UNDER THE ASHES


Cast: 1 male, 1 female
Genre: Absurd drama
Set: a living room

Emmett frantically searches for keys to his private office which he thinks his wife has hidden. But before Lorna will answer his questions about the keys, she insists on telling him about her day, including the mysterious trinket she says her lost son has sent her. CHARACTERS IN EXCERPT:

EXERPT

Characters in excerpt:

LORNA A middle-aged wife.
EMMETT Lorna’s middle-aged husband.

Excerpt starts near the beginning of the play.

(A living room.)

LORNA
You remember Freddie, of course, my son. I received this lovely trinket in the mail last week from him.

EMMETT
Did you?

LORNA
He wrote such a darling note with it—how he misses my singing Wagner to him every night, and the smell of my lilac perfume, and—

EMMETT
Where is this “letter” your son wrote you?

LORNA
Oh, well, it was right here. I—hm, I seem to have misplaced it.

EMMETT
Well, I seem to have misplaced my office keys. Do you have any idea where they might be?

LORNA
I said I was polishing and—

EMMETT
Now, Lorna, I know you have a lot on your mind—what with your polishing and all, but now is a time when I really need your help. I need to get into my office.

LORNA
Well, I need to start my green bean casserole and it is rather important to—

EMMETT
Alright then. Neither of us has time to play this game tonight, so just tell me where they are, then you can finish your cleaning.

LORNA
Well, before I began my day of polishing, before I’d even picked out my cleaner, I was noticing how your eyes have darkened when you watch me.

EMMETT
Go back to your polishing, Lorna.

LORNA
You’re leaving now? You can’t—you don’t have your—

EMMETT
You’re clearly not capable of caring about me or my presentation.

LORNA
I know how to care.

EMMETT
Do you, Lorna?

LORNA
I do. I cared for my son.

EMMETT
You cared for your son. Well, I cared for him, as well. How do you feel about that, Lorna?

LORNA
I don’t remember your caring for him. You only wanted him when I held him—but you never cared for him. When I held him, you thought he had value. But when I set him on the marble, you forgot about him.

EMMETT
Oh, that’s not true, Lorna. We never even had a marble floor. Now, in our relationship, in this marriage, we need to help each other out, right?

LORNA
Well—

EMMETT
I helped you practice when you wanted to be ballet dancer, and you helped me study when I was working toward my PhD.

LORNA
But I never became a ballet dancer.

EMMETT
That’s true.

LORNA
But you became a psy . . .?

EMMETT
Chi . . .

LORNA
A-trist.

EMMETT
That’s right, I did. But you became a mother. An important mother. I could never be a mother, Lorna. But I still cared for your son. Do you agree?

LORNA
You played marbles with him.

EMMETT
Now, what an important wife you’d be if you’d start caring for my presentation and tell me where my keys are. Remember our vows—my presentation reflects not only on me, but you, as well.

LORNA
I don’t see why you keep it locked in the first place. No other room in our apartment needs a padlock. Sometimes after I bring you your grapefruit in the morning, I want to sit in your office and smell the books.

EMMETT
And that’s exactly why I cannot leave my office unlocked, Lorna. I can’t have people sitting in my office and getting into my books. My work is confidential. You know that.

LORNA
Well then, you won’t let me smell the books and now I have to defrost the green beans. Can you please step aside?

EMMETT
I won’t eat dinner until I find my keys.

LORNA
You won’t eat my green bean casserole?

EMMETT
No, Lorna. Not a single bean.

LORNA
But I’m making dinner for you. I don’t want to eat green beans all alone.

EMMETT
Well, I won’t eat them.

LORNA
(pausing for a moment, then continuing to the kitchen)
You’ll eat.

EMMETT
I won’t, Lorna.

LORNA
You always do.

EMMETT
I didn’t eat dinner yesterday or the day before, or the day before, or for the past four weeks, in fact.

LORNA
You didn’t . . .? You did! I know because I washed the red wine sauce out of your shirt yesterday.

EMMETT
I—Lorna, the point is, I am making this presentation tomorrow to some of the finest doctors in the country. They are depending on me to shed insight into—Lorna, you know I need this, so stop—

LORNA
Sometimes I wish you’d look at me instead of watching me all the time.