Excerpt: And, on the second day…

Act 1, Scene 2

First day, morning. A kitchen in a small, modern home. There is a table, four kitchen chairs, and other kitchen items. Two sets of keys are sitting on the table. MARK and ELLEN are sitting at the table with a plate in front of him. Both have finished breakfast.]

Mark

Are you heading to work soon?

Ellen

A few minutes.

Mark, it’s time to talk about me going back to school.

Mark

What would you do with yourself if you did?

Ellen

I could go back and learn something useful, maybe.

Mark

We’ve talked about that before. I said, “No” then and I’m saying it again.

Ellen

Why not?

Mark

The house, for one thing. There’s no way we could keep this up with just my job. If you’re going to quit, then quit to find something that pays better.

Ellen

But, Mark…

Mark

You may not like the grocery store very much but, at least you have a steady check coming from the place. That’s more than I say about the plumbing business. This town isn’t big enough to generate enough money and you complain whenever I take an out-of-town job. Leave off.

Ellen

I’ve been there for ten years. I’m still making the same amount I was when I started. We’re not going to get ahead if I stay there. And, I’m not going to find anything better without finishing school.

Mark

And, what are you going to find that pays better here. You’re not going back to school and that’s final. Damn it. Why do I have to keep repeating myself?

Ellen

Mark…

Mark

Final, Ellen. There’s nothing else to do in this town. Make do with what you have… for no other than reason than we have no choice.

Ellen

[Sighs] Yes, Mark.

[Ellen is standing by the table, and then moves stage left to the door to upstairs.]

Tim! You’re going to be late!

Mark

If he doesn’t hurry, he’s going to have to find his own way to school. I’ve got a job scheduled for this morning. I’m not waiting for him to get his ass in gear and get down here.

Ellen

Tim! Your father is leaving soon! Hurry up!

Mark

[Mark calls towards door to upstairs]

Tim! Five minutes and I’m gone! What the hell is with that kid, anyway?

Ellen

Mark, don’t. He finds things hard enough.

Mark

He makes it hard on himself, Ellen. If he wasn’t going through this damn phase of his, he’d find things a lot easier. He won’t come out of his bedroom. He doesn’t talk to us anymore.

Ellen

You promised. Don’t say anything to him.

Mark

I won’t, I won’t. God forbid I should hurt his feelings. All he does is sit around, play on the computer, and read science fiction books.

Ellen

I think he’s having real problems.

Mark

Bull. We don’t give him enough attention or money or something… If it wasn’t one thing, it would be something else.

Ellen

Shhhh. He’ll be down in a few seconds.

Mark

I don’t give a damn anymore. He wants to push our buttons. Why can’t I push a bit, too?

Ellen

We decided we’d let him settle himself.

Mark

You decided. If I could afford it, I’d settle him in a shrink’s office. Half of me says I should settle him across the side of the head.

Ellen

Mark!

Mark

I don’t know how you got that kid this way, but, you’re going to have to deal with him. I’ve got to go to work.

Ellen

You know he hates to take the bus.

Mark

If he hated it that much, he’d be ready on time. Sorry, Ellen, but he’s on his own.

[Mark gets up, put car keys in his pocket, and walks offstage left.]

Ellen

[Sighs] Tim, could you please come down and go to school!

Tim

[Offstage]

Give me a minute

[ELLEN starts to clean off the table. TIM enters stage right.]

Hey, where’s Mark?

Ellen

Call him “Dad.”

Tim

He’s my stepfather. Why would I call him “Dad?”

Ellen

If you were willing to give an inch, the two of you might get along better. Honestly, the two of you are exactly the same…

Tim

You’re kidding, Mom?

Ellen

You’re both as stubborn as mules. You stick your feet into the ground and won’t cut the other a bit of slack.

Tim

When he starts, I will. Where is he, anyway?

Ellen

He left for work a few minutes ago.

Tim

What?

Ellen

He had to be into work early this morning. You were here in the kitchen last night when he said it.

Tim

How am I getting to school?

Ellen

The bus.

Tim

Like hell!

Ellen

Don’t you speak to me like that, young man. I am your mother and I’m not going to tolerate that tone with me, or your father, any more.

Tim

Stepfather.

Ellen

That’s the tone I’m talking about. Now get ready and get out to the bus stop.

Tim

No.

Ellen

You should of thought about the bus when you were dawdling upstairs. What took you so long to get down here?

Tim

I was up late, last night. I had a hard time waking up.

Ellen

Were you studying? It’s more likely you were on the internet playing those stupid games.

I saw your last report card. Your grades are falling. Just be glad Mark didn’t get a chance to see it.

Tim

My report card is none of his business. Why can’t you drive me?

Ellen

I’ll be late for work. Mr. Jenkins will fire me if I’m late again this month.

Tim

Then, I’m not going.

Ellen

I’m not in the mood to put up with you this morning.

Tim

If I have to go on the bus, I’m not going.

Ellen

You are going. You are not throwing away your chance for the education I never got! You are going to get ahead in life.

Tim

I’m not.

Ellen

I’ve had enough of this. Your lunch is made. Here.

[Hands him a lunch bag].

Now get out to that bus stop.

Tim

I’ll walk if I have to, but I’m not going on the bus.

Ellen

I honestly don’t understand what you have against the bus.

Tim

That’s just it, you don’t understand anything.

Ellen

I don’t understand anything?

Tim

You don’t know how hard things are.

Ellen

I don’t know what it’s like? Life is hard? I’ll tell you “hard.” Hard is when your husband leaves you and your kid for a 16-year old. And, you have to find a job that pays more than childcare costs on a Grade 10 education. So you get a job at the grocery store that pays slightly more than minimum wage because it’s the only way you and your child will have either food on your plate or a roof over your head.

I worked damn hard to get us where we are. And, luckily, I found another man who liked me for what I was and he was willing to accept you.

So, here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to get on that damn school bus and go to school. I don’t care anymore whether you like the kids on the bus or not. I don’t care if they like you. You are going to at least finish high school so you can look after yourself, because your father and I don’t want to look after you forever. And, yes, you’re going to call him “Father” because he’s the closest thing to it you’re going to have. Get out that door. Now!

[TIM stares at ELLEN for a few seconds, grabs his lunch bag, and stomps out the door stage right. ELLEN sits at the kitchen table and starts to cry. She brushes tears from her eyes, takes the car keys from the table, and leaves stage right.

(Black)

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