Charlotte, Aryanna’s friend
Set in London, 2017 in a revamped warehouse apartment. Bedroom resembles an old library with wooden panelling, bookshelves filled with many old leather-bound books. There are racks of clothing as would be seen in a dressing room and shop-front mannequins wearing Elizabethan style costumes. On the bedside table there is an old stage light turned into a lamp. The bed is unmade but clean. The atmosphere is warm like a sepia-stained photograph. The bedroom extends into the lounge room, it’s filled with a combination of antiques and modern furnishings. It is spotted with keepsakes from Aryanna’s previous production involvement’s, from posters to masks and whatever else. To left of the lounge room is the kitchen, it is just as warm and inviting with same combination of antique and modern furnishings. To the right of the lounge room there is a royal blue front door with brass handle…
ARYIANNA is in the kitchen washing up. She is a petite blonde – there seems to be sickly fragility about her but her energy tends to counteract her fragility. Her friend CHARLOTTE is drying dishes. She has a bold and warm presence…
CHARLOTTE: How’s Bene?
ARYIANNA: Umm, we’re on a break. Indefinitely.
CHARLOTTE: oh really? Why?
ARYIANNA: … I always found him to be very particular in his ways. Everything had to be done in a certain way at a specific time.
BENEDICT is lying on ARYIANNA’S bed.
BENEDICT: (Closes computer with urgency) We must go, now –
BENEDICT: come on –
BENEDICT takes ARYANNA by the hand and pulls her briskly outside. He looks up at the sky and smiles. ARYANNA follows his glance. BENEDICT lies down in the grass pulling ARYANNA with him. She attempts to take off her jacket to lay on it. BENEDICT pulls the jacket out from under her.
BENEDICT: it’s best without… just feel the ground beneath you, and notice the sky…
ARYANNA (to Charlotte): … that was probably one of my favourite moments we had; gazing up at the night sky. The cool air touching and gently kissing our skin… coiling blades of grass between my fingers… as though it were his own hands… we couldn’t see much of the sky though – being London and all.
BENEDICT: … what are you thinking?
ARYANNA: … I knew it wasn’t what he was expecting… but… All I had circulating my mind were the lines of an old play…
“Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night…”
(To CHARLOTTE/SELF) … He smiled… sighed and drew me close to his chest…
CHARLOTTE: …sounds lovely.
ARYANNA: it was… it wasn’t always – but mostly it was… (Laughs) Oh and he had this way of laughing. It wasn’t so much the laugh itself but was more about the timing of the laugh. So, we might be watching a comedy on Netflix – here’s me: funny bit funny bit – laugh-laugh. Here’s Bene: funny bit funny bit – wait for it, wait for it – moments gone – laugh-laugh. (It didn’t make sense to me.) At first, I thought, it was cute and maybe it took him a bit longer to process things. Then one night, I decided we’d watch something I’d seen and laughed at many times over but instead of watching the movie would watch his reaction.
BENEDICT and ARYANNA are lying in bed watching a movie. ARYANNA anticipates a funny moment in movie approaching, she has half attention on screen and half on BENEDICT. Funny moment happens, ARYANNA laughs as she watches BENEDICT. He is visibly holding his breath and laughter is being supressed in his body until he cannot hold on to it any longer and laughs by that time the movie has moved onto a new scene. ARYANNA reaches for remote and pauses movie.)
BENEDICT: … do you need to go to the bathroom?
ARYANNA: no… um… I don’t think there is a nice way to say this… so, I am ust going to say this – what is with your laugh?
BENEDICT: … My laugh? … I don’t know what you mean, my laugh is fine.
ARYANNA: … Fine – not it’s not fine – your timing is all out.
BENEDICT: it’s fine – my timing is fine – why are you picking on me?
ARYANNA: I’m not picking on you.
BENEDICT: Seems like it – you’re all like – mer-mer-mer –
ARYANNA: Ok. You don’t need to argue with me like a six-year-old. Let’s drop it. Ok?
(ARYANNA presses play on remote and their body language is slightly closed. It takes a little while for both to relax and get back into movie; missing some funny moments in film. ARYANNA keeps an eye on film but switches glance between BENEDICT and screen. He does the same.)
ARYANNA: … you’re not laughing…?
BENEDICT: it’s not funny.
ARYANNA: but clearly it is –
They continue watching. After a moment or two ARYANNA chuckles, BENEDICT copies. Another moment or two passes ARYANNA chuckles and BENEDICT copies again as he glances at ARYANNA. ARYANNA throws a cheeky glance back to BENEDICT, as to say: I know what you are doing!
BENEDICT: (Shrugs) … What?…
They return to watching film and both become engrossed in film. ARYANNA laughs at film and shifts her attention to BENEDICT. He’s genuinely holding back his laughter and pulling an awkward facial expression.
