Me Jane

 

(transition or preparation music: You're Much Too Young by The Specials)

 

There is a tree on a suburban street, probably not too far from the house.  Sarah is in her late twenties, dressed in weekend clothes, sitting (in the tree) comfortably and eating an apple.  She sits like she has been sitting in trees all her life - and like she has no intention of coming down.  David, her husband, is also in his late 20s, nice but a little nervous.  He's in end of the day work clothes.  This shakes his view of the universe.

 

 

DAVID

Sarah?

 

SARAH

Hey.

 

DAVID

I thought that was you.  I saw you...from the window.  So I came to see...

 

SARAH

What?

 

DAVID

...what you're doing.

 

SARAH

Eating an apple.

 

DAVID

No, I mean, what are you doing in that tree?

 

SARAH

(shrugs)

 

DAVID

Are you okay?

 

SARAH

Yes.

 

DAVID

You sure?

 

SARAH

Yes.  Why?

 

DAVID

It's just...

 

SARAH

What?

 

DAVID

It's just that you're sitting in a tree.  I mean, I don't know for certain, but it doesn't strike me as a good sign.  (pause)  Are you coming down?

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

No?

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

Why?

 

SARAH

Because.

 

DAVID

That's not an answer.

 

SARAH

Catch.  (tosses him the apple core)

 

DAVID

(fumbling the catch)  Yech.

 

SARAH

Don't drop it.  Put it in the garbage.

 

DAVID

No.

 

SARAH

Why not?

 

DAVID

I'm not touching that.

 

SARAH

It's just an apple core.

 

DAVID

A chewed apple core.

 

SARAH

Chewed by me.  It's a lot less gross than you using my toothbrush and I know you've done that.

 

DAVID

Okay, okay.  (Making faces, he picks up apple core, looks around, no bin, tosses it into a bush.  Sees Sarah looking at him.)  What?  It's organic.

 

SARAH

What are you going to do when you have a child and your child throws up in the car? Or in the bed? Or eats a piece of apple and then decides it doesn't want it and spits out into your hand a half chewed glob of apple and child spittle?

 

DAVID

(makes disgusted face)  Kids do that?

 

SARAH

Yes.

 

DAVID

Oh.  We couldn't make those things Mommy jobs?

 

SARAH

No way in hell.

 

DAVID

Maybe we should rethink the whole children thing.

 

SARAH

Do you want to?

 

DAVID

No.  I want to have beautiful babies with you.  Soon, maybe?

 

SARAH

Maybe not that soon.

 

DAVID

(light dawns - or so he thinks)  Oh - you got your period.  I'm sorry, sweetie.  But don't feel bad.  We can keep trying.

 

SARAH

I didn't get my period.  You think I'd be sitting in a tree if I had my period?

 

DAVID

No.  I guess not.

 

SARAH

Right.

 

DAVID

Of course, I wouldn't think you'd be sitting in a tree at all.

 

SARAH

True.

 

DAVID

So what's wrong?

 

SARAH

Nothing's wrong.

 

DAVID

Have I done something?

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

Anything happen today?

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

Your mother call?

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

Oh no.  Did MY mother call?

 

SARAH

(laughs) No.

 

DAVID

Oh.  Good.  (pause)  So why won't you come down?

 

SARAH

Why should I?

 

DAVID

Well, for one, my neck is really hurting.  I've been at work for an entire Saturday and I would really rather be talking to my wife on the couch, maybe even with a beer, than standing in the street trying to figure out why she's sitting in a tree.  And why is she sitting in a tree?  We don't know.  So, let's approach this logically.  What would make a grown woman decide to climb a tree?

 

SARAH

I don't know.  A sarcastic husband, maybe?

 

DAVID

I'm not being sarcastic, I really want - oh look.  Great.  Mrs. Gottlieb has come out to have a little look.  Now the whole block will know that you're in a tree and that I am a complete idiot.  (calling)  Hello Mrs. Gottlieb!  Yes, it's a very nice day.  Say hello, Sarah.

 

SARAH

(cheerfully)  Hello Mrs. Gottlieb.

 

DAVID

No, nothing wrong.  We're fine.  How's the cat's arthritis?  Had her put to sleep yet?

 

SARAH

David!  Be nice.  She's just bored.

 

DAVID

Oh.  Is that why you're doing this?  Entertainment for the elderly?  Some people might bring cookies to an old age home.  You bring them performance art.

