The Box in the Corner -- The Play
|The Box in the Corner – The Play
Based upon the short story:
Setting -- a typical small nursing home in the U.S. midwest (a region that changes seasons). The residents are mostly old with varying maladies, most being physical in this particular wing of the home. Residents are on a normal schedule of eating, activities, and physical therapy. Most also have medications to take.
Lighting -- normal for inside a nursing home. Two windows -- one in the dining area and one in Patty's bedroom play a role in time movement.
Sound -- Sounds will be important in setting the mood of each mini-scene. These need to be vivid and part of Patty's imagining of the events from the book.
Props -- A counter, several tables make up the left side of the stage. This is where the residents gather to socialize, eat, get visitors, and do activities. The right side of the stage is Patty's room and will double as the church and bathrooms in Sam's scene. Other props will be book, boxes, various completion stages of the quilt, quilting supplies, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, etc. Typical of what you'd see in a nursing home.
Style -- Issues dealing with the elderly in general. Most residents being quite pleasant, but a few being difficult/stuck in their ways or even bitter about being there. Most have friends within the home and congregate/talk together. No extreme behavioral issues, but physical and sentimentality are very apparent in manners and discussions. (Showing family photos, discussing past family affairs and the like)
Leonard -- An orderly who always gets assigned the 'grunt' work of the place. Disorganized, bumbling, lumbering personality who always seems to be busy, but never quite getting anything accomplished.
Stacey -- A typical caregiver who is overworked yet seems to find the joy in her job when she can. A caring, curious personality who likes routine and sticks to it.
Patty -- a rich sentimental old woman who finds comfort in the little independence afforded to her. Somewhat quiet, but loves to hear the stories of the other residents and their families. Pleasant and accommodating personality who likes to read.
Harry -- a crotchety old man, set in his ways who thinks highly of his son. He is loyal to a fault, but also is temperamental and dislikes being in the home in general, but thinks the world of Patty.
Charlie -- A handsome successful young man (Harry's son) who is busy, but cordial. He is task oriented and dependable. Very pragmatic in his approach. Has a tinge of guilt leaving Harry in a nursing home.
Residents -- Vary from loud to quiet. From grouchy to congenial. They have various physical ailments.
Dark scene. Sounds of Leonard lifting and grunting and scooting something. A light fixes on the entrance to Patty's room and gets steadily brighter. Leonard lets out a another grunt or two and then emerges from Patty's room. He wipes his brow with a hanky and walks off stage.
Leonard totes another box across the stage. He sticks it against a wall. Totes another one on stage and places it in another spot.
A voice behind him offstage: "I want all of this junk out of here, Leonard."
Leonard: "Right away Mr. Thomas. I'm on it. It'll be cleaned out of here by tomorrow."
Mr. Thomas (still off stage): "It had better be all gone by this time tomorrow. That community garage sale was months ago. I just want it gone, you understand?"
Leonard: "I understand." Mumbles and turns to the audience, "I understand that I get to lug this stuff around and find somewhere to haul it off to. Like this place is a warehouse or somethin'." (Turns and looks around) "All this junk and nowhere to put it. Leonard -- I says to myself -- you need a better job. This one's gonna break yer back and you never get used to the smell in here." (Keeps mumbling and rambling a bit...)"
He takes another box and places it in Patty's bedroom corner.
Mr. Thomas: "Leonard!"
Leonard: "I'm coming. I'm coming." He turns to look at the box and throws his hand at it. "I'll get it all later. Man just works me to death! Leonard get this. Leonard get that." (Keeps mumbling) He exits quickly.
(Music) Light comes up slowly. Patty is sleeping in bed. An slightly open window with wind blowing swaying the curtains.
Mrs. Jenkins stirs and yawns, enjoys the sunshine through the nearby window. She takes her walker and goes near the window when she notices the box.
She picks up a large “scrapbook” type book out of the box and sits down with it and begins leafing through it for a minute, stops on a page and reads. Smiles, then laughs out loud.
Enter Stacey. She cleans and dusts several things and folds a few towels and such. Patty keeps thumbing through the book. She looks up a time or two to notice what Stacey is doing, but goes back to reading. Stacey breaks the silence as she finishes folding and putting them in Patty's closet. She closes the closet door.
Stacey: “Hello, Ms. Jenkins. How are you today?”
Patty Jenkins: “I’m ok, Stacey. A little stiff as usual, my dear.”
Stacey: “Patty, I hope I’m half as spry as you at 77 years old.”
Patty: “I’m not certain you could call me spry (chuckles). My bones don't tell me I'm spry. My eyes don't tell me I'm spry. My hip doesn't tell me..."
Stacey: “Oh, Mrs. Jenkins (flippantly waves hand at her and giggles, then looks up and peers at the book. Walks over and points at it.) What’s that you're reading?”
Patty: “Just a book.”
Stacey: “New one?”
Patty: “Yes it is. I’ve read a couple of pages already.”
