Strawberries & Cream: A Brief Play

Scene I

(A long shiny wooden table is set center stage with two large candelabras filled with lit candles. Everything in the room suggests wealth. The table is set with two small crystal bowls of strawberries cut up into cream and there is a tall glass of champagne at each place. A WOMAN sits on one end opposite from a MAN. They are both dressed formally in black and eating in silence.)

WOMAN: They’re the first strawberries of the season.

MAN: (Not really hearing her.) Mmm… that’s nice.

WOMAN: Six years… we’ve been doing this.

MAN: Hmm? Oh the strawberry thing? (With false enthusiasm.) Yeah, nothing like anniversary traditions.

WOMAN: (Beat) Why do you do that?

MAN: What do you mean?

WOMAN: Like just then! Why’d you have to write off what I said.

MAN: My god, what did I even say?

WOMAN: About our anniversary. You just, just, well it’s not what you said it’s the way you said it and ––

MAN: Why do women always say that?

WOMAN: See you’re doing it again! You just… dismiss me.

MAN: What–– You make it so hard for me to talk to you.

WOMAN: What?

MAN: Everything. Every little thing has to offend you.

(The WOMAN picks up her glass and takes a sip, then starts to cry.)

MAN: What’s the matter now? That’s your favorite champagne, I bought it especially for tonight.

WOMAN: You’re such a –– (Choked back by her tears.) It just reminds me that –– (Starts crying harder.)

(Long pause.)

WOMAN: (Controlling her tears.) It’s okay. I’ll be fine. It’s just, I can’t really take much more of this. (Pause) I had a dream last night. I woke up shaking. I’m actually surprised I didn’t wake you up.

MAN: I was… exhausted.

WOMAN: Doesn’t matter. (Beat) It’s hard to remember the beginning. Always is with dreams. But it was grey and foggy, I was young again, about sixteen or so I think. I looked… too beautiful really, but I knew it was me, yet it looked nothing like me at the same time. I just knew. I was in a forest; around me a hurricane was raging. It was dark, confusing, I couldn’t see. Suddenly this long hand, it–it had no fingernails, it was the size of me or bigger. It plucked me out of the forest and just threw me… away. Into nothing. (Pause, then starts again with difficulty.) I wasn’t anything anymore, just eyes––watching. Blackness was everywhere, but it was filled with stars. In the middle of it all was this wrinkled, hairless man, with… those hands. But he wasn’t a man. He was a demon. The devil. He was there in front of me, unimaginably huge. And he was plucking at this craggy little world which just floated in front of him. It wasn’t round. It was like a floating rock covered in little trees. That’s where I had been. And he had made that world-thing. As a toy for him to destroy. And his hands continued plucking at it… relentless, harsh. But then the world, it started to turn, and as it turned it just… left. It left him alone there in the blackness. And I saw it fade into the distance. It was free. Then these words were spoken, as if by some almighty voice: “It’s not round but it can still turn.”

MAN: Where are you going with this?

WOMAN: (Beat) I can’t do this any longer.

(Pause)

MAN: Oh. (Starts to cry.) Couldn’t we just…

WOMAN: No. Don’t you see? We’ve been over it so many times and… it’s just not going to work.

MAN: But… I love you.

WOMAN: I do too. But…

MAN: But what?

WOMAN: I have no power. Can’t you see that? We’re just… imbalanced.

MAN: So this ends because we don’t have balance?

WOMAN: I need… I need to have my own power first.

MAN: But… aren’t you happy?

WOMAN: No. (Beat) I thought it would work, but, last night, the dream… I’m shocked you didn’t wake up.

MAN: Over a dream you had? That’s why you’re leaving?

WOMAN: It left us! Don’t you see!? Last night it left us. I woke up covered in blood. Why didn’t you wake up?

MAN: (Starting to shake.) It… what?

WOMAN: I can’t try again. It’s too hard. (Pause) I want a baby so badly. I wanted our baby so badly. (Pause) And, and… you don’t. No, don’t argue. That’s why it won’t work.

MAN: The champagne… I didn’t even think. You… drank it…

(MAN comes over to WOMAN and holds her. They are both sobbing.)

WOMAN: I love you so much. I really do.

MAN: I know. Somehow that makes it harder.

(MAN and WOMAN hold each other for a long time crying and comforting each other for an uncomfortably long time. They make eye contact, then kiss, at first softly and then passionately. The WOMAN then breaks away and looks at the MAN with a deep sigh.)

WOMAN: I’m going to go now.

(WOMAN gets up to leave, is almost at the door when the MAN gets up and goes to her.)

MAN: Just one more.

(The look at each other as though about to kiss. Or not. Blackout..)

