Week 7- Heather Ouellette-Cygan

Posted: May 16, 2011 in Heather Ouellette-Cygan, Week 07

This is the most recent draft of my one-act play, “God Bless Mom,” which recently finished its run as part of the Playwriting Project 2.011 at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse.

God Bless Mom

By Heather Ouellette-Cygan

Cast of Characters

Adrienne Baldwin:  46. Single mother. Harried. Smart but over-wrought. Sad.  Small build. Dressed in end of the day business wear – untucked, hair untidy.

Lainey Baldwin: 17. Pretty. Over-achiever. Feigns happiness. Cannot admit when things are less than perfect. Wears neat sweater and jeans. Bookish-glasses.

Theodore Baldwin: 15. Handsome. Gay.  Confident, yet somewhat shy. Wears sweatshirt and jeans.

The Time

The present. Fall. Early evening.

The Place

Interior of family kitchen in small New England town, Storrs, Connecticut.

Setting:  The Baldwin family kitchen. A kitchen table with three chairs is center. A fourth chair at stage left is also visible, but separate from the table against a wall empty except for a lunch bag. The table is cluttered with a neglected plant as centerpiece, mail, magazines, homework – Theo’s school bag– keys, etc.

At Rise:  It’s early evening. ADRIENNE is alone on stage talking on the telephone. She still has her purse over her shoulder and paces around the kitchen for most of the one-sided conversation.

Adrienne

(Into the phone.) Yeah, I had to work late. Again. (Pauses for a moment.) Yes, I know. I know. But what am I going to say? They need me and, quite frankly, I need the overtime. (She pauses again, listening. Makes an annoyed face. Responds.) I know dad offered to help out, Mom, but really, I’m trying my best to do this thing on my own. (Pauses) I have a social life. (Arguing.) No, really I do. I’ve got a date tonight.

(As Adrienne continues with her phone conversation, THEO enters from an interior door. He walks over to his mother and kisses her on the cheek.)

Adrienne

(Quietly with her palm over the mouthpiece of the telephone). It’s your grandmother.

Theo

(Over his mother’s shoulder, loudly) Hi, Grandma! (He and his mother share a smile.)

Adrienne

Yes, mom. It’s Theo. I’d better go. (Pauses to listen.) Love you, too. Talk to you soon. Good-bye. (Adrienne hangs up the phone.)

(During the following conversation, Theo should move around the kitchen, assembling a musical instrument or doing homework..)

Theo

So, tonight’s the big date, Mom? What time is this guy coming to pick you up?

Adrienne

This guy’s name is Jack and he’s coming to pick me up any minute now.

Theo

Aren’t you going to change out of your work clothes before he gets here? Put on something a little bit sexier?

Adrienne

That was my intention, but I had to work late tonight. Midterm grades are due, and they needed my help entering information. (Making a face and gesturing to her outfit.) Do I look okay?

Theo

(Glancing over his shoulder at his mom. He smiles.) You know you always look gorgeous to me, but you might want to comb your hair. It looks a little, um, frazzled. (He walks over, sandwich and drink in hand and sits with his mother.)

Adrienne

Well, it’s been a long day.

Theo

Mom, it’s your first date since dad left. You should’ve pampered yourself today. Taken the day off or something, not worked late.

Adrienne

You’re too good to me, sweetie.

(LAINEY enters through the outside door. She carries her backpack, a coffe and a purse. She seems annoyed.)

Theo

Hey, Lainey. How was the library?

Lainey

(As she plops her stuff around the kitchen.) Too noisy. I swear, if they don’t start enforcing the “shut the hell up you’re in the library rule” I’m going to freak out. I hardly got anything accomplished. Poe is going to have to wait until another day. Maybe I can look something up on the Tell-Tale Internet from the comfort of my own bedroom. (Glancing at Adrienne.) Don’t you have a date? (She sits at the table.)

Adrienne

Yes, I do. (To Theo)  I suppose that’s a hint. I’ll go try and do something with my hair.

