This week's article is a piece that I wrote for the new one act play I am writing. The one act play is called Birdhouse, and it's about a young woman who has HIV and is having trouble keeping someone who cares about her, close to her. It is set in the late eighties, early nineties (use your imagination It isn't complete, but it's a start, and I wanted to share it with you all. I hope you enjoy!
(Lights go up on stage, and Ray is sitting on her bed, which is one stage left, she is staring out the window of her bedroom. From stage right enters Finn. He is her friend, but they haven’t spoken in a few weeks)
Finn: How have you been?
Ray: Great, thanks.
Finn: I haven’t seen you around, you never come by the shop anymore.
Ray: I’ve had a lot on my plate.
Finn: It’s cool, I guess I’ve just missed you.
Ray: Oh. Well, I’ve missed you too.
Finn: Still watching the birds?
Ray: Always (she laughs)
Finn: I brought you something.
Ray: You didn’t have to do that.
Finn: It’s really nothing that special (he pulls out a birdhouse he made and hands it to her) I know you’ve got all those birds outside your window, and I just thought it might be nice to give them their own little home, ya know?
Ray: This is really nice of you, thanks Finn.
Finn: Anytime. I figured I owed you a good gift, considering all the great gifts you give me.
Ray: (she holds the birdhouse and admires it. She takes a beat and places it down, gets up and crosses towards the window)
Finn: Are you okay?
Ray: You ever think what it’s like to be completely free and fly?
Finn: Uhm, no. But I’m sure it’s pretty cool.
Ray: Don’t you hate working in that stupid shop every single day of your life?
Finn: Uh, well, no. I like my job. You know I want to be a carpenter.
Ray: But in this town? Don’t you want to go out into the world and venture, and get out of this shit hole?
Finn: I mean eventually I’d like to travel, but I like where I am right now, why are you bringing this up?
Ray: I wanna get out of here, I wanna be able to climb mountains as high as Kilimanjaro, swim across oceans as wide as the pacific, cure a disease, be someone important.
Finn: Those are great goals Ray..I just wanted to know what you thought of the birdhouse-
Ray: (cutting him off) I’m so sick of people constantly categorizing us as human beings. I want to be able to important for me, and not for anyone else. I have dreams you know?
Finn: I do know. I think you can do anything.
Ray: (she pauses and looks at him) You think so, Finn?
Finn:(Crossing over to her) I do, I always have. You’re probably the bravest, smartest, coolest person I know. I mean you just understand people, you’re super open minded, hell you can make an encyclopedia seem interesting, and I think that’s an accomplishment in itself.
Ray: Do you mean that?
Finn: Yes. I really do. (he leans in to kiss her, but she walks across the room)
Ray: I like the birdhouse.
Finn: (he sighs and laughs) I’m glad you like it.
Ray: I have something for you too. (she goes under her bed and grabs a box full of books and records) These are for you.
Finn: Ray...these are like your pride and joy...why are you giving them to me?
Ray: Please don’t ask. Just take them. You and this box have something in common.
Finn: (confused) What do you mean?
Ray: (almost in tears) They’re both incredibly special to me. (she hands him the box and sits back down on her bed)
Finn: (he is unsure what is wrong, but he sits beside her, and tries to comfort her) You still writing?
Ray: Huh? Oh, uhm no. I haven’t written in about a month.
Finn: Why not?
Ray: A lot has been happening, I guess I just don’t have much to write about.
Finn: Ray, that’s crazy talk, you always have something to say. I still have the book of short stories you wrote for me. They’re really amazing.
Ray: Thanks..it’s just not my number one priority right now.
Finn: What is?
Ray: I don’t know.
Finn: So I’ve been meaning to ask you something.
Ray: What’s that?
Finn: Why haven’t you been around...I was wondering why.
Ray: Don’t worry too much about it.
Finn: I heard you quit your job, and there’s rumours you’re not coming back to school, why?
Ray: It’s more complicated than that okay?
Finn: Wanna talk about it?
Ray: No, I really don’t want to.
Finn: Did I do something?