Stacey: “Well, looks like you’ve got yourself something to do for a while. By the thickness of that thing, it'll be for a long while.” (Smiles big)
Patty: “Yes. Perhaps. It's kind of cluttering up my tiny little space here, but it's sure nice to have something to do." She places the book on the bed and ponders. She looks up. "Is Harry up yet?”
Stacey: "Didn't see him. But you know how he is. He's up with the chickens."
Patty picks back up the the book and examines the cover. Stacey helps Patty to her feet and to her walker then she makes the bed. After her last few chores of laying out some meds, she turns back to Patty who is smiling with signs of reminiscing on her face.
Stacey: “I’ll see you at breakfast Ms. Jenkins.”
Patty: “Yes. 7:30 sharp. You know I like to be punctual. It takes me a while, but I like to go myself. Makes me feel good.”
Stacey: “Oh, I know. You'll get noooo help from me. (smiles big) I've got lots of work to do anyways today. I’ll set up the corner table for you to look out the window with Harry as usual.”
Patty: “You are such a dear. I'll be along in about half an hour.”
Stacey: “Of course. I'll tell Harry. Bye now.”
Patty places the book in the little basket in the front of her walker. The scene darkens while the left side of the stage becomes brighter.
Three residents around a breakfast table.
Patty walks into the picture with a walker. She stops and listens...
Resident #1: "My granddaughter was so cute the other day. They sent me a video of her running down the hill at the park. You know the one at the far end of the walking track. She had a fistful of dandelions and came racing down toward her mama. It wasn't until she was right up close that you could see her little nose all covered in yellow. I could hear my daughter just laughing.
Resident #2: "Oh, that is funny. Reminds me of the time my son and his wife took his daughter to the park and they were on the swings. He was pushing her higher and higher with her a giggling all the while. My son was giving all he could with every push and she'd fly into the air. That's when, Rhonda -- that's my son's wife -- chimed in with 'That's high enough now'. It wasn't but fifteen minutes later that my son was pushing her again and she yells out to her father 'Push me high enough, Daddy!'
(Residents all laugh. Patty smiles broadly, but looks saddened afterward. She starts making her way to where Harry sits.)
Resident #3: "High enough, eh? Quite a scene. Quite a scene. My only daughter lives far away with her husband in the military. They've moved so many times that I've lost track. She's expecting their first child at the age of 44! Only a few months away now. They got me a prepaid phone with that new-fangled texting feature on it. I'll never use such a thing. Just a bunch of silliness. My arthritis and pushing all those buttons!?"
Resident #2: "Now, now. I'll help you out. That there is a smart phone. They got all kinds of little programs on them. You'll be gushing about that new little grandbaby in no time flat, and showing us all videos. Of course, he won't compare to mine, but not every grandparent can have grandchildren as pretty and perfect as mine."
Resident #1: (Rolls eyes) "Not as cute as my granddaughter. I can tell you that!
Resident #3: "Balderdash. I'm no good with those things."
Resident #2: "It's easy. My five year old grandson can figure it out. I KNOW you can. You're just being too hard on yourself. It isn't as hard as you think."
Resident #3: "I hope they send me a video or two. I sure do miss them. I guess I've got nothing but time to figure it out. You say it's easy huh?"
Resident #2: "Harry figured it out. (points in the background at the corner table with their thumb)"
Resident #3: (A quizzical 'really?' type look) "Now I don't feel so bad. If he can do it..."
Harry: (Gruff) "Hey! Those little phone things are harder than they look. Tiny buttons. No screen. Don't have much volume either."
Resident #1: (Intentionally loud) "That's because you're half deaf!"
Harry: "Humph! Like I'm the only one in this place!"
Patty slides into the picture with her walker "It's true and you know it. You old geezer." She arranges herself across from Harry.
Harry looks at Resident #1 and glances across at Patty. "Wow. You two are something. Calling me an old geezer in a rest home. What's next? You gonna tell me the sky is blue? Or grass is green? Or maybe cars drive on roads?"
Resident #1 shakes head and turns to the others at their table. They begin speaking in mumbled tones -- unintelligible to the audience.
Patty is at the corner table with Harold across from her. He sips coffee and reads a newspaper. She has the big book and occasionally eats a bite of her eggs. Stacey talks to the other residents and brings them food.
Harold (hard of hearing -- speaks a bit loud): “What’s that you got there?”
Patty: “Just a book. It’s quite interesting.”
Harold: “Not much for big books. I’ll take my newspaper any time. Looks like the President is about to approve the budget that those sharks in Congress finally passed. Bunch of idiots up there in Washington if you ask me. I ought to write another letter to those buffoons."
Patty: “You know I don’t care much about politics, Harold.”
Harold: “What’s that you say?” Leaning forward.
Patty: “I don’t much care for politics.” (louder)
Harold: He smiles. “Better than that old book. At least this (points at newspaper) affects our lives. That's probably some flight of fancy. Probably some romantic jibber-jabber.”
