Winter’s End Sample

SCENE 1

(In the darkness before rise, the sounds of a the Husband and the Wife making love can be heard. They seem to be enjoying themselves. As they climax and fall into silence, the LIGHTS RISE on an empty living room. There are no windows, but there is a door. The furniture, including a couch, is all white, as are most of the decorations. The only real pop of color is a bowl of pomegranates resting on a table. Suddenly, a dog starts barking offstage. A moment later, there is a loud banging on the door.)

CASSIE: (offstage) Help! Help! Please! Somebody help me! Please!

(She continues to bang.)

CASSIE: (offstage) Is anybody there? Please! You have to help me!

(The banging slows down.)

CASSIE: (offstage) Help…

(In desperation, Cassie tries the doorknob and finds that the door is unlocked. It swings open to reveal her. She’s young and wears a simple, but pretty dress. Her ankle is bruised and swollen, but she quickly hobbles inside, closing the door behind her, locking it, and leaning against it to catch her breath. The dog continues to bark for a moment, before calming down and falling silent.)

CASSIE: Shit. Shit, shit, shit! (beat) Oh, my God…

(After she collects herself, she starts to limp through the room, examining it, looking for a phone.)

CASSIE: Phone. Find a phone. Find a phone.

(The Wife enters. She’s not much older than Cassie, wearing a timeless, white nightgown.)

WIFE: Hello.

(Cassie screams in surprise, turning around.)

WIFE: I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you!

CASSIE: Shit!

WIFE: I’m so sorry! (beat) I’m not going to hurt you.

(She holds up her hands in a gesture of surrender. Cassie and the Wife both yell the next few lines.)

CASSIE: Who are you?

WIFE: I live here!

CASSIE: I’m sorry I broke into your house!

WIFE: It’s okay!

CASSIE: Why are we still yelling?

WIFE: I don’t know! You started it!

(Cassie blinks in surprise.)

CASSIE: Sorry.

WIFE:
It’s all right. Everything is all right. (beat) You’re shaking.

CASSIE: I had to leave my coat. There wasn’t any warning. I just had to go…

(The Wife goes over to Cassie, putting a hand on her arm.)

WIFE: You’re ice cold.

(Cassie flinches, trying to wiggle away from her touch.)

CASSIE: I’m sorry, I don’t like…

WIFE: Come with me.

CASSIE: No, I really have to–

WIFE: Come with me.

(The Wife leads her to a couch and encourages her to sit. She fetches a white blanket and throws it over Cassie’s shoulders. The Wife sits down next to her.)

WIFE: There.

CASSIE: Thank you.

(Cassie starts to tear up a little bit.)

WIFE: What? What is it?

CASSIE: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. But you have no idea how much I needed someone to be kind to me right now.

WIFE: Kind. Now that’s a word you don’t hear enough. Kind. Usually it’s “nice.” Everything is nice. The dress looks nice. The clouds are nice. The potted fern is nice. (beat) Nice isn’t a very nice word. (beat) But then I like words. They’re like…little seeds that grow into bigger things.

(The Wife seems delighted. Cassie is a bit skeptical, but too tired to argue. She shivers and bundles herself up in the blanket.)

WIFE: Oh, you’ll thaw out soon. My husband likes to keep it warm here. Always precisely the same temperature. (imitating her husband) “Seventy eight degrees, buttercup. That’s what it should be. Seventy eight degrees. Twenty five point five five five Celsius.”

CASSIE: Okay…

WIFE: (she laughs) Always to the decimal. It drives me crazy sometimes. (beat) What’s your name?

(Pause.)

CASSIE: Cassandra.

WIFE: Is that your real name?

CASSIE: Does it matter?

WIFE: It’s up to you, I suppose.

CASSIE: Cassandra.

WIFE: May I call you “Cassie?” I knew a Cassandra once. The day we met, she wouldn’t stop screaming. I don’t like numbers as much as my husband, but I swear to you, she must have screamed for at least fifteen days straight before she would calm down.

CASSIE: Fifteen days? How is that even possible?

WIFE: It’s not a record, I’ll admit. There was this one man who went on and on for at least a month. I don’t know how he managed. (beat) Oh, what was his name? Something with an “A” I think? (musing) Adam? Achilles? Adolph?

(Pause.)

CASSIE: Cassie is fine.

WIFE: It’s nice to meet you, Cassie.

CASSIE: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to barge into your house. I’m not a–

WIFE: Anthony!

CASSIE: What?

