Fishbowls

FISHBOWLS

By Chris Kerr

BLOG NOTE: I wrote this for the Sno-Week play festival at the University of Guelph, it was performed from January 12-14 in the George Luscombe Theatre.

AT RISE: One spotlight is lit on stage. The edges of it are clear, and unable to be crossed. A person is asleep inside of it. The audience may not be able to see it but there is a second spotlight ready to come up, congruent to but wholly separate from the other, and also has a figure asleep inside of it.

Grace wakes up and sharply inhales. She has been righteously spooked, and speaks slowly as if these are the first words she has ever spoken

GRACE:

Where am I. Where am I. Where – Who – Who am I. What am I? I – Everything is dark, except this spot. The light – I like it. This can be my spot. This is my spot. This spot is mine. My home. My (laughs) who am I? Me. (Feels parts of her body while mumbling existentially). Is this it? My home, this dome. To sit in, I suppose. Or stand. Or sleep. Was I asleep? Was I dead? I don’t remember. (Touching her mouth) I remember these sounds. I seem to know lots of these sounds. I don’t know what they mean. Duck family. What does that mean? Cuntbuntster. What does that mean? Do these sounds mean anything? Do they mean nothing? (Speaking faster and faster) What does nothing mean – can nothing mean something? What is nothing? Is nothing something? If nothing is something than it must be something and cannot be nothing anymore (the metaphorical dam bursts and she collapses) I need to sit down. I’m getting dizzy. I wonder what this place is, my new home. It’s quite… nice? I think that’s a perfect word for it, nice. But it isn’t very large (bumps into the edges of the light) What am I supposed to do now?

The second spotlight comes on. Grace notices, looking up from where she is sitting. She stares, until Faith wakes up. Faith and Grace make eye contact.

BOTH:

You’re beautiful –

They swiftly break eye contact because they don’t have a high charisma stat.

GRACE:

I wonder if she noticed me.

FAITH:

I wonder if I look okay.

BOTH:

(Aside) I wonder what happened yesterday.

GRACE:

One of these days I’ll remember to keep a diary.

FAITH:

It’s a good thing I keep a diary (laughs, retrieves diary from under pillow and reads the latest

entry) It says I saw something amazing, well, I bet that’s you beautiful!

GRACE:

(Making a poor attempt at hiding behind something too small to hide behind) I hope she can’t see me.

FAITH:

I hope she can see me, I want to talk to her. But, what would I say? Is there anything interesting I can tell her?

GRACE:

I can tell her a joke, or a fun fact. (Pauses. She can’t remember any) Just kidding, I can’t remember any.

FAITH:

Is there anything interesting I can tell her? I wish I knew a joke or a fun fact but all I know is what happened between now and waking up. (That isn’t a whole lot)

BOTH:

My life is a joke.

GRACE:

That’s what I’ll tell her. My life is a pretty interesting joke, I guess, the little of it that I can remember. (proclaiming) Today is the first day of my life.

FAITH:

(She definitely heard her that time, and she has a pickup line ready) No, today is the first day of our lives! Can you hear me?

GRACE:

(Aside) Is she talking to me? I wasn’t ready.

BOTH:

Hey!

GRACE:

What’s your name?

FAITH, NOT RICK:

I’d like to think it’s something short like Rick

GRACE:

Do you not know?

FAITH, STILL NOT RICK:

Honestly? I don’t know if I know or not, but I certainly don’t remember.

GRACE:

(Pauses, filled with contemplation) I know what you mean.

FAITH:

What?

GRACE:

I mean, I know what it’s like.

FAITH:

You couldn’t know what it’s like, unless –

GRACE:

Unless… I know what it’s like.

FAITH:

And you do?

GRACE:

And I do.

FAITH:

Do you know how? Do you know why?

GRACE:

I can’t say I know. Do you know?

FAITH:

I don’t know much of anything (laughs, segway) Well, except the things I imagine

GRACE:

You can just imagine something to be?

FAITH:

Yes, I’ll show you! Do you have a name?

GRACE:

Not that I can remember.

FAITH:

Try imagining a name for yourself

GRACE:

Any name?

FAITH:

Any name.

GRACE:

(long pause) I don’t know how.

