NYCWP Voices: “Shock” by Meny Beriro

Once monthly, the New York City Writing Project celebrates the teacher-as-writer by publishing works of poetry and prose written by its teachers. If you are interested in submitting your work to NYCWP Voices, please read the submissions guidelines and submit your work by email to voices@nycwritingproject.org.


Shock 

-Meny Beriro

CHARACTERS:

Annie, in her 40s

Beatrice, in her 40s

 

Lights up on ANNIE and BEATRICE. They are staring at a work of art in an art gallery.

 

ANNIE

So . . .

 

BEATRICE

Intense —

 

ANNIE

How do I —

 

BEATRICE

You can’t.

 

ANNIE

Then . . .

 

BEATRICE

Release —

 

ANNIE

How?

 

BEATRICE

Inside —

 

ANNIE

I feel so . . .

 

BEATRICE

Don’t describe -– just feel -–

 

ANNIE

My god! My god! My god! . . . Who knew this was possible?

 

BEATRICE

Why do you think I was always inviting you? But of course Simon told you art was a waste of time —

 

ANNIE

Don’t remind me . . . a minute ago everything was normal – this was unimaginable —

 

BEATRICE

You’ve heard of the Big Bang – all it took for the entire universe to come alive was the tiniest fraction of a second . . . you’ve had a whole minute —

 

ANNIE

Everything is moving so fast — Lamborghini fast —

 

BEATRICE

When were you in a Lamborghini?

 

ANNIE

Never — but I’ve always wanted —

 

BEATRICE

The faster – the better – right?

 

ANNIE

You bet . . . this is very scary —

 

BEATRICE

It has to be – we’re not in a laundry – we’re not chewing gum watching shirts dry. Art — real art — has to challenge you – question every pre-conceived notion . . . we are at its mercy —

 

ANNIE

Oh, my God. It’s getting stronger – never mind Lamborghini – more like a bullet train in Japan —

 

BEATRICE

Ride it . . . you’ve never been to Japan, have you?

 

ANNIE

Not even close.

 

BEATRICE

Dave wants to take me there for our

 

ANNIE

My God! This is so unique – I’ve never felt like this —

 

BEATRICE

Actually, it’s quite common —

 

ANNIE

Really? A cold is common. Not this. Definitely not this.

 

BEATRICE

Trust me — I’ve had it worse —

 

ANNIE

Is this safe?

 

BEATRICE

Of course not. Imagine what it was like when the universe was created. The energy released – the forces unleashed the possibilities – always expanding – forever and ever – meaning this very second – something that’s once nothing

 

                     (She snaps her finger)

 

. . . is now part of the universe . . . a month ago — this space was empty and now look. Look.

 

ANNIE

My God! You can’t just go back after this —-

 

BEATRICE

Back where?

 

ANNIE

Nowhere.

 

BEATRICE

You’re living —

 

ANNIE

Here.

 

BEATRICE

Now.

 

ANNIE

If only Simon —

 

BEATRICE

Don’t –-

 

ANNIE

I’m just thinking – if we‘d had more moments like this —

 

BEATRICE

More. Did you ever even have one?

 

ANNIE

You want to know something? It’s no longer feeling like a Japanese bullet train — it’s now more like Amtrak.

 

BEATRICE

Then you’ve definitely had enough.

 

                BEATRICE pulls her away from the artwork.

 

         BEATRICE (Cont’d)

Wait until you see the next one —-

 

ANNIE

Another?

 

BEATRICE

We’ve just begun —

 

ANNIE

It’s too much – I don’t even recognize myself —

 

BEATRICE

How beautiful . . . get ready to be assaulted again —

 

ANNIE

I can’t handle any more —

 

BEATRICE

Sure you can.

 

ANNIE

I’m very fragile —

 

BEATRICE

Good. Then let yourself break. Into a billion pieces. Don’t be afraid. You’ll only heal if you’re free. Let go – like you let Simon go — I’m so proud of you. Why you stayed with him all these years with his annoying rituals –-

 

 

ANNIE

You mean like flossing his teeth eighteen times a day?

 

BEATRICE

Only eighteen?

 

 

ANNIE

I don’t like to badmouth him. Pun intended.

 

                     They both laugh.

 

BEATRICE

Good riddance. You lucked out.

 

ANNIE

Well, he sort of left me —

 

BEATRICE

Yeah, but that didn’t stop you. You were brave enough to let him go. You didn’t cling. Clinging is so pathetic. We’re not socks. And you realized that.

 

ANNIE

Did I?

 

BEATRICE

Of course you did. Look at the big picture. Simon went on to marry his dental hygienist. They deserve each other. You deserve more than clean teeth.

 

ANNIE

I’m still working it out.

 

BEATRICE

What are you talking about? I’ve never seen you look better.

 

ANNIE

Really?

 

BEATRICE

Really! You’ve lost weight –

 

ANNIE

It’s the result of my depression diet —

 

BEATRICE

You’ve got nothing to be depressed about –

 

ANNIE

Every morning when I begin brushing – it all comes back to me – I see him in the mirror laughing at my gums with his shiny —

 

BEATRICE

Stop it . . . Here it is.

 

                    They stop to view the work of art.

 

         BEATRICE (Cont’d)

Well?

 

ANNIE

I don’t know.

 

BEATRICE

You’re not feeling it?

 

ANNIE

Not yet.

 

BEATRICE

Then you’re not feeling it.

