This delves into the life of Melanie and what happens when someone extraordinary visits.
THE SWORD AND THE STONE
A prompt idea I read a while ago: "Your doorbell rings and it's a person from an alternate universe. 'I just want you to know that you are my favorite book character and I know
how it ends and I want to change it.' Plot twist: the person who rings your doorbell is your favorite book character."
Cast of Characters
MELANIE WEBER: AN AVERAGE
FAN OF LITERATURE. A BIT HARD TO SWAY. DOESN'T GIVE IN EASILY.
EMMA MCINTYRE: MELANIE'S BEST
FRIEND. GOSSIPY, BUBBLY. A BIT BOY-CRAZY. EASY-GOING, LAID-BACK, SUPER CHILL PERSON.
LEO JAMES: A "FICTIONAL" CHARACTER, RESIDES IN THE BOOK "THE SWORD." HE IS CHARACTERIZED AS A TIME TRAVELLING KNIGHT, STARTING
OUT IN MODERN TIME BUT ENDING UP IN ARTHURIAN TIMES. HE IS LOYAL, KIND, AND GENUINELY CARING.
JASON: EMMA'S BOYFRIEND. A BIT
SLOW, OBLIVIOUS. EASILY IGNORED. NOT BOTHERED BY ANYTHING.
1 Scene 1 1
The apartment is at the top of a rundown building. There is a window upstage, portieres stage right (leading to a bedroom), and a door stage left. At center stage, there is a dining table.
There is minimal evidence of someone living here, no family photographs or personal touches, aside from a vase of wilted tulips.
A knock comes from the door stage left, but nothing happens. The classic triple knock cycle repeats three times.
(MELANIE WEBER has finally awoken, stumbling out from the portieres to open the door.)
MELANIE: I'm here, I'm here... (She opens the door, leaving the chain-lock locked, and yawns.) Who are you? (A voice can be heard from "outside" the door.)
LEO: Hello - is this the home of- (He pauses, the sound of a rustling paper fills the air.) -Melanie Weber?
MELANIE: Quite possibly. Again, who are you?
LEO: Oh, right - Melanie - You won't believe me, but my name is Leo. Leo James.
(MELANIE perks up. Her friendly expression turns into confusion,
MELANIE (sarcastically): Definitely. (She laughs.) Who sent you? Was it Emma? I knew she knew it was my birthday next week, but to hire someone to-
LEO (interrupting her): I wasn't sent or hired by anyone. I'm confused; are you Melanie Weber?
MELANIE: Yes, yes, I am. Now - why don't you tell me the truth, "Leo"?
LEO: I did. Look, this is somewhat of a complicated matter, may I come in?
(MELANIE sighs, shrugs, and unlocks the chain-lock. She backs up to open the door further. )
MELANIE (swinging her arm dramatically): Sure! Come right on in! Make yourself at home while you're at it, why don't you? (LEO steps in, his first siting by the audience. He is dressed a bit... oddly. He is wearing a green tunic trimmed in gold, and tights to match. He pauses nervously, straightening the edges of his shirt. He looks around, mesmerized by his surroundings.)
MELANIE: Well? Are you just going to keep standing there?
LEO (clears his throat): May I sit? (He gestures towards one of the chairs at the dining set.)
MELANIE (scoffs): Sure, go ahead.
(BOTH sit at the table across from each other, parallel with the audience so only their profiles are shown.) LEO: My name is Leo James.
MELANIE: No it isn't. I know it's a somewhat common name, but you are not an owner to that name.
LEO: Melanie -
MELANIE (interrupting him): Why are you here?
LEO: I came here for you.
(MELANIE's eyebrows raise, and she laughs. She is not taking this stranger seriously, and that is starting to
LEO: Please, hear me out, before you say anything. (MELANIE clears her throat in response to LEO's plea. LEO rests both of his hands on her table, clasping them
LEO: I come from far away, some could even refer to it as... an alternate universe from yours.