FAITH:

I’ll help you out. Try giving me a name.

GRACE:

I can imagine you have a short name; didn’t you want a short name?

FAITH:

Like Rick (Faith appears to really likes the name Rick)

GRACE:

Well then, your name can be Rick

FAITH:

I said like Rick, not – (There’s a pause. Despite both of them having shorter memories than toddlers, Faith is still well aware of Grace’s stupidity) Nevermind. I’ll show you instead. I’ll imagine your name is Edward. Is that good?

GRACE:

That doesn’t really feel right.

FAITH:

How about Armadillo?

GRACE:

No.

FAITH:

Gregory?

GRACE:

No.

FAITH:

Daniella?

GRACE:

No.

FAITH:

Peppermint?

GRACE:

No.

FAITH:

Colleen?

GRACE:

No.

FAITH:

Burglar?

GRACE:

No.

FAITH:

Lola?

GRACE:

No

FAITH:

How about Grace?

GRACE:

What kind of name is that?

FAITH:

It’s your name now

GRACE:

No it isn’t!

FAITH:

You don’t know that! And if it isn’t, just imagine that it is, and now it is. Besides, I think it’s a beautiful name. (Faith buckles in to deliver a spicy pun) Graceful, like you. (Nobody laughs. It was more of a compliment anyways) It’s the best name I’ve ever heard.

GRACE:

It’s the only name you’ve ever heard, if you and I are anything alike.

FAITH:

You’re not wrong, but neither am I. Your name is Grace now, I have imagined it so.

GRACE:

(Changing the subject) What’s your name? Is it Rick?

FAITH:

It’s probably something like Rick. Today I imagine my name will be Tits. (Grace whispers the reality of the situation to Faith) Really? Then, my name will not be Tits – I do only know some things, I’m sorry. Can my name be Anus? (Grace whispers to Faith again, more urgently) Fuck!

GRACE:

That can’t be your name either!

FAITH:

That time I was just upset. I told you, I know some things. (Pause, thinks about fuck) I know all about fuck.

GRACE:

Please stop.

FAITH:

Your name is too nice, I don’t know if I can imagine a better one for myself.

GRACE:

You called me graceful. If you think my name should be Grace for that reason than I imagine your name can be Awe.

FAITH:

(It takes a second for it to sink in. But when it does, oh boy) Hey! Rude –

GRACE:

Because looking at you leaves me awestruck – did I miss something?

FAITH:

(That compliment made Faith forget all about the almost-insult. Either that or the whole chronic memory loss thing, if you haven’t figured that out yet) It does? You do? I mean –

GRACE:

Hey, cutie, calm down. You really believe in what I have to say, don’t you?

FAITH:

You’re more powerful than you give yourself credit for.

GRACE:

How about we imagine your name is Faith.

FAITH:

I like the sound of that. I think today my name will be Faith.

GRACE:

I really like that, Faith.

FAITH:

(Under her breath) I really like you, Grace.

GRACE:

What was that?

FAITH:

I’m just happy to have someone to talk to

GRACE:

So am I

They laugh

GRACE:

Do you have any more imagining advice?

FAITH:

If you like something, just keep imagining it. You’ll never be sad that way.

GRACE:

Does that mean I can imagine other things, than just names?

FAITH:

We can imagine all sorts of things.

GRACE:

Like what?

FAITH:

Like creatures.

GRACE:

Like if something was like us in some ways but different in other ways?

FAITH:

Like creatures that have hair like we have on our head, but in their eyes

GRACE:

And it would see from it’s ears?

FAITH:

And would turn itself inside out whenever it took a step

GRACE:

And it could wiggle like this (wiggles like this)

FAITH:

(Laughs) You’re funny. What an interesting thing to imagine

GRACE:

Can we imagine places too? Like places like here except with different colours or touches

FAITH:

A place with no walls

GRACE:

No floors!

FAITH:

And lots of things to sit on.

GRACE:

And no walls.

BOTH:

No walls.

GRACE:

Can we imagine that part first, please?

FAITH:

We can do better. We can imagine each other.

GRACE:

What do you mean?

FAITH:

We can imagine touching each other.

GRACE:

Touching?

