Diner Booth: A Scene

(ANA and HENRY, in their late teens, are sitting on opposite sides of a booth table in a 1950’s-style diner which is filled with people, mostly families with children. The booth seats are deep cherry red. ANA is a young woman with full, red lips and long, sleek, dark hair which falls almost to her waist. She has a slender waist and full hips and breasts. She is entirely unaware of her own beauty. HENRY is small for his age and won’t get much bigger over his lifetime. He has bright, blond hair, an eager face and a twinkle in his light brown eyes.)

ANA: Wait, wait, pH stands for power of hydrogen? What. No way. That’s super cool. It sounds like intergalactic forces or something. Powers of hydrogen: the Almighty Ones. Buh-nuh-nuh-naaahhh. (Mockingly sings Beethoven.)

HENRY: I guess I never thought it was cool: power of hydrogen. (laughs) I’m such a nerd for knowing the def for that.

ANA: Nahh… well actually yeah, but you know all of us are nerds really. Anyway, we’re like the sexy nerds, you know? Who are all into LOTR and Han Solo and shit. Not those nerds who are, like, living under rocks eating pond scum right? We’re like, badass.

(HENRY and ANA both laugh.)

HENRY: So speaking of nerd-dom, I was talking with your grandma yesterday…

ANA: Whyyy?

HENRY: I, uh, needed some advice. Figured being an “elder one” and all she’d have some useful knowledgeables in her.

ANA: Yeah, you’re pretty nerdy asking my gran for life advice. So what was it?

HENRY: What?

ANA: Yoouuu knoooww.

HENRY: Umm…

ANA: Dude, just tell me what you asked her about. We’ve like, known each other forev’s so just spew it out already.

(During the following line ANA looks at HENRY with big eyes while sipping from a giant coffee cup.)

HENRY: Umm, ahh… huh, yeah it sounds – well we were talking about…um…huh. Oy okay – stop looking at me like that – uh, (with wavering voice) love?? – yeah, okay, umm…

(Very long pause filled with copious amounts of blushing.)

ANA: (Staring down into her cup.) Oh. (smiling mischieviously) Nerd.

(HENRY and ANA look at each other for a long moment, breathing heavily. “Hold Me” by Fleetwood Mac is playing on the jukebox. Suddenly HENRY gets up, moves over to ANA’s side of the bench. He never breaks eye contact. Then HENRY leans in and starts kissing ANA with the deepest passion of his soul. His hand moves up her thigh and she gasps loudly. Then, without removing their clothes at all, they begin to have passionate sex in the booth.)

ANA: Oh god…god, oh god!

(People in the diner start to stare and suddenly there is a general uproar as parents try to screen their children’s eyes.)

PARENTS: (overlapping)

Don’t look!

Come here!

Grab the coats! Now!

What a disgusting place! I’m never coming back!

(A five-year-old CHILD breaks free from his MOTHER’s grasp and runs towards HENRY and ANA, who are entirely oblivious to the entire scene around them. The CHILD kneels on the seat of the opposite booth and gazes at the couple.)

MOTHER: Come back here! What are you doing? Don’t look!

CHILD: But why not?

MOTHER: Because! It’s filthy!

CHILD: No. It isn’t. (smiles and returns to looking at the couple) It’s life!

(Blackout. Lights fade up and everything is set as it was at the opening of the scene with ANA and HENRY on opposite sides of the table.)

HENRY: Well, yeah. I’m a nerd, but I’ve known for, like, ages that you’re into me. You’re not that great at hiding it. Anyway, you’re a nerd toooo….

ANA: Okay. (pause) Yeah I do. (blushes deep crimson) But don’t look at me like that. OMG you’re totally having dirty thoughts right now! (giggles heartily)

HENRY: (taking ANA’s hand and smiling) Yeah?

Emma Rose: A Monologue

(EMMA ROSE is sitting in a rocking chair holding a cup of tea. The light catches the steam rising from the tea. Her granddaughter is sitting at her feet.)

EMMA ROSE: Yes… yes… oh yes. I know what it is you’re feeling. I know… I know it’s hard to believe I was once as young as you. But I was. Oh yes… I was. I even looked like you. It’s like you were my own daughter. My own daughter… (Pause) she doesn’t look like me, your mother that is. No, she looks like her father. She could always make me smile. She has his eyes… his eyes.

