RISA: mid-twenties, slender, attractive, serious, introspective.
CAROLE: mid-thirties, Risa's best friend, attractive but most importantly looks friendly upon first sight.
Setting: 1978 - A minimally furnished bedroom with a low platform bed on one end, with a tall Dracaena plant with a roped intertwining trunk in the upstage right corner, with an end table placed in the opposite down stage corner of the bed. On the other end of the room, is a beautiful Bombay chest with an illuminated fish tank on it, with large Red Capped and Black Moor Goldfish swimming in it. An apple with one bite taken out of it is on the end table next to a phone and an alarm clock. Risa is sleeping in the bed, looking like she's sleeping under a tree because of the size of the plant, with the covers over her head and her arm draped over the side, which is all you can see of her.
(The phone rings. Risa reaches for it and answers without even lifting her head. She brings the phone under the covers with her.)
RISA: (Obviously in a groggy tone.) Hello.
(Voice of Carole on the other end of the phone heard by the audience.)
CAROLE: Oh, I'm so sorry I woke you up.
(Risa sticks her head out from under the covers slightly to look at the clock.)
RISA: Why? It's almost noon. Shouldn't I be up?
CAROLE: You know what they say, "There are no ‘shoulds’."
RISA: Oh, come on.
CAROLE: You know, if you're going to sleep, at least enjoy it.
RISA: There's nothing really enjoyable about it. I just feel this sense of responsibility.
CAROLE: Oh, I don't know. I think you should take yourself off the hook.
RISA: Yea, easy for you to say.
CAROLE: Anyway, I'm just calling to check in. I'm going to lunch.
RISA: Yea, who are you going with?
CAROLE: Some new guy here in the office. He, ah, offered to give me a lift, and we're going to go to a local place.
RISA: He has a red car doesn't he....
(Carole shouts in the background.)
CAROLE: Mark, what color's your car?
MALE VOICE IN BACKGROUND ON PHONE: Red.
RISA: Don't go with him.
CAROLE: Okay. Thanks for the tip.
RISA: Oh, God. You see what I mean? Oh, my God. What if I didn't sleep in and have that dream?
CAROLE: Yea, so, what if?
RISA: Carole, you would have been in a car accident on your lunch hour.
CAROLE: So, maybe that was what was supposed to happen.
RISA: Yes, so, if it was supposed to happen, why was I given the information for you to avoid it?
CAROLE: Well, maybe you're just a piece of my future to allow what's really supposed to happen, happen.
RISA: Oh my God, when did you get so philosophical? It's too early for this.
CAROLE: Sorry to have to remind you, but it isn't early at all. It's almost noon.
RISA: Oh God. Forget it. I just feel so locked into this. I don't know. Like a... alternative life.
CAROLE: Well, it's more interesting than mine. I'm stuck in this office now.
RISA: Well, I'm stuck flyin’ around in time zones layered like a lasagna. Oh, my God....anyway....I've come up with a way of, um, showing Adrienne, you know, about this without having to just tell her. So, I just gave her a heads up. “You know there's something I have to tell you, there's something you're going to need to maybe get used to if you're going to be sticking around.” I said I didn't want to say it outright, cuz she probably wouldn’t believe me, or she’d think I'm crazy. So, I said I'd just show her when the time comes, and she looked at me like I was crazy anyway. I never know how to do this. So, ah, yea, well, we're going to the Rothko retrospective at the Guggenheim. You know Eli married his daughter.
CAROLE: Yea, I know. That's funny.
RISA: Yea I know, so, I just want to see, you know, that whole case, that lawsuit. I know, it's funny, right? I know. Can you believe it? Eli of all people. He should send me a thank you card. Anyway, I feel disloyal
talking about it, so I won't. I want to check out his work, though.
RISA: No, Rothko's not Eli's. His work hasn't been shown for so long. Anyway, I know that we're going to find a bangle bracelet there at the Guggenheim with an inscription on the inside of it from someone in the military, and it's probably as specific as I can get, and I figured this would be a good, you know, this will be a nice illustration so Adrienne can get used to it if she wants to get used to it.
CAROLE: Good. All right, good.
RISA: Yea, well, let's hope I wake up in time to be able to go. By the way, Joanne is home today, if you want to give her a call.
CAROLE: Oh, yea, how do you know?
RISA: I was watching her cleaning out the top drawer of her dresser. I had this bird's eye view over her right shoulder while she was doing it.
CAROLE: So what's in her dresser?
RISA: That isn't anybody's business, including mine. I don't think it's appropriate that I'm doing that and I wouldn't if I knew how to stop it. Oy. I just thought you might want to know that she's home today.
CAROLE: Okey, dokey. No wonder you drink.....See you later.
Living room, also sparsely decorated with a piano, a couch, and a 5'6" x 4' oil painting of a woman wearing biblical era clothing, kneeling and looking skyward with her eyes closed.
This is the first time we fully see Risa. She is sitting on the couch looking really depressed and facing out towards the audience.