FAITH:

Like holding hands, not like doing fuck. Unless –

GRACE:

I’m going to be honest that’s a lot to put in my head right now –

FAITH:

(Trying to make up for that fuck comment by illustrating some imaginations for Grace) Like going walking without having to turn along the walls… Like being able to look at you without this veil of separation… Like sleeping next to another person instead of by myself… Like being able to remember you tomorrow.

GRACE:

I like the sound of those things. Can we imagine doing all of those things?

FAITH

We can imagine kissing too –

GRACE:

I have a feeling you’ve been thinking about this quite a bit.

FAITH:

(Completely in her own world) Touching our mouths together for a little bit –

GRACE:

That sounds really strange.

FAITH

I think it sounds nice. Don’t you think it would be nice?

GRACE:

I guess it would be kind of nice…

FAITH

I imagined it myself!

GRACE:

Maybe it would be – but how do we imagine doing something we’ll never be able to do?

a long pause

FAITH:

We can hope one day we can.

GRACE:

It’s difficult to believe in the future when I can’t even remember my past.

FAITH:

I’m either really sad or really hungry – do you have any food?

GRACE:

(Searches briefly, finds a fruit) I have this orange (It isn’t an orange)

FAITH:

Can I have a piece?

Grace and Faith meet in the middle of their two domes for the first time, to try and pass a piece of the mystery fruit between them. They can’t. They try a couple times and give up

GRACE:

I don’t want you to go hungry – I have an idea!

Grace throws a piece of the fruit over the tops of their bowls, landing next to Faith

FAITH:

Thank you (Whilst munching) What can we talk about now?

GRACE:

I feel a bad feeling but I don’t know if I don’t like it.

FAITH:

Can you explain that a little clearer please?

GRACE:

It’s hard to explain.

FAITH:

Try

GRACE:

Well, the first time I ever saw your face was when I woke up this morning. I knew nothing about you. I know very little about you, and that’s the most I will probably ever know about you. This morning is already getting foggy, Faith. I don’t remember the first thing I said when I woke up. But I’m so fuzzy – like my memories, I guess, but nice. Warm. No matter how little I know about you, I know more about you than I know about me, and that makes you really special.

FAITH:

Everything I’ve ever told you is pretend. I don’t know anything about me so how can I have told you anything about me?

GRACE:

You’ve shown me things about you. The way you laugh, the sparkle in your eye when I tell you new things and wonder I feel at the new things you tell me. You are the realest thing I know but I have to accept that when I fall asleep I will forget everything I know about you.

FAITH:

We’ll meet again tomorrow. Look, this is more interesting than existentialism – (searches briefly, finds a drawing of Grace) That’s you.

GRACE:

How did you do that? It looks like me

FAITH:

I already told you, it is you

GRACE:

No, I am me. We can’t both be me.

FAITH:

You’re right, it’s a picture of you.

GRACE:

I know what a picture is

FAITH:

You didn’t

GRACE:

And you don’t know what sarcasm is.

FAITH:

Yes I do!

GRACE:

You didn’t

FAITH:

Shut up

Both laugh

GRACE:

But really, how did you draw that? Can I draw like that? Can you still draw like that?

FAITH:

I don’t know. I don’t remember drawing it, so unless I drew it when I woke up I must have drawn it on one yesterday or another. (Trying to remember the morning, eventually grasping the earliest memory he can) Actually, I couldn’t have drawn it this morning. I still remember the first time I saw your face.

Grace blushes with her entire being

FAITH:

And that’s how I know I don’t have to be afraid of not seeing you ever again. I get see you every day, just not every day in a row. I think I like the way things are, anyways – it means I get to see you for the first time, lots of times.

GRACE:

(blushing intensifies) You’re so brave

FAITH:

Not always. You know, my greatest fear is that I will cease to exist tonight

GRACE:

You’re going to have to elaborate

FAITH:

I am all that I know –

GRACE:

You know some pretty sexy things then I bet

FAITH:

No, like, I know pretty little –

GRACE:

Pretty is right

FAITH:

Quantifiably little, though, Grace. And moreover, everything that has shaped me from the time I woke up to the time I will go to sleep is going to be gone with today. I’m afraid that tomorrow I will be someone else.

