2013, II prize Section Theatre: The unreachable Place, written by Anja Mugerli
If you had to choose between love and future…which one would you choose?
Characters: She and He
Place: The coffeehouse in the world without the future
Time: The beginning of winter
In the city in late afternoon. A homeless is playing a guitar on the corner near the coffeehouse. On his side is laying a dog, it seems asleep. The people are hurrying home, the women with the heavy shopping bags and the men with expressionless faces. The people are fixing their scarfs and button their worn coats – it is starting a long winter. He goes to the coffeehouse and by the way he throws a coin to the homeless. The coffeehouse is almost empty. The tables are greasy and on the floor there are empty sugar bags. He takes off his cap and he sits at the table by the window. He is waiting for Her. She is arriving from the world where the future exists. They did not see each other for two years. He is rubbing his cold hands against his pants excitedly. Now and then he looks out of the window. She enters; she spots him and comes to the table.
He (rises himself and moves a chair): Hello! Sit, sit down.
She fixes her dress and puts down her purse. He bends over to her and gives her an awkward hug.
He: So much time. You look great. If we would meet on the street I would not recognize you. No, I am lying. I would recognize your smile anywhere.
She: You look good, too. You have a new haircut.
She reaches her hand towards his hair.
He: I am cutting my hair by myself for a year now. I begin in front, then on the sides and in the and in the back. I would rather leave them there. The length is never the same.
She: Show me.
She: I like it. It looks stylish. Someone in my office has a similar haircut.
He: How is it there?
She: At the office do you mean? Hardworking. But I love the job. I have just started with this new project. And with my coworkers I get along just great.
He: I didn’t mean at the office. I have meant there.
The smile disappears from her face. She turns to the bar, but she does not spot a waitress there.
He: What else do you do? Besides working all day long. Are you still drawing?
She (again more relaxed): Still. I had an exhibition last year. A lot of people came and some bought a few of my drawings.
He: Do you remember when you draw our cat?
She (with a smile): He wouldn’t be still. I had to wait he falls asleep. How is he? I would really want to see him one more time.
He: He died last year. He needed a surgery, but I did not have enough money. They euthanized him.
Again, she turns to the bar. The waitress is still nowhere to be seen.
He: You have no idea how I have longed for this day. I could not sleep for two days after your call. I took out your drawings and I was looking at them the whole night. Then I dig out our photo album, the one with the photos from Greece, even before this world become without the future. Do you remember the wedding we saw on that beach? Everyone was barefoot and she wore a long white dress. I told you I would buy you the same dress when we get home, and that we would return and marry on that same beach, at sunset. But everything changed when we got home.
She: Stop it, please! I did not come here to bring out the memories. It hurts too much.
He: Why did you want to see me, then? I was thinking of you every single day in these two years. Every morning I am looking at your cactus in I am thinking of you. At lunch I am sitting on your chair and I am thinking of you. In the evening I hug your pillow and I –.
She: Stop, I am begging you!
He: You have not told me, yet, how is it there.
She: I am thinking every day of you, too. Every bloody day! Do you want to know why I wanted to see you? Because I cannot forget you. Because I cannot sleep with any other man. Couse when someone touches me, I cannot arouse myself. Because I wish I would remain on that beach in Greece forever and never come home.
He: But we did come home. We emptied our bags, we hang your skirts and my pants on the hangers, we throw our dirty clothes in the washing machine, we cooked ourselves a dinner and then we made love. And in the next morning everything changed. And a year later you received the letter.
She: I know what you are going to say now. You are going to say I had a choice: you or the future. And that I chose my future. Were you waiting just for this all this time?
She grabs her purse and she is starting to put on her coat.
He (grabs her hand): I have been waiting to take you home, to go with my fingers through your hair and to kiss you on the neck, again. I have been waiting to lie in bed close to you, so close so I could smell you, and to sleep peacefully, again. I have been waiting to show you how much your cactus have grown, because that is all I can show you. Because everything else remained the same. Here everything stays the same or dies. Only plants grow.
She: We can do all these things. But don’t reproach me, because I do it every day by myself.
He: After two years I still long for you, but I can’t have you. I want you to understand this. You have the future. What’s left for me?
She: But it was me who had to make the decision! Every night I watched you while you were sleeping and I cried my soul out. The world without you, without your voice, without your hands seemed intangible to me. But after the dark fade out I realized that I deserve the future. I worked hard for it! In daylight everything became tangible.
He: I worked hard for it, too. I suffered, too. When you were taking your clothes out of our closet and when you asked me which books you should take with you and which you live to me, I hardly tolerate it. When you told me you would leave me your cactus, I wanted to throw it through the window, along with my books and whole our life! But instead I helped you pack your books. I carry your suitcases down the stairs. I closed the door behind you. And I waved you quietly when you drove down the street. The only thing I want is to you to understand that I’m the one who stayed behind. In need this.
He and She are looking at each other. A sound of the guitar is heard from outside.
She: What would you do in my place?
He (backs off): Don’t ask me this.
She: Answer me.
He (shakes his head “no”): You can ask me with how many women I have slept in this two years, or what am I doing at night when I can’t sleep, or how often have I wanted to kill myself, but you can’t ask me this.
She: When I was going away you told me you understand me. That you love me. That you will never reproach this to me. Damn you! Sure I can ask what would you do if you were in my place!
He: Do you really want to know? Okay, you tell me how it is there, and then I tell you what I would decide.
She: Why do you want to hurt yourself?! Why do you so desperately want to know how it is somewhere you could never go?
He: Because it is me who should be there, damn.
The guitar suddenly stops.
She (after a few moments): What do you mean?
He: I received the letter first! I spent the whole night awake. I read the letter again and again. The letter of my future. And beside my there was you. You were sleeping like an angel. There were your cactus and your clothes, always smelling like coconut. There were your books, always scattered around the apartment. And in the morning the sun rose and I went out before you woke up. I sent them back my rejection. I chose you because you were the only tangible thing in my life.
She’s staring at him in shock. Her eyes are wide open and her hand is covering her mouth. Then she reaches to him, but he stands up. He puts his cap back on.
He: You are right. Why hurting myself? I will never go there.
He walks to the door and grabs the handle. He turns to her.
He: I will send you the cactus tomorrow. Growing things should be in a place where future exists, and not somewhere where everything stays the same. Good luck.
He leaves. She remains on the chair with her hand over her face.
September 26, 2021