MELANIE: You are insane! You know that, right? Completely and utterly insane. First you say you're- you'reLEO: I am.
MELANIE: You are not! You want to know why? (She stands, and storms away through the portieres. She returns with a thick novel with the words "The SWORD" on the side, slamming it on her table and sliding it to LEO before sitting back down.) This. This is why. You and your crazy getup, you cannot be telling the truth.
LEO (smiling): You... You've heard of me?
MELANIE (throwing her hands up in the air): Heard of you? Heard of you? Oh my god -
LEO: You don't understand - Melanie, I am Leo James. This
Leo James. From this... (He pauses, reluctant to call it a "book.")
MELANIE (while pinching her arm): Crazy, this is so crazy... This dream is so realistic...
LEO: I'm (he pauses) afraid this isn't a dream... All right, I came here for a reason, whether you'll listen or not, I've got to tell you.
MELANIE (sighing): Shall I fetch the popcorn, or?
LEO: I'm not entirely sure what that is...
(MELANIE laughs, and rests her head in
LEO: I've... Melanie, you're the main character of my favorite story. I've read it a dozen times, and I just... I hate the ending. I came into your world to fix it. To make it better.
(MELANIE gives LEO an unamused look.)
The lights fade out as they're frozen in the moment.
2 SCENE 2 2
The setting is the same apartment, but the wilted tulips are now replaced with wilted daisies.
MELANIE is joined by another woman by the name of EMMA MCINTYRE. EMMA: What a whackjob! You'd really think I'd hire someone to act like your favorite book character? I've been accused of a lot of things, and that, is the weirdest thing, by far.
MELANIE (while handing EMMA a mug): I know, I know, it's crazy.
EMMA: What did you do after he told you that he was there to "make your story better"?
MELANIE: I kicked the guy out, what do you think I did? (She takes a sip of her drink, sitting at the same spot as before. EMMA follows suit, taking the spot LEO had sat at hours before.) Okay, but the weird thing is, he seemed to believe his own words. And did I tell you what he was wearing? The guy went all out! The ending outfit in The Sword! That is what he was wearing. The green, the gold, he was even in tights, Emma! Tights!
EMMA: Was he cute? (She takes a drink from her own mug.)
MELANIE (she gasps): Cute? I tell you this crazy story, you call him a whackjob, and then you ask if he's cute? (EMMA laughs, nodding at MELANIE's
MELANIE (sipping from her mug): Hm... (She sets the mug down in front of her.) I mean, I guess so. He looks pretty close to how I imagined him in the book - I mean, not he-him, because he cannot possibly be him, but, you know what I mean.
EMMA (teasingly): Have you called your mom to see if she tried to set you up with the character you've loved since sixth grade?
MELANIE (her jaw drops): Emma! You know my mother would(She pauses.) -probably actually do that, oh my god. You know she's always trying to set me up with her friends' sons... I bet that poor soul was just one of them!
EMMA: Probably. (A jingle is heard from EMMA's direction. EMMA pulls her cellphone from her pocket.) Hey, Mel, I've got to go - I have a date with Jason tonight and I almost forgot about it.
(EMMA stands, and MELANIE follows. BOTH walk to the door and hug goodbye. )
The lights fade.
3 SCENE 3 3
It is a new day, the next day to be precise.
The setting is now new as well. Instead of the dining table, there is a bench. The background has changed from a wall+window to a set of bushes. A tree is stage left. A bench is at center stage.
MELANIE enters from stage right, where the portieres used to be, and sits on the bench.
She is minding her business, her attention is on her phone in her hand. She doesn't realize when LEO suddenly appears, from the same direction as she did.
LEO (panting): You... You walk terribly fast- (He leans forward, placing his hands on his knees.) Whew. (MELANIE jumps, nearly dropping her phone.)
MELANIE: What are you doing here? Did you - Did you follow me? Oh my god.
