Scene: Deep in the Woods, 1 am
(It is dark and the moonlight lights up the scarce forest. Trees are seen in the distance and branches and leaves that cover the ground are spread around about evenly. Cecilia emerges into the forest frantically. wearing a coat and a backpack that is opened and appears to be dropping things behind her. Everything she has on seems to be the wrong size.)
CECILIA: (Large exhale Cecilia seems to have gotten a little calmed down at this point and sits down. She is still frantically looking around as if she is making sure no one followed her. She reaches into her bag.)
CECILIA: Where are they? Where are they? No no no no no… (She begins to pull out things from her bag and toss them from side to side.)
CECILIA: Please no. God why can’t you ever be on my side (She pulls out an empty pill bottle. She smiles and looks up to the heavens.)
CECILIA: Finally. Thank you (She struggles to open the pill bottle while she looks through her bag at the same time. She gets it open and goes to pour out what is inside into her hands. Nothing comes out. Angrily she says through her teeth.)
CECILIA: Of course I grab the empty one (Begins to hit her head with the pill bottle and begins to get louder.)
CECILIA: Idiot. Stupid. Dumb. Gahhhhh (She throws the pill bottle in anger and starts looking through her bag again.)
CECILIA: Can I do anything right? Please can I just remember one thing (She grabs a bottle out of her bag that is half full of water)
CECILIA: Thank you, me, for doing THIS right (She opens the bottle and begins to drink everything inside of it.)
CECILIA: Heavy breathing between these lines from nerves Okay. Okay. Where am I? Where am I? Now I saw the trucks coming down the road from the north, but if I am completely honest, I cannot remember if it rises in the east and sets in the west, or rises in the west and sets in the east, and it is night time. Oh God please. Come on Cecilia, you know what to do. You went camping with mom. She taught you this. Just look for the north star and stick to the trails. It’s so dark. It’s so dark. It’s so dark. (She closes her eyes and the focus is only on her. She sings to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
CECILIA: Momma momma will you cry, when your daughter says goodbye? Put me in a wooden crate, down the river it’s not too late Momma momma will you cry, when your daughter says goodbye? (She snaps out of it and opens her eyes.)
CECILIA: A fire! A fire. That’s what I need a fire. A fire is all I need. Everything can be solved when I get a fire started (She reaches into her bag and grabs a lighter. She checks it behind her hand to see if it works.)
CECILIA: Okay. This will work, this will work. Ummmm (She begins to look around at the ground around her. She sees branches and leaves and starts collecting them.)
CECILIA: Yes this will do. I just have to pile them up, and make sure everything is okay to burn, like nothing is wet (She tosses some of the leaves to the side away from the pile.)
CECILIA: Like these. And like this one. Okay. Okay (She pulls out her lighter and lights the branches.)
CECILIA: I did it. I did it! I did something for myself! I can do this (Off stage a voice is heard.)
MANNY: Over there! Look! It’s her!
CECILIA: Oh come on (Cecilia takes off her jacket and smothers the fire with it to hide the light. She then runs and hides behind a tree.)
MANNY: Cecilia? Cecilia is that you? (Manny and Debora enter. They are both dressed similarly to how Cecilia is dressed. Manny has a big smile on his face and Debora is moping behind Manny. Manny is full of energy while Debora is slow moving and unhappy with her circumstance.)
DEBORA: Yup, that’s her alright (Cecilia steps around from her hiding spot.)
CECILIA: Jesus, not you two.
MANNY: Did you honestly think you were the only one that escaped that?
CECILIA: That prison.
DEBORA: That hell.
CECILIA: Shut up! Just keep your mouth shut this time.
MANNY: Why are you barking at me? They hated all of us there. It wasn’t just you. They would do anything to ruin our fun.
DEBORA: That is, if you are having fun
MANNY: Can you just, not do that? Like seriously you do not need to do that every second of-
CECILIA: Will you two please be quiet? I think I hear more people.
MANNY: Oh no, we can’t go back, we can’t do that.
DEBORA: We’re gonna go back.
CECILIA: Just get over here (They all hide as two prison guards and a warden walk into the forest. They are carrying flashlights and battens.)
MICHAEL (GUARD #1): Did you see any tracks?
WILLIAM (GUARD #2): No. The ground is too hard, and she walks too light. In these conditions we won’t see any sign of her until morning.
GARY (WARDEN): How could you two idiots let her get so far away?
MICHAEL: I was under the impression that it was William’s turn to stand guard.
WILLIAM: Woah, no way. It was clearly yours, Michael.
