SMOKE… Act II/Scene 3

If you’ve come along with me on this play-writing experiment, then you know that in the last scene I introduced the idea of youth and age – the latter is protective of the former, but in some ways it is also in competition with it. A competition that is ultimately one with time. I decided to continue this theme in this last scene of act 2 with a twist. In the next act I will try to interweave the different strands and make them work as one. For now… this is where my instinct and imagination drew me, so I relented and let it be.

How does this scene make you feel? Do you blame Daniel for his actions? Do you blame Emma? Where do you feel Laura and Emma’s relationship stands in all this?

Smoke… by Vic Briggs

SMOKE… Act I/Scene 1     SMOKE… Act I/Scene 2    SMOKE… Act I/Scene 3

SMOKE… Act II/Scene 1    SMOKE… Act II/Scene 2



Same room. Emma, fifty-two, is sitting at the table, her head in her hands. The audience can only see a part of her face, as her body is turned in part away from them. Daniel, eighteen, stands at the window smoking. He looks distraught, but also rebellious. He finishes one cigarette and lights another. Every now and then he looks towards the spot were Emma sits motionless.

Daniel. Emma?

For a minute or so, there is no answer then Emma gets up from her chair and approached him. He offers her a cigarette. She takes it. He lights it for her. She nods in sign of thanks and then takes a place at the opposite side of the window from the one he occupies. They smoke watching one another.

Daniel. How could I possibly know that she was your daughter? You never even mentioned that you had a child.

Emma. Exhaling. Says nothing.

Daniel. I didn’t meant to —

Emma. I don’t give a flying fuck, my dear, what you did and did not mean to do. (she moves from the seat in the window and starts pacing) Don’t you understand? (pause) This is not about me. This is about you being a worthless little fuck who has been cheating on my daughter!

Daniel. Don’t be like that. Laura and I… She got the wrong end of the stick. It’s just… casual. (pause) I was going to tell you… next week. (pause) Honestly.

Emma. Do you introduce every casual fuck to your parents? (pause) What am I going to do? (talking to herself) She loves him. God! How did I get into this mess?

Daniel does not answer for a while. He lights another cigarette. Emma comes back to the window. They look at one another. She seems to want to burn him through with her gaze.

Daniel. You’re right. You always are. I should’ve handled things differently. I just … You keep pushing me away and … (stepping towards Emma and trying to draw her into his arms) I love you.

Emma. (holds him at an arm’s length) Stop this nonsense, Dan. The only person you ever loved is yourself.

Daniel. (shakes his head, shoulders slumped) I hate myself. I hate myself for how you make me feel, always telling me that I’m too young, too self-absorbed, too… everything to be with you. Well… I listened to you and look where it’s got me.

Daniel stubs out his just lit cigarette and walks away from the window towards the door. Emma watches his movements from her spot at the window. He is about to exit, when he turns around, standing his ground.

Daniel. I love you. Isn’t that enough? How many times do I have to tell you that age doesn’t matter?

They look at one another. Emma sighs. Daniel sprints back towards her and takes her in his arms. She tries to resist, but very feebly. They kiss.

The entrance door closes with a bang. Emma detaches herself from Daniel and runs to the door. She opens it widely.

Emma. (loudly) Laura? (louder, and almost desperate) Laura!

Daniel continues to stand where Emma left him moments earlier. He looks downward, unhappy. Then his gaze redirects through the window. He beckons Emma back.

Daniel. It wasn’t Laura.

He sounds relieved. Emma sighs and approached the window. Daniel points through the window. Emma’s glance follows to the indicated spot. For a moment she freezes then gasps, her hand to her mouth.

Emma. Fred.

Daniel. (watches Emma) Who?

She turns away from the window and from him. They stand in complete silence for a while.

The back door opens and Laura steps into the room. She seems very happy, singing a love ballad off-key. As she enters the room she sees her mother and stops in mid-verse. She walks over then she notices Daniel at the window. She stops in her tracks.

The scene freezes. The lights flashes red. All is darkness except for the three figures in the room each under a spotlight. The light flashes again a bights white, and all succumbs to darkness.


40 thoughts on “SMOKE… Act II/Scene 3

    • Thank you, Richard. This was possibly the most difficult scene for me to write so far. I wanted to capture both the affection and the conflict between the two. I’ve never written characters who have a relationship where the age gap is quite as great as in this case, and it was a challenge to make it feel real when I don’t have any personal experience to fall back on.

      • I have a friend who recently started dating someone younger and I used some of the insights of their relationship to write this scene. To their partner the age gap is not a problem, but to my friend it is – at least it is something that they worry about.
        Would you say that the way Emma and Daniel act and feel the gap in this scene works – in the sense of it feeling real?
        It’s interesting what you say about feeling younger… I feel both younger and older at the same time. Age has always felt like a superficial thing to me – something that happens outside of my self somehow.

      • Was it Aaliyah that said ‘age ain’t nothing but a number’.
        It’s true, but you don’t change yet the number gets bigger
        And yes, it worked well and I know it meant a lot to you which is why I commented 😊

      • Thank you, Richard. You are right. It does mean a lot to me and I’m very grateful that you commented. Every insight helps. Now I’m going to spend some time to write the next scene. Will see where my imagination takes me next. 🙂 It’s an adventure.