Patty: “Stop it you old coot. You just go back to your paper. I'll go back to my reading. They’re going to do whatever they want anyways. It doesn't matter what we say.”
Harold: “Hmmmph. I guess. Still doesn't hurt to be informed. You should read some real news. Never know. You might get to liking it." (Harold pushes his glasses down and looks over them directly at her)
Patty turns her attention back to the book and smiles and nods. After a few minutes, Harold places his paper on the table and taps his finger a few times to get Patty’s attention. His look changes to a more serious one.
Patty: “What Harold?”
Harold: “Patty. (pausing) There's something I’ve been meaning to tell you. I just don't know how.”
Patty: “Well, go ahead. What is it?”
Harold: Harold looks down and twirls his finger on the table. “Well.... uh... My son, Charlie, is coming by at the end of the week.”
Patty: “That’s delightful. It’s funny how he calls me his step-mom and all.”
Harold: “Yes. I know. I’m an ‘Uncle’ to about half the residents’ kids here. Some visit regular and others like Charlie come but a couple times a year, but at least he comes. (with a finger in the air) At least he comes.”
Patty: “Yes, usually at big holidays. He's quite the handsome young man. I've heard he looks a lot like you when you were his age. What’s the occasion for Charlie this time?”
Harold: (Looks down) "Well. There's just no easy way to say this.
Patty: "Harold?" (concerned)
Harold: "He’s transferring me to another nursing home. Says they have better this and... better that. Plus it is closer to him and I can see my grandson a bit more.”
Patty: “Oh.” (Dejected) “I see.” She stares out the window.
Harold: “Been meaning to tell you. I’ve known for a week now." (long silence) "... I’ll really miss having breakfast with you.” Harold fiddles with a corner of the paper. “I’ll really... really miss it.”
Patty: “I understand. I will too.” (quietly)
They sit in silence for a few moments. Stacey meanders over.
Stacey: “How’s everything over here?”
Harold: “Not too good. I just told Patty that I’m leaving.”
Stacey pats Patty on the back.
Stacey: “We’re all here for you. You can take part in a few more activities with the group. You won’t miss old Harry here a bit. You’ll see.”
Patty: “I think I’d like to go back to my room now.”
Stacey: “Sure. Looks like you’re nearly done anyways. Harry, take care of yourself.”
Harold: “What’s that?”
Stacey (a bit louder): “I said take care of yourself.”
Harold: “What about my hair?"
Stacey (louder still): "No. I said take care of yourself.
Harold: "Oh. You too.”
Stacey retrieves a wheelchair. She helps Patty up and into it and wheels her back to her room where she transfers her onto her bed with the book in her lap. Stacey leaves and Patty gets up with her walker and goes over to the box. She pulls out a baseball jersey and lays it on the edge of the bed facing the audience. She holds up a picture tucked between the pages of the book. She smiles and nods and looks back and forth between the jersey and picture.
Spotlight side scene. Young boy dressed in the same jersey, stands with his hands on his knees and a baseball mitt on his hand.
Announcer: “Here we are in a one-run ball game. The Tigers are up by one at 8-7. The Cubbies are at the plate. A lot is on the line as one of these teams will go on to the playoffs. The other will go home.”
Ump voice: “Strike one”
Announcer: “Close one there. The ump calls a strike. 0-1 count. Two outs and runners on second a third. A single likely sends the Cubbies home with the win. An out and the Tigers are the victors.”
Ump voice: “Ball”
Announcer: “Oooh. Looks like the batter, Caleb Hester, a .320 hitter this season checked his swing on that one. If you don’t like this game folks you don’t like baseball.”
The young boy pounds his mitt a few times and looks antsy. He crouches down into the same stance as before.
Ump voice: “Ball”
Announcer: “That one got away from the pitcher there. The runs can’t advance though as the catcher makes a nice block on the play. The batter digs in and awaits the next pitch.”
Ump voice: “Steeeeee-rike two”
Announcer: “I don’t think the batter liked that call but it was very close. Looked to be a tad outside though. That makes the count 2-2 and the crowd is on pins and needles.”
(Crack – Crowd noise arises)
The boy reacts and starts running back looking up .
Announcer: “It’s a long drive back into centerfield. The fielder has a bead on it and it running like crazy! He dives and bangs into the fence!”
The boy looks dazed and struggles to his feet. Crowd “ooohs” at the smash into the fence.
Announcer: “Is he alright? Does he have it? The ump runs out as the runners race home!”
The boy looks down into his mitt and pulls out a gleaming white baseball and grins. He jumps up and down in pure excitement as the scene fades to black.
Announcer: “The ump gives the out sign! He’s got it! He made the catch! Absolutely amazing!”
Patty holds up the shirt as the first scene goes dark too.
Patty sits at the corner table with Harold. He reads his paper. She has the book. Harold places the paper on the table and leans forward a bit.
Harold: “This is my last day. Charlie comes to get me any time. I’ll stay at his place for two weeks and transfer to Springfield Manor down in New Bree.”