GARY: Ladies, please. Shut up. You cannot bicker about whose fault it was over losing her. It is all of our faults. Yours for switching duties without informing the others (Begins to yell.) and mine for hiring you two imbeciles! Now find her!
MICHAEL: Well we can’t be out here all night.
GARY: Well obviously not. It must be ten below out here, but we have to find her. She’s the most dangerous criminal we have.
WILLIAM: You can’t be mad at us for not wanting to freeze to death
GARY: Well go back and bundle up. We will be out here for a while.
MICHAEL: Well if he’s going back I’m going back, too.
WILLIAM: Well fine let’s all go.
GARY: You know what. Fine. If you guys want a dangerous criminal on the loose, we can go back right now and just let her live on doing whatever she wants. She will be free to rob and kill every person that passes in front of her, leaving nothing, but looted corpses and sad families behind her and this is all because you two did not want to check the perimeter of the prison for one more hour just to see if maybe she was still sticking to the land she knew best. The only land she could see from the prison yard. How about we just open the gates and let them all out. We can just quit our jobs because we don’t care about the safety of our country. How about that?
MICHAEL: Fine we will keep looking.
GARY: Good. Now come on (They exit the opposite side that they entered from. Manny, Debora, and Cecilia get out of hiding.)
MANNY: Man, that was rough. Do you think they will catch us?
CECILIA: I hope not. I honestly don’t know what I would do if they caught me.
MANNY: I know what I would do. I know exactly what I would do.
CECILIA: Oh yeah? You know? Like you have done it before or something?
MANNY: I’ve never done it. I just practiced it a bunch. I’m prepared for every scenario.
CECILIA: So what would you do?
MANNY: Well for starters I would get behind a tree when I heard them coming. That part is obvious because that is what anyone would do.
DEBORA: Not me…
CECILIA: We will get to you in a second. Keep going, Manny.
MANNY: So as I was saying. I would stand behind a tree, making sure I was in the shadows. I’d crouch down really low, making sure my movements were slow enough that they wouldn’t notice me. Then. When they were just about to pass the tree I am by I would slowly pass on the other side, keeping at least one eye on the group of them until they pass. Lastly, I’d grab the biggest rock or branch around and I would smash it on the big guy first, or whoever is in the back of the group. Then I’d grab their gun and finish off the rest of them.
CECILIA: Oh my. Why do you have to be so graphic?
MANNY: Because life is graphic. It’s fast pace. It’s happening now. Not then. Now.
DEBORA: Can we please talk about me now?
MANNY: Who cares what you think.
DEBORA: I’m sure plenty of people care what I think.
MANNY: Name one individual that listens to a single thing that comes out of that waste dispenser you call a mouth.
DEBORA: I’m sure Cecilia cares about the things I say. Right?
CECILIA: Listen, you two are both very important to me.
DEBORA: But you care about what I think, right?
CECILIA: Debora, we have known each other since sophomore year of high school. Of course I care about what you think.
MANNY: We have all known each other since sophomore year of high school
CECILIA: You know what I mean, Manny.
DEBORA: Well obviously not. He spends too much time thinking about the NOW. He can’t think of the THEN.
CECILIA: You’re not helping.
MANNY: You are never helping.
CECILIA: Will you stop? Now. Debora. Can you please explain what you would do so we can all have our own input on the situation?
DEBORA: Thank you. Now what I would do is very simple.
MANNY: Of course, from the simple mind comes a simple plan.
CECILIA: Hush! Please continue, Debora.
DEBORA: Thank you. Now from when I first heard their feet crunching leaves in the distance, I would go to wherever had the most light. I would stand there and slowly start to raise my hands. Obviously, they would notice me so I would turn my back to them and slowly get down to my knees. I would plea for my life as they approached and make it very clear that I am unarmed by stating who I am and still showing my hands in the air.
MANNY: And when they get close, you would choke out the small one and grab his batten right?
DEBORA: No. I’d let them take me back.
CECILIA: But why?
DEBORA: What was so bad about that place?
MANNY: Didn’t you just call it hell?
DEBORA: Yeah it was bad, but it was comfortable. Like they fed us, let us go outside, socialize, which I wasn’t too big on, watch tv, sleep regular hours. It was a life. Maybe not the best one, but it was an easy one.
MANNY: I don’t understand.
CECILIA: What don’t you understand?
MANNY: How she could just give up like that? There is a whole world out there that needs to be explored. One that if you started walking today and never stopped you might not be able to cover with your steps by the time you were dead.
DEBORA Why start if you know you will never make it?
MANNY: Why not start when you never know what you will find along the way?
CECILIA: Is anybody else cold?
DEBORA: I’m freezing.