Finn: You’ve just been avoiding me, and everyone else this past month, and I’m really worried. I miss you, and I just wanna know what I can do to help.
Ray: There’s nothing you can do, because there’s nothing to help.
Finn: Ray, something's off, I can tell.
Ray: (getting angry and getting up and crossing towards the window again) Finn, there is NOTHING you can do to help me, alright?! I am BEYOND help at this point.
Finn: (getting up) Okay, okay...I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you, I just care about you.
Ray: Well, then just stop.
Ray: Yes, stop.
Finn: Stop caring?
Ray: Yes, exactly.
Finn: What are you talking about?
Ray: Do me a favor, and stop caring about me. Don’t like me, don’t love me, and don’t even remember me.
Finn: I don’t understand why you’re doing this.
Ray: I don’t have to explain this to you.
Finn: Yes you do! I’ve been your best friend since we were six. I’ve been the one who you’ve leaned on through countless obstacles, whether that was your mother leaving, your anxiety, your ex boyfriend cheating on you, I was there. I was there for it all, and now you’re telling me to not care? What about everything you’ve ever done for me? You becoming my rock and loving me when I had NOTHING. You seriously can’t expect me to just walk away from you. I WON’T, because I care about you. THAT’S RIGHT. I care about you!
Ray: Just go away Finn please! I can’t do this right now.
Finn: Please Ray, just explain it to me, you owe me that at least-
Ray: Fine, you want to know? Remember all those dreams I said earlier? Well guess what?! They’re not going to come fucking true. Want to know why? Because I am SICK.
Ray: You heard me. I’m sick.
Finn: What are you sick with? Ray I’m seriously confused, and I don’t know what’s going on.
Ray: (she sits down on the floor, and Finn sits with her) Remember Kenny?
Finn: Yeah, what about him?
Ray: Well, do you remember how liked him a lot?
Finn: Yes, I do.
Ray: Well, we went on a date..the date was going really well. We just had fun. Then when we made it back to his house, he kind of just transformed. He became more aggressive, and volatile. We ended up having sex...I didn’t really want to, but it was whatever..I just felt like I couldn’t say no.
Ray: Just let me finish..He stopped talking to me after that night. He wouldn’t return any of my calls, and completely ignored me if he saw me in public. After a few weeks, I started feeling some flu like symptoms, and I thought it was all completely normal. But...then it got worse, and my dad took me to the doctor. I told the doctor what was going on, and that I was worried it could be more than the flu. They asked if I had had unprotected sex recently, and I said yes, and the look on the doctor’s face was a look I wish I could unsee. They ran tests on me, and….
Ray: (in tears now) I have HIV Finn, I have HIV. (collapsing onto the floor)There’s nothing they can do, there’s no cure, no real treatment, I’m just...I’m just going to die.
Finn: No…(he gets up)
Finn: No, I’m not gonna lose you.
Ray: Finn, there’s so much that goes on with this disease, I can’t let you go through this with me.
Finn: YES you can. (getting down on the floor with her) I will not walk away from this. I will not be every other person in your life. I am here. I am here Ray, I am here to stay, and I am not going to listen to you.
Ray: Finn, I’m probably going to die.
Finn: You don’t….you don’t know that.
Ray: You don’t even know how hard this is, sitting here knowing that I am not going to grow old with you, you have no idea how hard that is.
Finn: I rather have you in my life for ten minutes, completely happy, and in love, than 100 years of absolutely nothing.
Ray: My life is absolutely meaningless now, I have nothing to live for.
Finn: That’s not true, you are breathing right now, you can see, you can read, you can write. You have legs, working lungs, and people who love you. You are NOT this disease. Yes, this is scary, and horrible, but no one is going to let you fall. Your life has meaning to it, because you’ve given so many people’s life meaning. And, if you die, wouldn’t you rather die knowing you’ve changed so many people’s lives, made so many people happy, but also because you didn’t go without a fight.
(he grabs her hands, pauses and kisses her, when they both pull away, they hear the birds outside her window, both look at each other and smile, and then there is a blackout)