Patty looks up.
Patty: “I’ll miss you." A long pause. "You’ve been a good companion for thirteen years here, Harold. I’m sure Charlie is doing what’s best for you.”
Harold: “Truth be told I’d rather stay, but Charlie foots the bill and well, I think financially it makes sense for me to go to New Bree.” Harold pats her hand.
Patty: “It's OK. I’ll be OK. I’m thinking about taking up knitting or quilting to pass the time.”
Harold: “Quilting? Didn’t you say you and your mother did that when you were little?”
Patty: “Yes. We had the time with it. Cutting out cloth into squares. I’d sit and watch her. She’d stick her fingers with the needle. She’d let out a yelp, but she’d go right back to it. Not sure I would have endured that much pain and work.”
Harold: “I bet you’d make a fine quilt.”
Charlie enters the scene.
Patty: “Hello, Charlie.”
Charlie: “Hello, Ms. Patty.” (He hugs her) “How’s my favorite step-mom doing?”
Patty: “Oh, please. I’d never marry an old codger like your father.”
Harold: “Hey, now! (All chuckle) I'm as young as I feel and I don't feel too bad. Just this hip causes me some issues.”
Charlie: “We’ve got pretty much everything packed. Margie and the kids are out in the car. So, we’d best get going.” He helps get his father to his feet.
Harold: “Guess this is good-bye, Patty. Been real nice. You’ll get along well… I'll try to write a bit. May even get on that confounded computer they have there or one of those smart phones.” Harold gives her a hug in her chair. She nods.
Patty: “Good-bye." (crying) "Go on. I’ll be fine.”
Harold: “Yeah.” Harold turns and starts shuffling toward the door.
Charlie: “Take care Patty. Make a new friend.”
Patty: “Oh, I’m sure my kids will visit me.” She lays her hand on the book.
Harold: “What’s that? What did she say?” (looking at Charlie)
Charlie: “Nothing about you. I just said to make a new friend and all. Her kids will keep her company.”
Harold: “What? But she doesn't...."
Charlie: (interrupting) “Come on now, Dad. We have to go.”
Harold: “But…. Oh all right. Margie and the grandkids are in the car, huh?”
Charlie: “Yes. They're dying to see you. It's been a long time. Jake even has a girl friend now. (He turns and waves) Good-bye all.”
Several of the residents wave and pipe up “Bye Harold.” “See ya” etc.
Patty lays the book in her lap and wheels herself to her room still crying.
Patty over at the box pulls out a frilly dress and lays it (facing the audience) across the bed. She sits in a rocker and begins to read the book.
Spotlight of secondary scene to the left. A young girl stands fidgeting and pacing. A woman (back to the audience with same hairdo, height, weight as Patty) grabs her and starts fixing and smoothing one the ruffles on her dress.
Mother: “Yes, dear.”
Maria: “Do I have to go out there?”
Mother: “I suppose you don’t have to, but you certainly would disappoint Ms. Roberson. She picked you special for the solo.”
(applause in the background and some music starts)
Mother: “Sounds like it’s about to start. Your song is next.”
Maria: “I know.”
Mother: “You’ll do just fine. Your father and I are so proud of you. Plus you sing like an angel.”
Maria fidgeted more. “Mommy.”
Mother: “Yes, dear.” She smiles and looked into that tiny face.
Maria: “What if I mess up?” Her feet tap in antsy anticipation
Mother: “Oh, honey. You’ll do fine. You’re my girl after all. Plus you have a wonderful voice.”
Maria: “I don’t want to go. They will laugh if I mess up.”
Mother: “Now, Maria. Mrs. Roberson is counting on you. She told me that you have a great voice. I’ll tell you what. You know that perfume that mommy just got that you like?”
Maria: “Uh, huh.”
Mother: “I’ll let you wear it for the rest of the day, but you have to be a big girl and go out there and sing. Sing like I know you can.”
Maria grinned briefly and meekly lifted her eyes to meet her mother’s. “Ok. But don’t let Billy Ruiz come near me. That would just send him over the edge. He already tries to kiss me at recess.” Patty couldn’t help but laugh at the image in her mind.
“Ohhhh, Maria. I love you little girl. Now, go out there and make me proud.” She hugs Maria tight.
Girl walks off stage and a large applause. The mother holds a kerchief to her face and walks off (not revealing her face).
The secondary scene fades.
Patty makes her way over to the bed and picks up the dress. She holds it to her face.
She whispers loudly: "I can still smell the perfume."
Scenery change over to "church" backdrop to the right.
(Back in the dining hall. Patty sits in the corner next to the window alone. She watches as several residents receive visitors for Easter. Several hearty laughs and smiles. A small child plays some kind of board game with another resident. Patty watches, listens, and occasionally stares out the window.)
