SCENE TWO (DRAFT): after a monologue during which MELISSA, now dead, relays the last moments of her life through the bodies of her perpetrators, we meet VAN and RACHEL together, and begin to form the shape of their relationship. The location is undisclosed but should remain postdramatic, with a wheelie-bin at the back and centre of the stage. This is from the 'in progress' first draft of Flotsam: my playwriting process involves firstly solidifying the dramatic elements (character, voice, dramaturgy etc.), then feeding the play's politics through the second draft and onwards. A "//" indicates a cross-over with the following line.
VAN and RACHEL are in their home together. VAN is on her laptop.
RACHEL Hey –
VAN Yeah. Me too.
What’re you doing?
VAN I am…
…talking to you…
What’re you doing online.
VAN Shit, what’re you, my mum?
So I figured I’d have to tell you sooner or later, and no time like the present, right?
She just got in contact with me a couple days ago, and I…
I’m talking to my ex.
VAN She prefers Mel, actually.
RACHEL Does she?
VAN Yeah, we’re thinking we’re gonna meet up later, down Central or something. Grab a couple chai lattes and, like. Shoot the shit.
[starting to break.] It’s been a while, y’know? Catch up on old, sexy times.
RACHEL You dickhead!
VAN Oh, come on. If I was gonna cheat, I’d be smart enough to not do it literally right in front of you.
RACHEL Yeah, alright.
I had this dream last night.
VAN Yeah, I could tell.
RACHEL You could, could you?
VAN You are so. Loud. When you dream. Like… when you see a golden retriever on the ground, right, and it starts kicking and snorting and snarling, ‘cos it’s in a dream, yeah? But it’s asleep. It can't possibly understand it’s being inconsiderate to those around it.
RACHEL You’re calling me a dog?
VAN Yeah. But hey, you’re cute like a golden retriever. About as hairy as one, too.
RACHEL Aw. Thanks.
VAN Didn’t say it was a bad thing. So, you had a dream, and…?
RACHEL And… you keep distracting me. Shut up.
VAN I’m… sorry?
RACHEL Should be.
Okay. Um. Well, I dreamt about you, for one. Back when we were in high school.
VAN Ooh, like a sexy boarding-school romance?
RACHEL We were in Philosophy class, and Ms. Symes was there. Only it wasn’t Ms. Symes, or, it was, but it was Ms. Symes played by Jodie Foster. Anyway, she was straight out of some sexy boarding-school romance, and she was practically salivating all over the fact she was teaching at an all-girls school and wearing this totally inappropriate French Maid’s outfit, which for whatever reason didn’t seem weird?
Like, she’d just gotten up that morning and decided “well, guess this is what I’m gonna wear to I shape young minds today,” and that was that. Outfit sorted.
VAN You had Jodie Foster in fetish gear and you didn’t take advantage? Weak.
RACHEL No, it wasn’t like that – like, I didn’t want to and neither did you. She was teaching us all about “The Gay Science” – [VAN snorts] – yeah, yeah, real funny. Real subtle, too. But she just… taught. Like, that was the whole dream.
We just went to class and learnt some stuff.
VAN That is genuinely disappointing.
RACHEL Maybe that was the magical part of the dream. That we actually learnt something.
VAN The combination of how much noise you made last night and that lead up then were for… what? Turns out you can remember more stuff from high school than you thought you could?
RACHEL Well, I guess I remembered more than I thought I did? I never really paid that much attention, but it’s wormed its way in somehow, ‘cos I woke up with all these little Nietzsches dancing round my head this morning.
RACHEL You’re in a mood.
VAN No. No, I am not “in a mood.” You’re just a storytelling cock-tease, is what you are. Setting up false expectations left, right and centre.
RACHEL Sorry to disappoint you.
VAN I don’t think you are.
RACHEL Nah, I’m not. You’re right.
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way? It doesn’t exist.”
VAN QuotesFrenzy.Com, forward slash Nietzsche?
RACHEL Well, yeah. I Googled him after that dream. I dunno, that one sort of stuck with me.
VAN [reading from her screen.] Says here he died in the year 1900 from undiagnosed syphilis. Sorry to break it to you, but your boy’s hardly a hero for the ages.
VAN They thought he’d just gone crazy, but after he died, they found his brain was all eaten up by from syphilis. Syphilis and mercury poisoning, because in those days the things they used as cures for diseases actually just made things worse.
Oh, gross, there’s photos.
RACHEL Let me see.
VAN Not of him, sicko, just some other poor sap.
RACHEL Y’know, I think I remember this, from class.
VAN Lucky you.
RACHEL I think they thought he caught it from a whorehouse, as you’d prob’ly expect.
VAN Well, sure. Not like there was much in the way of protection back then.
RACHEL But, like… not from a prostitute. It’s theorised he got it from a piano stool.
pause. VAN bursts out laughing.
RACHEL No, like, he didn’t want to fuck any of them; he just made friends with them, and also liked to play the piano, and it was just this thing that… [VAN continues laughing.]
Fine. Fuck you, whatever.
VAN No. No… no, I’m sorry. I’ll stop.
she gets herself under control.
I’ll stop. I’ll stop, see?
RACHEL I just think... to want companionship so fucking badly that it literally kills you?
That’s just sad. It’s just so fucking sad.