The Beginning of the End: A Play in One Act

[Scene: a January evening on a crowded train in Chicago. Curly haired woman boards train and sits behind a man wearing an orange hat. Man is intently reading a book.]
Curly haired woman: Hi, honey – I was hoping I’d see you tonight. You look good. Your hair’s getting long in the back – I like the way it kind of curls up over your orange hat. I hope you haven’t been eating ramen noodles every night – you seem a little thin.
Curly haired woman: Orangehat, I want to talk to you about our relationship, but before you say anything, I need you to just hear me out. There’s just so much that I want to say to you right now, and I know if you jump in, I won’t be able to get it all out.
[Curly haired woman takes deep breath and pauses to collect thoughts.]
Curly haired woman: I miss you, Boo. I mean… I miss us. The way we used to be, you know? God, things were so good before, weren’t they? I used to feel I could tell you anything, but now it’s like we have nothing to say to each other.
Curly haired woman: O., I guess what I’m trying to say is that this separation just isn’t working for me. I thought that some time apart might help us figure things out, but I don’t feel like you’re really trying to make anything better. Your silence is devastating to me. It’s like this separation hasn’t fazed you at all – you act like we were never even married to begin with!
Curly haired woman: You’ve become such a workaholic over these past few weeks – the only time I ever see you is if I take the early train to work, or catch the late one home. Is that the kind of life you envisioned for us? I mean, did you even know that I got robbed last weekend? Do you even care? Oh wait. How could you have known? We never talk! Don’t worry – they didn’t steal any of your precious stuff.
[Woman wearing green scarf boards and sits next to man with orange hat. They exchange a few words.]
Woman with green scarf: Do you mind if I sit here?
Man with orange hat: No – go ahead.
Woman with green scarf: Thanks.
Curly haired woman: Well, well. Isn’t that just a kick in the head? No, no – don’t let me interrupt your flirtatious little banter. So who’s your friend, Orangehat? Aren’t you going to introduce her to your wife?
Curly haired woman: You’re not going to tell me who she is? Look, if you’re trying to make me jealous… It doesn’t matter – it’s all beginning to make sense now. I didn’t exactly see you jump to move your briefcase when I walked past your seat – I suppose you were saving that seat for Greenscarf all along, weren’t you? Well, now I understand why you like working so late – it’s so you can ride home with that tramp, isn’t it?

Curly haired woman: And just so you know, that scarf doesn’t even match her hat.
[Curly haired woman leans in and whispers to man.]
Curly haired woman: Look, Orange. If this is about Seattle, I haven’t seen him or even spoken to him since December. I made a mistake, and I’m sorry for that. I didn’t intend to mess things up with us. I was mad at you for being so distant, and just got caught up in the moment. But I honestly don’t know how many more times I can apologize for the same thing. We’ve both made a lot of mistakes along the way, and probably said a few things we wish we could take back, but we can’t undo what’s already been done. All we can do is try to learn from this so that we can move on together.
Curly haired woman: Aren’t you going to say anything? O., I know you’re upset, but how are we ever going to work through this if you won’t talk to me? God, you won’t even look at me – I might as well be talking to myself here. Fine – read your damn book. Since when are you so into literature, anyway?
[Man and curly haired woman get off train at same stop. Man walks quickly, with woman following behind.]
Curly haired woman: Orangehat, wait up for me. Slow down! We need to talk about this – I’m not ready to give up on us yet. Do you want to grab a coffee so we can talk?
Curly haired woman: Orangehat!
Curly haired woman: Orangehat – if you keep ignoring me, then we may as well end this right here and now. I will not allow myself to be treated like a stranger by my own husband. What we have is so special – I loved you from the first moment I laid eyes on you, and I know you feel the same way. Are you going to tell me that I imagined your love for me?

Curly haired woman
: Dammit! Slow down!
Curly haired woman: If we hadn’t agreed that traditional symbols of marriage were oppressive and that they supported the sexist view of wife as property, I’d take off my wedding ring right now and throw it at your stupid orange hat! God, I hate you!
Curly haired woman: No wait. O! I didn’t mean it. I don’t hate you – I love you! You know I do! Wait up! I can handle it if you tell me you’re angry, or that you feel betrayed, but what I cannot take is this total indifference! It’s killing me!
Curly haired woman: What am I going to tell the kids…
Curly haired woman: … that I thought about having with you?
Curly haired woman: Orangehat!
Curly haired woman: Orangehat, wait!
Curly haired woman: Orangehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!
[Woman drops to knees in the snow, raises fists above head as she screams man’s name. Man continues to walk briskly into the night. Woman collapses into snow bank, curls up tightly, and sobs.]


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