She picks up the book as the left scene fades. She pulls out a broad striped shirt and lays it across the table toward the audience
“Oh, no.” Patty said aloud. “I didn’t realize this was… “ Her voiced trailed off. “I just… “. Her hands covered her mouth. The shock on her face clear. “That was so funny!” She held up a small orange and black, broad-striped shirt and laughed.
She begins to read and the right scene lights up as a woman walks to the edge of the stage holding hands with a mischievous little boy dressed in a broad striped shirt. A small room that says "Restrooms" and another "Sanctuary" sign with an arrow pointing to the darker side of the stage. A door separates the two scenes. A church hymn is sung in the background (Rock of Ages)
Sam was no more than three, and like most small boys his size, full of mischief and energy. Laura, the music director’s wife, had toddler duty at the church that day. Sam was his usual self, and played seemingly with all the toys in the nursery, all at the same time. Laura had her hands full that day with Sam and five other toddlers, Sam being the oldest. She enlisted the help of one of the teenagers, Sherry. Even with the extra help it proved to be a difficult day. The inevitable came.
Laura: (Talking to someone off-stage right) "Sherry?"
Sherry: (off stage) "Yeah."
Laura: "I'm taking Sam to the restroom. You think you can handle the toddlers for a few minutes?"
Sherry: "Not sure. They're all over the place today! Hurry back! Jacob get off that table!"
Laura smiles and talks directly to the audience: "Tell me about it! And I had to pick their leader to take to the bathroom!"
Sam: "Miss Laura?"
Laura: “Yes, Sam.” Laura chimed back as all experienced pre-school workers do.
Sam: “I really need to go to the bathroom.” Sam’s brown eyes batted back at Laura.
Laura: “Ok. I’ll take you.” (stepping toward the restrooms and starting to reach for the handle)
Sam crossed his arms and gave her a look. “I can do it. I’m a big boy.”
Laura: “Oh. I’m sure you are.” Laura smiled down at him.
Sam: "I hear pastor Nay-Nay singing."
Laura: "Why yes, Sam. He's my husband. He does sing so well. Next is the preacher. Now, you get on in there and be a big boy!"
Sam: "OK." Sam runs, opens the door, and scoots in.
Laura waited. And waited. He had been in there a long time.
Laura: “He is a big boy.” She talks to the audience. “I’ll give him a few more minutes. Besides, it's nice to have left Sherry back there with the other kids. (A loud cry from stage right). She smiles. Laura wanders up and down the hall -- waiting.
Laura: “He sure is taking his time,” She whispered to herself. She goes over to the doors. The hymn ends and the preacher starts as she listens through the doors. A sermon moans on in the background about unexpected events and how God works through them.
Sam opens the restroom doors, throws off his broad striped shirt, holding a full roll of toilet paper, and streaks past her in two blinks of an eye dressed only in his underwear -- right into the the sanctuary.
The sermons stops with a pregnant pause.
Laura: "Ohhhh, nooooooooo!"
Giggles at first from stage left and then full wild laughter. Laura rushes in. There stood Sam, naked, with a roll of toilet paper in one hand and only a mischievous grin to wear.
“Mommy! I'm a big boy!” He cried out.
She scooped him up and darted to the door. Sam throws the toilet paper roll close to his shirt as Laura exits stage left. Laughter fades and the right scene fades with it. The left scene gets brighter.
Patty stops reading and picks up the broad striped shirt. She smiles and chuckles.
Stacey weaves through the other residents still chatting and playing games with their relatives.
Stacey: "Yes, Patty?"
Patty: "I need to make a phone call, Dear."
Stacey: "Well, this is unusual. Who are you going to call?"
Patty: "I need to contact my aunt. Dear me.... she must be nearly 90 by now! We'd best hurry."
Stacey laughs. "Oh, Mrs. Jenkins, you always know how to make me laugh. But why do you need to contact her?"
Patty: "She knows all about quilting. She can tell me just what kind of thread to use and I'm certain she has the needles and such. I do hope we can reach her."
Stacey: "That's a wonderful idea. This will certainly take your mind off of Harold leaving."
Patty: "Yes, I want to make the quilt for my children."
Stacey looks oddly at her. "Your children? You certainly haven't spoken of them much. Do they live nearby?"
Patty: "Very close, my Dear. Very close. (She lays her hand on the book). Now let's get to that phone."
Stacey goes to the counter and retrieves a phone and hands it to her. "Here you are."
Patty: "Thank you." She 'dials' in the air.
Stacey: "What are you doing?"
Patty: "Trying to recall her number. It's called having a senior moment, my dear. You'll understand in about forty years."
Stacey: (chuckles) "Oh."
Patty: "I believe that's it." Mumbling to herself. She dials. "Hello?"..... "Christina! How are you?" .... "This is your aunt Patty.... No, no. On your mother's side, dear..... Her sister. Right.... Right..... Is your mother around? Oh, sleeping? Well, I was wondering if I could ask you a favor. Does your mother still have her quilting supplies? Marvelous! .... yes, I am going to make a quilt... excellent. You know how to get to Farnsdale Nursing Home? No, no in Brandenburg.... I know it's a long way.... Ship them? I sure would like to visit with you. I understand. Yes. You can come then? This next Tuesday? That would be fine.... Give my love to your mother. Bye, love."
