TWILIGHT (a ten minute play)

October 16th, 2014

CHARACTERS:

GRANDMA ALICE: A woman in her 60’s. She wears a long dark dress well covered by a print apron.

GRANDPA VAN: A man in his 60’s, tan and lean but rugged from outdoor  living and heavy work. He wears overalls, flannel shirt, heavy socks and cowboy boots.

PATTY: A thin nervous child who is 8 to 10 years old. She wears a print cotton    knee length dress, bobby socks and leather oxford shoes.
TIME:  Early 30’s, spring, dusk.

 

PLACE: The porch of a farm house in rural Arizona.

SETTING: A simple porch is indicated with three steps leading to a screen door. There is a bench and a stool. The newspaper, envelopes, a writing pad and pencil are on the bench. Boots and an unlighted oil lamp are near the steps.

 LIGHTS UP: GRANDMA is writing names on some envelopes (3or 4). Then she tears a page out of her notebook and tucks it inside and seals it.

GRANDPA is sitting on the steps cleaning the oil lamp.

PATTY is inside. We  hear noises like pans banging. She enters carrying a pan of peas. She sits on the steps next to Grandpa and begins to shell the peas.

SOUND: Bellowing of a newborn calf comes from the direction of the barn.

The three all react to the plaintive cry then continue their work.

SOUND: Again the bellowing is heard.

 Grandpa quickly picks up the oil lamp and turns to go inside.

Patty picks up the stool and carries it downstage right where there is a bird’s nest in a nearby tree. She jumps up on the stool to look at the nest.

 

PATTY: That mother bird has been gone a long time.

GRANDPA (He turns as he is goes in the door) She needs to find food, Patty

PATTY: It’s about time for the egg to hatch.

She jumps off the stool, sits on it and looks around.

PATTY: It’s getting dark.

GRANDMA: This is twilight. Soon it will be night. Twilight is in between.

PATTY: Between?

GRANDMA: Between day and night.

PATTY: Like cheese between slices of bread.

GRANDMA: What an idea.

PATTY: How big is between?

GRANDMA: It depends on the weather. On a clear day like today, twilight lingers. A little while ago the sun was shining and we were busy with the day. Now it’s twilight. A pause to consider the day, to prepare ourselves for night. Soon the light will be gone and the stars will shine. Look for the stars. Make a wish.

Patty starts to look for a star.

Grandpa comes out and begins to put on his boots.

Grandma picks up her letters and puts them in her pocket.

PATTY: Does Mr. Roosevelt read your letters, Grandma?

GRANDMA: Sometime, he might. The Congressmen read them especially when lots of people have signed them.

Grandma picks up the paper then lays it down.

Grandpa picks it up, looks at it and throws it down.

GRANDPA: That rascal in the White House is going to drive us all to the poor house with his big spending plans.

GRANDMA: Now, Van, you know and Mr. Roosevelt knows that people need work. Not a day passes without some fellow walking down the road and stopping at the gate to ask for some work to do for a meal.

GRANDPA: You’ll do what you want to do, Alice. You’ll do what you want.

GRANDPA: No letter yet from Winnie. That damn Yankee, dragging her off to Phoenix.

GRANDMA: Jack had hopes of a job. He was promised a job in Phoenix.

GRANDPA: There’s a good hospital in Prescott and it’s closer.

Grandma touches Grandpa to alert him to the fact that Patty has become interested in their conversation.

GRANDPA  (To Patty)  I expect we’ll hear from her soon.

GRANDMA (To Patty as well as Grandpa)  Everything will be OK.
          She announces as she goes to the kitchen.       Babies are born every day.

Grandma goes inside.

Patty jumps up and stands on the stool to look at the bird’s nest.

PATTY: That egg is sure pretty.

Grandpa has come over to look at the egg.

GRANDPA: Yes it is.

PATTY: When the baby starts to peck out, I can very gently help the shell to crack.

GRANDPA: No, Patty. The baby bird has to do it all itself in order to be strong.

Patty moves the stool and sits down. She is very quiet as she looks out into the landscape.

PATTY (Resigned.)  Oh well, we’ll just have to wait.

Grandma comes out and hands Grandpa a baby bottle.

GRANDMA: Take this for Bessie’s calf.

He pushes the bottle aside.

GRANDPA: No, Alice, not yet.
          (He pushes the bottle again.)  Don’t want it yet. I’m going to try one more day. Bessie has never before refused to accept her own calf.

She continues to insist he take the bottle.

He continues to push the bottle aside.

GRANDMA: Take it along. The poor thing needs some strength.

