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© 2019 Penny Jackson.  All rights reserved.

Safe

Here is a scene from SAFE, a full-length play set in Manhattan about two very different yet similar high school Junior girls.

 

SCENE TWO:

 

A dining room in a loft apartment
in Tribeca. There is a large
dining room table and a fancy
mirror on the wall. LIZ, a very
skinny high school Junior, sits
at the table, staring at a plate
of brownies. She takes out a bag
of marijuana and begins to roll
herself a joint. The apartment
buzzer rings frantically. LIZ
lights the joint and puts it in
the ashtray. NINA walks in.

 

NINA

My Dad is such a jerk!

 

LIZ
So I guess he finally showed up. Did you bring your math
book?

 

NINA

Oh God. I forgot it!

 

LIZ
Nina! You’re going to fail Calculus!

 

NINA

What are you doing?

 

LIZ
What do you think I’m doing?

 

NINA
I didn’t know you smoked dope.

 

LIZ

This is my Mom’s idea.

 

NINA

Your Mom?

 

LIZ
She wants me to eat and thinks that getting high will give me
the munchies. Why do you think she left this plate of
brownies? Want a hit?

 

NINA
The last thing I need are the munchies. Where did your Mom
get it?

 

LIZ
Ruben. Ruben’s been selling her dope since she was my age.
She met him at Studio 54. He’s like 65. I mean, he’s got
white hair and a white beard. It’s like having Santa Claus as
your dealer.

 

NINA

Does it make you hungry?

 

LIZ
Not really. Just paranoid. Last time I got high I ended up
locking myself in my closet and playing with my old Barbies.
Did you know that Barbie dolls also get old? My Barbie’s skin
was all blotchy, and her hair was falling out.

(pause)
So why weren’t you in school yesterday?

 

NINA

I didn’t want to go.

 

LIZ
I don’t want to go to school but I still go.

 

NINA

You know why.

 

LIZ
Who cares what those bitches say?

 

NINA
Someone left a tub of lard in my locker.

 

LIZ

Just one more year.

 

NINA
I don’t know if I can make it.

 

LIZ

You were losing weight.

 

NINA
Yeah, that diet my doctor made me go on. I hated it. I had to
like eat only soup that was made out of root vegetables.

 

LIZ

Ugh!

 

NINA
Dieting sounds so much like dying, doesn’t it?

 

LIZ
I don’t want this anymore.

 

NINA

I didn’t mean..

 

LIZ

You know I almost died.

 

NINA

I want you to get better.

 

LIZ

I need more time.

 

NINA
You’re getting too skinny again. It’s like you’re vanishing.

(LIZ walks over to the plate of Brownies.)

 

LIZ
My Mom made these. She said if I ate one, she’d pay me.

 

NINA

Wow. How much?

 

LIZ
I think twenty bucks a brownie.

 

NINA
Wish someone would pay me every time I ate.

 

LIZ

But I’m never hungry.

 

NINA
If you don’t start eating again, they’ll send you back to the
hospital.

 

LIZ
I know. I wish I could. Jacqueline said most people just put
things in their mouths without thinking. It’s not a natural
process for me. Like when I look at this brownie, I think 450
calories, 12 grams of fat, at least three minutes of barfing.

 

NINA

I thought that was over.

 

LIZ

It’s never over.

 

NINA
But weren’t you getting better?

 

LIZ
I’m trying not to look at mirrors. At the hospital they told
us that mirrors are the enemies.

 

NINA
I hate mirrors too. Come on. Please, Liz.

(LIZ touches the plate, and then
withdraws her hand as if it’s on fire.)

 

LIZ
The color brown makes me sick.

 

NINA
If you don’t eat, you’ll have to go away again.

 

LIZ
I kind of liked that hospital. Everyone I met there read
Sylvia Plath. And I thought I was the only girl in the world
who read Sylvia Plath.

 

NINA
Last time you were gone too long. If I didn’t have you, I
don’t know what I would do.

 

LIZ
It’s that bad with your Dad?

 

NINA
It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s nothing. All he does is
work. I’m not a number so I don’t count.

 

LIZ
When is your Mom coming home?

 

NINA
I don’t know. Every time she calls she’s crying so hard I
can’t hear her.

 

LIZ
Okay, Nina. I’m doing this for you.

(LIZ closes her eyes and picks up a
brownie. She slowly takes a bite.)

 

NINA

Keep going, Liz.

 

LIZ
I can’t do this alone.
(She pushes the plate of
brownies to NINA.)
Please.

