PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
Candace – A young worry-stricken single mother.
Ophelia – Candace’s Schizophrenic daughter.
Lilith – A manipulating character made from Ophelia’s imagination.
Monica (Doctor Emmet) – The family’s wise psychiatrist.
Lenore (Double up as Police Woman) – The ‘God’ of the parallel world Ophelia lives in. The ‘Storyteller’. The ‘Narrator’.
(Present day. It is late afternoon and Ophelia and Candace are eating dinner at the table. Ophelia’s movement’s are jerky and strange and she is expressionless, while Candace is busy writing on something. Lenore is standing at the front of the stage, watching them and talking to the crowd as if they are another person. She is holding some sort of clipboard. She looks like a receptionist.)
Lenore Ophelia? What a strange child. Yes, I remember her. Of course I remember her. How can I not remember her? I am, after all, part of her. Although she forgot me. She has forgotten me. But I am still here. And I am in her subconscious. Still watching, still dreaming, and still telling her story. Yes, I know that. Yes, some could say Ophelia was ill. Even crazy, perhaps. But is insanity really a product of one’s mind or a product of one’s environment?
(Candace looks up at Ophelia. She stops writing.)
Candace (After staring at Ophelia for a while) Ophelia...
(Ophelia doesn’t react to her mother.)
Candace (Loudly) Ophelia.
(Ophelia stops eating and looks at her mother blankly.)
Candace I was wondering how your appointment with the Doctor was?
Ophelia Monica? Yes. The appointment with Monica was not bad.
Candace What did you talk about?
Ophelia Things that do not have anything to do with you.
Candace (Beat) Okay. (Pause) How was school?
Ophelia Do you really feel the need to ask such a question when you already know the answer?
Candace No...but I do want to know how it was.
Ophelia I’ll put my plate in the sink. Have you finished?
(Ophelia takes Candace’s plate and walks off. She stops and turns around suddenly.)
Ophelia Have you heard that saying?
Candace (Confused) What saying?
Ophelia (Thinks for a moment) “The way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test Reality we must see it on the tight-rope. When the Verities become acrobats we can judge them.” (Beat) Oscar Wilde said that.
(Thinks for a minute or so then walks off stage, leaving her mother extremely confused and worried.)
Am...I....Back? Yes...for a little while anyway. :)
(It is night. We are in Ophelia’s extremely tidy bedroom. Everything is labeled and there is only one bed, a desk with a lamp on it and a chair.)
Lenore Yes, I know that. Actually, that is a very interesting point. A pattern does form when one lives in the same environment and same circumstance, day after day, after day. It is, I guess, some sort of prophetic...er...path, you could say. It’s like a glimpse into the future. A future in which the past does linger. So in a way we are all staring into fate itself. But sometimes fate can be cruel and he can twist things apart. Like a toddler playing with blocks. The toddler knows what he is going to make, but does not have the skills to actually make it the way he imagined it to be. Fate can tear our world apart by changing our visions and expectations. Fate can be cruel. Yes, fate can be very cruel indeed.
(We follow Ophelia’s routine as she gets ready for bed. First she unties her hair carefully, she brushes it while counting to twenty three, she folds back the covers on her bed and she slides in cautiously and flicks the switch on her lamp.
The lights dim.
Silence ensues. Then suddenly...BANG!
Ophelia turns on the lamp -lights come up brightly- and she stares at the end of her room -end of the stage.
Breathing heavily, she creeps out of bed and searches around. The song starts up in the background quietly.
While she searches the lights go off again and she looks around in panic.
Rushing to her bedside she flicks the switch on her lamp and the room –stage- is lit up brightly once again.
We see a black hooded figure who looks freakishly alike to the grim reaper –Lilith- standing in front of her.
Ophelia lets out a shriek and backs away.)
Ophelia (Stumbles back a bit) What-who is it?
Lilith An old friend. (Pause) I’m disappointed in you, Lia.
Ophelia (Stops in her tracks) How-?
Lilith I was your only best friend, Lia. You don’t know how disappointed I am.
Ophelia (Angry) Well if you showed your face maybe I would know who you are.
Lilith (Tuts and gives out a breezy laugh) Your temper always got you into trouble. But now...it’s quite a shame they put you on those stupid pills.
