Little Reminders

Scene 1:

(Ext. Afternoon. Market place next to a pier in Sandakan, Malaysia. Gwen, theatrical Grandmother, 60; Wendy, fitness fanatic Daughter, 40; and Tabitha, terminally ill Granddaughter, 20, on a holiday to Turtle Island.)

SOUND: Three panting women drag suitcases on wheels through a busy Asian seaside market. There’s a hiss from Tabitha’s oxygen tank.

MUSIC: Fast-paced Asian market music.

WENDY:

Oh, God. We’re going to miss the boat.

GWEN:

Here, Tabitha, give me your suitcase, Sugar. Or we’ll miss seeing these turtles lay their eggs tonight.

TABITHA:

Thanks, Gran.

MUSIC: Fades.

SOUND: Boat horn signalling departure and labored breaths.

WENDY:

It’s too late. Oh my, the boat’s left the pier.

TABITHA:

It’s okay, Mum, we can go tomorrow.

WENDY:

No, No, our bus to the airport is booked for tomorrow.

TABITHA:

Mum, chill.

WENDY:

Look, another boat. Wait here. (Wendy walks off)

SOUND: Tabitha turns up her oxygen tank with a hiss.

GWEN:

Alright? Sit on your suitcase for a mini.

TABITHA:

Just need a little oxygen top up.

GWEN:

I see you’re still wearing that crystal necklace?

TABITHA:

It’s for my heart chakra, Gran, and don’t bring up the tarot cards.

GWEN:

Gosh you young ones are so sensitive! Live in the moment … Who’s your mum talking to now?

TABITHA:

Gran, I don’t have decades and decades ahead of me. My body’s only giving me two. How would you cope?

GWEN:

What was that? Stand up, here comes your mum.

TABITHA:

Forget it. You can’t understand.

WENDY: (FROM A DISTANCE.)

Mum, Tabitha, we can hire a boat with a driver to Seligan Island. It’s half an hour. We’ll make it right in time to see the turtles. Come on. Before it gets dark.

SOUND: Suitcases rolling across a wooden pier. Waves lap underneath.

GWEN:

Wendy, it’s a tinny. I don’t think this is a good idea.

WENDY:

It’s thirty minutes and Tabitha gets to see the turtles. Get in.

SOUND: Clunking of luggage as women climb into the boat.

MUSIC: Soft music with a hint of danger.

TABITHA:

It’s so wobbly. Where are the life vests?

GWEN:

Sit in the middle, I’ll steady the oxygen tank for you.

WENDY: (HANDS OUT THE VESTS)

TABITHA:

Gross. It stinks of moldy fish.

WENDY:

Keep it on Tabitha. I don’t want to have to jump into shark infested waters to rescue you.

TABITHA:

Mum, I can swim. I’m not an invalid, yet.

WENDY:

I’m not taking any chances. Buckle up and keep your oxygen handy. It won’t get refilled until we reach the Island.

SOUND: Life jackets click on, oxygen hisses off and the boat engine revs up. Boat engine continues under the dialogue.

MUSIC: Relaxing music with a hint of adventure.

TABITHA:

Are you getting queasy, Mum?

WENDY:

I’m fine, it’s only half an hour.

TABITHA:

Really? You’re not superwoman. Just take a travel sickness tablet already.

WENDY:

I’m not putting chemicals into my body. I’ll be fine.

GWEN:

Well, you had to go searching for that organic mumbo jumbo shop and make us late.

WENDY:

It was a herbalist, Mum, for Tabitha.

GWEN:

Don’t you dare give Tabitha any of that. I told you about my neighbour’s son who went looking for a cure in Cambodia for some skin disease and ended up with kidney failure after taking some strange concoction.

TABITHA:

It’s okay, Gran, they’re just vitamins.

GWEN:

No one ever listens to me. Where’s the light on this tin can? It’s getting dark.

WENDY:

Mum you’re being rude. The driver knows where the island is.

GWEN:

The sun’s almost gone. How far is it?

WENDY:

About another twenty minutes. Oh, I hope I don’t lose my lunch. That would attract sharks, wouldn’t it?

