Pamela Kingsley

Boxes

 

PLACE: An Attic
TIME: The Present

CHARACTERS

BRIGID “BEEP” SHEA – A Woman in her sixties. She is in early stage Alzheimer’s 
ROONEY SHEA – A tall, lanky Transgender Woman in her late fifties. 

THE SETTING

The play’s action takes place in an attic. There is an old storage chest, a dresser and a chair. There are photo albums, records, books. This attic, like so many others, is a repository for the detritus that a family has let pile up over the years. A cheap floor mirror stands sentry in one corner reflecting castoffs from generations moved on. 

 

(AT RISE the attic is bathed in blue light. A figure 
moves about the room but we cannot make out whether 
it is a woman or a man.) 

 

BEEP
           (quietly hum/singing)
...and as long as my heart will beat sweet lover we’ll always meet, here in my deep purple dreams, hmm-hmm,hmm-hmm duh dah...

 

(BRIGID “BEEP” SHEA is rummaging through a dresser. She is dressed in pajamas.)

ROONEY (Off Stage)
Beep? What are you doing up here in the dark?

(A shaft of light falls into the room from a doorway. ROONEY SHEA stands outlined in the light.)

BEEP
The lights don’t work. 

(The flashlight swings an arc of light around and lands on a lightbulb socket hanging from a wire in the ceiling. There is no bulb in it.)
 

ROONEY
You need a bulb. 

BEEP
I don’t mind the dark.

ROONEY
You can’t see anything. I’ll get you a bulb.

(ROONEY leaves.)


BEEP
               (calling)
Don’t bother. I can feel my way around just fine.

(Beep continues rooting around in the dresser drawers. Something jangly hits the floor.)


BEEP    
Spit.  

(Rooney returns and screws a bulb into the socket.)
 

ROONEY
That’s better. 

(BEEP is bent over near the dresser trying to feel for something on the floor.)

BEEP
Gimme the flashlight. 

(ROONEY turns on the small lamp that sits atop the dresser.)

ROONEY
What are you looking for in the middle of the night?

(No answer.)


ROONEY
Beep? Why are you up here messing around in the dark?

(BEEP finds what she has been looking for and sits in rocker.)

ROONEY
What’s going on? Beep?!

(BEEP looks up as if finally noticing ROONEY and half-smiles.)

BEEP
Rooney? What’re you doing here?

ROONEY
...bringing you light bulbs.

BEEP
In the middle of the night?

ROONEY
Seems that’s when you need them. You on a scavenger hunt?

BEEP
Charm bracelet.

(BEEP holds up the silver bracelet and shakes it.)

 

ROONEY
Need a hefty wrist to pull that off.

BEEP
Like yours? Doubt I could lift my arm if I put it on now.

ROONEY
Did you come up here for that bracelet?

 

BEEP
I thought I’d use it to help remind me what I did with my life.

ROONEY
You need trinkets to remind you?

BEEP
Pretty soon I’ll need interpreters.

ROONEY
You having memory troubles tonight?

BEEP
Comes and goes.

ROONEY
It’s dangerous wandering around in the dark, Beep, ‘specially up here. You could fall and no one would know. 

BEEP
You found me.

ROONEY
...because I stopped by.

BEEP
Why? 

ROONEY
Just checking in. 

BEEP
Uh-huh.

ROONEY
Let’s go downstairs. I’ll fix some tea. 
       
BEEP
You go ahead. I’d rather sit here awhile.

ROONEY        
I’d rather you didn’t. It’s dim and dusty. I’m just
going to worry about you going down the steps on your own.

BEEP
                           (annoyed)
What do you think I do when you’re not here?

 

(BEEP continues talking while ROONEY responds.)

ROONEY

I hope you don’t haul yourself up here on a regular basis. 

BEEP
...which is all the time, now. Who do you think takes care of things around here?

 

ROONEY
If you need something taken care of, leave it for me.

BEEP
Go away, Roo.

ROONEY
I think maybe it’s time we sold this place and downsize.

 

BEEP
I already downsized when you left. 

(ROONEY starts toward the door.)

ROONEY
I’ll make us some tea. I’ll come get you when it’s ready.
                   
BEEP
Don’t bother. Just put Digger in the back yard before you leave and lock up.

(ROONEY leaves the attic. BEEP goes to the chest and pulls out a baseball cap, scarves and a half empty bottle of Sloe Gin.)

 

BEEP
           (chuckling)
Well, hello, there.

(BEEP twists-open the cap and takes a whiff then sips.)

BEEP
Hooof! I think you’ve gone up a few points in proof, Ginny.
 

(BEEP takes another sip and shakes her body in response.)

BEEP
Hohboy! That’s a nice little surprise.

(BEEP takes another gulp, coughs a little and takes the bottle, the baseball cap and a scarf with her to the dresser.)

