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Script 2016

Pack Up the Moon

by Natalie Parker-Lawrence

 

CHARACTERS:

TRICIA, female, 30 to 50

ANNA, her older sister, 30 to 50

WAITER

 

SETTING:

We are in a busy Chinese restaurant at lunchtime. There is a table with two chairs. There are placemats, silverware, a Chinese vase with a silk flower.

 

AT RISE:

Noon. Offstage American music with Chinese lyrics. TRICIA sits at the table, looking impatiently at her watch. ANNA enters from stage left.

 

TRICIA

You’re late.

 

ANNA

I had to finish listening to a song on the radio.

 

TRICIA

It would have come back on.

(pause)

What song?

 

ANNA

 Heart of Gold. Neil Young.

 

TRICIA

You have that tape. You have that CD. You have that album. You even had it in 8-track.

 

ANNA

I still do. So what?

 

TRICIA

So-o-o-o-o, you can listen to it anytime. Don’t you possess any music from this millennium?

 

ANNA

No. Don’t forget. At my funeral, have them play that song.

 

TRICIA

You’re spoiling my lunch.

 

ANNA

Sisters can do that.

 

TRICIA

You’re so morbid.

 

ANNA

Just do it.

 

TRICIA

What about something religious?

 

ANNA (singing)

“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.”

 

TRICIA

Oh yes, Mother and Daddy will love that.

 

ANNA

Don’t you think if I irritate them enough during the service, they won’t be so upset? Daddy might even laugh.

 

TRICIA

Oh, no question. How much control do you think you’ll have from beyond the grave?

 

ANNA

I intend on having a great deal.

 

TRICIA

Really? What will you do for me? Bring me lottery numbers while I sleep at night?

 

ANNA

I’ll watch over the children you haven’t had yet.

 

TRICIA (looking at a menu)

Stop . . . stop it. Let’s keep this light, shall we?

 

ANNA

We have plenty of time . . . for you to lose it.

 

TRICIA (whispering)

No, we don’t.

 

ANNA

We have enough time.

 

TRICIA

No, we don’t.

 

ANNA

No—I’m the one with no time. You, on the other hand, have plenty.

 

TRICIA

Well, we don’t.

 

ANNA (recovering)

Do you remember when we rode into Albuquerque when we were little?

 

TRICIA

You yelled, “Look, a bowl of mountains.”

 

ANNA

Yeah, the city was inside.

 

TRICIA

You couldn’t even see it, but you knew it was there.

 

ANNA

Just the lights.

 

TRICIA

Like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

 

ANNA

My cancer is like that. Only it’s the Fourth Kind.

 

TRICIA

Shut up. We were talking about mountains.

 

ANNA

I wasn’t.

 

TRICIA (rearranging the silverware)

Where’s our waiter?

 

ANNA

So, how’s the cotton business?

 

TRICIA

Oh, you know, “Tote that barge, lift that bale.”

 

ANNA (sarcastically)

See, that doesn’t sound fun to me.

 

TRICIA

It’s not bad. Everybody does it. Everybody. Long hours, no life.

 

ANNA

You live your entire workday in an upholstered box in a high-rise of towering steel.

 

TRICIA

Oh, that’s not the bad part.

 

ANNA

You don’t have a window. Have they given you a window? Do you hear how that sounds—giving someone a window, like a sweet white wedding cookie on an embossed napkin?

 

TRICIA

 Why are you doing this?

 

ANNA

Why? Why? Because you’re so confined. Because you need to look out. You need to push your universe out. Because I say so.

 

TRICIA

I don’t need to look out.

 

ANNA

Everyone needs to look out.

 

TRICIA

I don’t. I’ll get a window someday. I just have to work harder.

 

ANNA

You sound like Boxer, the horse in Animal Farm.

 

TRICIA

Who?

 

ANNA

Boxer. He’s the . . . never mind. They teach you that in business school, a class on how to give window?

 

TRICIA

Excuse me?

 

ANNA (enjoying the teasing)

You might have to give someone a blowjob.

 

TRICIA (whispering tightly)

I will not. Shhhh. I would never do that. I don’t . . .

 

ANNA (slowly)

So, you’re telling me that people don’t screw for a window? I would. I’d screw for a window a lot faster than I’d screw for a raise. See, even if you screw for a raise—and get it—you still can’t buy a window.

 

TRICIA

How do you think of these things? People just don’t think that way. I don’t live that way.