 

Scene 2

(A long table runs the length of the stage. It is covered in a long, white tablecloth which goes to the floor. The room around the table is dark. On the floor surrounding the entire table are hundreds of lit candles of different shapes and sizes. There is a large bowl of cream and an equally large bowl of strawberries which are right at the center. There is a bottle of champagne on the table and two empty glasses. Giggling quietly a WOMAN and MAN, who are both dressed in loose white linen clothes, climb up onto the table and crawl towards each other till they reach the center. They sit with the bowls in their laps and feed each other the strawberries with cream throughout the entire scene,)

WOMAN: They’re the first strawberries of the season.

MAN: (Speaking with his mouth full.) Mmm… that’s nice.

WOMAN: We should always do this.

MAN: Hmm? Oh the strawberry thing? Yeah, nothing like anniversary traditions.

WOMAN: We should make it an anniversary tradition!

(MAN pours two glasses of champagne and hands one to the WOMAN.)

WOMAN: Oh, no thanks.

MAN: What’s the matter? That’s your favorite champagne, I bought it especially for tonight.

WOMAN: I know, I’m just not… in the mood. Maybe… later?

MAN: Alright… (Looks at her for a long moment.)

WOMAN: I had a dream last night. It actually woke me up it was so real.

MAN: Yeah, I noticed you woke up. You didn’t seem upset or anything though, so I fell back asleep. I hope that was okay…?

WOMAN: Yeah, yeah, no of course it was.

MAN: (Stroking her hair.) Tell me about it.

WOMAN: It’s hard to remember the beginning. It always is with dreams. But it was grey and foggy, I was young again, about sixteen or so I think. I looked… too beautiful really, but I knew it was me, yet it looked nothing like me at the same time. I just knew.

MAN: Too beautiful? (Laughing) Huh, it couldn’t be too beautiful to be you. No one’s more beautiful than you.

WOMAN: Hmm… that’s nice to hear. Anyway, let me finish. I was in a forest and all around me a soft breeze was blowing. It was pale green, like in spring, and the light was coming through the leaves. I could see everything, every detail of every leaf. Suddenly this hand, bigger than me, came down and picked me up. I thought it would be terrifying, but I felt warm and safe and… enclosed. It held me so tenderly. All of a sudden I was pulled out of the forest and I was no longer myself. Just eyes watching. Blackness was everywhere, but it was filled with stars. In the middle of it all was this wrinkled old woman, with… those hands. But she wasn’t a woman. She was a god. The goddess. She was there in front of me, unimaginably huge. Floating in front of her was this perfect little world, a glowing egg covered in little trees. That’s where I had been. And she had made that world, as something for her to love. She held her hands around it, just barely touching it, and it turned in the warmth of her palms. And then she turned to me and the world left her hands and came toward me… and then, I don’t know. It just, filled me. The world was inside me.

(The MAN and WOMAN look at each other as though they are about the kiss. Then the WOMAN takes a cream coated strawberry and stuffs it into the MAN’s mouth and bursts out laughing.)

MAN: Where are you going with this?

WOMAN: Where do you think?

MAN: I… hmm.

WOMAN: Are you happy?

MAN: Right now? Of course. I have a beautiful wife, a––

WOMAN: No I mean, really happy. Deep down. Because I know we can’t… we don’t… have a lot. (She yanks her side of the table cloth to reveal the far end. The elegant table turns out to be a long chain of picnic tables all covered with one huge cloth.) You know.

MAN: That’s never bothered me. You know it’s never… why are you asking now?

WOMAN: Last night, the dream… (Beat) I always look forward to this time of year. When the world gets warm and safe again. Strawberry season. (She eats a particularly large strawberry.) Mmm. So juicy and sweet and… it’s worth the wait.

MAN: (Inwardly) Hmm…

WOMAN: You can’t just have them when you want. It has to be when they’re ready. That’s what makes them so worthwhile. (Beat) The time is ripe, I guess.

MAN: You mean…

(WOMAN nods with a twinkle in her eye, then throws her arms around the MAN and kisses him.)

MAN: Wow. Wow. I’m…. wow.

WOMAN: I know.

MAN: The champagne… I didn’t even think. You… didn’t drink it…

WOMAN: Mmmhhmmm.

MAN: I love you so much. I really do. It’s, well… I know it has bothered you sometimes but, well there are times when I would look at you and I would picture you pregnant. Glowing. And now… (MAN reaches out and puts his hand on WOMAN’s belly and rubs it softly. The both look at her belly for a long moment.)

WOMAN: So… let me ask again. Are you happy?

MAN: Are you kidding? Come here.

(MAN pulls woman toward him and they kiss with all the passion in their souls and then the WOMAN breaks away. She picks up the strawberry bowl and takes out the last strawberry and dips it in cream.)

WOMAN: Just one more. (The MAN and WOMAN share the strawberry, alternatively taking bites from it until it is gone.)

– End Scene –

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