Theo

Aren’t you going to tell us about this guy who’s taking you out? I mean you always want to know everything about our friends. I think it’s only fair.

Lainey

Yeah, Mom. We’re used to the third degree. You could at least tell us this guy’s name. How you met him.  And, um, Theo, what’s that thing Dad always asks me when (exaggerated) a gentleman caller comes to pick me up?

Theo

What his intentions are?

Lainey

Yes. That’s it.

Adrienne

Well, so far there’s not much to tell, right. His name is Jack –um- something. We met at the Honda dealership, while I was getting work done on the minivan.

Theo

So, he just chatted you up at the dealership? What a player. (He laughs.)

Lainey

Well, mom, too. Right? She can’t even remember the guy’s last name.

Adrienne

(Standing up from the table.) Wait. Well, okay, I do know it. It’s just that I don’t know how you guys are going to feel about me dating this particular Jack.

Lainey

(Confused.) What do you mean, this particular Jack?

Adrienne

Well his last name is Thompson and he works at your school. I guess my secret’s out now. I hope you don’t mind.

(Lainey and Theo slowly realize what their mother means and exchange worried glances.)

(Laughing nervously) I guess I had better make myself look a little more presentable for him and Verano’s Restaurant. (Adrienne stands up from the table and exits the kitchen.)

Lainey

It can’t be. Can it?

Theo

Just our luck. It’s got to be –

Lainey

(Interrupting) Our Mr. Thompson. Isn’t there some sort of rule about guidance counselors fraternizing with the parents of their students?

Theo

You’d think. I mean that guy knows all sorts of private and, and (snaps fingers trying to find word) –

Lainey

-Confidential –

Theo

Yeah. Confidential stuff about us. He shouldn’t be allowed to talk to our mother without a chaperone.

Lainey

(Sarcastically.) I doubt that either of us will be welcome on their date. What are we going to do?

Theo

What do you mean?

Lainey

I mean about our confidential stuff.  I mean we’re not going to be on their date to kick Mr. Thompson under the table if he starts to go down the wrong conversational path.

Theo

Oh, yeah. I see what you mean. We won’t even be there to defend ourselves.

Lainey

Nope.

Theo

Wait. Maybe we could convince them to just go to a movie. Then they wouldn’t have much of a chance to talk to each other. What’s playing? Maybe we could suggest something.

Lainey

I doubt it. Mom said something about really looking forward to trying that new Italian restaurant. You know what that means.

Theo

Yes. Lots of talk between courses. Crap.

Lainey

And what are they likely to talk about? The superior longevity and gas mileage of Japanese automobiles? I doubt it.

Theo

It’s only natural they’ll start talking about us, isn’t it?

Lainey

I think so. I mean after the small talk has all been used up, what’s going to be left. (Exaggerated) Oh, I know. What screw-ups Adrienne’s perfect little kids are when they’re at school.

Theo

And the careful web of lies –

Lainey

-We’ve fabricated to protect our mother –

Theo

Will become completely unwoven.

Lainey

Like an old, itchy sweater Aunt Edna knitted for you.  (Suddenly very serious; slamming hands on the table.) We need a plan.

Theo

We’ve got to tell her, before he does. Right? I mean, won’t it be better coming from us?

Lainey

Yes, you’re a genius, Theo. That way, we can put our own spin on it, rather than letting Mr. Thompson give his own biased account.

Theo

She’s going to find out eventually, anyway. I guess tonight’s as good a time as any. (Pauses thoughtfully.) You know if dad was still here –

Lainey

Yeah, I know. We wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.

Theo

But he’s not, so I guess we’ve got to tell her.

Lainey

I hope it doesn’t ruin her date though. You know. I mean, it’s the first time she’s been out with a guy–

Theo

Since dad left.

Lainey

And with his wedding coming up this December.

Theo

And the new baby.

Lainey

She deserves a little fun. What luck that she’s going to have it with a person who knows our deepest secrets.

Theo

This sucks.

Lainey

Yes, it does, and now we have to pull up the floorboards and dig out all the severed limbs.