GWEN:

You need to cut back on the gym. No wonder you’re so exhausted. There’s no colour in your cheeks.

WENDY:

Give it a rest. I’m fine and the gym keeps me sane.

GWEN:

Well you’re too pale. Sugar here needs you to be strong.

WENDY: (AGITATED)

You think I don’t know that?

TABITHA:(CLEARING HER THROAT)

Gwen and Wendy to the principal’s office.

GWEN:

I know, I know. I’ll zip it.

TABITHA:

I’m right here and I didn’t ask for lung cancer.

WENDY:

Oh, of course not! Sweetheart, I’m sorry. We’ll change the subject.

GWEN:

Well I’d like to talk about how dark it is. Where are the lights from the mainland?

WENDY:

Maybe over the horizon.

TABITHA:

I hope we don’t miss the turtles.

MUSIC: Adventure music Fades to a stop.

 

Scene 2:

(EXT: Night: Forty minutes later.)

SOUND: Waves lapping against the slow revving boat. Oxygen tank hisses on and off.

MUSIC: Adventure music with a hint of danger.

WENDY:

We should be at the island by now.

GWEN:

I knew this was a bad idea.

TABITHA:

Maybe you didn’t hear the interpreter properly and it’s supposed to be longer.

WENDY:

Something’s not right. Um, driver- ?

GWEN:

He doesn’t speak English, Wendy.

TABITHA:

I think he’s using the stars as a guide. There’s thousands of them. It’s beautiful. The moon is so clear.

GWEN:

What if some ocean liner heads straight for us? There’s no light to warn them, there’s probably no radio and the phones are out of range. You should’ve listened to me Wendy. You’ve always been selfish.

WENDY:

Oh no, what is that?

MUSIC: Suspenseful music.

WENDY:

It’s a fin! I saw a fin.

GWEN:

I knew it. I told you so. We’re going to be torn from limb to limb!

TABITHA:

Stop, please. Maybe it’s a dolphin?

GWEN:

Keep looking, Wendy, my spectacles are in the suitcase. Is it a shark?

WENDY:

I can’t tell. It’s so dark. The waves are casting all sorts of shadows.

TABITHA:

It was probably a wave.

WENDY:(GETS OUT HER PHONE AND TURNS ON THE TORCH APP TO SEE WHAT’S IN THE WATER)

I know, I know. Maybe it was a wave. Oh, God, it’s coming back. It’s going around the boat in circles. We’re its prey. Driver! Driver!

TABITHA:

Chill, chill. Everyone needs to chill out.

SOUND: The boat revs faster and faster.

GWEN:

He’s trying to outrun a shark! Hold on to the sides, or we’ll be tipped out.

TABITHA:

Ouch. The waves are splashing up my nose. There better be a shark.

WENDY:

God, it’s worse than a roller coaster ride.

TABITHA:

Do you need to be sick?

WENDY:

No, No. Oh, I can’t cope with being some shark’s dinner. I just can’t. I’m too busy to die.

TABITHA: (ROLLS HER EYS AT HER MUM’S SELF INTEREST AND THEN STARES IN DISBELIEF AT THE WATER)

Crap, I can see the shark. It’s actually there. Wow. It’s chasing the boat.

GWEN:

It’s too bumpy, we’ll be thrown overboard.

WENDY:

Oh, no, this can’t be happening. I swear, if the shark goes away, I promise, I’ll never take another energy pill again.

GWEN:

What? You’re not still seeing that dodgy quack are you?

WENDY:

Yes, and I need to stop.

TABITHA:

Huh? You lied to me! They weren’t vitamins, were they? How could you? I knew you were on something. What about the herbalist? Was that some sort of Malaysian speed?

GWEN:

I knew it. So much for, I don’t put chemicals into my body. Those pills are eating you from the inside out.

WENDY:

Mum!

TABITHA:

I’ll never trust you again.

WENDY:

Oh, Sweetheart, I’m so-.

SOUND: A Bump against the boat.

MUSIC: Scary music.

GWEN:

What in heavens … ? The shark’s ramming us! This tin can needs wings.

WENDY:

I can see it. I can see it. Look. It’s charging at us!

SOUND: Boat engine revs to breaking point. Oxygen hisses at maximum.