Ophelia It is not like I have a choice in the matter. I am a loony, a crazy, a fucking mad person, and everyone knows that people like me do not have any choice in any matter.
Lilith (Laughing) Yes, that’s quite correct. You are very much indeed crazy. But who kept you going? Who saved you from your worst fear? Who stayed with you when you were abandoned by all others? Who, Lia, who?
Ophelia I do not know. You tell me.
Lilith (Laughing) Who, Lia, Who? Who, Lia, who?
Ophelia I said I do not know!
Lilith Who, Lia, who? Who, Lia, who? Who, Lia-
Ophelia (Yells) I don’t know!
Lilith (Pauses for a long while. Then quietly replies) Me, Lia, that’s who.
(Lilith pulls back the hoodie and reveals a pale girl with dark crimson lipstick and huge dark eyes. Ophelia backs away quickly, terrified.)
Lilith (Laughs loudly) Hello Lia. Long time no see.
Ophelia (Screaming) You’re not real! My pills...you can’t be real!
Lilith Oh, I’m real alright. I’m real in there. (Points to her own head) Your pills have nothing to do with me.
Ophelia But...What happened? I thought you disappeared when I started taking them!
Lilith I didn’t disappear. I never did. I was just hiding. Waiting. Hiding and waiting.
Ophelia (Pacing and wringing her hands jerkily) But if you’re back it must mean my meds aren’t working. No, no, no, no! I can’t have you here. Not now! Not when everything’s starting to die down. Not when I’m finally being accepted as being slightly normal. I can’t...you can’t do this to me! You can’t, Lilith, you just can’t!
Lilith Is this really how you treat your best friend? Will I have to resort back to my punishments?
Ophelia (Stands still, head bowed) No.
Lilith I’m sure your dear old mummy Candace would love a quick visit from me. It’s been a while since I’ve last visited her. What do you think Lia darling? Do you think that-
(Ophelia runs up to Lilith and lunges at her screaming.
The lights go off. Blackness.
Then the lights slowly come back up and Lilith is gone. Ophelia stands back up and brushes herself off, grimly.)
Ophelia I said, no, Lilith. No.
Am...I....Back? Yes...for a little while anyway. :)
(It is the next morning. We see Ophelia, Lilith, and Monica, who has a clipboard, on stage. Monica and Ophelia are sitting on two chairs facing each other, and Lilith is standing behind Monica. This is Monica’s session with Ophelia. Ophelia is sitting taunt and still, while Monica is looking thoughtfully at her patient. Lenore is still in her usual spot.)
Lenore Denial can be a funny little thing. It can hurt. As it can save people’s lives. Denial can be the result of honesty and lies. It’s quite a strange thing, actually. Denial is like a cage. Or a thick window pane, which separates us from the world. The truth, or the lie, that we hide is inside of us. Not wanting to look out at the world, and yet, bursting to free itself at the same time. Denial does not always work 100 percent though. Sometimes, some sort of strange force, maybe coming from the people we are trying to hide from, does break through the barrier. It shatters through the cages and the glass, and it reveals the hidden truth. Or lie. It could kill us. Or is could save us. In our time of darkness, perhaps denial is the thing that shrouds us in the shadows. Perhaps, in our time of great happiness, denial is the very thing that brings that light to us. (Pause) It’s a funny little thing. Denial.
Ophelia Two times a day.
Lilith (Yells) Liar! Bloody liar! (To Monica) She threw her pills down the toilet! Cause I told her to!
Monica So everything’s okay? At home? School?
Ophelia I guess so.
Lilith No, it’s well bloody not!
Monica (Looks at Ophelia, contemplating.) Ophelia...is something wrong?
Ophelia No...no...nothing’s wrong. No...no. Why?
(Lilith howls with laughter in the background.)
Monica You just seem a bit...distracted this morning.
Lilith That’s cause I’m here. You can see me, can’t you Lia? You’re going insane!
Ophelia (Confused) What? No! I mean, yeah...of course...what? No!
Lilith Yes you are! You’re utterly insane!
Monica Ophelia? Are you feeling okay?
Ophelia (Standing up and yelling) No! I’m not insane! I’m not, okay?
Monica Ophelia, I never said-
Lilith You are! Look at you! Look at you!
Ophelia No, I just...SHUT UP!
