An enigmatic and abstract short dramatic scene about human relationships.
Dingy apartment open to the audience. The walls are covered in paintings, most of which are unfinished. There’s a door in the left wall. Tubes of paint, brushes, rags, and various household items litter the floor. In the back corner is a pile of broken easels and at the right wall is an easel with a blank canvas. A woman in her mid 30’s, dressed casually, sits in one of the two armchairs in the center of the apartment, reading. She is an old friend of the painter, who leans against the left wall. She stares at the canvas in hysterical frustration, obviously mad with artist’s block. She has been asked to create a work of art for her father’s funeral, a father who has never been present in her life. Before art and completion, she faces the incompleteness of her past.
Painter: (shouts in frustration) I can’t do this.
Woman: (Looking at her book) You can.
Painter: I haven’t painted in…three years? Four? And the other time I’ve just spent in Europe, spending money I don’t even have.
Woman: It’s not everyday your father dies. (Still reading) Stop complaining and do it.
Painter: This is ridiculous.
Woman: Think about it. Maybe someone will like it and pay for it in something other than cheap wine.
Painter: I didn’t even know the man. Go ahead…ask me what his favorite color was.
Woman: (Trying to read) I’d rather not
Painter: (In a huff) Exactly! I have no idea! So these people are going to walk into that funeral home and see this painting and….. (breathing heavily) This is not healthy. (Sinks into an armchair)
Woman: (Closes book. There’s no hope for concentration at this point) Do you need a drink?
Painter: (Closes eyes with exhaustion) Yes, please
Woman goes a small table in the back and pours an amber liquid into a glass. Hands it to Painter.
Painter: Thanks. (Drinks it all at once. Relaxes) For all I know, he could have been a spy for the KGB or a ruthless businessman. What if he liked raspberry jam? I hate raspberry jam.
Woman: So paint a garden. Everyone loves gardens.
Painter: What if he hated gardens? Then I’d be the spiteful daughter who’s throwing his… (shrugs sarcastically) inability to grow parsnips into his face.
Woman: What do we know? He was a painter…
Painter: The end.
Woman: Maybe he’s the reason you have such a quick temper. (Beat) Or panic attacks.
Painter: He didn’t even give me his so-called “talent”! I probably got this nose from him. Or (points) this freckle right here?
Woman: Don’t you have any memories of him? Not one?
Painter: Nope. (Stares at the canvas for a moment. Picks a brush off the floor and dips it into an open jar of blue paint on the floor next to her) Maybe…. (Draws a line across the canvas) blue?
Painter: No. (Wipes paintbrush on her pants, then dips the brush into a second jar. Another swipe at the canvas.)
Painter: Nothing. (Sits back into the chair) I remember… (laugh) I remember there was a man that showed up at our apartment once. I must have been, oh, 7 years old? I don’t know if that was him, but I remembered I pretended it was my father for three weeks after.
Painter: (Nods. Stares at the canvas) Yea.
Flashback to Painter’s childhood. Same apartment, except there is no mess on the floor. There are finished paintings all over the walls and flowered curtains. Painter is impersonating her seven year old self, dressed in yellow overalls and sitting on the floor in a childish manner, playing with jars of paint and smearing the paint on the floor. She occasionally plays with a small painting, looking at it adoringly, as if taking instruction from it. Her mother, dressed casually, is leaning against the small table, reading a book and sipping water from a glass. There’s a knock on the door.
Mother: One minute! (Opens it. Taken aback by the sight of the man before her, then slightly angry) It’s not here.
A man in his 30’s comes in, dressed in a long corduroy coat.
Man: (Calmly) Black leaves beneath our feet
Mother: White flowers in your hair
Man: You remember.
Mother: Yes. And I don’t have it.
Mother: You don’t deserve it.
Man: I know.
Mother: (Stares at him, as if trying to decide what to do.) It’s her favorite.
Man: It’s the only one I have.
Mother: It’s the only one she haves.
Man: (Picks up the little canvas lying on the floor next to Painter. Looks it over) Do you remember when I did this?
Mother: I wish I didn’t
Man: I’ll never be able to see it again without this
Mother: You’ll do it again. You did it once before.
Man: They want a lot for it.
Mother: Get out of my apartment
Painter: (Child-like) I want it back
Man: I’ll bring it back someday
Painter: (reaching towards the canvas in the man’s hand) I want it!
(Man swiftly turns around and leaves the apartment. Mother stares after him, bewildered and angry. Lights dim)
Back to present day. Painter dressed normally as an adult, still staring at the canvas from the armchair.
Painter: (In deep thought)
Woman: (Notices Painter’s intense facial expression) Hey…what are you thinking?
Painter: Hmm (Picks up the bucket of red paint on the ground. Looks into its contents in a calm, contemplative manner. After a pause, with a beast-like yell, she angrily heaves the bucket at the canvas. )