Stacey: "That's wonderful, Ms. Patty."
Leonard: "What's up, Stacey?"
Stacey: "Just letting Mrs. Jenkins here use the phone. Sounds like her niece is paying a visit."
Patty: "Yes, and bringing the quilting supplies I need to make my quilt."
Leonard: "That's great, Ms. Jenkins. Been a while since you had a visitor."
Patty: "Yes, I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to start cutting out the squares right away. I should get as many as I can ready. Perhaps she'll stay and sew a few with me."
Leonard: "Hey, Ms. Jenkins. Did I leave one of them boxes in your room? I've got to drop them off at goodwill today."
Patty: (Eyes widen and she seems a bit panicked) "A box?" (She looks at the book and back at him) "No. I don't think so. No boxes in my room that I don't want."
Leonard: "Great. That's one more thing off my list. Mr. Thomas has been on me 'bout getting my chores done. He's...."
(off stage) Mr. Thomas: "Leonard! Get in here!"
Leonard shakes his head. "See! I gots to do everything around here. Leonard, carry this. Leonard, wheel this patient here. Leonard, change this bedpan...." Walks off muttering.
Stacey: "What a character."
Patty: "He's a good guy. Hard worker too."
Stacey: "Patty, what are you going to use as your cloth? Your niece is only bringing the needle and thread stuff."
Patty: "That's easy, my dear. I'm making the quilt from my kids' clothes."
Stacey: "That will be really neat."
Patty: "I hope so."
Stacey: "I can hardly wait to see it! It will be the talk of the residents. That is such a neat idea."
Patty: "I'll work on it as soon as my niece drops off those supplies. I remember making quilts with my mother when I was a little girl."
Stacey: "Is your mother still alive?"
Patty: "Oh, no. She died almost twenty years ago."
Stacey: "That's too bad. Your kids will be thrilled though. How many do you have?"
Patty: "Four all together. The quilt is more for me. Motherhood and all."
Stacey: "I understand. I'll let you know as soon as she drops it all off."
Patty: "Thank you, Stacey."
Scene goes dark. A young woman with a large bag of quilting supplies stands at the counter. Stacey smiles and nods. She points to Patty's room. She holds up the bag and motions to her to follow, but the niece shakes her head and glances at her watch. Stacey beckons her to follow, but again she checks her watch and points. She waves toward the door and then points at it. Stacey shakes her head.
Stacey: "I'll be sure your aunt gets this. A shame you couldn't stay."
Niece: "Sorry. But I have to go. Say hello to Aunt Patty for me."
Stacey: "Will do."
Niece leaves. Stacey puts the quilting supplies next to the box. Patty is sleeping but arouses at the noise.
Stacey: "Yes, Ms. Jenkins. It's me."
Patty: "What are you doing in here? You know I don't need help to breakfast."
Stacey: "I wouldn't dream of it. I was just dropping off these quilting supplies. Your niece just dropped them off."
Patty: (Brightens up) "Is she still here? I'd love to see her."
Stacey: "Afraid not. She had to go. Seemed to be a busy lady."
Patty: "Oh. (saddened and looking down at the floor). I see. I'm sure she is."
Stacey: "You get ready now. I had Carl the cook fix you an extra special breakfast -- blueberry muffins."
Patty: "You are too good to me Stacey. Just like Maria."
Patty: "My daughter. (Glances at the book and seems to reminisce) She made the best muffins on her thirteenth birthday."
Stacey: "Ok. Well, there's the supplies. I need to get back to work."
Patty: "Of course. "I'll be along in about..."
Stacey: (walks toward the door and looks over her shoulder)... a half an hour. I know. I know...."
She gathers her things together and places the book, a few pieces of clothes, and quilt supplies in the basket on her walker. She makes her way to the dining hall at the table near the window. She begins to sew.
(Patty is sewing the quilt. Two other residents sit with her at a table. Stacey flits about getting everything ready for lunch. Leonard lugs a few tables around and sets them up.)
Resident #1: “My son Eddie just took a new job at that hi-tech company Google. He has achieved so much. I think he’s making over $100,000 now.”
Resident #2: “ Oh, isn’t he the one that stopped by over Memorial Day weekend.”
Resident #1: “The very one. I am so proud of him.”
Patty: “He is a handsome one too. Just like my Timmy and Sam. “
(Residents look at each other in puzzlement.)
Resident #2: “My granddaughter just got the lead in the school play and she’s only a freshman.”
Resident #1: “What play are they doing?”
Resident #2: “Wizard of Oz. She gets to play Dorothy.”
Patty: “Maria got to sing a solo. She was so nervous. I remember it like it was yesterday. She looked so pretty in that dress.”
Resident #1: “Maria?”
