Two weeks ago, I wrote a short story for my Odyssey article. It was unconventional (in the sense that I don't think many people use this platform for publishing their own fiction), but it was my way of sharing with people the stories that I write. This week, I decided to continue on the track of unconventionality. I've recently been fascinated by screenplays and scripts, so I decided to share with you one of the 10-minute plays that I wrote.
So, without further ado, here's "Lost and Found."
Dianna: Twenty-three. Newly married.
Mark: Twenty-three. Dianna’s husband.
Setting: Living room. One couch is center stage. On the left is a plush chair separated by a side table with a lamp on it. The right has the same set-up without the lamp. A coffee table is in the middle of the living room setup. A small kitchen is upstage left.
(Dianna and Mark enter from stage right. They both look tired and disheveled. Mark’s in his pajamas and a long overcoat, unlaced boots on his feet. Dianna’s in a hospital gown and a nice coat. Dianna immediately collapses down on the couch. Mark takes off his coat and begins to walk to the kitchen. He pauses.)
Mark: Do you want anything?
(Dianna doesn’t respond. Instead, she stares straight ahead and clutches the fabric of her dress.)
(A little more firmly.) Dianna.
Dianna: (Snaps out of whatever trance she was in) What?
Mark: I’m gonna make some coffee. Do you want any?
(Dianna shakes her head. Mark crosses up to the kitchen and begins to make coffee.)
Mark: How do you want to tell your mom?
(Dianna doesn’t answer. Mark turns around and looks at her. She’s back in her trance. He turns backs to pour coffee in two cups.)
Mark: We can invite her over for dinner tonight. Or, if it’s easier for you, we can call her. (He crosses back over to the living room, setting a cup down in front of Dianna and then sitting down in one of the chairs) Whatever you want to do, we’ll do.
Dianna: (Snapping back out of her trance) I told you I didn’t want any coffee.
Mark: I know. I just figured it’s been a long couple of days. You’re exhausted. I can see it in your face.
Dianna: Then I’ll take a nap. I don’t want any coffee.
Mark: (Frustrated but understanding) I know, Di, but you refuse to sleep. I’m just trying to help.
Mark: Stop what? Stop helping? You lost a baby, Dianna.
Do you want to try to take a nap out here? I can grab a pillow and some blankets for you.
Dianna: No. I’m fine.
Mark: (Beat.) The doctors said we could try again in a couple of months. Until then, I think that we should go talk to a therapist.
Dianna: I don’t want to talk to stranger that’s going to spout off some bullshit about this not being my fault and how we did everything that we possibly could.
Mark: It helped me when my parents got a divorce. I think it’ll help us now.
Dianna: Losing a child is not the same as watching your parents go through a divorce.
Mark: Exactly. It’s worse.
Dianna: I don’t want to see a therapist, Mark. I’m not going to keep talking about this.
Mark: (Finally snapping) Dammit, Dianna! Why are you being such a bitch?
Dianna: Excuse me?
Mark: All I want to do is make this transition easier for you, and you insist on pushing me away. I’m your husband, we’re in this together.
Dianna: (She stands up and begins to pace around the living room, getting angrier with every step.) Are you out of your mind? I feel like someone ripped a piece out of my body and didn’t care enough to put it back. My hormones are through the roof, I haven’t slept in days, my child is dead, and you’re calling me a bitch because I won’t do what you expect me to do? Because I won’t mourn my child the way you want me to? You’re insane.
Mark: (He stands up and goes behind the chair he was sitting in, gripping the plush fabric to steady himself.) Your child? She was my daughter, too, you know. When the doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat, it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I couldn’t breathe, Dianna. She didn’t even have a chance.
(A soft silence fills the air. Both Mark and Dianna are still. Finally, Dianna speaks.)
Dianna: Did we ever have a chance?
Mark: What are you talking about?
Dianna: If there was no baby girl, if I never got pregnant, do you think that we would still be together?