(A knock is heard offstage.)
RISA: Come on in.
CAROLE: Uh oh. What's up?
RISA: I feel worthless.
CAROLE: Well, that's a step up, isn't it? So what happened? You went to the museum I assume?
RISA: Yes, I did. Here we were walking towards the museum... I thought, okay, just a couple of blocks away, I thought this was a perfect time... set the stage, tell Adrienne what's going to happen, and so I very matter of factly just reminded her, "Remember when I told you I had this ability, blah, blah, blah…” So, I told her that we were going to find a bangle bracelet with an inscription on the inside of it from someone in the military, and she didn't say anything, so then we go into the museum. I know, Carole, you don't go to museums much. At the Guggenheim you have to, you know, and especially for this exhibit, you start at the top, and you kind of wind your way around, and so I'm not even bothering looking at the Rothkos, I'm thinkin’, “I'm lookin’ for a bracelet! I'm looking for a bracelet!” And, I'm also thinking, “If somebody dropped a bangle bracelet in this place, it would really travel!”
So yea, occasionally I'd look at an oil painting, and I'm thinking, "Oh my God, what did I do this for? I have a lot riding on this. I mean, this is somebody I really like. This could be... I mean, this could really be deadly.” But anyway, it is what it is....So, and I'm also thinking, “Oh my God, are these paintings really worth what they say they are?” ... Anyway, that's a whole other thing.... So, we go down to the....you know, we see round, round, round the entire exhibit, get to the bottom, and there's no friggin’ bracelet, and I figured "Oh my God, what did I do this for?" This is, I mean, when it's so clear like this, I know it sounds grandiose, but I'm never wrong. It's just never wrong, and it was so specific, and I'm standing there in the lobby, and I said to her, “You know, this is very.... I don't know what to say, I feel like...” I was like dumb struck...and so then, I noticed this little room off to the side of the lobby, and I said, “Let's go in here...” So much for looking at the art again.....anyway, so we walk into this small room, and I should have realized it's the details of these dreams that are, that can indicate so much, and I realized that I had to look above me to see the color in the dream, and this was the room with the oversized works, so we walk in, I look above, I see the color and I hear a "Ping." This room was SO QUIET and we heard this "Ping," and a bangle bracelet rolled and then fell over right in front of Adrienne. It was so fabulous. And I'm like all puffed up, and I look at her, and frankly, she's the color of dead flesh. She looks like she died -- that awful gray color, and meanwhile, I'm saying, "Go over and pick it up," you know like, “Fulfill the prophecy,” “Go over and pick it up,” because I wanted, you know, I was curious myself. I wanted to see the inscription on the inside of the bracelet from someone in the military, and she's not movin’ a muscle. She's completely frozen, and in the meantime, this fellow, and I know it sounds racist to say the color, but I'm just giving you the whole picture here....this very well-dressed African American man went over and picked up the bracelet, walked back to a young, well-dressed African American woman who took the bracelet and put it in her bag. And the fact is, that was part of the dream also (the bag part), but I had forgotten that. That part had receded. Anyway, I walked over because it felt incomplete -- it felt incomplete, so I walked over to her, and there I am in her face, and I say, "Is that your bracelet?" She looked so sad. She just nodded “yes” and then, Carole, I'll tell you, it was, it was this, Oh my God, the pressure to say, "The person who gave you that bracelet loved you very much," was so, it was like I had to grip my mouth to not say those words. I was so -- it was like pushing out from inside me to say those words, and I could not. I couldn't bring myself to say that to her.
CAROLE: Why not?
RISA: Because I didn't know why I was saying it. I had no context for it. It was like I was being used like a fucking marionette. Like a puppet, and I didn't want....like why am going to say something I don't know why
I'm saying it? And then, I'm even past that thinking, if I say it, A) She's going think I'm crazy, B) She's going to say, "Who the fuck are you?” or C) “How do you know?” And I don't know how I know, so none of it feels good, so I'm thinking the best option is to not say it at all, and man, was that not the best option. It was not. I feel horrible. I feel like...do you realize in thinking back everything that had to happen for that moment to occur to have that message conveyed? Do you realize how much the person who gave her that bracelet must have loved her to have created that chain of events to bring me to that place at that moment to say those words to her, and then I didn't do it?
CAROLE: Risa, let me get this straight... you feel guilty for sleeping, yet you feel like you have to as much as you can, then you feel guilty for seeing what you see while you're sleeping, and then you even feel guilty for not acting on it. What a recipe for self-abuse. I would think you would want to stay awake as much as you can.
RISA: Oh my God. (long pause) Do you love me?
RISA: Do you know how good it makes me feel to hear that, and I know you love me, and I can ask you any time I want. Can you imagine how good it would have made that woman feel to hear love conveyed to her from someone who isn't even physically on the planet anymore?
CAROLE: Oh my God. Now I can't even tell you I love you without you turning it into a guilt trip. You need to get some help with this, Risa, and I suspect you're not going to find it in your sleep.