 

SARAH

If you're going to be sarcastic you can go away.

 

DAVID

Okay, fine, I will.  You can just sit up there till your butt goes numb.

 

SARAH

It's numb now.

 

DAVID

Really?

 

SARAH

Yes.  It's tingling.

 

DAVID

You should rub it.

 

SARAH

What?

 

DAVID

It helps.

 

SARAH

If I tried to rub it, I'd probably fall out.

 

DAVID

I'd catch you.

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

I'd try anyway.

 

SARAH

You'd probably collapse under the immense weight.

 

DAVID

(recognizes trap)  No I wouldn't.  I'd catch you, no problem.  (demonstrates)  Gotcha.  Child's play.

 

SARAH

I'm not a child.

 

DAVID

I didn't say you were.

 

SARAH

I'm not.

 

DAVID

I know.

 

SARAH

Am I?

 

DAVID

What?

 

SARAH

A child?

 

DAVID

No, you're a woman.

 

SARAH

I'm in a tree.

 

DAVID

Yes.

 

SARAH

I'm not coming down.

 

DAVID

You said.

 

SARAH

You don't think that's childish?

 

DAVID

Well...

 

SARAH

Don't you?

 

DAVID

Maybe a little.

 

SARAH

Well then.

 

DAVID

What?

 

SARAH

You don't get it?

 

DAVID

No.

 

SARAH

So forget it.

 

DAVID

No.  Tell me.

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

Sarah, please?  You can't expect me to have any idea why you're in that tree.  If you were on the couch, playing, I don't know, Nina Simone, on the CD player I might have some clue as to what the problem is.  But this is new.  This particular situation does not have a history in our relationship.  So just tell me.  I want to know.  But I can't know unless you tell me.  (pause)  Please?  (grips her foot.  Pause.)

 

SARAH

Guess.

 

DAVID

What?

 

SARAH

Guess.

 

DAVID

Guess?  You want me to guess?  Okay, okay.  You were heroically trying to save Mrs. Gottlieb's foul, smelly, arthritic cat, stuck up the tree, from a timely death.  No - that's too sensible.  You got chased up there by a killer mongoose.  Wait - You got blisters and thought you'd swing home through the trees like Tarzan.

 

SARAH

Like Jane.  Or don't you think women can swing through trees as well as men can?

 

DAVID

Sarah!  That's not fair.

 

SARAH

I know.

 

DAVID

You can be so infuriating.

 

SARAH

I don't mean to be.

 

DAVID

Are you sure you're not angry at me?

 

SARAH

(taken aback)  No.  I don't think so.

 

DAVID

I'm sorry I had to go into work today.  The Italian glove people I've been talking about are coming in on Monday and my presentation has to be just...you know...mind-blowing.

 

SARAH

I know.  It's okay.

 

DAVID

And I know I've been working really long hours the last few weeks. 

 

SARAH

David-

 

DAVID

But things will lighten up a lot after Monday.  Once this presentation is out of the way, my hours should get a lot more normal.

 

SARAH

David-

 

DAVID

What?

 

SARAH

It's okay.

 

DAVID

It is?  You're not mad?

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

You sure?

 

SARAH

Yes.  Really.

 

DAVID

You're not sitting in that tree because you're mad?

 

SARAH

No.

 

DAVID

That's good. I'm glad.  So why are you in the tree, then?

 

SARAH

I don't...things.  Stuff.

 

DAVID

Stuff.

 

SARAH

(nods - head down.  Might start crying)

 

DAVID

Hey sweetie.  It's okay.  We've both been working too hard, you know. Haven't been spending enough time together.  We should go away for the weekend.  Go upstate maybe.  Someone at work's been to this really nice inn in um, Barnville, I think, the something Inn, The Blackberry Inn?  The Blueberry Inn?  Can't remember.  Some berry anyway. 

 

SARAH

Okay.  That'd be nice.

 

DAVID

Maybe next weekend.  We could go away early, take the Friday off, go walking.  See the leaves changing.  You could see them right up close.

 

SARAH

(smiles)  Okay.  I think I can get Friday off. 

 

DAVID

Of course, you'd have to come down from the tree first.

 

SARAH

Oh.  Well, I'll think about it.

 

DAVID

Tell you what.  I'll cook dinner tonight.

 

SARAH

Okay.  What?

 

DAVID

Whatever you want.

 

SARAH

Really? What about eggplant?