Mark: (Surprised.) Of course we would, Di. I love you.
Dianna: (She doesn’t believe him.) Be honest, Mark. You only married me because I was having your baby.
Mark: That’s not true. I planned on proposing long before you told me.
Dianna: (Pause.) Do you know what I did when I found out I was pregnant?
(Mark shakes his head.)
Dianna: I cried for two days straight. I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t sleep. I wouldn’t even leave my bed. On the third day, my roommate finally had enough of the snotty Kleenexes and the self-loathing, and she offered to take me to an abortion clinic. (Beat.) So I went.
Mark: You did what?
Dianna: (Ignoring his judgment.) We sat in the car outside of Planned Parenthood for four hours until I realized that it wasn’t fair of me to get an abortion without you knowing that you were going to be a father.
Mark: Would you have gone through with the abortion if I hadn’t asked you to marry me?
Dianna: (Pause.) I don’t know.
A baby needs a father, and I know firsthand what it’s like to grow up without one. I would never want to put my child through that.
Mark: (Pause.) Would you have married me if you weren’t pregnant?
Dianna: (She looks down and places a hand on her stomach.) I gave up everything the moment I decided to keep this baby. I wanted to travel the world and take photos of everything that I saw. I wanted to eat French baguettes and see the Trevi fountain and walk the Great Wall of China and experience the Holi Festival in India. I wanted to live. (Pause.) I’m 23, and I still haven’t flown on a plane. I’ve barely stepped foot outside of Minnesota. I put everything on hold when I found out I was pregnant.
Mark: You could have done all of those things with me and the baby.
Dianna: But I didn’t want to. (She sits back down on the couch.) I went from living with my mom, to living with my roommates, to living with you. I’ve relied on everyone else my entire life that I have no idea who I am as a person. I needed to see the world and figure out my purpose. When that plus sign showed up on the test, I could feel the life that I wanted slipping through my fingertips.
Mark: (He sits down in the chair opposite Dianna.) Then why did you say 'Yes' when I proposed?
Dianna: You were so excited when I told you we were having a baby. I thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, you know? If I had to get pregnant by anyone, I was glad that it was someone who wanted to be involved in my-- in our child’s life. (Pause.) And then you proposed and I said yes because I came to terms with the fact that this, (she gestures around the room), was going to be my life.
Mark: So you settled for me?
(She reluctantly nods)
Mark: Shit, Di.
(Dianna stands up, buttoning her coat.)
Mark: So what are we going to do now?
Dianna: I think we need to take some time apart.
Mark: Dianna. Come on. That’s not necessary.
Dianna: The only thing keeping us together was our daughter. And she’s gone now. (Pause.) There’s no need for us to pretend to be in love anymore.
Mark: I was never pretending.
Dianna: And I truly believe you think that. But we’re only 23, Mark. You deserve someone who’s going to be with you because they’re in love you, not because you got them pregnant.
Mark: Where are you gonna go?
Dianna: I’ve thought about this on the way home, and I think I’m gonna move in with my sister until I can find a cheap apartment. I wanna see what it’s like to be dependent on myself for a little while.
Can you let me know when I can come get my stuff?
(He nods. She begins to leave)
(She turns around, tears beginning to fall down her face.)
Mark: Did you ever love me?
Dianna: You’re the father of my child... I think there were moments when I could see myself living this life with you and the baby. There were moments when I would look at you-- when you were reading or painting the nursery-- and feel lucky that you called me your wife. (Pause.) I think I’m always going to love you, Mark. You will always have a little piece of my heart. But I don’t think I was ever in love with you, no.
(Mark smiles a sad smile.)
Mark: That’s what I thought. (Pause.) I hope you find what you’re looking for, Dianna.
Dianna: Thank you. I hope that for you, too.
Mark: Bye, Dianna.
Dianna: Goodbye, Mark.
(She exits. Lights go dark.)