LEO: I needed to find you! (He stands up straight, then gestures towards the bench.) May I join you?
MELANIE: Look, I called my mother yesterday after you showed up, and she did not hire you. If it's not her, or Emma, who did?
LEO: I told you already. (He sits next to her even though she didn't answer his question.)
MELANIE: You are not the Leo James. (She pauses.) Why are you still in that outfit?
LEO: As someone from the universe of Wysteria -
MELANIE (interrupting him): You aren't from there! (She stands.) You're some crazy, pathetic, lunatic who has nothing better to do than -
LEO: Your birthday is August fourth. Your dad passed away last year. Your best friend is Emma McIntyre, but her first name isn't even Emma, it's Emily. You graduated school three years ago, and you've suddenly come to the conclusion that you have no idea what you want to do with your life even though you majored in art. (LEO stands to face her head-on.)
MELANIE: You're insane. You're insane, and you're a stalker, because how else would you have known that? I don't live on social media, and I only have a small group of friends, so tell me, "Leo," how do you know that?
LEO: You're persistent, and can't see what's right in front of you. (He sighs, places his hands together and shuffles his feet.) I read your story, Melanie. I told you, I came here to fix the ending.
MELANIE (laughs, but seems intrigued): That's... impossible.
LEO (sighs): It's not. Not with this.
(LEO pulls out a shimmering emerald from
the inside of his tunic.) MELANIE: What's that?
LEO: It's the Gem of Hope.
MELANIE: Okay, you are definitely kidding me with that one.
LEO: Only people with good intentions are able to find it, it magically appears if you wish to change something, someone...
MELANIE: And you wish to change me?
LEO: No, not at all. I wish to change what happens to you. (MELANIE scoffs as if she can't believe it. Something about the way LEO speaks to passionately makes her want to
LEO: Something... Bad is going to happen to you. You're planning on going hiking soon, aren't you?
MELANIE (pauses): I was just about to believe you. I'm doing no such thing, and you can take that gemstone and (The sound of a doorbell interrupts her. It was MELANIE's phone signalling a text message. MELANIE opens the message, and reads it out loud.)
MELANIE (quoting the text): 'Hey Mel, Jason and I are going hiking this weekend. Want to come?' (MELANIE pauses again.) Well, what you said means nothing, it's all just a coincidence...
(MELANIE doesn't look very confident, looking at the ground and fidgeting with her phone in her hands.)
LEO: I told you! You've got to say no to her!
MELANIE: I've - I've got to go. Don't bother finding me again.
(MELANIE exits stage right, leaving LEO to stand alone.) LEO: I've got to stop her...
(LEO exits the opposite direction.)
The lights fade once again.
4 SCENE 4 4
The setting is another outdoor scene, more props of trees are around the stage. The bench is replaced by a log. EMMA and MELANIE are heard laughing offstage before coming into view from stage right. EMMA: So you really believe that guy?
MELANIE: He seems really believable! Though... he did tell me to not show up today. You're not going to kill me, are you?
EMMA (laughs): Definitely not.
(BOTH sit on the log. They're dressed in "camp" gear, and MELANIE pulls out a map from her back pocket.)
MELANIE: So once Jason catches up, we're going to follow this trail, right? (She points along the map.)
EMMA: Yup, essentially. I hope he didn't get lost. We should have given him the map...
MELANIE: Yeah, but then we would be the ones lost!
EMMA: That's probably true.
The sound of rustling is heard from the same direction EMMA and MELANIE came from. Suddenly, voices are heard.
JASON: Dude, dude, why are you following me?
LEO: I need to see Melanie!
JASON: You could do it on your own time - let go!
JASON trips into view with LEO on his tail.
MELANIE: You again! (MELANIE stands up.) I told you I didn't want you to come after me again!
JASON: Thank god, you know this guy. I thought he was some weird creep...
EMMA: You're the weird medieval guy!