Theo

What?

(ADRIENNE in a new outfit and tidied hair enters.)

Lainey

(Noticing that Adrienne is back; to Theo) Never mind. (To Adrienne) Hey, mom.

Adrienne

(Modeling her new look.) Better?

Theo

Much. That frazzled office look is so last year.

Lainey

The hair’s a big improvement.  (Glances at Theo.)

Theo

So, um, mom, Lainey and I wanted to talk to you about a couple of things.

Adrienne

(Smiling, but unknowingly.) This sounds kind of serious. You think it can wait until after my date? I think Jack’ll be here any minute now.

Theo

(Glancing at Lainey.) I think it would be best if we told you now.

Lainey

Yeah, Mom. There are a couple of things that have been going on at school recently and we-

Theo

We haven’t told you yet, cause, well, because – (looks to Lainey)

Lainey

You’ve been so busy-

Theo

And sad –

Lainey

Since Dad.

Theo

Left.

Adrienne

Oh, you really are serious. What’s going on you guys? Now you’ve got me concerned.

Lainey

I guess I’ll start. Rip this proverbial band-aid right the heck off. Mom, I’ll just say this directly. I got caught cheating on my SATs and now I’m in danger of not being able to re-take them.

Adrienne

You cheated? Why, Lainey? You’re a straight A student. You could ace that thing.

Lainey

I know that now, mom. But on the day of the test, I panicked. Just on the math part. I was rechecking this problem, this really tough algebra equation, and I got a different answer than the first time. The new answer I came up with, it was also a choice.  I looked up at Mr. Humpreys, you know that calculus teacher who is like ninety-eight years old? (Adrienne nods.)

Theo

That guy is pretty darned old.

Lainey

Well, anyway, he was proctoring, and he didn’t seem to be paying any attention. He was just sitting up at the desk, reading his newspaper.  So, I took out my cell phone and went on line to see if I could find the solution to the equation. Apparently, Mr. Humpreys was paying attention and he even seemed to take personal offense, because I was caught cheating at his subject.

Adrienne

What did he do?

Lainey

He totally freaked out. Took my test booklet and answer sheet and ripped them up right in front of everyone. Screamed at me to get out. It was pretty embarrassing.

Adrienne

What’s going to happen to you? That’s a pretty important test.  The College Board must take someone caught cheating on their tests pretty seriously.

Theo

They’re not going to do anything. Right, Lainey? The College Board doesn’t go after kids who are caught cheating. Only the adults.

Adrienne

What about the school?

Lainey

They’re still working on it, but last I heard, they were considering trying to prevent me from retaking it. Which means, I’d –

Adrienne

You’d have no SAT scores to include with your college applications. Lainey, this is serious.  You’ve never done anything like this before.

Theo

It’s not such a big deal though. I mean I hear that like fewer colleges are requiring SAT scores. And more schools are joining that list every year. Actually, Mr. Thompson told me that.  So, it’s really just the humiliation of getting caught. Lainey –

Adrienne

(Interrupting) That’s not really the point though. Is it, Theo? Lainey cheated. Lainey, why didn’t you tell me? You have always told me everything.

Lainey

I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t want to disappoint you. Life’s been disappointing enough lately, and I just didn’t want to be added to that list.

Adrienne

Lainey, you’ve certainly made a mistake, and I am disappointed. But you could never be a disappointment to me. You should know that. God. (Sighs.)

Lainey

I guess I should know that, Mom. I’m sorry.  (She touches her mother’s hand.)

Adrienne

(Looking down at their hands) I think it’s going to take some time to digest this one. On to the next then. (To Theo.) Well, okay. Theo? You had something to tell me, too?

Theo

(Nervously) My turn already?

Lainey

It’s only fair.

Theo

Okay, Mom, remember that black eye that I got at the beginning of the school year?

Adrienne

(Nodding yes) You said you walked into a locker in the hallway.

Theo

Well, not exactly. See, this guy at school was harassing me. Calling me faggot and homo and stuff like that.

