she told me she was going to war I couldn’t stand the thought of another war taking someone I love-
ANNABELLE: -So, you killed her instead. Shattered her heart.
PRESENT JOSIE: Fran and I both wanted to make our own history. For Fran, that meant leaving, and for me, it meant staying. We can’t know for sure, but, maybe when Fran saw you dressed head to toe like her she realized, she didn’t want you to end up like her.
ANNABELLE: How will you get home?
PRESENT JOSIE picks up the pistachio container.
PRESENT JOSIE: Enough to buy a car, a down payment on a house, a beautiful dress, or a one-way ticket across the ocean.
ANNABELLE: Will you be okay alone?
PRESENT JOSIE: Come look out this window with me.
PRESENT JOSIE puts the pin in her hair, then she unclasps the locket from around her neck and hands it to ANNABELLE.
PRESENT JOSIE: Take this.
ANNABELLE: What is it?
PRESENT JOSIE: You want to learn from your history? This is yours, but you don’t have to repeat it. Go home. Tell Clare you’re sorry. She was right and you were wrong. You will never regret trying.
ANNABELLE: And this place?
PRESENT JOSIE: Knock it down. It’s time for me to wake up.
Lights fade as they stare out the window.
End of scene three.
Lights up on the field (the kiss.) It is April, 1942 a little after dusk. The sun is setting. 1942 JOSIE is waiting, dressed in a graduation smock and flashlight in hand. A beam from another flashlight appears and flashes three times. 1942 JOSIE answers the flashes with her own light. 1942 FRAN appears.
1942 JOSIE: Where were you hiding?
1942 FRAN: In the balcony, way in the back. I saw you though.
1942 JOSIE: I wanted you to meet my ma.
1942 FRAN: We both know that wasn’t going to happen today.
1942 JOSIE: I’m going to meet yours-
1942 FRAN: -Josie-
1942 JOSIE: -There’s nothing you can do to stop me. When you graduate from your nursing program next week, I will be sitting with your parents.
1942 FRAN: And you call me the dreamer.
1942 JOSIE: This is all one, big, long dream. I want to wake up and when I do, I need something real. Something I can touch. Me, shaking your parents’ hands at your graduation, is something I can feel.
1942 FRAN: I’m not going to graduation.
1942 JOSIE: I’m sorry…What are you saying now?
1942 FRAN: I need you to listen to me.
1942 JOSIE: Oh, I’m all ears. I cannot wait to hear this.
1942 FRAN: And I need you to trust me.
1942 JOSIE: How?
1942 FRAN: I want to marry you-
Not now, but one day. I want to marry you while doing something with purpose. I want to make you proud
1942 JOSIE: Nursing would make me proud
1942 FRAN: No, nursing would satisfy you. You would settle for nursing. We are more than “settling.”
1942 JOSIE: How would that even work?
1942 FRAN: Can’t you dream with me?
1942 JOSIE: No, give me something real.
1942 FRAN: The stars are coming out.
1942 JOSIE: I have to go soon.
1942 FRAN: Put a wish into the universe with me.
1942 JOSIE: You know my wish.
1942 FRAN: One day. Time doesn’t stop. One day, we are going to wake up and when we look in the mirror, we will see our mothers.
1942 JOSIE: How would we even live together?
1942 FRAN: Something real?
1942 JOSIE: Something I can touch.
1942 FRAN: In a little house, somewhere far away from here. A place where time moves slower. It’s just you and me. In a little house-
1942 JOSIE: -By the sea.
1942 FRAN: Sea?
1942 JOSIE: Sea, ocean, whatever…something with salt. I’ve never seen it before. My ma only has pictures from magazines.
1942 FRAN: It’ll be right outside our bedroom window. You’ll be able to smell it.
1942 JOSIE: I want pink curtains…that soft pink- rose pink – framing the window so even with them closed, it still lets a little light in.