GRACE:

You’ll still be hella cute. And I’ll be someone else too then won’t I?

FAITH:

Not in your heart. You’re too pure.

GRACE:

And you aren’t?

FAITH:

(Brooding) I’d like to think I’m not.

GRACE:

Brooding doesn’t suit you (laughs) What darkness could you have come up with in the few minutes you’re able to remember?

FAITH:

Listen. I keep a diary

GRACE:

Can I see it?

FAITH:

(While going to get the diary) It’s got all the things I imagined or learned or heard. No drawings, because the pages are lined. Stories, jokes, and it’s got you in it too, I think. But there’s also lots of scary things, that I’m not proud to think are things I’ve put in there.

GRACE:

Can I see it??

FAITH:

(Holds it up against the wall) This is one of the happier pages

GRACE:

I can’t really make sense of it… Are there other pages? Maybe with some of this so-called-darkness you aren’t proud of?

FAITH:

(Turning pages periodically) This one is about a little boy who forgets how to jump. He stands next to a staircase for ever and ever and ever and ever and –

GRACE:

laughs You must have darker ones that that

FAITH:

What about this? It’s a drawing of two goldfish, who live in separate bowls. I think it’s so scary –

GRACE:

I think it sounds nice.

FAITH:

You have your words, then. But I don’t like some of the things in this diary. It’s… not nice. But I also know it’s me, which means I should keep it safe, even though it scares me.

GRACE:

Scary or not, I love it. I think those are interesting stories, and they are nice. Interesting, certainly. Faith, I like your stories, because I could never think of them myself.

FAITH:

But you’re pure. All you are is today. And tomorrow, you’ll be today too. That means tomorrow, you’ll be pure. Never keep a diary, okay?

GRACE:

I can agree to that, if you promise to write down our names in that diary. I always want to be your Grace

FAITH:

And this way, I always get to be your Faith. (Hurriedly writing in her notebook) Done!

I don’t foresee this causing any consequences in the timeline.

GRACE:

Timeline? I’m surprised you’ve had time to develop a worldview. I’ve been so busy thinking about when we – (her face drops, as her nostalgia is overcome by a wash of forgetfulness)

I’m losing this morning. I don’t remember the first time I saw your face. (Another wave comes) Faith, I’m scared. I don’t want to forget you.

FAITH:

I might leave your mind but I won’t leave this place. I’m still going to be here in the morning Grace.

GRACE:

No, you’re going to be over there in the morning. (Catches herself) I can’t be bitter about what I can’t change – I can’t. (Less-than-skillfully changing the subject) Did you like today?

FAITH:

I loved today. I love what I can remember, at least. This morning is gone for me too.

GRACE:

You know, you aren’t impure or sick or gross. You’re just artsy, maybe you don’t understand but I can see the beauty in it. No matter what, I know I’ll still love you tomorrow

FAITH:

You’ll – what? Do you know what that means?

GRACE:

It means you’re the most special. It means you make me happy. And tomorrow you’re going to make me happy again and that will make you special again.

FAITH:

I didn’t know you this morning.

GRACE:

Maybe you did.

FAITH:

How are we supposed to love each other like this? Physical inches apart but may as well be in other worlds.

GRACE:

What if it changed?

FAITH:

I’m sad, Grace. Our world is never going to change. How many times do you think we’ve already had to say goodnight to each other and go to sleep, cold and alone?

GRACE:

Maybe one of these days things will change

FAITH:

How?

GRACE:

I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with something

Faith stops to think.Both figures are standing at the closest edges of their “fishbowls”, facing each other longingly. The spotlights move together, and become one. The pair looks at each other, stunned for a moment. Then they rush the final inches towards each other and kiss.

Don’t clap just yet.