 

ANNA

So what do you work for?

 

TRICIA

Car note . . . house note . . . food.

 

ANNA

Food . . . food for you alone, not dog food or date food.

 

TRICIA

I don’t have a dog.

 

ANNA

You don’t have a date.

 

TRICIA

It’s easier to get a dog.

 

ANNA

And they’re so much easier to train.

 

TRICIA

Uh-uh. They chew up stuff.

 

ANNA

Dogs eventually stop chewing your shoe, but men never stop chewing on your soul. Ha-ha.

 

TRICIA

I don’t get it.

 

ANNA

It’s a pun. S-O-L-E and S-O-U-L.

 

TRICIA

Oh, yeah. Well, I just don’t have time. It’s conference time, you know.

 

ANNA

I’ll bet you’ve never seen that on someone’s tombstone: “I’m not dead. I’m at a conference.”

 

TRICIA

What’s going on your tombstone?

 

ANNA (shocked)

What?

 

TRICIA

Oh, I mean . . . I didn’t mean . . . oh, you know, the one later on, when you’re really old, not now, not the one now, oh God, a later one, a later one, not a soon one.

 

ANNA

Yeah, just in case I die later.

 

TRICIA

Yeah, like that.

 

ANNA

How about—“Her sins were scarlet, but her books were read.”

 

TRICIA

Nah, people might talk.

 

ANNA (laughing)

Well, I wouldn’t want that to happen.

 

TRICIA

I’ve heard that saying before anyway. Think of something else.

 

ANNA

“Loving daughter, devoted sister.”

 

TRICIA

That’s not funny.

 

ANNA

Does it have to be funny? See—usually they’re very, well, what’s the word?

(ANNA folds her hands and pretends to be a funeral parlor director.)

SOMMMBERRRRR. “Did you know the deceased well?” “The bride’s side or the groom’s?”

(ANNA comes back to reality)

No, wait, that’s not right.

 

TRICIA (laughing)

Different ceremony.

 

ANNA

Same difference, just on another day.

 

TRICIA

That attitude is unnecessary and maudlin.

 

ANNA

Where did you learn the word maudlin?

 

TRICIA

It’s a vocabulary word in the your-sister-has-terminal­-cancer school. Quiz tomorrow.

 

(ANNA is surprised.)

 

ANNA (recovering)

Use the word 5 times a day and you own it. What other words do you know?

 

TRICIA

Carcinoma of the breast, stage 4.

 

ANNA (surprised)

Was that the first time you said it out loud?

 

TRICIA

Yep.

 

ANNA

And?

 

TRICIA

I didn’t die.

 

ANNA

No, you didn’t. That part is mine.

 

TRICIA

We don’t know that for sure. You’re not dead yet. You’re alive until you’re dead.

 

ANNA

Yes, we do know. Daddy said we all have to die of something.

 

TRICIA

I think he meant falling down in your tomato garden in your back yard or drinking malt liquor in trailers during a tornado or driving fast on short streets in Monte Carlo.

 

ANNA

But not carcinoma of the breast, stage 4?

 

TRICIA

No, not that. That’s not an option.

 

ANNA

It’s not? Who said?

 

TRICIA (being childish)

I said. I am the sister. I get a vote. I get to decide.

 

ANNA

So what would you choose instead?

 

TRICIA

I used to wish I could spray you with Windex and make you vanish like fingerprints on the sliding glass door. Maybe you could freeze to death on an ice f1oe in Northern Alaska. You just fall asleep. Unless you get eaten by a polar bear first.

 

ANNA

Falling asleep with the morphine is better.

 

TRICIA

The plane ticket is cheaper—just one way.

 

ANNA

So is the morphine.

 

TRICIA

I thought we were just being light.

 

ANNA

I thought so too. So, did you make your appointment?

 

(The WAITER brings in a dish with 2 fortune cookies and exits.)

 

TRICIA (avoiding the question)

Why is he bringing us dessert? We haven’t ordered yet.

 

ANNA

Life is short. Eat dessert first. Have crème brûlée and martinis for breakfast.

 

TRICIA

I don’t like desserts at Chinese restaurants.

 

ANNA

Just eat it.

 

(TRICIA and ANNA open the fortune cookies and eat them.)

 

TRICIA (whispering)

Don’t you think that fortune cookies taste like communion hosts?