But yes, don’t let me get distracted. Yes, yes… oh yes, I’ve felt what you’re feeling. I’ve felt it. I was not much older than you are, just eighteen or so. Yes, I was eighteen, I remember. And he was perfect… unattainable. He made me so nervous my heart would quiver in my throat. Yet I didn’t know. Just his subtle hints… I always wore my hair up to keep it out of my eyes. It was long then, even longer than it is now – if you can believe that! And, one time I took it down, shook it all out. Just shook my mane of dark, dark hair. It was more wild and tangled than your hair is, not so sleek and beautiful. (She strokes her granddaughter’s hair.) He saw me take down the mane and he just glanced up casually once, and said, “Your hair looks pretty like that.” Pretty like that, that’s what he said. And then he just went back to what he was doing. He later told me that he once picked a huge bouquet of wild flowers, but let them die, all hidden away, because he couldn’t bring himself to give them to me. Hmm… he was sweet indeed.

You are such a blessing in my life. Such a woman… blooming, blooming right before my eyes. What a lucky young man this love of yours is. Does he know? (Her granddaughter shrugs her shoulders.) You don’t know? Oh he knows… oh yes, yes he knows. He’s a lucky one. (Laughing) Probably terrified. Indeed… a very lucky one. Your father was lucky too, lucky to be with my beautiful daughter. And she has… his eyes… (She trails off into silence.)

I’m sorry, look at me getting distracted now. Yes, we were out one night just talking. He and I. Talking about the things in life that you feel are so serious and important when you are young. And I remember the stars that night. I’ll never forget the stars. We were lying on our backs, buried in the damp grass, staring up at them. There was a whole world opening up above us that just went on and on and on… forever. It was so big and overwhelming that it made me feel safe. Safe in how small I was, safe in how unimportant I was. Yet, hmm… I felt honored. Honored to still be a part of it. And the stars kept winking to each other, winking like they knew what was about to happen, whispering amongst themselves. I stared up at that huge expanse and gave myself over to it. Suddenly I was brought back to earth. He had kissed my hand. So softly, so tenderly and with so much longing. He kissed my hand. I could see those stars reflected in his eyes. Deep, like a reflection in a still pool. He kissed me then. Full, young lips joining in trembling perfection.

I was doomed. From that moment on, I was his. I still am his… wherever he is now. Wherever he is… We woke up in that grassy field covered in dew and golden rays. Oh yes, yes… I am his. I always was, always will be. Of course I miss him. Wherever he is. He’s part of those stars now. He is up in that wide open space. No wonder it made me feel so safe that night. I’ll join him soon. Oh yes… He’s a lucky one, your young man. Oh yes. You’re a lucky one. Yes… we were the lucky ones.

Wyvelsfield

The day was grey and windy and drops of fog clung to the soft, dark curls surrounding the little girl’s face. She was holding a bouquet of golden daffodils in one clammy hand, while the other clung to the hand of her mother. Her mother’s hand was dry and cracked from washing dishes and cleaning house. The little girl bent down and laid the flowers at the base of a black marble tombstone set deep in the damp grass. Across the face of the stone were carved images that set the little girl’s imagination to work. On the left side of the stone was carved a forest of pines, while on the right was a magnificent castle perched upon a cliff. Between the images was the inscription:

Merk Malcolm 1914 – 1986

Doris Malcolm 1920 – 1990

Mr. Merwin Eldred Schlarbaum hated his Christian name. His father’s best friend protested the name and insisted the baby boy be nicknamed Merky. World War I was nearing its end by the time Merky was four years old, and his father chose to change the family name which tied them to the then-despised Germans. He shed the name of Schlarbaum, whose sound when spoken with a Canadian accent did not reflect its meaning “Tree of Paradise,” and instead adopted his mother’s maiden name, Malcolm.

By 1939 Merky, then known as Merk Malcolm, set out from his home in Campbellford, Canada and traveled with a friend to Europe. Upon reaching Scotland, the Second World War broke out and Merk was stranded for the time being. While using his engineering training as the manager for wartime projects, Merk chose to live in Wick, Caithness on the north-eastern tip of Scotland.