Lights quickly fade to black. A melody plays. One spotlight comes on, it is Grace’s. She is laying down again, like she was at the start. Grace wakes up and sharply inhales. She has been righteously spooked, and speaks slowly as if these are the first words she has ever spoken

GRACE:

Where am I. Where am I. Where – Who – Who am I. What am I? I – Everything is dark, except this spot. The light – I like it. This can be my spot. This is my spot. This spot is mine. My home. My (laughs) who am I? Me. (Feels parts of her body while mumbling existentially). Is this it? My home, this dome. To sit in, I suppose. Or stand. Or sleep. Was I asleep? Was I dead? I don’t remember. (Touching her mouth) I remember these sounds. I seem to know lots of these sounds. I don’t know what they mean. Puckerpucker. What does that mean? Lollygagging. What does that mean? I wonder what this place is, my new home. It’s quite…lonely. And, it isn’t very large (bumps into the edges of the light)  What am I supposed to do now?

The second spotlight comes on. Grace notices, looking up from where she is sitting. She stares, until Faith wakes up. Faith and Grace make eye contact.

BOTH:

You’re beautiful –

They don’t break eye contact because they suddenly have a high charisma stat.

GRACE:

I wonder if she noticed me.

FAITH:

I wonder if I look okay.

BOTH:

(Aside) I wonder what happened yesterday.

GRACE:

One of these days I’ll remember to keep a diary.

FAITH:

It’s a good thing I keep a diary (laughs, retrieves diary from under pillow and reads the latest

entry) It says I saw something amazing, well, I bet that’s you beautiful!

GRACE:

(Making a poor attempt at hiding behind something too small to hide behind) I hope she can’t see me.

FAITH:

I hope she can see me, I want to talk to her. But, what would I say? Is there anything interesting I can tell her?

GRACE:

I can tell her a joke, or a fun fact. (Pauses. She can’t remember any) Just kidding, I can’t remember any.

FAITH:

Is there anything interesting I can tell her? I wish I knew a joke or a fun fact but all I know is what happened between now and waking up. (That isn’t a whole lot)

BOTH:

My life is a joke.

GRACE:

That’s what I’ll tell her. My life is a pretty interesting joke, I guess, the little of it that I can remember. (proclaiming) Today is the first day of my life.

FAITH:

(She definitely heard her that time, and she has a pickup line ready) No, today is the first day of our lives! Can you hear me?

GRACE:

(Aside) Is she talking to me? I wasn’t ready.

BOTH:

Hey!

GRACE:

What’s your name?

FAITH, NOT JARED:

I’d like to think it’s something long like Jared

GRACE:

Do you not know?

FAITH, STILL NOT JARED:

Honestly? I don’t know if I know or not, but I certainly don’t remember.

GRACE:

(Pauses, filled with contemplation) I know what you mean.

FAITH:

What?

GRACE:

I mean, I know what it’s like.

FAITH:

You couldn’t know what it’s like, unless –

GRACE:

Unless… I know what it’s like.

FAITH:

And you do?

GRACE:

And I do.

FAITH:

Do you know how? Do you know why?

GRACE:

I can’t say I know. Do you know?

FAITH:

I don’t know much of anything (laughs, segway) Well, except the things I imagine

GRACE:

You can just imagine something to be?

FAITH:

Yes, I’ll show you! Do you have a name?

GRACE:

Not that I can remember.

FAITH:

I’ll imagine a name for you, then. How about Faith?

GRACE:

That sounds better suited to you, doesn’t it?

FAITH:

I like the sound of that. I think today my name will be Faith.

GRACE:

But I still need a name. Do you have any more ideas?

FAITH:

How about Grace?

GRACE:

What kind of name is that?

FAITH:

It’s your name now

GRACE:

No it isn’t!

FAITH:

You don’t know that! And if it isn’t, just imagine that it is, and now it is. Besides, I think it’s a beautiful name. (Faith buckles in to deliver a spicy pun) Graceful, like you. (Nobody laughs. It was more of a compliment anyways) It’s the best name I’ve ever heard.

GRACE:

It’s the only name you’ve ever heard, if you and I are anything alike.

FAITH:

You’re not wrong, but neither am I. Your name is Grace now, I have imagined it so.

GRACE:

I really like that, Faith.

FAITH:

(Under her breath) I really like you, Grace.

GRACE:

What was that?

FAITH:

I’m just happy to have someone to talk to

GRACE:

So am I

They laugh

GRACE:

Do you have any more imagining advice?

FAITH:

If you like something, just keep imagining it. You’ll never be sad that way.

Lights out on Grace

Faith does not move, the melody plays

Lights out on Faith

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