A dark room

(Another work of fiction, this time in the form of a short play, although I don’t really know the style for the medium.)

A dark room, nothing visible. A noise, muffled, sounds vaguely human. Outside, a train whistle blows, long, loud. Dogs bark, their cries chasing after the whistle before both sounds fade off, leaving everything again as quiet as it is dark.

A small light, numbers on a clock. Mumbling under someone’s breath. Items knock around on a table as a hand become visible in the faint glow. It picks up a small cell phone, turns it on. More light, with a few shapes now visible: a small table, a book, a clock, a bed. The cell phone light shuts off, back to total darkness.

A voice, male, early 30s, tired, speaks.

Voice: Every night. Every fucking night.

Shuffling in the bed, covers rustling, moving, twisting.

Voice: God, what can I do? No, really, God, I’m asking, what can I do? I’m literally on my hands and knees here, wondering. (pause) OK, I’m not really on my hands and knees, but let’s focus on what’s real here. Let’s focus, God, on the issue at hand, the reason I’m here, 3:47 a.m., talking to myself, hoping that somewhere on the other side, somewhere over there there’s a mystic connection and you just happen to be listening.

More shuffling. Feet land on hardwood.

Voice: Is it me, God? It is, isn’t it? So what is it about me, what is it about me that just doesn’t measure up, just somehow always falls short, never quite reaches it out? Can you tell me that? Can I be cliché, say “give me a sign”? Well, you’ve given me signs. I’ve seen them. I’ve just usually chosen to ignore them. I know you’re God and everything, and there’s this level of almighty-ness that comes with it, but sometimes I guess my freewill pulls some rank. I mean, the choice is mine, right?

Joints pop and crack as he stands.

Voice: Maybe that’s what I’m doing wrong. Following my own advice.

He begins walking in the dark.

Voice: I have to get stronger, though. Right? I mean, I will, right? You can’t let me keep on like this, up at all hours, stressing over everything that happened. Right? You’ll help me let go. Right? I just want to move on. I just want to feel whole. I just want my brain to rest for a bit, even if it’s just a day, instead of whirring around nonstop, replaying all that’s happened, rethinking everything that’s been said.

A whirring noise, followed by a bright light illuminating the room. A computer comes to life. He sits down, begins to type as he checks his e-mail.

Voice: I’m sorry I pushed her away. There was this gift, this amazing person, right there, ready for me, and I couldn’t handle it. You put her there, knowing what I needed, but, I guess, knowing eventually I wouldn’t let it work. Was that a joke, some sort of cosmic comedy you got going on up there? It’s not funny, that’s for sure. (pause) No, I know. I know. It’s not you. Really. It’s me. It’s my problem. (pause) But I need your help.

The computer turns off. He remains seated in the dark.

Voice: I don’t know what to do. It’s all I think about. She’s all I think about. What went wrong. Even what went right. It keeps me busy. But I don’t want to be busy anymore. I just want to rest.

He stands, walks off, trailed by the sound of his rustling pajamas. Bare feet sound against the hardwood floor.

Voice: I want your strength. Not your strength, the strength of God, but strength from God, the strength to keep on, the strength to make it through each day. Right now, actually, I’ll settle for the strength to make it out of bed in the morning. From there, we’ll negotiate.

He stops. A door opens. A refrigerator. The glow fills the room. He reaches in, grabs a carton of milk. Shuts the door, but not all the way, allowing the light to shine a bit.

Voice: But strength, in one form or another, short-term for now, long-term for later, that would be good. I’d like that. I need that. (pause) Please.

A cupboard opens, a cup comes out.

Voice: And let me be OK. Let me get through this, day after day.

The milk pours into the cup, stops. He takes a drink, sighs. Takes another drink.

Voice: And, I guess, be with her, too.

He puts the milk back in the refrigerator, shuts the door. Darkness.

Voice: Wherever she is.

He walks off. Bare feet sound against the hardwood floor.

Voice: I’ve tried so long to do what you want, to do the right thing. I know I still am, but I just hope it pays off, and sooner rather than later. I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling alone. I’m tired of being alone. (pause) And I’m tired of feeling like I’m always complaining about being alone.

The bed squeaks as he sits down, returns to attempt to sleep. Covers rustle as he nestles in.

Voice: But I know you’re there, and I know you have a plan. I just wish you’d clue me in, give some sort of sign (pause) and not one that I’ll ignore.

He yawns.

Voice: I guess I’m pretty selfish. All this fighting, the storms, the death, the war, and here I am talking about my petty life, my heartache.

He yawns. His voice slows, growing tired.

Voice: But I know you care. My problems are real to me. I’m not crazy. I’m not exhausting. I’m a good person …

… a good person …

… a good person …

… a good …

… person.

He’s asleep. A dark room. Quiet.

Seconds pass. Five. Ten. Twenty. A minute. Two. A train whistle blows, long, loud. Dogs bark.

Voice: Every night. Every fucking night.

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2 thoughts on “A dark room

  1. I’m glad that you decided to publish this for others to read. I loved it the first time and I still do. Hope you are well!

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