Vivian and Natalie believe that the other has the perfect life.
|Author's note: Drama for Worship is intended to provide only the beginning of a conflict. The intent is to pull the congregation in to listen closely to how the pastor will resolve the dilemma introduced through the dialogue.
Sermon Title: Upset
Scripture Text: From Lamentations
VIVIAN: Mother of several children, having difficulty managing a busy lifestyle with too many commitments. Today, she is bottoming out on her emotional reserves. She wears no makeup, her hair is not done, and she wears generic grey sweatpants and a nondescript tank top.
NATALIE: Mother of one teenage girl, similarly challenged with lifestyle challenges and deadlines. Today, she is pushing herself to run errands. She has bright makeup, hair is done and dresses very well. She is heading for an emotional meltdown.
Neither character knows the other well enough to admit the extent of their own personal pain. NATALIE is returning a dish to VIVIAN. VIVIAN has been almost completely paralyzed by depression. Each believes that the other has a perfect life. It is this false perception that reduces each one to tears, sitting at the door, at the end of the scene.
VIVIAN: (Hands over face. Phone rings.) Go away, go away. (Phone stops.) What time is it? (Looks at watch) Five o'clock! Ugh! Dinner! (Rises. The following thoughts are heard in VIVIAN's voice)
I can't believe I didn't even get dressed all day. (Looks about room) And look at this place. It's a mess! I didn't do anything again today. The laundry from Tuesday is still sitting in the basket. I'm paralyzed. (Looks up) The paint is peeling on the ceiling, from when the air conditioning quit last year. (Looks down) The carpet still smells from when we had the puppies. I can't call the plumber for the leak downstairs until we get paid, whenever that is. Next week? Next month? By then, that flooring will need to be replaced, too. And nobody else even sees it. Not Tom, not the kids. They won't lift a finger to help! But why should they? This is my only job. Some women work and keep their houses. Oh, God, forgive me. I'm just so weak!
(VIVIAN speaks aloud:) Hamburger. I'll brown up some hamburger. Then at least it will look like I did something! (Exits to kitchen)
NATALIE: (On cell phone with teenager, approaches VIVIAN's front door) ...because you're only 14 years old, and 14 year olds don't need to stay out until 2 in the morning just "hanging out." ... I don't care if Patty's friend is eighteen. I don't even care if you're in her livingroom and her mom is there. A seven o'clock movie is out by nine. That leaves an hour for visiting over a burger and fries somewhere. ... Ten o'clock is ten o'clock. Not ten-thirty. Not ten-fifteen. Ten o'clock. (The connection is broken) Stacy?? (Leans against porch rail, losing composure. The following thoughts are heard in NATALIE's voice)
I never hung up on my mother. Never. If this is 14 years old, what will 17 look like? I'm really losing it here. (Looks around) The neighbors will call 9-1-1 if I just collapse right here.
(Takes a deep breath. NATALIE speaks aloud.) Just walk to the door. (She approaches door and knocks, regains full composure and smiles broadly)
VIVIAN: (Enters from kitchen, crosses to unlock and open door) I told you to take your key. What if I wasn't here?? What would you do if ... (opens door to a surprised NATALIE)
NATALIE: I'm sorry, Vivian. I should have called. I'm sorry.
VIVIAN: No, no - I thought it was the kids. I was in the kitchen and ... come in, Natalie. Come on in.
NATALIE: You're fixing dinner. I just wanted to return this dish to you.
VIVIAN: Dish? (Looks into bag) Oh! I'd forgotten. (Hugs NATALIE)
NATALIE: I'm sorry. It's been over a month. I don't know why I didn't think to give it to you at church.
VIVIAN: Don't say that. Obviously I didn't miss it. Any time you need anything, just ask me. I mean, it's not as if you don't ever do anything for me. Look at the work you do at church every Sunday with the kids. You are so great with children, and crafts. I'm amazed. They love you, Natalie! I could never do that.
NATALIE: Thanks. Well, it's easy, with your kids. They're always so happy and helpful. They remind me of you, always smiling and ... well, happy. (Crosses to laundry basket, avoids looking at VIVIAN) Your family is such a bright spot in our congregation. Wish everyone else were as easy to be with as the Fergusons. My daughter, Stacy, just adores you! (Turns to face VIVIAN)
VIVIAN: Well, Stacy loves everybody. And everybody loves her. She's just like you! Beautiful, graceful, talented. She's got so much going for her. You must be so very proud.
NATALIE: (Swallows hard) I am. I am. (Senses that she's losing control) Well, I'd better let you get back to dinner. Thanks again. (Opens door, eyes tearing up) See you Sunday! (Quickly exits, remains leaning against the door, quietly weeping)
VIVIAN: See you Sunday! (Covers her face with her hands. We hear VIVIAN's thoughts)
See you and your perfect family on Sunday. With your perfect hair and your perfect makeup and your perfect smile. (Crosses to laundry basket.)
(VIVIAN speaks aloud) Just leave me here and go back to your perfect house, and your perfect family, and your perfect laundry! (Throws basket of laundry to the floor, then drops to pick it all up and put it back in the basket, quietly weeping)
NATALIE: "Stacy loves everybody." (We hear NATALIE's voice)
Everybody except me. "She's just like you! Beautiful, graceful, talented." Well, if I'm so beautiful, why does it take me an hour just to do hair and makeup? Vivian doesn't even need makeup and she looks perfect. She's home being the perfect mother. Cooking the perfect dinner for her perfect family. I can't even be home on time to start dinner, or even think about doing laundry. (Crosses away from door) Who runs errands dressed like this, unless every single solitary thing they have is in the laundry? She even keeps up with laundry.
VIVIAN & NATALIE: (simultaneously) How does she do it? I'm just going to go ask her secret!! (VIVIAN & NATALIE cross simultaneously to door, VIVIAN with hand on the knob, NATALIE with hand raised to knock on the door. BOTH stop.)
VIVIAN: What am I doing? She's gone by now.
NATALIE: I'm losing my mind. She's in there cooking dinner. (VIVIAN & NATALIE turn, backs against the door, they both slide down to the floor as they deliver the last line in unison)
VIVIAN & NATALIE: I hate this, I hate this, I hate this!!!