Patty: “My daughter silly. She was always such a precocious child. But one that became so used to being on stage and being in front of an audience.”
Resident #1: “You’ve never mentioned a daughter before, Patty.”
Patty: “Doesn’t mean I don’t have one.”
Resident #2: “Sorry. She didn’t mean anything by it.”
Patty: “Oh, I know. No worries. She was so cute. Reminded me of Shirley Temple.”
Resident #1: “Being a parent sure does have its rewards.”
Resident #2: “Yes. Heartaches too.”
Patty: “I know exactly what you’re saying.”
(They all smile and nod.)
Resident #1: “We’d best get up to there to get the fresh food. You do not want those green beans they mix in later from a few days ago.”
Resident #2: “For sure. I’ll go with you. You coming Patty?”
Patty: “No, I’ll just stay here and sew.”
Resident #2: “All right.”
Both residents go up to the serving line while Patty remains behind.
(Scene should be about 5 minutes long. Alternate between food servings, light and dark, people talking to Patty, Patty sitting in various spots but always with the quilt sewing, Stacey stopping by, and Leonard lumbering by and waving/occasionally talking to Patty. They mime-talk to her and her to them as shows the progress she'd made. The seasons change outside the windows from spring to fall. Residents have little fans to show it is hot. The window opens with a breeze blowing in. The quilt takes shape with the final scene showing fall leaves outside with a few drifting in the window and fall on the table where Patty sits.
(Should be about 5 or 6 of these brief scenes.)
Scene goes dark.
Patty sits in the chair next to her bed, near the window, and the box. She holds up the quilt with one patch remaining. She peers into the box and grabs a small piece of clothing -- a onesie -- from it. She trembles and tears stream down her cheeks. She clutches it to her cheek and mops her tears with it.
Patty: "James. My little angel."
Spotlight secondary scene to the left.
The doctor and nurse went about their business. The nurse prepared the wash basin, while the doctor checked her progress.
Nurse: "Eight centimeters dilated -- Time to push."
Mother: "Arrrrggggh. Ooooohhhhh. Awwwww!!! Something is wrong!"
The nurse holds her hand tight.
Doctor: “Push!” the doctor said in a stern professional voice. “You have to push! He’s almost out.” The doctor waits patiently as he stared at the head. The forceps were firmly in his hands. “Just a bit more!”
The doctor latched onto the head and helped pull the baby out. James finally emerges. “It’s a boy.” He stated clinically. “Nurse! Emergency procedures on a code blue infant, stat!” The nurse rushed to the doctor’s side, wrapped up the baby, and placed the limp child upon a waiting bed atop a gurney. Off they whisked him.
Mother: “What’s wrong?” She asked frantically. “Where are you taking him? What’s wrong!?! What’s wrong!?!” She screamed. “Oh, my God. Please. He’s dead isn’t he? Oh, my God. Oh, my God.” Her hands covered her face at the mere thought.
Doctor: “No. He’s not dead, but he isn’t breathing. We need to take him to intensive care right away. This is very serious. The emergency physician, Dr. Nettles will be working on your child while I wrap up here.”
Mother: “What’s going to happen to him?” Her mind was swimming. “James. My little James.” Reaches her hand after the child.
Doctor: “They’ll do all they can for him. Dr. Nettles is an excellent doctor. Just try to be calm as we wait for the afterbirth.”
Mother: "Where did they take my baby!?!"
Scene goes dark.
Mother lying in bed with tall man (husband) next to her. The doctor stands on the other side of the bed talking to them.
Doctor: "The next 24 hours will tell the tale. Your little boy has a severe infection. His lungs just aren't very strong. He is breathing, but with some help."
Mother: "No." (She buries her face in her husband's chest. He consoles her. She looks up at the nurse.) "Can we see him? I want to hold him. Please."
Doctor: "In the morning..."
Mother and Father stand looking into nursery.
Mother: "At least he isn't all blue any more."
Mother: "Oh, God. I want to hold him. He's just so small."
Father: "He does look very frail. I'm not sure they'll let us."
Mother: "Can you ask? We've waited for a day. Surely they will let us hold our little boy."
Father walks off stage. Mother waits impatiently.
Nurse and Father come on stage. Nurse is holding the baby.
Nurse: "The doctor says you can hold him now. I'm afraid he only has maybe an hour left. So, you might as well love him as much as you can. There's just nothing we can do. His lungs are just too weak."
Mother holds out her hands and takes the child from the nurse. She looks down at him.
Nurse: "I'm so, so sorry."
Mother and Father huddle around the child facing the audience.
Mother: "Such a lovely little onesie."
Father: "Our little angel."
They go over and sit at the table. Both admire the child for a long time. The mother suddenly becomes alarmed.
Mother: "Go get the doctor!"
Father leaves quickly and the doctor rushes on stage. He takes the child and does a few tests and puts his stethoscope to the child. He shakes his head.
Doctor: "He's gone. I'm sorry. I’m so, so sorry."