 

ANNA (loudly and to the restaurant)

No, Tricia, who goes to Our Lady of Perpetual Virginity, I do not believe these pagan pastries resemble hosts whatsoever.

 

TRICIA

Would you please shut the hell up.

 

ANNA (like a child)

Don’t tell me to shut up. You’re not my mother.

(pause)

Just eat it.

(whispering)

Okay . . . yes. They taste like communion hosts. They just change the food coloring.

 

TRICIA

So what does yours say?

 

ANNA (pretending to read)

“It’s Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody.”

 

TRICIA

It does not.

 

ANNA

Add the words “in bed” to all of your fortunes. Go ahead. It can dramatically change your future.

(reading her fortune)

“Your past successes will not equal your future ones . . . in bed.” Oh God!

(ANNA and TRICIA laugh)

Now you.

 

TRICIA (surprised)

Mine’s blank!

 

ANNA

It is not . . . let me see.

 

TRICIA (handing her a blank fortune)

It is too. Look for yourself.

 

ANNA

That’s scary. That’s just too scary.

 

TRICIA

Yeah, no offense, but this one should be yours.

 

ANNA

That was really mean . . . really mean and really funny. It’s the funniest thing you’ve said since all this started.

 

TRICIA

I’m getting the hang of satirical terror.

 

ANNA

Yeah, well, you never quite master it. When you’ve forgotten it—and you do—

(emphatically, trying to convince herself)

and you have forgotten it, it springs on you with its little tiger paws and smudges your forehead.

 

TRICIA

Like on Ash Wednesday.

 

ANNA

Everything becomes a slip, a flicker, a wonder. You try to remember everything like the splinters in wood, the wet gasp of a lover’s whisper, the smoked edges of a piece of cheese.

 

TRICIA

Please stop. Poetry never comforted the dying.

 

ANNA

Poetry is the only thing that comforts the dying. You better let me talk. You’ll miss my voice.

 

TRICIA (like a child)

I will not. You’re bossy.

 

ANNA

So is my doctor. She said she likes stupid patients better. They ask fewer questions. They don’t argue. They accept their fates graciously without a lot of discussion. They die politely.

 

TRICIA

I like her.

 

ANNA

She’s a mean bitch.

 

TRICIA

I like her anyway.

 

ANNA (with a heavy Southern accent)

Her voice is as thin as our grandmother’s crystal.

 

TRICIA

I don’t give a damn about her voice. I just care about how she’s taking care of you. She’s doing a very good job.

 

ANNA

She’s okay . . . I guess.

 

TRICIA

So when do you go back?

 

ANNA

I don’t know . . . maybe next week. They said to bring lots of pretty pajamas.

 

TRICIA (understanding that that’s not a good sign)

Oh . . . next week . . . that soon . . .

 

ANNA

Let’s go to France instead.

 

TRICIA

France?

 

ANNA

Yeah, France. You know berets, Provence, le bon vin, mute pool boys?

 

TRICIA

You can have mute pool boys here.

 

ANNA

But they’re not thinking about me in French.

 

TRICIA

How do you know what mute pool boys are thinking?

 

ANNA

I don’t have to know. I can make all of it up. I really don’t care what they are thinking.

(ANNA touches the scarf on her head.)

I don’t think these chemo-scarves attract a lot of pool boys anyway.

 

TRICIA

Even the ones that can talk.

 

ANNA

Yeah. I’ll just have to wear different hats.

(ANNA gestures dramatically)

Hats with feathers, hats with ribbons, hats with fishing hooks.

 

TRICIA

So about France. I thought we were going to France to spread your ashes on the Seine and then have a big party.

 

ANNA

Well, if we go now, I’ll be more fun.

 

TRICIA

You’ll dance better on the water if we go after.

 

ANNA

I think you’re getting the hang of this a little too well.

(pause)

So did you make an appointment?

 

TRICIA (avoiding the question)

What?

 

ANNA (louder and angrier)

An appointment . . . an appointment . . . an appointment . . . an appointment for a mammo—?

 

TRICIA

Yeah, well, I just haven’t had time. I’ve been really busy. My life is not my own.

 

(ANNA stares blankly at TRICIA for several seconds, then stands up, furious.)

 

ANNA (starting to walk away, wobbly, then turning back to TRlCIA, shaking with anger, pointing)

You know, you need to get in line. This is a buffet.

 

(BLACKOUT)

(CURTAIN)

 

 

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