 

ANNIE

Let’s give it some time.

 

BEATRICE

Time has nothing to do with it.

 

ANNIE

Maybe it’s me. What do you feel?

 

BEATRICE

I don’t want to influence you.

 

ANNIE

Maybe the other one was so strong — I can’t feel anything anymore –-

 

BEATRICE

You’re numb — it happens —

 

 

ANNIE

We should go —

 

BEATRICE

Dave is coming by with a very debonair colleague -– you ought to meet him —

 

ANNIE

I’m not ready to meet new –-

 

BEATRICE

Darling — you’re ready. So ready. Anything?

 

ANNIE

Nothing.

 

BEATRICE

Do you want to go back and see the first one again?

 

ANNIE

Why?

 

BEATRICE

You’ll find something new — great art is very philanthropic – it never stops giving —

 

ANNIE

It won’t be the same –-

 

BEATRICE

Do you want it the same?

 

ANNIE

I don’t know what I want.

 

BEATRICE

Let’s try one more.

 

ANNIE

What if I don’t feel anything again? I’ll start worrying I might have done serious psychological damage with all the intensity of the first piece -– short-circuited my brain somehow – I’ll have to get therapy which I really can’t afford right now –

 

BEATRICE

You’re making this way too complicated —

 

ANNIE

Really? My toaster was an excellent dependable toaster — had it for eight years – never a problem – okay once in a while a piece of bread might get jammed – no big deal — but I had to bring home a bagel – okay it was a huge bagel — and my poor little toaster just couldn’t handle it – went belly up — overload – now it’s in some filthy dumpster somewhere instead of my nice kitchen —

 

BEATRICE

You’re not a toaster – you’ll survive. Come on – one more –

 

ANNIE

I just think it’s too risky —

 

BEATRICE

What’s wrong with risk? It’s the essence of art —

 

ANNIE

For the creator –- not the observer –-

 

BEATRICE

You’re a part of the art –- how you view it –- live in it — is part of the art — if it’s lying inside a closet and no one is interacting with it –- it’s nothing –-

 

ANNIE

I’ve gone through a lot this year –- my divorce from Simon –- my mother in the nursing home –- my own health issues with high blood pressure – not to mention my daughter running away with an aspiring bank teller — I really should play it safe –-

 

BEATRICE

Then why did you insist on coming?

 

ANNIE

I wanted something to get my mind off my problems –

 

BEATRICE

Exactly. Try one more –- come on you can do it –- I promise this will be the last one.

 

ANNIE

Fine. I really shouldn’t –-

 

                   They move on to view the next work of art.

BEATRICE

Well?

 

ANNIE

I can’t believe it.

 

BEATRICE

What?

 

ANNIE

I’ve been waiting for this my entire life –

 

BEATRICE

This is so exciting –-

 

ANNIE

I feel like I’m climbing Mt. Everest –

 

BEATRICE

That’s on my bucket list – not actually climbing it – but seeing it in person —

 

ANNIE

I’m getting dizzy.

 

BEATRICE

Naturally –- the air is very thin up there.

 

ANNIE

Oh, my God! I’m actually getting dizzy –-

 

BEATRICE

That’s wonderful! You’re totally connected.

 

ANNIE

My head —

 

BEATRICE

Go with it.

 

ANNIE

This is too much. I’m hang gliding through the cosmos –

 

BEATRICE

Hang gliding? Have you ever –-

 

ANNIE

Never – until now – right now – I’m dizzy – so dizzy —

 

BEATRICE

You did take your blood pressure pills —- right?

 

ANNIE

The hell with the pills! Let my pressure jump to 300. I don’t care. I’m alive –- ALIVE — maybe for the first time. To hell with all the doctors – they just want to make you hostage to the pharmaceuticals – one drug – then another – this is the only drug I need!

 

BEATRICE

Congratulations! You’re finally seeing the light

 

ANNIE

Yes. And it’s beaming bright. This work is heaven. Pure heaven!

 

BEATRICE

If you insist – I wouldn’t quite go that far —

 

ANNIE

Look at it. Look deep. Feel it. It’s everything you could ever want — it’s right there — grabbing you – pulling you inside – like a spider entangling you in its web –- deeper and deeper.

 

                    Pause.

 

BEATRICE

You’re right! It does have everything. A Black Hole devouring the infinity of space . . . How did I miss it?

 

ANNIE

My head is spinning . . . spinning . . . spinning . . .

 

ANNIE collapses.

 

BEATRICE

Wow! Wow! Wow!

 

 

BEATRICE keeps looking at the work of art with a beautiful smile as the lights go down.

 

CURTAIN.


menyb2016

Born in Gibraltar and raised in Queens, MENY BERIRO has utilized his wide array of experiences to create over twenty plays produced Off Broadway and in regional theaters. He is the recipient of the Jean Dalrymple and Gilbert Ancowitz Playwriting awards (American Theatre of Actors) for PigeonHole and Settle Down. Meny was part of a group of playwrights who wrote 167 Tongues, a series of vignettes portraying the multi-cultural life of Jackson Heights which was featured in the New York Times and American Theatre magazine. His play, “Excellent Souls,” about a family dealing with schizophrenia, was chosen as the 2014 Yale Drama Series runner-up. Meny teaches Social Studies at Newtown High School; where he’s developed a Global History Revue with his students covering topics from the Neolithic Revolution to the Renaissance. He is a graduate of Queens College and holds an M.A. in Education from Cambridge College.

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