By Rachael Carnes

CAST OF CHARACTERS
Leah – A mother, in her 40s
Sophie – A girl of 15
Janet – A grandma, in her 60s
Eleanor – A great-grandmother

SETTING
In a public park, on a pleasant spring day.

TIME
Late afternoon

At rise, SOPHIE is sitting behind                                                                         the picnic table, on her phone.

 LEAH: Will you please put your phone down?

SOPHIE: In a minute.

LEAH: There are people here who want to talk to you.

SOPHIE: I’m in the middle of making plans for later!

LEAH: Put it away or I’ll take it away.

SOPHIE: You’re not taking my phone away.

LEAH: I’m counting down.

SOPHIE: I’m 15 years old! You can’t “count down” on me. (snorts)

LEAH: (To Eleanor) Grandma, can I get you anything more to eat?

ELEANOR: What’s that dear?

SOPHIE: (To Leah) And I don’t think you know how rude that would be!

LEAH: (To Eleanor) Are you through with your plate? May I take it for you?

ELEANOR: Why thank you, honey.

LEAH: (To Sophie) How rude what would be?

SOPHIE: I can’t just leave someone waiting for me to text them back.

JANET: Now look, Sophie, listen to your mom.

SOPHIE: Grandma, I’m sorry, but you just wouldn’t understand.

JANET: (Looking across the field.) What are they doing?

ELEANOR: It’s a game. You carry an egg in a spoon.

JANET: Well, someone’s going to get hurt.

LEAH: Mom, no one’s going to get hurt, okay? It’s like a game for preschoolers.

JANET: I don’t like how boisterous they’re all being.

LEAH: They’re frolicking in the sunshine. Listen—did you maybe want to take a seat?

SOPHIE: Grandma, nothing’s going to happen.

JANET: (Looking at the baby blue balloons on the table.) But I suppose boys are boisterous, aren’t they?

SOPHIE: Do you have to be so binary?

ELEANOR: At my baby shower, they kidnapped me and wheeled me in a cart to the edge of town.  (To Janet) Your daddy had to come and find me.

LEAH: Sophie, don’t speak to your grandma that way.

ELEANOR: And we didn’t have sex education or anything like that back then.

SOPHIE: Oh my god, kill me.

JANET: Mother, how about some cake?

ELEANOR: It just seems like red-blooded American teenagers, with all their glands and things, should just be able to figure it out.

LEAH: Yeah, that’s the problem, grandma.

SOPHIE: (Picks up phone again, types.) The problem.

LEAH: I don’t mean, it’s just. Well, when I was your age—

SOPHIE: Can you please just not?

JANET: Sophie! Your mom is a smart lady.

SOPHIE: Not really interested in wisdom today, okay?

ELEANOR: Who was that nice colored woman who said kids should just masturbate?

LEAH: Grandma, we don’t say that!

ELEANOR: What? Masturbate? They taught us all about it at the assisted living center.

JANET: No, mom. “Colored.” We don’t say “Colored.”

ELEANOR: Well, I am sorry, but it is an admittedly good idea. But why does it need to be taught?

LEAH: And why are they teaching you about masturbation?

ELEANOR: We don’t say that!

JANET: Mom, ”masturbation” is fine, ”colored” is not.

ELEANOR: Well, come now, Janet. I believe all are welcome in God’s Kingdom.

SOPHIE: Does Jesus masturbate?

LEAH and JANET: Sophie!

SOPHIE: Sorry. (Types on phone.)

ELEANOR: They taught us a workshop to stop the spread of disease.

JANET: Excuse me, what?

ELEANOR: It’s an elective they offer.

LEAH: An elective?

ELEANOR: Right after chair yoga. I like chair yoga.

LEAH: Back up a second. What disease?

ELEANOR: Well, people get lonely. Most of us, our husbands and wives are long gone.

SOPHIE: (Sticks fingers in ears.) La, la, la, la, la!

JANET: Mom, what is going on over in the home?

ELEANOR: Just a lot of electives!

LEAH: Jesus Christ.

ELEANOR: Now I’ll thank you not to take the Lord’s name in vain.

LEAH: Jesus Fucking Christ.

JANET: Well, why don’t we open some presents? Here, Sophie, this one’s from me.

SOPHIE: (Stands, revealing a pregnant belly under a tight midriff t-shirt. She takes the gift from Janet, and pulls out a floppy baby sling, which she fumbles with awkwardly.) Thanks, grandma. What is it?

JANET: It’s a traditional Incan baby sling, for baby-wearing.

SOPHIE: Thank you?

JANET: It’s really important that you and Baby form a close bond through constant and uninterrupted contact.

ELEANOR: You’re never going to take another shit by yourself again!

JANET: Mother!

LEAH: Grandma!

ELEANOR: Open mine next.

SOPHIE: Which one’s yours?

ELEANOR: It’s the yellow one, with the ducks.

SOPHIE: (Opens gift bag, pulls out enormous flowered maternity shirt.) Oh. Thanks.

ELEANOR: I thought it might be nice for you to have some clothes to flatter your new shape.

(Sophie folds the shirt and puts it back in the bag.)

JANET: (To Sophie) Stretch marks were revered by the Mesopotamians!

LEAH: Thanks, grandma. I’m sure that will come in very handy. Right Sophie?