Mother and Father hug tight (both sobbing).
(Lights fade out)
That scene fades while Patty on the other side brightens. She clutches the onesie to her cheek and sobs (in a similar manner to the last scene). She lays down on the bed, pulls the quilt up over her (showing that the clothing patches are sewn in it), stills crying she puts the onesie back to her cheek
Patty: "James." She states.
She falls asleep and then dies.
Leonard grunted as he lugged a box of stuff out of the room and into the hall. He returned to the room and grabbed an old book and a quilt and proceeded to drop them into the box. Stacy saunters in for her 10 am shift.
Leonard: "Hey, Stace."
Stacey" “Hey, Len. What's going on?”
Leonard: “Oh, Mrs. Jenkins died late last night.” He paused and glanced into the room. "Went peacefully as I understand it."
Stacey: “Patty Jenkins? The rich old woman in the private room?” Her voice filled with surprise.
Leonard: “Yeah. Found her this morning.” He turned and brought out a small box of shoes. A pair of fuzzy slippers lay on top.
Stacey: “Ohhhh, that’s such a shame." Stacy shook her head in lament. "She’d been very happy recently. It's been so hard since Harry left. She was working hard on that quilt. It looked like it was coming along quite nicely. I never even knew she could quilt until recently. I remember when her niece stopped in to give her all the quilting supplies a few months ago.”
Leonard: “Yeah, she was wrapped up in it, but look." He nodded toward the box, "It wasn’t quite finished.” He pointed to the box with a corner of the quilt hanging over the side.
Stacy walked over, pulled out the quilt, and held it up to the light streaming from the room's open window.
Stacey: "There is a piece missing, isn't there?" She shook her head. "Maybe I could finish it.” She examined the patches, and peered into the box.
Harry comes in. Charlie is in the background.
Harry: "Came as quick as I could. I heard about Patty."
Stacey: "Yes. Such a shame. She died last night."
Harry shakes head and looks sad.
Stacey looks down in the box. “What’s this?”
Leonard: “Oh, she was holding that when she died. Evidently, it meant something to her.”
Stacey: “Looks like a onesie.”
Harry and Leonard: “A what?”
Stacey: “You know. A onesie. A newborn’s outfit.” Stacy dropped the quilt, grabbed it and held it up. “Our Little Angel,” she stated. “Oh and what’s this?” She spied the old book. She picked it up and felt the worn leather binding. The faded letters and cracked cover dulled in the fluorescent lighting.
Harry: "Looks old."
Stacey: “It looks like a diary."
Harry: "Where did this box come from?” Harry pushes and pokes the side.
Leonard: “Oh, I recognize it. This is one of those boxes that was brought in about a year ago. It was left over from our community garage sale for the nursing center. You know. Kind of a fund raiser. People donated all kinds of stuff and the proceeds went to the care of the residents. I guess someone (looks guilty for a moment) just stuck the box, clothes, and that old book in her room, and never went back for it." Leonard wiped the sweat from his brow onto his sleeve.
Stacy tapped the cover a few times and stared at Leonard, then Harry.
Stacey: "Yes. I remember now. Patty carried this book around with her for months on end. She constantly had it with her. As I recall, she laughed and smiled a lot, and even cried at times when I'd see her reading it. This book meant a lot to her.”
She cracked open the book with reverence.
Stacey: “Oh, my God. It is a diary.”
Stacy stiffened, and read the inside flap. “This diary belongs to Katherine Boggs. Dedicated to my children, (read slowly) Timothy, Maria, Samuel, and our little angel, James.” Stacy's brow crinkled, and she looked at Harry and Leonard.
Leonard: “Who’s that?”
Stacey: “Don’t know.” She flipped through a few pages, paused, and then looked up. “Has her next of kin been notified? You know, Patty's kids?”
Harry: “Patty? She didn’t have any children. She wasn’t able to have them.”
Stacey: “But she talked about them.”
Harry: “I’m telling you. She couldn’t have kids. She had a full hysterectomy. No way she could have them.”
Stacey: “So whose clothes did she make this quilt from?”
(All of them pause to think.)
Leonard: “I think she borrowed them.”
Stacey: “Of course! She became so engrossed in this diary that these kids became her kids!”
(Harry and Leonard nod in agreement.)
Stacey walks to the front of the stage with the book. Spotlight on her.
(To be read slowly and deliberately with great empathy.)
"Patty Jenkins may not have had any real children, but to her they were as real as yours, or mine. She found, in an old dusty book, tucked away in a box in the corner with a stack of kids' clothes, something that she'd never had before. (pause) Experienced something she'd never known before -- being a mother. She felt all the joy, laughter, and heartache any parent has ever known. All through the eyes of someone -- Katherine Boggs -- that she'd never met. Her diary (holds up diary) was a window to a world Patty could have only imagined before. If we could all be so lucky as to experience our most cherished dreams, we could understand what life is really all about.”
Based upon the short story