He takes the bottle and goes off grumbling and mumbling.

GRANDPA: You never quit, Alice. You never quit.

PATTY: What did Grandpa mean, “Damn Yankee?”

GRANDMA: Oh, Patty, think nothing of it. Your Grandpa is from Texas and your Daddy is from Boston. They never have seen eye to eye.

PATTY: I know Boston is somewhere over near the ‘lantic ocean. Grandpa has shown me Texas on the map.  But I still don’t know what a damn – – –

GRANDMA: He wasn’t happy that your mother married a Northerner.

PATTY: Can we write a letter to Mama tonight?

GRANDMA: After your homework.

PATTY: She jumps up and dances up and down the steps as she talks. There’s only sums to do. I’m good at sums. 12 plus 12 equals 24 plus 12 equals 36.  9 plus 9 equals 18. Now we’re doing columns with carry-overs.

GRANDMA: Sit a minute. You’re taking my breath away.

PATTY: (Although she sits down her body still seems to be in motion.) Can I help make the pancakes tomorrow, Grandma?

GRANDMA: We’ll see, Patty.

PATTY: I love pancakes.

GRANDMA: So does Grandpa.

PATTY: He likes honey. Mama says he eats too much honey.

GRANDMA: Now, Patty, don’t eat too many of those peas.

PATTY: Do they have to be cooked? I like them this way.

GRANDMA: Put them in the kitchen, Patty.

Patty scoots inside and back out again.

Grandma looks out toward the horizon, lost in thought.

PATTY: Grandma, I want to make a wish for you. Tell me a wish?

GRANDMA: Wish that we have a little rain. The garden needs to get a good start.

PATTY: Is it alright to wish for that man, the one who picked the peas for you this morning? He kept saying how he liked your coffee. Could I wish for him, Grandma. He needed some better shoes. Could I wish for some shoes?

GRANDMA: Yes, Child.

PATTY: I’ll wish for the rain with the first star. Then I’ll wish for the shoes. Are wishes good on the second star?

GRANDMA:  (Her thoughts seem far away.)  I think so, Child. I think so.

PATTY: I’ll make a whole lot of wishes. What shall I wish for Grandpa?

Grandma shakes off her mood and laughs as she swishes her apron at Patty.

GRANDMA: Wish that he gets that scrawny calf to take its mother’s milk.

PATTY: Grandpa says that Bessie doesn’t want her baby calf.

GRANDMA: He’ll get them together.

PATTY: Do mothers sometimes not want their children?

GRANDMA: What an idea.

PATTY: If Mama has a new baby —

 Grandma wraps the child in her arms.

GRANDMA: Stop your worry, Child. Your folks had to go so your Daddy could get a job. They have some worries right now and they want you to stay here for school.  As soon as they’re settled they’ll be here to get you.

She wipes a tear from Patty’s eyes with her apron.

Grandpa comes in and hands Grandma the empty bottle.

GRANDPA: I’ll need more milk the calf is very weak.

Grandma takes the bottle and goes inside.

Grandpa follows.

Patty is searching the sky for a star. She focuses on one.

PATTY: Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight.
First I want to make a wish for Grandpa, and Bessie’s little newborn calf. She needs her mother. Grandpa is far out worried.

She looks around for another star then comes back to the first star.

This wish is for Grandma. She needs some rain to keep her garden growing.

 She looks around again for another star.

My third wish is for a man who needs some shoes. He is a good worker and very polite.

 Patty looks around at more stars then focuses on the first star.

I hope that Mr. Roosevelt has a wishing star to help him get shoes for all the men walking on the roads to find work and for all the other troubles that Grandma has been writing to him about.  She says Mr. Roosevelt is finding lots of jobs for people and maybe — it’s like this — I’m thinking you could find a job for Daddy. If you found him a job it would take a big load off of Mr. Roosevelt.

Then my folks would come and get me. Tell Mama that I want to help with her new baby. I promise I won’t be in the way. I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish; I mean the wishes, that I wish tonight.

LIGHT very soft, on Grandma at the door.  She looks out and calls to Patty.

GRANDMA: Come in the house now, Child. It’s time to light the lamp.

PATTY: Just a minute, Grandma. I want to count the stars. I’m starting with the Milky Way and then going around in a circle from there. It won’t take long.     (Patty begins to count.)      One, two, three stars plus three over there equals six stars plus three more there equals nine, plus another nine equals eighteen, plus four equals twenty two, etc.

LIGHTS: THE SKY IS FULL OF STARS

PATTY:  There’s enough stars for all the wishes in the world.

© 2005, 2007