ELEANOR: And there’s a couple of nursing bras at the bottom of the bag, too. Not the most flattering, but you’re gonna need ‘em.

LEAH: That’s probably enough, grandma.

JANET: Okay, mom, let’s think about getting you back home for your nap.

ELEANOR: When my Jimmy was born, my bosoms swelled up like two human heads.

JANET: Let’s open another present!

LEAH: (Looking to the field.) What are they playing now?

JANET: Why, it looks like a three-legged race! Sophie, would you like to join them?

ELEANOR: Now Sophie, I don’t want you to be scared about giving birth.

SOPHIE: I’m not.

ELEANOR: Or about finishing High School. I didn’t, and your grandma’s daddy didn’t either.

SOPHIE: I’m going to get my GED.

LEAH: (Handing Sophie another present.) Here honey, this one’s from my aunt and uncle.

ELEANOR: My water broke at the Piggly Wiggly, right in front of a display of canned peaches.

JANET: Okay, thanks for the wonderful party, Leah…

ELEANOR: Sophie, they’re gonna give you twilight sleep, so you won’t need to worry about a thing. But don’t be surprised if your Down-South feels like it’s been through a meat grinder for a few days—that’s just the forceps.

SOPHIE: I’m having my baby naturally.

LEAH: (Hushed) Honey, they don’t do that anymore. We talked about this.

JANET: (Clucks) Such a shame. In my day, we did Lamaze. And the fathers were in the room! Your father was in the room.

LEAH: Your day is over, mom, okay?

SOPHIE: Well, then I’m having the baby at home. They can’t stop me from doing that.

LEAH: Sweetie, you can’t. Remember, when we went to the doctor, he said —

JANET: Here’s your sweater, mom.

LEAH: (Whispering to Sophie) Remember, he said that because of the, um, the —

SOPHIE: Just fucking say it, mom!

JANET: Sophie!

ELEANOR: I like her spirit!

SOPHIE: Say it. Say I have a disease. Say I have fucking blisters on my —

LEAH: Honey —

SOPHIE: And if the baby passes through my vaginal canal, he’ll get the disease, too. That’s what you want to say, right mom?

LEAH: I’m sorry —

SOPHIE: And you want to say I should finish High School and study hard and learn things and go to college and be somebody, well guess what?

LEAH: What?

SOPHIE: Wanna see the future? Here’s the future!

(Sophie pulls the maternity shirt, several sizes too big, out of the bag again and puts it on.)

SOPHIE (con’t): Are you happy now?

ELEANOR: Well, I think you’re going to make a wonderful mother.

JANET: But I think she wants to be more than that, mom.

ELEANOR: Being a mother is the most beautiful work there is.

SOPHIE: You know what else is beautiful? Math. Math is beautiful. Equations are beautiful. Science is fucking beautiful —

LEAH: Well, maybe you could have thought about that a few months ago.

SOPHIE: Really? Really mom? What choice did I have? Where was I supposed to go?

LEAH: You could have come to me.

SOPHIE: And what could you have done?

JANET: She’s right, you know. They’ve rolled back all the rules. The only way to even buy a condom now is to show your marriage license.

ELEANOR: That happened on Downton Abbey!

LEAH: Grandma —

ELEANOR: Lady Mary wanted to have an affair with that man, to see if she and him were a good match, but she didn’t want to run the risk of pregnancy, so she sent Anna to the shop in London to get her much-needed supplies.

JANET: Mother —

ELEANOR: I miss Downton Abbey. Lord Grantham was so sad when his Labrador died, and I knew just how he felt.

SOPHIE: Well I miss school! And I miss the idea that I could become something.

JANET: Now, look, honey —

SOPHIE: Now all I’m ever going to be is a mom to this little boy, I don’t even want.

LEAH: Sophie —

SOPHIE: No, mom. I don’t want him. But I can’t not have him. You did this.

LEAH: I —

SOPHIE: (To Janet) And you (To Eleanor) and you. You were supposed to protect me. You were supposed to keep me safe.

– pause-

ELEANOR: (Looking to the field.) What are they playing now?

 

 


 

Rachael has productions across the U.S., U.K., Canada and Asia, and invitations to the Inge Theatre Festival, the Midwestern Dramatists Center, the Mid-America Theater Conference, the American Association for Theatre in Higher Education Conference New Play Development Series and the Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, as well as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Playwriting Intensive. Rachael’s award-winning play “Partner Of—” was published by the Coachella Review, and featured in the 2019 Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival in New York City. Her plays “Ice Front” and “Curbed” will be published in the Silk Road Review. Rachael’s full-length play “Canopy” enjoyed staged readings at the WriteON Festival in Cambridge, U.K. and the Parsons Nose Theatre in Pasadena, and her play “Practice House” had a staged reading at Oregon Contemporary Theatre, workshopped at Sewanee, and is a semi-finalist for the 2019 New Dramatists Princess Grace Award. Rachael is the founder and editor of CodeRedPlaywrights, a consortium of writers across the country, responding to gun violence. After premiering in London at Saw it Here First Productions, “Egg in Spoon” was featured in a reading at the Midwestern Dramatists Center Conference, and as part of Schreiber Shorts, in NYC. Rachael and her family live in Oregon.