RISA: Did you ever feel nauseous and want to have a drink at the same time?
The same living room 5 years later, with stacks of books in various parts of the room. A desk has been added with a reading light and a lap top computer on it.
(Risa is at the computer typing away. She wears glasses now. There is a knock at the door.)
RISA: Come on in.
(Carole enters with a newspaper under her arm.)
CAROLE: (With a testy attitude tossing her newspaper onto the couch.) Well, aren't you the busy little bee.
RISA: My thesis is due in less than 3 weeks.
CAROLE: You aren't available much now that you got your head out of the bed and into the books.
RISA: It isn't the books so much as having to jump through the hoops to get credentialed. I have to participate in perpetuating the myth of expertise just to walk through certain doors.
CAROLE: I hope I never have to perpetuate a myth to be able to walk through your door.
RISA: Oh, please.
CAROLE: But since you're so big on the God thing now, wouldn't God be at the source of all perpetuation of myth?
RISA: Wow, Carole, you're really keeping up with this....
CAROLE: In fact, I'm beginning to think that maybe, way back when, God not only gave you the dream about that bracelet and the urge to tell a stranger how loved she is, but God also gave you the resistance to conveying that message -- just to make you so uncomfortable that you would make a change.
RISA: Oh, really.
CAROLE: Yea, maybe you were more like a puppet by NOT conveying that love message than if you had.
RISA: I love your brainteasers when I'm trying to write.
CAROLE: No, really. I'm serious. I think you were in a God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart situation.
RISA: What do you mean?
CAROLE: You know how the Pharaoh was about to let the Jews go, and then God hardened his heart? Maybe God hardened your mouth to get you to do his/her/It's bidding? You think you're making a conscious choice, but you're actually being grossly manipulated.
RISA: You're getting more cynical by the second.
CAROLE: No, I'm not. If you're a believer in all things happening for a reason, and that there's a grand plan, which you like to spout a lot lately, how can you believe that you have any choice at all? You could just be a puppet for what you call God. (Pause.) Now, I have no problem with that. I happen to like puppets.
RISA: Well, as you know I'm not a fan of puppets, especially being one. It's rather insulting, actually.
CAROLE: Well, you're the one that's analyzing ancient scriptures that you don't even believe in. What did you used to call those books? “The crystallization of other people's spiritual experiences, when, in fact, we can have our own?” (Pause.) You know, I'm thinking I liked it better when you could look into other people's drawers. I mean, you know what I mean.
RISA: Yes, I know what you mean, but you didn't like it. You said I felt too guilty.
CAROLE: Yea, and studying Judaism and Christianity is a way out of guilt? Are you kidding me?
RISA: May I remind you, this is a pathway for credibility. How can I
speak intelligently about something if I don't study it first?
CAROLE: That doesn't stop most pastors.
RISA: I will never call myself a pastor.
CAROLE: So, what will you call yourself?
RISA: I'm not sure yet. I struggle with that. I don't like anything I come up with.
CAROLE: What are some of the possibilities?
RISA: What do you think about a “Source Communicator?”
CAROLE: Oh, my God.
CAROLE: Yea, so you're going to tell people that you're speaking for
RISA: Well, you are too, when you're speaking about love.
CAROLE: Oh my God. I really miss the time travel trippiness, Risa. Talking about love is just so....ugh....Frankly it's a colossal, creepy bore. Look at the people who do that. Do you trust them? Do you like them? Would you like to have dinner with them?
RISA: That's the problem. The people we like to think are interesting tend to be gripped by cynicism, which is actually being a hostage to the ego rather than a host to God.
CAROLE: And what do you serve for dinner when you're a host to God, Risa? Don't tell me....luvvvvv. (Laughs.) You serve up a big, warm platter of luvvvvv.....(Continues laughing.)
RISA: Well, actually God doesn't need my love. People do, to remind them who they really are.
CAROLE: I know who I am Honey Child, and I don't need to be reminded.
RISA: Yea, who are you?
CAROLE: Your friend? Remember, I'm the one who steered you towards
getting help with this stuff? Did I think it would turn you into Norma Vincent Peale?
RISA: And that's supposed to be an insult? Someone who spoke about love and the power of positive thinking?
CAROLE: I don't know why it's so hard for me to think positively
about positive thinking.
RISA: Duh.... you're gripped by the ego, Carole, and the ego wants you to be miserable, so you won't remember who you are.
CAROLE: I never used to be miserable.
RISA: Yea, you were too focused on my misery.
CAROLE: I don't know. Is there enough love to go around? You love God, you love everybody. Where do I fit in?
RISA: You're the only person that I’ll shout “Come on in” when I know you’re at the door. I may love God, and all of God's creatures, but I'm not stupid.
(Carole smiles, seems to relax, flops on the couch, and picks up her newspaper, opening it to reveal a tabloid headline from 1983: “Co-ed Killed in Car Crash” to the audience. Carole lies there reading the paper pensively, as Risa continues to type looking perfectly content…)