    • Absolutely, KG. If you feel that they are all to blame, then by all means blame them all. I am curious to know why you think Laura may be to blame in this. Would really appreciate your opinion on this. 🙂
      Thank you.

      • I think she jumped in too fast with the guy…with what I understood so far. From the previous scene, I wondered if she was contemplating about introducing him to his mother so soon , even though that might be a natural progress in the relationship. I feel that she will blame herself for seeing what she saw in this scene a little earlier.. even though she might not have expected it to be her mom. Well that’s just me.

      • Very interesting, KG. Yes, I understand where you are coming from with this. She certainly seemed to have moved to fast, acted on impulse, without giving the relationship time to ripen, to mature. Great insight. Thank you.

  1. It’s about to get thorn up in there now Vicki,lol
    Oh dear! Emma had to go recapture her youth didn’t she? I think I blame Emma. I can understand the flattery and ego thing coming up here, but if she was all up in Laura’s business, asking initially if the guy was older; then she should know better than bedding a kindergartener 🙂
    Jokes aside woman, this is a serious one here…who’s to blame? I leave this to you, I’ll come back later,let me think on it.

    • I look forward to see what you come up with after further reflection. To me it is one of these difficult situations where decisions had been made without considering the consequences and when faced with them, Emma has no idea what to do. Will see how it moves forward. Just reading through the comments I’ve come up with a few ideas so will try and develop these in what comes next.
      Thank you, Dotta 🙂

    • Haha – that does seem a fair assessment. KG said that she blames all, and I’m very curious to find out why she thinks Laura may have a part of the blame in this.
      Thank you, Kavalkade.

      • California is a comparative negligence state, and I’m quit used to assigning fault down to the specific tenth of a percent.

        haha. 😉 Torts!

    • Thank you, markbialczak. I’m honoured. I did receive this award earlier this month. Do you know what the rules are? Am I able to accept it a second time or is it a one off award?
      Warm regards and many thanks,

      • I think you can collect them like magnets on your refrigerator, Vic! You know, as a sign of the great places you’ve visited. If you have the time to post the reply and pick 15 others …

      • I should like to congratulate you on your re-nomination and remind you of #krewrules which apply if you meet certain conditions, such as having recently nominated me for an award….

  2. Just catching up with this and really enjoying it! Would love to see how it worked on the stage, especially with the lighting effects in some of the other scenes.

    In answer to your question – I don’t blame either of them, though perhaps that’s because beneath my bowler hatted civil servant exterior I’m a tree-hugging hippy liberal. I mean, other than being a cheating git, Daniel has a fair point – how was he supposed to know his latest squeeze was Emma’s daughter? And from everything Emma says in this scene, she doesn’t give the impression of taking their relationship particularly seriously, or expecting exclusivity.

    Maybe a better way of putting it, would be that they’re as bad as each other; Emma sounds like she’s stringing along Daniel, refusing to invest emotionally in the relationship; he sounds like he’s making himself feel better by doing the same to Laura.

    To me, though, the fact that there’s such a lot to talk about with these characters makes this a great piece of work.

  3. Pingback: SMOKE… Act III/Scene 1 | vic briggs

  4. I had a feeling Laura was going to get involved with her father, its a slight relief she got involved with her mothers bf. I don’t know if I blame anyone, this happens – a lot. men and women do odd things in relationships, I’ve never had a long term one but I sure have been the other woman in countless. Maybe Dan more than anyone, I don’t quite buy that whole staying with my gf/wife but bonking a young woman thing. Hypocrisy maybe but that’s what I think. I’ve had the wife/gf bust us a few times, awkward? Just a little.

    • Great insights, Scarlet, thank you. I love the fact that you picked up on Emma’s fears, because she did worry that Laura would be searching for an older man as a substitute for her missing father, and of course meeting Fred by mistake and feeling an instant connection was never fully out of the equation. They all made some questionable choices. I’m getting rather excited about what is to come next. Thank you!

      • I’m a bit that way myself, I know I have daddy issues lol. Its quite strong that drive, it comes from wanting a strong decisive figure in your life, there are ripples of it that go right through your personality, well mine. Yw.

      • I think this is the case with everyone. Even if the mother figure and father figure don’t correspond to their biological counterparts, I think the need for both is almost genetically inscribed, or perhaps psychically inscribed in all of us.

  5. Hi, Vic. Please feel free to disregard or delete this comment if you wish. Whilst well written, I felt that this scene, unlike those before it, came across as a little predictable. I did have a thought which might work with a bit of tweeking: Emma had twins, which she chose/ was forced to give up. Laura, as she grew older, traced her real mother and they became close. Emma’s son remained lost. Following the idea that siblings/ parents who are spearated at an early age often feel attracted to one another, Daniel meets and begins relationships with both his mother and sister without realising who they are. Just a thought.
    Take care, Chris.

    • I love this Oedipal twist. It is a classic theme and would work very well in a new setting. Strangely enough, I did consider it. Since this is only the first draft of the play, I will have an opportunity to revisit and redevelop each scene once I have finished writing the play. I will keep your suggestion in mind. Thank you, Chris.

  6. Pingback: SMOKE… Act III/Scene 2 | vic briggs

  7. Pingback: SMOKE… Act III/Scene 3 | vic briggs

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