Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Failure Demonstrated

Today I was told by one of my awesome teachers that one must be willing to fail big. As I told you yesterday, I did that last night. And I'm going to embrace it by posting what I submitted to my class. While you may be tempted to mock me mercilessly for it, I ask that if you must, you also give me some improvement tips. Because God knows this piece needs it. So... here it is. Steel yourselves.

JILL: a woman in her late twenties.
ELIZABETH: a woman in her late forties.

(JILL enters, wheeling a cart full of file boxes. She stops in front of a desk where ELIZABETH is sitting, immersed in something she is reading.)
JILL. Okay. I’m done. They’re all filed.

(without looking up) You alphabetized the submissions?

JILL. Yes.

ELIZABETH. And the book order forms?


ELIZABETH. Did you fax the notes from yesterday’s consultation?

JILL. Last night.

ELIZABETH. Fine. Put them in the storeroom for now.

JILL. The storeroom?

ELIZABETH. Have you forgotten where it is?

JILL. No, but… you told me I had to have this done by five so you could take them to
the meeting.

ELIZABETH. Well, we don’t need them anymore. Damian had them on his computer and it’s just easier to do it that way.

JILL. (defeated) So you don’t need the copies either?

ELIZABETH. (returning to her work) No.

JILL. (under her breath as she makes to the wheel the cart away) Unbelievable.

ELIZABETH. What was that?

JILL. Nothing.

ELIZABETH. Jill, if you can’t get over the fact that sometimes plans can change,
you’re going to have a hard time getting along in this business. I suggest you get used to it or start looking for another position fast because the job market is going nowhere good.

JILL. I’ll take these to the storeroom.

ELIZABETH. (calling after her) Oh, and we’ll be here late since David forgot to get samples in yesterday and we have to make sure it doesn’t undo all the work we’ve already put in.

JILL. (turning back) But-

ELIZABETH. I know you asked to leave early, but we can’t spare you tonight.

JILL. Elizabeth, come on. You know I never ask for any favors, but I really need to leave by six tonight.

ELIZABETH. We all have lives, but we both need to put them aside tonight. We’ve got tests to run.

JILL. But-

ELIZABETH. And when you pick up dinner, make sure to get something for yourself. I need you take a look at these papers before the meeting.

(JILL doesn’t answer, just goes over to the storeroom and rolls the cart in. That done, she checks that ELIZABETH is occupied and takes her phone out of her pocket and dials it.)

JILL. (in a low voice) Hey, Sarah, it’s me.

(ELIZABETH’s phone rings.)

ELIZABETH: (picking it up) Harcourt Enterprises, Elizabeth speaking… oh, hi, Terry.

JILL. Listen, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get away in time… well, I know…

ELIZABETH. I’m fine. It’s just a little crazy here today. I think I’ll be here until
ten or so.

JILL. Probably until the end of my life… Ten… I’m sorry, you know I want to be there before he goes in, but I can’t lose this job! We’re lucky donors are covered by insurance, otherwise tonight wouldn’t even be an issue.

ELIZABETH. I could, but I’d rather not. I need to keep busy, you know? Keep my mind off it, otherwise I’ll spend too much time worrying.

JILL. Sarah, stop it, you know I want to be there, but I can’t get away. Anyway,
maybe it’ll keep my mind off it. I know it’s the right thing to do, but I don’t know why my husband has to choose to put his life in danger for someone else’s.

ELIZABETH. I’m just glad we found someone. He’s been waiting for so long that I’d kind of lost hope… No, he didn’t. You know Paul. Never sees the bad in any situation.

JILL. …No, he was completely willing. I mean, how else do you think his name ended up on the list? I swear, he practically did a dance when they contacted him. “Hooray, they’re going to take away my kidney!” I don’t understand it. Does that make me selfish?... (sarcastic) Thanks.

(JILL, after checking that ELIZABETH is still occupied, crosses to a tiny kitchen and begins to prepare two instant dinners, still on the phone.)

ELIZABETH. Thanks, that’s good to know… Well, as much as he wants to, he can’t work for another few months and I’ll even be driving him around for a few weeks. But I don’t mind... Well, when he’s working I don’t get to see him until dinner every night, so I think this will actually be nice.

JILL. It’s going to be awful… Well, Stephen needs to be driven everywhere for awhile, which I’m totally happy to do, but I probably won’t be able to do because I can’t get away from my stupid job, but I can’t quit my stupid job because Stephen can’t work... Yeah, right. You haven’t met my boss. She would have zero sympathy for me. The woman is a robot, I swear.

ELIZABETH. No, no one… I just don’t think it needs to be spread around. Besides, we don’t talk about much beyond business here, and none of them know Paul, so what would it matter to them?... Well, that’s the beauty of being my own boss, I can work my schedule around it and no one questions it.

JILL. Yeah, and get this- I can’t ask for those times off, but I took a look at the schedule yesterday and she’s given herself all of this time off for the next century… I know… Oh, it is? (Looks at her watch) Oh… Yeah, uh, just tell him I love him and I’ll be there as soon as I can… I don’t know, just as soon as I can, okay?

ELIZABETH. Already? Isn’t it a little early?... (Nervous) Oh, I see… No, I’m fine… Yes, I’m sure. I just need to… not think about it for a little while, okay?... That sounds good. Tell him I love him and I’ll be there when he wakes up… Okay, thanks. Thanks so much for helping out, Terry… All right, good-bye.

(JILL sees ELIZABETH hanging up her phone.)

JILL. Listen, I’ve gotta go, I’ll be there as soon as I can… Okay, thanks. For everything. I’ll talk to you soon… ‘Bye.

(She hangs up, picks up the two dinners and carries them both over to ELIZABETH’s desk. She hands one to ELIZABETH and sits down with hers, pulling the file folder toward her. They both eat in silence as they attend to their respective work.
Lights down.

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