 

DAVID

You want eggplant for dinner? 

 

SARAH

Yes.  I feel like eggplant.

 

DAVID

Okay.  Just whole oven roasted eggplant or you want anything done to your eggplant?

 

SARAH

Don't mind.

 

DAVID

Eggplant stir-fry?

 

SARAH

(makes a face)

 

DAVID

Stuffed eggplant?

 

SARAH

Stuffed with what?

 

DAVID

More eggplant?

 

SARAH

Nah.  Overkill.

 

DAVID

Eggplant lasagna?  Heavy on the mozzarella?

 

SARAH

Yum.  And foccaccia with lots of garlic butter.

 

DAVID

And a little white Zinfandel?

 

SARAH

Water.

 

DAVID

And for dessert?

 

SARAH

Pralines and cream no fat frozen yogurt.

 

DAVID

A predictable, yet acceptable choice.  Do we have any in the freezer?

 

SARAH

I ate it.

 

DAVID

When?

 

SARAH

For breakfast.  We were out of corn flakes.  I ate the leftover pizza too.

 

DAVID

(laughs)  You are possibly the weirdest woman I have ever known.

 

SARAH

What?

 

DAVID

And I love you.

 

SARAH

You do?  Because I'm weird or in spite of the fact that I'm weird?

 

DAVID

Because you're you.

 

SARAH

That's a disgustingly Hallmark thing to say.  And you don't want to make me nauseous considering our relative positions. 

 

DAVID

(unperturbed) If you were down here, I'd kiss you.

 

SARAH

That's nice. 

 

DAVID

You know...if you came down, we could go inside and...I could rub your behind for you.

 

SARAH

Hmm.

 

DAVID

I might even let you rub mine.

 

SARAH

What about dinner?

 

DAVID

We could work up an appetite.  (pause)  Do you need a hand?

 

SARAH

I'm not coming down.

 

DAVID

But I thought...I said I'd cook.

 

SARAH

You can bring it out here.

 

DAVID

What?  Eat in the tree?

 

SARAH

Sure.  Like a picnic.

 

DAVID

I don't know.  Is there room up there for me?

 

SARAH

Why?

 

DAVID

Because if you're eating dinner in a tree, I'm going to eat mine up there with you.  I'm not going to be sitting at the kitchen table watching Brady Bunch reruns and waiting for you to wander in the door with your dirty dish or worse, listening for you to drop it on someone's head.

 

SARAH

I wouldn't do that.

 

DAVID

Maybe.  But yesterday if someone asked, not that they'd be likely to, but if they did ask me, "Is Sarah the sort of woman to sit in trees?"  I'd have said, "Well, on balance, no.  She always struck me as someone who had her feet on the ground."

 

SARAH

True.

 

DAVID

So I'm coming up.

 

SARAH

No.  You can't.

 

DAVID

You sure?  (starts to climb)

 

SARAH

Yes.  No.  Get down.  David!  Please.  (stands up and clings to the trunk as if looking for a way further up.)

 

DAVID

Why don't you want me to come up?

 

SARAH

I want to be alone.

 

DAVID

But you're not alone.  I'm here.  Just lower.

 

SARAH

Alone in my tree.

 

DAVID

If you want to be alone, why can't you just have a bath? 

 

SARAH

Not the same thing.

 

DAVID

No, you're right.  A bath is not a tree.

 

SARAH

Hey - you know what the Millers have in their back yard?

 

DAVID

No.

 

SARAH

Absolutely nothing.  Not even a pink flamingo on a spike.  They really are the most boring people I have ever met.  They must buy their grass from Woolworth's.

 

DAVID

Why not?  They get everything else there.

 

SARAH

Don't they have grandchildren?

 

DAVID

I think so.

 

SARAH

What do those kids do when they visit?  Dust the Astroturf?

 

DAVID

Sit inside and play Monopoly.

 

SARAH

Checkers.

 

DAVID

They knit.

 

SARAH

Crochet.  Eat liver.

 

DAVID

Brussel sprouts.  Watch educational television.

 

SARAH

They don't have a television.  I looked.

 

DAVID

They read the Bible then.

 

SARAH

Memorize Shakespeare's sonnets.

 

DAVID

My God. They're populating the world with little boring people.  We have to stop them before it's too late.

 

SARAH

It already is.

 

DAVID

Can you see into the Manicucci's yard?

 

SARAH

No, not really.  Why?