(Silence. Lilith giggles and Monica stares at Ophelia with a shocked expression on her face. Ophelia coughs, self consciously and sits back down.)
Ophelia Uh...maybe a higher dosage...?
Monica (Looking down at the clipboard) Yes, I think so too.
(Awkward silence with Lilith giggling and muttering in the background.)
Ophelia Monica, I just-
Monica I’ll just pretend it never happened.
Ophelia I’m sorry, I didn’t-
Monica (Looking up) Sorry about what?
Ophelia (Meekly) Thanks.
Monica Voices or...?
Ophelia Um...just faint...very faint...extremely faint...voices.
Lilith Oh, so I’m just an extremely faint voice to you?
Ophelia (Ignoring Lilith) Yes, very, very faint voices. Nothing serious. Nothing a higher dosage wouldn’t fix.
Monica Yes...I hope so. Ophelia, is there anything you’d like to tell me? Anything you want to talk about? Any issues?
Ophelia Uh...not really, no. There’s nothing...I’m just...Yeah, no, I’m good. Totally.
Monica Good. Good. Well, if those voices-
Ophelia Very faint voices.
Monica If those very faint voices get any louder, or if you start feeling...odd, then call me.
Ophelia Sure, sure thing.
(Monica hands Ophelia a slip of paper. Lilith, at this point, is starting to kick walls and singing ‘Swing low, sweet chariot’.)
Monica Oh, and there’s something else.
Monica Your mother called me up the other day.
Ophelia Oh God.
Monica She seems a little concerned about you, Ophelia. She thinks that maybe not having a father around is affecting you.
Ophelia It’s not. My dad’s a total jerk anyway. Left me and mum for this blonde model who’s half his age. Not surprising actually. Quite a stereotypical male ‘thing’ that I’d expect him to do.
Monica So, you’re not angry or anything?
Ophelia Yeah I am. I guess. Because now mum is even more over protective of me. I have no life. Not that I ever had one. It’s just...I don’t know. I mean, I am 17. Even if I am crazy, I should at least get a little freedom.
Monica Did you want me to talk to her for you?
Ophelia You can try. But if it comes down to me, she won’t listen to anyone but herself. (Stands and starts pacing)
Monica She loves you. A lot. And she doesn’t want to see you get hurt.
Ophelia You could try that hypnotism thingy on her. Get her to stop being such a leech.
Monica I can’t. Not without her permission. And I can’t stop your mother from being...a mother.
Ophelia Or we could get her to come in for some sessions. Tell her that her way of mothering me is the wrong way. That the reason why I’m insane is because of her. Perhaps?
Monica There’s just no way we could do that. You should know that.
Ophelia Or we could...
Lilith Poison her coffee each morning.
Ophelia Poisoning her will not do any good. You know that. And anyway, it’s just...creepy.
Lilith What about making her listen to those brainwashing tapes each night?
Ophelia No...brainwashing her won’t do any good either.
Ophelia (Stops pacing) Did you know those pills taste like dog shit?
Ophelia Yeah. You guys should put those artificial flavoring stuff in them. Make them easier to take. Raspberry would be good.
Monica Yes. What an idea.
Ophelia Or chocolate. That would be the ultimate. Chocolate. Or mocha.
(Monica’s cell phone rings. She holds up a finger to Ophelia and talks into the phone quickly.)
Monica (Into the phone) Yeah? Oh, sorry. Yeah, sure. We’re done here anyway.
Ophelia We have four minutes and twenty five more seconds to go.
Monica (Ignoring Ophelia) Yeah, sure. Yep. Yep. Okay, I’ll see you in ten.
(Monica pockets her cell phone and stands up.)
Monica I’m sorry, Ophelia. Something came up and we’ll have to end our session early. I’ll make up for it tomorrow.
Ophelia Sure. That’s fine.
Monica I’ve got to run. You can hand that form into reception on your way out.
Monica I’ll see you later.
(Monica rushes out. Ophelia stares after her. Lilith comes to stand next to Ophelia.)
Lilith Well that was fun. I think we scared her off. Finally.
Ophelia Piss off.
(Walks off, leaving Lilith staring after her, laughing.)
(Lights go out.)
More to come later...
Am...I....Back? Yes...for a little while anyway. :)