LEO: I'm from this century. If you read the book, you'd understand that I was dragged into Arthurian times by finding the Excalibur at a thrift shop - okay, okay, this is not important! (LEO turns to face MELANIE with a desperate expression.) You cannot go further than this next trail!
JASON: What the -
EMMA (stands up): Jay, let's just step away for a minute... (EMMA takes JASON's arm and drags him off stage.) Scream if you need help!
MELANIE: What do you mean I "cannot go further than this next trail"?
LEO: I read your story! It doesn't end well, I'm here to help.
MELANIE: You keep saying that, but you never explain! (She throws her hands up in exasperation.)
LEO: It's hard to -
(MELANIE starts to pace.) LEO: You just have to trust me!
MELANIE: I'm not going to - I'm going to catch up with my friends. I guess follow or whatever, but you're not going to get me to change my mind!
The lights fade away, then return with a different setting.
The trees are gone, and now some varying sizes of rocks are around the area.
The trio is in center stage, looking around as if they're up higher.
EMMA: Wow, what a view!
JASON: Yeah, no kidding... (JASON turns away from the audience, pulling a camera from his backpack and starts looking for a good view for a photograph.) MELANIE: I told him nothing would happen!
EMMA (turning to MELANIE): You're still on about that?
MELANIE: Of course I am! I proved him wrong, I cannot wait until I see him next, that little -
A few pebbles are thrown from left stage, as if they're coming from the top of the mountain they're on. MELANIE: That was nothing, right?
EMMA (laughs): Wow, that was quick.
MELANIE: What was?
EMMA: Your whole demeanor. You went from boastful to terrified in five seconds flat.
MELANIE: I am not terrified!
JASON (holding his camera out): Guys, look at the picture I just took!
(EMMA and MELANIE crowd around the camera.)
More pebbles are thrown from stage left, bumping their ankles. EMMA, MELANIE, and JASON all jump back.
EMMA and JASON are stage right, MELANIE is stage left.
Suddenly, LEO runs onstage from the right, passing EMMA and JASON. He grabs MELANIE's hand, and tugs her towards the others. Just as MELANIE reaches her friends, a bigger rock rolls through the spot she was just standing on.
MELANIE: Let go!
LEO (while panting): I just saved... you...
EMMA: Are you okay?
JASON: Oh my god -
LEO: I told you... your story didn't end well!
MELANIE: I got crushed by a rock?
JASON: What are you two talking about?
EMMA: Jason, let's start going down, I think we'd be better on solid ground.
JASON: What about -
EMMA: They'll be down in a minute.
EMMA and JASON exit stage right. LEO: I just prevented your story from ending so soon.
MELANIE: Yes, but -
LEO (takes both of MELANIE's hands): I started reading your story when I was in middle school. You grew to be my best friend, even though you weren't real... In my universe. When I found out I could save you, I jumped to take the chance, okay?
MELANIE: That... makes sense. You read of my... end that many times?
LEO (nods): Just as much as you've probably read of my adventures. I'm sure if I died in that last battle, you would've done the same thing I did.
MELANIE: Well - I never would have known what to do.
LEO: You would've.
MELANIE (looks down): Thank you, Leo.
LEO: I wanted to do this. You don't have to thank me. (MELANIE looks back up at LEO, and LEO kisses her forehead.)
LEO: Now that my duty is done, I have to go back. I'm sure that your story has changed now.
(LEO drops MELANIE's hands, and starts
to turn away.)
MELANIE: Wait, don't go yet.
LEO: I must, Melanie.
MELANIE: Can you at least tell me what my story was called?
(LEO looks over his shoulder with a smile.)
LEO: Your story was called "The Stone."
(LEO walks offstage, leaving MELANIE at
MELANIE (quietly): Huh. "The Sword" and "The Stone"... I'm sure I've heard something like that before...
(MELANIE exits the same way.) The lights fade out.