ARYANNA: (laughs) see – there it is – your face – your laugh – your laughy stink-eye.
BENEDICT: I do not have a laughy-stink-eye.
ARYANNA: You absolutely do – you’re all like – (She pulls stink-eye face while laughing.) …
BENEDICT: Schadenfreude –
ARYANNA: bless you? Pardon? What?
BENEDICT: It’s German, meaning: one that takes pleasure in another’s misfortune or humiliation.
ARYANNA: Oh. You’re such a writer.
BENEDICT: What does that mean?
ARYANNA: It means you’re too bloody sensitive. It means, you keep everything suppressed and internalised – even your laughter is suppressed. You must let it out. In the theatre, if the actor anticipates laughter, we wait until it subsides slightly then continue – otherwise those lines will be lost or missed, and they may be vital to the progression of the story… and, my other point is, the timing of your laughter is all wrong –
BENEDICT: and you’re such an actress –
BENEDICT: you’re all externalised and – and loud – and where ever you go there is drama –
ARYANNA: Can you compare me to any other clichés or stereotypes? Not every actor is obnoxiously extravagant or command attention in the space they use outside of the stage. With me, what you see is what you get.
BENEDICT: … I’m not sure if I agree with that.
ARYANNA: excuse me?
BENEDICT: when we met –
ARYANNA: I was a complete mess –
BENEDICT: You would spend the night with anyone… you would turn up to rehearsals completely trashed.
ARYANNA: Can we talk about something else?
BENEDICT: You always thought you hid it well –
ARYANNA: Ok – but that’s not me anymore –
BENEDICT: but I knew – I saw the glazed look in your eyes and the red-rims underlining your eyes –
ARYANNA: (kisses him to stop him talking and after a moment – softly) I’m sorry. I’m sorry for making fun of you. But I don’t need to be reminded of the past. I was a mess. I wanted to be… validated… taken seriously… loved… but didn’t know how to do it with dignity… I don’t even know if that makes sense? You’re the writer, I am sure you could articulate it much better than I am… but I am different now and I feel like you have played a huge part in that change too… (To Charlotte, back in kitchen.) He did cause a lot of change…
CHARLOTTE: … he did… why did you break up?
ARYANNA: (Long pause) … I don’t know… He left one afternoon to go back to his apartment… and… we never managed to co-ordinate time together…
CHARLOTTE: really? Seems weird. Did you call or visit him?
ARYANNA: you know what I am like with my phone – I text only. I did text and only got bare minimum for replies. I didn’t want to visit unannounced and invade his space awkwardly. So, our communication dwindled, and we were pushed away. I was kept busy with life and rehearsals, but I missed him immeasurably.
CHARLOTTE: So… what the fuck happened before he left?
ARYANNA: … I don’t know…
CHARLOTTE: I mean people don’t just stop communicating or seeing each other without some sort of closure.
ARYANNA: …Maybe we are an exception to rule.
CHARLOTTE: Maybe… so what happened the last time you saw each other?
ARYANNA: I don’t know… I think we had a fight… I can’t remember what it was about. We were never that great at fighting – it was always petting things. Fighting about the fact I would spend too much time on my phone, when watching a film in each other’s company. My argument would be that I like to research the actors as I am watching. Or, I have spent a day in rehearsal using my voice and by the time I get home, the last thing I feel like doing is talking. I’d prefer to be still, silent and content in each other’s company rather than filling the space with idle chat. But apparently that wasn’t enough… We were never very good at fighting. It was always awkward… oh… and he had this other ‘particular’ thing… It was a superstitious belief he had picked up from – I don’t know where. But the theory behind it is that when visiting someone, the owner of the residence must open the front door – as this allows for further visits. So, he would stand by the door, like a cat waiting to be let out.
(BENEDICT is standing at the front door visibly agitated, he moves to touch and turn the door knob but retracts his hand. ARYANNA is lying on her bed, wrapped up in a blanket.)
BENEDICT: (Yelling) Can you come and open the door – I can’t even storm out in a bloody fury.
ARYANNA: (Yelling back) do it yourself –
BENEDICT: Then it means I won’t be able to come back –
ARYANNA: (enters) maybe I don’t want you to come back –
BENEDICT: just open the bloody door and let me out –
(ARYANNA opens the door forcefully and BENEDICT moves towards door at the same time and knocks his head on frame of door. He exits swearing.)
ARYANNA: (angriliy slams door) … “parting is such sweet sorrow… my only love sprung from my only hate -”
BENEDICT: (from other side of the door) Stop quoting bloody Shakespeare! There are so many other great writers!
ARYANNA: Go home Benedict – go home! … (she listens to Benedict walking away and slowly sits, leaning against the door… To Charlotte) … and that was the last time we saw each other… I still don’t really know what that fight was about… he was just ‘particular’ about a lot of things…
Emily Barclay © 2017
via Daily Prompt: Particular