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
ACT II/ SCENE 3
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.
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.
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.