Adrienne

At school?

Theo

Yeah. He kept waiting for me at my locker. So, after a couple of weeks of this, I got fed up. I pushed him. Told him he was right. Then he punched me in the face.

Adrienne

(Upset) I can’t believe no one told me about this. Lainey, did you know?

Lainey

Mom, the whole school knew.

Theo

And, so, we both got suspended. Me just for one day, him for a week.

Adrienne

Suspended? Doesn’t the school usually notify the parents when a student gets suspended?

Lainey

They do. (Hesitatingly) And dad went in to the meeting.

Adrienne

(Becoming increasingly more upset.) Dad! What about me? Aren’t they supposed to contact me, too?

Theo

Um, they did. It’s just that we intercepted the messages here. Erased them before you got home from work.

Adrienne

I can’t believe this. (Pauses considering news for a moment) Wait. Theo, you said you told that kid who was bullying you he was right?  Right about what exactly?

Theo

Okay, well I was kind of hoping we’d, ah, breezed over that part.

Lainey

Just tell her, Theo. Rip off the band-aid.

Theo

Mom, I’m gay.

Adrienne

What? What about Libby?

Theo

How many times have I told you, Mom? Libby and I are just best friends.

Lainey

Come on, Mom. Not to stereotype gay people or anything, but all the signs were there. Lady Gaga. Skinny jeans. Drama club.

Theo

And the scarves. Don’t forget the scarves.

Adrienne

I just thought you were the artistic type. I guess a mother should have a better sense of these things. (Slowly realizing) Wait. Does dad know about this, too?

Theo

Uh, well. It all came out at the meeting.

Adrienne

And the kids at school?

Theo

I guess most of them.

Adrienne

But not me.  This is big news, Theo. I can’t believe that you didn’t feel you could share it with me. Were you afraid of how I’d react? Because, you know I love you, no matter what.

Theo

I guess I did know that. It’s just hard to say something like this to your mom. And you were so sad. And then so busy with work and school. I didn’t want to make things worse.

Adrienne

So, you’re only telling me this now, because you were afraid that Jack would tell me first? So, he knows. And your father. But not me. I can’t believe this. I’m not made of glass! I’ve been here the whole time, but you’ve both shut me out. (Pauses then to Lainey) Destroying your chances for college? (To Theo) Coming out of the closet and fighting? Me, in the dark? I don’t think I can handle this deception. If anything is going to break me, it’s the lies. Your dad’s the one who left us, and you chose to tell him? Him!

Theo

I know, Mom. We’re really sorry.

Adrienne

I don’t know if sorry is going to fix this. You kids have really been going out of your way to protect me, haven’t you? This is a problem.

Lainey

We love you mom. We just want to see you happy again. We didn’t think exposing you to our teen drama would help with that.

Adrienne

Well, maybe not, but hiding things from me certainly didn’t help. I can’t go out now. We’ve got to figure out what to do about this. Your need to protect me, I mean.

Theo

Mom, no! We didn’t mean to ruin your date.

Lainey

Yes. If you don’t go because of us, that will make all of our efforts to protect you a waste of time.

Adrienne

I can’t just flounce out of here with some guy, when my children have just told me all this news.  What kind of a mother would I be then?

Theo

Mom, we’re fine. You have to go. If you don’t, we’ll both feel terrible.

Lainey

It’s true mom. And, besides, you don’t have time to call and cancel. You don’t want to be rude to our guidance counselor, do you?

Adrienne

I don’t know. I don’t feel right about leaving in the middle of all of this. We have a lot to figure out. Your dad. All of it.

Lainey

And it will all still be here tomorrow. We can talk about it then. After you’ve told us about how great your date was.

Theo

Yeah, mom. It’s not like our problems won’t be here to talk about in the morning.

Adrienne

Well, I’m not sure. I think-

The doorbell rings.  Adrienne, Theo and Lainey exchange glances, then look over to the empty chair at stage left. Lights dim, except for one that remains on the separated chair. It slowly fades.

The End


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