1942 FRAN: Got it.
1942 JOSIE: And I want everything painted lavender.
1942 FRAN: Okay. Lavender. Rose pink curtains. View of the sea. Anything else?
1942 JOSIE: A daughter?
1942 FRAN: …
1942 JOSIE: What?
1942 FRAN: I don’t know.
1942 JOSIE: What do you mean you don’t know? Your locket…you told me, your locket you wanted to give to your daughter.
1942 FRAN: It’s heavy, Josie, okay. I don’t know if I want that anymore.
1942 JOSIE: I do. I had a dream about her. I was sitting on a couch and I felt something heavy in my arms. When I looked down, I saw her staring back at me and I said, “Hello Maddie.” She felt so heavy, but it was good weight, happy weight.
1942 FRAN: Do you ever wonder about her? Your mother? Who she was before you? Before your dad? All of her secrets she shared with the stars?
I think about my mom a lot. How different her life would have been if I never came along. I don’t even know who that woman would have been with every option in front of her…
Would she have married my dad? No. In fact, she told me…if she could travel back in time and do it all over again, I wouldn’t be here.
It’s okay, really, I get it because I feel the same way too.
I don’t want to regret anything.
Anyone can have a kid. You can feed them, cloth them, care for them, fear for them, want the best for them, but in the end, not everyone is meant to be a mother.
My mother’s regret is a heavy weight to carry. It’s a nightmare, when it should be a dream…a good dream.
We get so little time to be selfish.
I know what I want. I’m looking right at it.
The stars come out.
1942 FRAN: Pick a star and make a wish.
1942 JOSIE: That one, right there, at the tip of the Big Dipper.
1942 FRAN: Now, dream with me.
1942 FRAN and 1942 JOSIE stand holding each other under the stars as the lights fade.
End of scene four.
Black hole: The star fully collapses in on itself. This collapse creates such a strong pull of gravity no matter, light, or radiation can escape.
Lights up on the empty field, now parking lot. It is July, 1970 close to midnight. We see a beam of light as PRESENT JOSIE enters. She stands alone for a moment and pulls out a letter. A beam of light appears as MADDIE enters onstage carrying a flashlight. She is dressed in her Army Nurse uniform. She is somewhere in a dark barracks in Vietnam. When Maddie speaks, she is writing the letter PRESENT JOSIE reads.
MADDIE: Ma, I’m going to write you this one letter. One. I don’t know if I’ll send you another. But unlike you, I’m not going to just up and disappear without giving a reason. I married Jason because I thought he stood for something. But when his number was pulled, something changed. I guess it didn’t help that the next day Marcus was sent home. He looked different. Kind of the same way you described Grandpa.
I felt so helpless. I’m going to be a nurse for God sakes, and I can’t do a single thing to heal him. I thought you said healing ran in our blood. My hands are useless for the kind of pain he has.
I took Jason out for breakfast. To same spot where Marcus and I would meet. I thought he was shaken up, and I wanted to help.
I couldn’t eat. He ordered pancakes.
They put our order on the table when Jason told me he wasn’t going. His dad knew a guy who needed a little financial favor, made up some stupid medical condition, and he was out. Then he took a big bite of his pancakes.
You want to know the funny thing? I wasn’t surprised. It’s like I knew this all along, but I didn’t want face it. I wanted to keep dreaming of me and Jason and our happy, little home and I realized then I had to go. I couldn’t stand by and watch all the people I love get sucked into this hell and I just sit at home and dream. I needed to do something real.
I have a gift, a gift that I got from you to heal people. And I will be damned if I just sat on these hands and do nothing with them. And when my daughter asks me who I was before I was her mother, I can tell her that I was strong and I did not runaway.
In your last letter you said I should look for a star. One at the tip of the Big Dipper’s handle. I’m looking at it now.
MADDIE stares up at the star. PRESENT JOSIE turns her attention to the same place. They stand in their separate presents staring at the star.
End of play.