Wick was a tiny fishing town with its harbor open to the cold, blue waters of the North Sea. Thousands of fishing boats came in daily, bearing pounds upon pounds of fresh herring. The docks were steeped in the tangy scent of fish and the sky was blocked out by the swooping wings of gulls.

Mr. Malcolm, upon arriving, took to exploring the town, all four corners of which could be reached within an hour from any point. He stopped in front of a classy hotel and glanced up at the swinging metal sign. The letters, spelling “Station Hotel” stood out clear and gold on a crimson background. He stepped over the threshold and noticed he barely had to lift his foot, the wooden step was so worn by passing feet. Above the light-filled entrance was a glass portico with great metal arches. A chipper old man standing behind the counter greeted Mr. Malcolm with a Scottish accent thicker than pea soup. After paying at the counter Mr. Malcolm was shown to his room. The furniture had a refined but well-used look to its deep mahogany wood. He walked across the room to set his suitcase down by the roll-top desk. The brass plate on the desk said “Mackenzie’s Furnishings” in a curling script.

That night, as Mr. Malcolm lay between the flannel sheets, he realized he could not afford to stay in a hotel for an indefinite amount of time while the war raged on in Europe. The next morning he got up early and walked to the old stone church at the upper end of Wick. It stood overlooking the bridge which spanned the mossy green river that traveled out of the mouth of the harbor. Looking up, Mr. Malcolm saw the river wind its way up through thick, pink and green grasslands dotted with white sheep.

Mr. Malcolm walked into the holy stillness of the church. He had come here to find someone with whom he could stay, because he believed the most trustworthy people could be found through the church. Reverend Sinclair, also called the Reverend R. R., was standing at the back of the church with a handwritten sermon in his hand. Reverend Sinclair was known for his lengthy speeches, one of which was interrupted well before the end by a little girl yelling “Amen, Reverend Sinclair! Amen!” The slight breeze from the open church door ruffled the Reverend’s greying, patchy hair. He looked up when he heard firm footfalls on the cold stone aisle.

“My name is Merk Malcolm,” the young man said with his over-pronounced Canadian vowels. “I was wondering if you could possibly help me find a family to stay with in Wick. I’m working now as a project manager for the war effort.”

“Ach, I see,” the Reverend said, “Well, the Mackenzies are taking in officers at the moment.”

Mr. Malcolm smiled gratefully and nodded. Mackenzie, he thought. The name sounded familiar.

The following morning Mr. Malcolm could be seen trudging up the hill from the bridge carrying his one suitcase. The “Scottish mist” that had begun half an hour before had filled the collar of his coat with water and plastered his dark hair to his head. At the top of the hill the streets leveled out and he turned right onto Thurso Street. Glancing at the damp slip of paper in his hand, Mr. Malcolm double-checked that the address was number six. The house was called Wyvelsfield. 6 Thurso Street. Walking on the right side of the street under a row of beech trees he looked left until he saw the brass address glinting through the rain: 6 Thurso Street.

Mrs. Mackenzie, affectionately called Mrs. Mack, was just finishing her early morning porridge. She sat erect in her chair at the foot of the table with her red hair pulled back in a tight bun and her pale lips pursed. Her lack of working taste buds concealed from her the fact there was more salt in her porridge than porridge. A normal mouth would be turned inside-out from the taste, and children were known to bring their spoons near their mouths and then drop the porridge into a well-concealed napkin. But to Mrs. Mack the porridge tasted fine.

In an old Scottish saying, an Englishman was berating a Scot for eating oats, which the English found only fit to feed to their horses. The Scotsman replied airily, “That’s why the English are known for their horses, while the Scots are known for their men.”

Mrs. Mack was just finishing her tasteful porridge when a tall, dark-haired, handsome man walked in through her front gates. Oh, she thought to herself, it must be one of those young officers to live with us. He looks well enough, though I fear this may bring trouble. And she rose from her chair with a sigh.

At the heavy knock, Mrs. Mack opened the front door. She greeted her guest with warmth and made her introductions.