 

(NINA takes a brownie. She consumes
it ravenously.)

 

LIZ
You’re always hungry. I wish I could be like you.

 

NINA

No, you don’t.

(NINA takes a cigarette and lights one.)

 

LIZ
You better open the window or my Mom will freak..

 

NINA
I thought she was away for the weekend.

 

LIZ
She can smell cigarette smoke even in Southampton.

 

NINA

But she smokes pot?

 

LIZ
Organic pot. She thinks it’s healthy. Unlike tobacco, which
is a tool of the evil American industry. I prefer her stoned.
She’s much happier.

 

NINA

My Mom’s never happy.

 

LIZ
When’s the last time you felt happy?

 

NINA
Dr. Schwartz just asked me that question too.

 

LIZ

And could you answer her?

 

NINA
Yes. That was an easy one. When I was nine. During my
birthday party. My party was at a gym. All my friends were
there and they were nice to me and we jumped up and down on
the trampoline. And I felt so wonderful. I was jumping in the
air and I could almost touch the ceiling. Nothing was holding
me back. I was floating in the air. I’d do anything to be as
free like that again.

 

LIZ

Me too.

 

(LIZ walks over to the sink and
extinguishes her cigarette.
Suddenly, off stage, a baby cries.)

 

NINA

What the hell…

 

LIZ
That’s my sister’s baby. That’s Sasha.

 

NINA
Sasha? What is she doing here? I thought your sister lived in

LA.

 

LIZ
I guess I didn’t tell you. My sister, who used to be called
Sally and now is Rashmini, is in India.

 

NINA

India!

 

LIZ
She met some guru who only wears
the desert. You think I’m nuts –
Sally or Rashmini has left Sasha
baby would get malaria in India.
remember. Boy, is my Mom pissed.

yellow and makes you fast in
you should meet Sally. So
here because she thought the
Or maybe it’s lice. I don’t

(The baby continues crying.)

 

NINA
Aren’t you going to do something?

 

LIZ
What can I do? My Mom hired a babysitter who cancelled at the
last minute. She should be dealing with this, not me.

 

NINA
You got to stop her from crying.

 

LIZ
But she cries all the time. That’s what babies do.

 

NINA

Liz!

 

LIZ

All right.

 

(LIZ stands up and walks out of the
room. When NINA begins to eat another brownie
LIZ returns with SASHA wrapped
blanket.)

 

LIZ
She’s finally asleep. I can’t believe my Mom couldn’t find
another sitter. And now she’s pissed off to Southampton for
the day so I have to be the one to watch her.

 

NINA
Your Mom left you both a joint and your sister’s baby.

 

LIZ
Fucked up, huh? But I wouldn’t hurt Sasha. Just look at her.

 

NINA
(looking at baby)
Oh Liz, she’s so beautiful.

 

LIZ

Too bad she’s a girl.

 

NINA

Why?

 

LIZ
She’ll have fun for a couple of years, and then she’ll go to
school and all the girls will be mean if she’s turns ugly and
if she stays beautiful she’ll be the one who has to be mean
because those are the rules.

 

NINA
But it doesn’t always have to be that way.

 

LIZ
No. Maybe in India. Maybe my sister’s got the right idea.
Here, you hold her.

 

NINA
(hesitating)

Oh..

 

LIZ
Haven’t you ever held a baby before?
(NINA shakes her head. LIZ
tenderly places the baby in
NINA’s arms.)

 

NINA
She’s so light. Just like a feather. I’d do anything to be as
light like that.

 

LIZ

Close your eyes.

 

NINA

What?

 

LIZ
Close your eyes and hold Sasha tight.

(NINA clutches the baby to her
chest.)

 

NINA

I can feel her heartbeat!

 

LIZ
Breathe in and breathe out.

 

NINA

Yes…

 

LIZ

Are you floating?

 

NINA

I feel so light..

 

LIZ
This is what it’s like when you love someone.

(For a few seconds, NINA looks as
if she’s in rapture. Then SASHA
cries, and the spell is broken.)

 

NINA

Here. You take her.

 

(NINA gives the baby to LIZ. She
walks over to the window and stares
out.)

 

LIZ

What’s wrong?

 

NINA
Don’t ever do that to me again.

 

(LIZ exits with SASHA. NINA walks
over across the room to the window
but stops and looks at herself in
the mirror. She studies her
reflection and presses her palms
against the mirror as if she was
trying to hold hands with herself.)

 

(END OF SCENE)