ROONEY (Off Stage)
Tea’s almost ready, Beep.

BEEP
           (calling back)
Don’t want any.

(BEEP puts on the baseball cap and wraps the scarf around her neck looking at herself in the standing mirror.)

BEEP
Forgot about this one. 

(ROONEY enters with two mugs of tea and extends one to BEEP.)

ROONEY
The mountain comes to Mohammed.

BEEP
Get out of my house.

(BEEP dismisses Rooney and the tea with a wide swipe of her hand and some hot tea spills on ROONEY’s hand.)

 

ROONEY
           (reacting to the pain)
Shit! What the hell’s the matter with you?

BEEP
The hell’s the matter with me IS I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t scared.

ROONEY
There’s nothing to be afraid of. I’m right here. 

(ROONEY looks around and ends up sitting on the chest.)

BEEP
There’s everything to be afraid of. 

ROONEY
Did something happen, Beep?

BEEP
Brigid! My name is BRIGID! (pause) Go home, Rooney. I don’t want you here.

(BEEP sits with the bracelet examining each charm piece.)

ROONEY
I can’t leave you like this. I need to know what’s going on. 

(BEEP is carefully looking at one of the charms, a silver shoe.)

BEEP
I can’t for the life of me remember when I got this silver shoe...silver shoe.

ROONEY
You gave them out to your bridesmaids.

(BEEP looks up at ROONEY, confused.)

ROONEY 
At our wedding. They were gifts. You kept one for yourself.

BEEP
Wedding. 
                   
ROONEY
Yes.

BEEP
I was married.

ROONEY
Yes.

                    

BEEP
A long time ago.

                    

ROONEY
Yes.

                    

BEEP
And, my husband died.

                    

ROONEY
No.

                    

BEEP
Yes.

                    

ROONEY
I’m still alive.

                    

BEEP
No. You died. My husband died. I had to bury him. 

                                

ROONEY
   Let’s go downstairs, Beep. It’s late.

                                

BEEP
You were the lucky one. You got to die and be re-born.

                    

ROONEY
C’mon, sweetheart.

                                

BEEP
You’re being reborn and I die bit by bit. You know what the irony is? If you had just waited a few years, I wouldn’t have known. I wouldn’t have had to bury my husband. You could have become your authentic self and I would never have recognized you. You could have been my new best friend! 

(ROONEY takes BEEP’s arm to help her up, but BEEP pulls away.) 

                    

BEEP
GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!

                    

ROONEY
           (quietly)
The house belongs to us both. (pause) I am your best friend, Beep. I always will be. I love you and I would do anything to make this easier. For both of us. I look in the mirror now and the person I see is no longer a stranger to the person I am. We’ve been over and over it. I won’t live the lie. I just can’t check that box anymore.

                    

BEEP
What box do I check? Married? Un-married? Widow? Wife? Alive? Dead? Sane? Senile? (long pause) More and more, I find myself 
at the bottom of the box, Rooney. Looking up, I can almost see daylight. But, it’s dusky, hazy grey. And, I forget. I forget who I am and what I was; who you are, what we were? I can’t remember. 

                    

ROONEY
I’m sorry, Brigid.

                    

BEEP
Me, too.

                    

ROONEY
Let’s go downstairs. I’ll stay the night.
                   
BEEP
You left me, Rooney. You could have waited. 

                    

ROONEY
You weren’t willing to accept this...me for who I truly am! 

                    

BEEP
You should have helped me more! 

                    

ROONEY
Help you? Who the hell was helping me? I was in pain every day
of my life. Where was my sanctuary? I stayed longer than I should have, Beep.

                

BEEP
Was it so bad, here with me? As we were? The kids were gone; our lives were our own again.

                

ROONEY
It was my moment...to walk out into the world. As myself. Finally.

(BEEP picks up the charm bracelet. She notices a boat charm.)

                    

BEEP
Do you remember that time we took the kids to Stonybrook
and we all climbed to the top of the lower falls. 

                    

ROONEY
I remember.

                    

BEEP
You stood up there like Superman with your chest out, your 
fists on your waist and this huge grin on your face. You were showing off and we were all laughing. God, I thought you were  so handsome. My magnificent man! And, suddenly, you jumped, disappearing into the lake. You didn’t surface...and, you didn’t surface. I couldn’t breathe. I thought we had lost you. That blinding hot sun beat down on the water looking like liquid fire. It had consumed you. Then, in this explosion of water and weeds, you rose up out of the lake, your hair slicked back, arms outstretched like wings, head to the sky looking like some exquisite heron. 

                                

ROONEY
Phoenix.

                                

BEEP
What?

                                

ROONEY
The bird. 

(BEEP looks at ROONEY for a long moment and hands her the charm bracelet. They walk out of the attic.)

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