 

DAVID

Tony told me that Laurie sunbathes naked sometimes.

 

SARAH

He told you that?  About his wife?  Why?

 

DAVID

I'm not sure actually.

 

SARAH

Anyway, it's too dark for sunbathing right now.

 

DAVID

Maybe.

 

SARAH

You ever have a tree house?

 

DAVID

No.

 

SARAH

Me either.  Do you think it would be strange to have one now?

 

DAVID

A little.

 

SARAH

Maybe.  Maybe I'll build one for the kids and then sneak up and use it when they're at school.

 

DAVID

When we have kids.

 

SARAH

Right. (sits again)

 

DAVID

What is it about trees anyway?

 

SARAH

I like them.  I like sitting in them.  It's so...I don't know...safe.

 

DAVID

Safe?

 

SARAH

When I was a kid and things in the house got --, well, I used to take two or three Macintosh apples and a book and climb this one tree in our backyard.  Actually, it was an overgrown bush.  Like a tree only no trunk, like someone had buried a tree up to where the branches start.  So it was easy to climb.  And I would take my book and my apples and hide in this tree for hours, reading, eating.  It was really nice.  Peaceful.  Safe.

 

DAVID

Aren't you safe now?  Don't I make you feel safe?

 

SARAH

Yes, you do, in general.  I just don't feel very safe today.

 

DAVID

Why not?

 

SARAH

(pause) You know why being in a tree is so safe?  It's between - not in the sky, not on the ground.  If I'm between places, I can't do anything so I don't have to do anything.  No responsibility.  Not a grownup, because I'm sitting in a tree.  Not a child because I'm too old.  Between.  You know what I was thinking about on my way home today?  On the first stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, the old year ends.  Right.  Next year begins on the last stroke of midnight.  So between the first stroke and the last stroke - there's not even a year.  Can you imagine?  No time.  No such thing as early or late.  No early.  Or late.  (she laughs)

 

DAVID

Sweetie?  You're rambling a little.

 

SARAH

Am I? 

 

DAVID

What's wrong?

 

SARAH

We're trying to have a baby.

 

DAVID

Yes.  But I thought you were happy about that.

 

SARAH

And if we do have a baby, that'll make us parents.

 

DAVID

Almost definitely.

 

SARAH

And parents are grown ups.

 

DAVID

Not always.

 

SARAH

But mostly.

 

DAVID

Yes, mostly.

 

SARAH

I'm not ready.

 

DAVID

To have a baby?

 

SARAH

To be a grown up.

 

DAVID

So you're sitting in a tree.

 

SARAH

Yes.

 

DAVID

(gently)  It doesn't make you a kid again, you know.  It makes you a grown woman sitting in a tree.

 

SARAH

To you maybe.  To Mrs. Gottlieb.  Not to me.  It makes me feel safe.

 

DAVID

Well, it's a good thing.  To feel safe.

 

SARAH

Yes.

 

DAVID

So I should go home, right?  Leave you to feel safe in your tree?

 

SARAH

Thanks.

 

DAVID

Okay.  Will you tell me what all this is about over dinner?

 

SARAH

Maybe.  Maybe I'll tell you over dessert.

 

DAVID

I'll look forward to that.

 

SARAH

David?

 

DAVID

Yes?

 

SARAH

I love you.

 

DAVID

I love you too.  (squeezes her foot)  Even if you are a little weird.

 

SARAH

In spite of or because of?  (pause)  I'm glad.

 

DAVID

See you at home?

 

SARAH

Probably.

 

DAVID

Tonight?

 

SARAH

Probably.

 

DAVID

You don't need help getting down?  I could come back in like an hour.

 

SARAH

I'm okay.  I mean, I got up here.  I ought to be able to get back down.

 

DAVID

Doesn't always follow.

 

SARAH

True.  But I'll be okay.  Me Jane.  Me big strong woman.

 

DAVID

You are, you know.

 

SARAH

You really think so?

 

DAVID

Yes.

 

SARAH

Thanks.

 

DAVID

See you?

 

SARAH

In a few minutes.

 

(David leaves)

 

(Sarah sits for a moment in silence, half-smiling.  Then she puts her hand delicately, hesitantly, on her stomach and whispers…)  Between.  Alive but not yet born.  Hear that, you there?  We're okay.  We're safe.  Me big strong woman.  Me Jane.

 

(She gets down as music comes up - Better Not Look Down, by B.B. King)