TABITHA:

Sit down, Mum! Don’t tip the boat over. I’m not dying out here. Shit, I haven’t even had sex yet!

WENDY:

Well you’re not missing out on anything!

GWEN:

Speak for yourself.

WENDY: (SITTING DOWN AND STILL HOLDING OUT HER PHONE FOR LIGHT BUT NOT SEEING A FIN)

Is it still out there? I can’t see it.

GWEN:

Take a deep breath, Sugar. I think we just outran a shark. What about that boy from chess club?

TABITHA:

I friend-zoned him. It wasn’t like that.

GWEN:

Well, if we survive this, I’ll ask around. I know some lovely young men.

WENDY:

You’ll do no such thing. Oh this is too much.

GWEN:

I will too. Wendy, your baby’s dying. Loosen up.

SOUND: Boat revs slow down.

WENDY:

You have no idea. No idea … Be quiet. Where is the shark?

TABITHA: (SHORT OF BREATH)

This is so embarrassing. I think I might jump overboard now.

WENDY:

I can’t see it anymore.

(THE BOAT DRIVER GIVES THE WOMEN THE THUMBS UP TO SIGNAL THE SHARK HAS GONE)

GWEN:

We made. How about that.

MUSIC: Music fades.

 

Scene 3:

(EXT: Night: One hour later, lost at sea.)

SOUND: Loud Waves rock the slowly revving and spluttering boat. Oxygen hisses on low.

TABITHA: (HOARSE VOICE)

It’s been nearly two hours and the petrol’s running out. I don’t want to drown in sea water. I don’t want to drown in my own lungs. I don’t want to drown period. I want decades and decades … to do things!

WENDY:

I know you’re scared. Hold my hand, Sweetheart.

GWEN:

Give me your other hand, Sugar. I’m not letting anything happen to you.

TABITHA: (FRANTIC AS THE WOMEN CLING ONTO EACH HAND)

I don’t want to die in the ocean. I want to be in my bedroom with you guys and my things. I want some sort of comfort.

WENDY:

Oh, Tabitha. You can’t die. I’m not going to let you.

TABITHA:

Stop pretending! It’s happening and I’m the only one who seems to realise it. It’s a matter of months, Mum. You know what the doctors said.

GWEN:

Doctors are wrong all the time with their predictions. What do those tarot cards of yours say?

TABITHA:

That you hate them and Mum’s a liar!

WENDY:

That’s enough, Tabitha. Talking about it is too upsetting. Slow your breathing. There’s not much oxygen left … Do something, Mum. Say that poem she likes.

GWEN: (RECITES)

Ah, Sun-flower, weary of time,

Who countest the steps of the Sun,

Seeking after that sweet golden clime

Where the traveller’s journey is done:

Where the Youth pined away with desire,

And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow

Arise from their graves, and aspire

Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

SOUND: Oxygen runs out and stops.

WENDY:

If we get out of this, I’ll never lie to you again. I promise. And I’ll do whatever I can to help you … lose your virginity. I’ll go on dating websites or … we’ll figure something out.

TABITHA:(CRYING AND SHORT OF BREATH)

It’s stupid, I shouldn’t have said anything.

WENDY:

No, it’s important to you.

TABITHA:

What’s that? Those lights popping up.

GWEN:

It’s land!

WENDY:

Oh my God, oh, oh.

TABITHA:

It’s the island, I can see the buildings. There’s people on the beach. I’m actually going to see the turtles lay their eggs. We made it.

GWEN:

We sure did, Sugar. I’ve never been so afraid in my life.

WENDY:

There’s the pier. Look, the turtles are climbing up the sand. Oh. Thank God it’s all over. I’ll get more oxygen too … You hoo, over here!

GWEN:

Stop waving and sit down, Wendy! You’re going to tip the boat over!

WENDY:

Yes, yes, oh my, sorry. I’ve never been so terrified in my life.

TABITHA: (SHORT OF BREATH PAUSES TO STEADY HER BREATHING)

Welcome to my world. This is how I feel every day.

SOUND: Fades out.

 

Performed live at the Potato Shed for the 12×12 plays in 2016.

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