“Oh,” she said, “And I have a daughter who’s in the giggly stage.”

Mortified, the eavesdropping, nineteen-year-old Doris Mackenzie was determined to prove her mother wrong. Miss Mackenzie was not the type of girl who cared much for what people thought of her. She was rather mischievous and had been known to steal fishermen’s dinghies and to set dozens of barrels of fish rolling along the docks.

Composing herself at the top of the grand spiral staircase, Doris pinched her cheeks and straightened the fashionable dress which showed off her petite waist. She laid her hand on the polished wood banister, her hand sweating slightly. Setting her foot on the first green carpeted step, Doris began gliding down the staircase. She glanced once at the handsome stranger at the foot of the stairs and nearly blushed. His eyes were following her every movement. However, she kept her head held high and her eyes straight ahead.

Suddenly, three steps from the bottom the toe of Doris’ little black shoe caught on the carpet. Both of her feet flew out from under her and all of her five-foot-two frame went tumbling down the remaining stairs. She landed in a disgruntled heap at the stranger’s feet. With apparent perfect dignity Doris held up her hand from where she was crumpled on the floor and, with her nose in the air, said, “I’m Miss Mackenzie.”

Cupid’s bow twanged.

Standing by the tombstone on the cold, grey day I knew the story of how my grandparents had met. For years I made up fantastic stories about my grandmother who had once lived in a great castle up in Scotland. The spiral staircase to me was larger than Jacob’s Ladder, and I pictured my beautiful grandmother tumbling not down just the last three steps, but from the top of the stairs all the way to the bottom in flying somersaults. As I grew up I realized that while the fairy tales I had imagined for my family might not be quite factually true, I did come to recognize that the true love at the end of fairy tales did exist and endure between my grandparents.

The Scarlet Lady

The crimson mist a lady formed,
Who stepped out from the crescent moon,
And while my heart raged and stormed,
She turned away and left too soon.

I called to her in wretched sorrow,
And she turned and said to me:
“I’ll come back again tomorrow,
As always was and always will forever be.”

Scarlet tears consumed my sleep,
Each bloody pearl through darkness gleamed,
Splashing in a pool hid deep,
Where vaporous dreams upward streamed.

Tempting Fate: A Song of Experience

Round about the candle flame
Moths play their dangerous game.
Illuminating their dusty wings
The light tempts those flighty things.
Daringly one tests his fate,
But alas! It is too late!
The flame trapped her foolish prey,
Warning the rest to stay away.

Youth’s Sweet Romance: A Song of Innocence

As dawn breaks and lights the sky,
The trees, the brooks, and birds that fly,
I drink deeply from the world around
That’s filled with life, love and sound.
Everywhere adventures wait,
Where I can find the hidden gate
To unlock secrets of the world
That never yet have been unfurled.
Enchanted by youth’s sweet romance
Amongst woodland sprites I sing and dance.
Each living thing speaks to me,
From softest shoot to tallest tree.
Then twilight casts her spangled net
Around the blinding gold sunset.
She whispers that this day is done,
And bids farewell to the sun.
As sleep ushers me to bed
Sweet lullabies fill my head,
And I dream of time gone by,
Of trees, and brooks, and birds that fly.

Hîr I Chorvath: An Elvish Poem

Hîr I Chorvath

Sen sir am le im linnathon
Min gwanod o athra i aearon,
Uin rhovan dôr od Ennorath
Di ir silivren elenath,
Sin lach sui celair sui miriel
Thanant na i arod Gilthoniel.

I ambar ne apa i rima mornië
Mi raxalë ho i corma laurië,
Nertë nildor hehtae i lómë
Ar oantë i ambar apa undómë,
I perian oantië lá i hisië
Ar quentë ana Endórë namarië!

Translation
The Lord of the Rings

Upon this day I will sing to thee
One tale from across the great sea,
Of the wild land of Middle-Earth
Beneath the glittering host of stars,
Those flames as brilliant as jewels
Kindled by the royal Gilthoniel.

The world was on the edge of darkness
Endangered by a golden ring,
Nine friends forsook the night
And journeyed through the twilit world,
The halfling passed beyond the mists
And said farewell to Middle-Earth!