WIFE: That was his name.

CASSIE: Who?

WIFE: The man who screamed for a month. His name was Anthony!

CASSIE: Oh. (beat) Well, listen. I’m sorry for just walking right in. I just need to–

WIFE: Oh, it happens all the time.

CASSIE: What?

WIFE: Sometimes we get as many as thirteen, fourteen people a day. I remember this one time, fifty eight people walked in. Can you believe it?

CASSIE: Fifty eight?

WIFE: My husband went on and on about that for weeks.

CASSIE: Fifty eight people just…walked into your house?

WIFE: I suppose that’s what happens when you’re the only house on the street.

CASSIE: Well, yeah…I mean…that’s why I…

WIFE: It’s perfectly understandable.

CASSIE: I’m still–

WIFE: Would you like something to eat? How about a pomegranate?

(She gets up and picks up a pomegranate from the bowl, holding it out to Cassie.)

WIFE: They’re very sweet.

CASSIE: Pomegranates. That’s what those are. They look like something that fell out of a doctor’s anatomy model.

WIFE: Yes.

CASSIE: A liver or a kidney or a uterus or something.

WIFE: A uterus?

CASSIE: Or something.

WIFE: Or a heart.

CASSIE: A heart. (beat) I used to wonder what they looked like. I’ve only ever heard of them in the myth about Persephone.

WIFE: Myth?

CASSIE: You know? Hades brings her down to the Underworld to be his bride, but her mother wants her back and she eats six pomegranate seeds so she…

(The Wife is staring at her with a puzzled expression.)

CASSIE: Never mind. We had to read it in sixth grade. My mom lodged a formal protest with the school district. Thought that it was just a gateway drug to Satanic worship and tongue piercings.

WIFE: Would you like one?

CASSIE:A tongue piercing?

WIFE: A pomegranate.

(The Wife holds it directly in Cassie’s face. Cassie stares at it for a moment, looking stricken. Slowly, she shakes her head.)

CASSIE: No. Thank you. (beat) Listen. I need help. I need to make a call. There’s been–

WIFE: Your ankle!

CASSIE: What?

(She puts the pomegranate back and hurries back to Cassie’s side, kneeling down to examine her ankle.)

WIFE: Oh, that looks painful. What happened?

CASSIE: I fell.

WIFE: Poor dear.

CASSIE: Slipped on the ice while I was running.

WIFE: (sighing) Mother…

CASSIE: What?

WIFE: You should let me wrap that up.

CASSIE: It’s fine, really.

WIFE: Look at that color.

CASSIE: No, it doesn’t even hurt, see?

(She wiggles her foot. And looks a little astonished.)

CASSIE: It doesn’t hurt at all…

WIFE: But–

CASSIE: Listen, I need to–

WIFE: And it’s almost the size of a pomegranate.

CASSIE: What?

WIFE: Your ankle!

CASSIE: Look, forget my ankle.

WIFE: I’m going to get some bandages first.

CASSIE: You don’t need to–

WIFE: What kind of host would I be if I left my guest sitting there unattended?

CASSIE: I told you, I’m fine!

WIFE: Won’t be a moment.

CASSIE: Wait, please!

(The Wife stands up and starts to head out.)

WIFE: Just wait there.

CASSIE: You don’t have–

WIFE: I’ll be right back.

(The Wife exits. Cassie stares after her. Finally, she shakes herself and throws off the blanket, getting up.)

CASSIE: Find a phone. There has to be a phone. What kind of house wouldn’t have a phone?

(She stands up and starts to exit.)

SCENE 2

(There’s a loud groan from offstage. The Butler enters, sliding an ottoman across the floor. He moves slowly, groaning in exaggeration. Every few feet, he stops to wipe sweat off his brow. After a moment of this, Cassie walks over to him, getting in his path. He pauses and looks up at her.)

BUTLER: Good morning.

(The Butler continues to push the ottoman across the floor, nearly plowing Cassie down. She steps out of the way.)

CASSIE: What are you doing?

BUTLER: Singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in the key of E, what’s it look like?

(The Butler continues, nearing the end of the stage.)

CASSIE: Phone. Find a phone. Find a phone…

(Cassie starts searching the room for a phone. The Butler gets to the end of the room, stretches, then crosses to the other side of the ottoman and starts pushing it back in the opposite direction. Just as absurd as before. After a moment, Cassie notices him.)

CASSIE: Wait, weren’t you just pushing it the other way?

BUTLER: That’s very perceptive of you.