MANNY: I’ve been better.
CECILIA: Can we like huddle up? Or something? I just want to warm up.
MANNY: Well the quickest way to warm up is to get up and move around.
DEBORA: Actually in the cold like this you should ball up and try to get as much skin to skin contact as you can to conserve your heat.
MANNY: No. You are supposed to move around.
DEBORA: No. You hold it all together.
MANNY: Move around!
DEBORA: Hold together!
CECILIA: Will you two calm down! You sound like mom and dad.
MANNY: Rough homelife?
CECILIA: I wouldn’t say it was rough.
DEBORA: But you wouldn’t say it was great either?
CECILIA: Well it was good. Until about middle school.
MANNY: What happened in middle school?
CECILIA: Well. Mom and… well mom and dad stopped being in love.
DEBORA: That’s horrible.
CECILIA: Well it could be worse.
DEBORA: How so?
CECILIA: Well I guess it probably started before middle school. People don’t just fall out of love the second they get divorced.
MANNY: Was it a real divorce? Or was it just a separation?
CECILIA: Oh it was the whole thing. Lawyers, judges, picking sides, money. It was all discussed. So much time was put into falling out of love that you almost want to wonder how much was put into falling in love.
DEBORA: Does it make you think about… you know…
CECILIA: I know what?
DEBORA: Like… where it all began. Like was your mom leading him on forever and she fell for him or did he do the same to her? I don’t know much about this kind of stuff… I mean… obviously.
MANNY: No it probably made her want to think about the future. Like where she wanted to go after all of this trauma. What she got to learn from it. You know? A kid coming out of divorce must know so much about relationships it will surely help somehow. They know about grief before they should, and they see the true side of human nature.
CECILIA: I think it was around 4th grade. That was the last time I saw my dad say, “I love you” to my mom without her saying it first.
MANNY: Oh wait you have totally told us about this in the past. Like I know you’ve said this before.
DEBORA: I can see the moment clear as day in my own head. He was pushing you on the swing. Just back and forth. Back and forth. Slowly you got higher and higher. There was a smile going from one of your cheeks to the other. Your mother stepped out of the back door and said, “Oh darlings, the food is getting cold. You must come in now to eat” and you said, “five more minutes, please.” Your dad walked over to try and negotiate with your mom and she was stubborn. He said, “alright, I love you honey” and then you both went inside.
MANNY: No no no you’ve got it all wrong.
DEBORA: How on Earth did I get it wrong?
MANNY: You got all the swinging stuff right, but her mother stepped out and said, “Oh darlings, the food is getting cold. You must come in now to eat” to which she pleaded for more time, so her father walked over and pressured her mother until she finally gave in. He had a big smile and said, “alright, I love you honey.” It was so the dad in the wrong.
DEBORA: It was her mom.
MANNY: I swear to God you never listen to me.
CECILIA: Both of you stop. Please. I’m freezing.
MANNY: Well we can’t just sit here.
CECILIA: Well I don’t see you coming up with any ideas.
MANNY AND DEBORA: Well I have an idea.
CECILIA: Okay. Manny. You first.
MANNY: Umm… I’ll run ahead and see if I can find a place to take shelter for the night. If I see lights I will keep going and hopefully find us some food and warm clothing.
DEBORA: Oh are you trying to die? Because honestly it sounds like you are trying to die.
MANNY: Hey I’m trying to get us out of here. Don’t you want to go home?
DEBORA: Home? You mean the place I couldn’t even shower without feeling lost?
MANNY: What are you talking about?
DEBORA: You know exactly what I’m talking about. I tell you every time they told me to wash off: I was in the shower and I thought “oh wow, I’m getting dizzy,” and I thought I was going to pass out. I sat down to make sure I wouldn’t fall, but when I reached the tub it felt like my mind disconnected. Like my brain unplugged from my spine, leaving my body uncontrollable. My eyes focused on the faucet as all of the knobs slowly became one. I was paralyzed. No information was coming in, and nothing was come out. I began to panic. I tried to move every muscle as fast as I could, but it wasn’t working. I was screaming yet nothing came out of my mouth. All of a sudden, every message went through and I was slamming my arms into the walls. It felt like I was gone for hours, yet the water was still warm and the same song was playing on my phone. I’m sorry I just can’t go back there.
CECILIA: What’s your idea Debora?
DEBORA: Well I think we should turn around and head back. There is no use going deeper into the woods. It’s freezing and we are not dressed for the weather. If we turn around now, they will only lock us up for a little longer than they were already going to.
MANNY: You want me to go back? Do you remember the constant monitoring? We had to be within eyesight of someone who worked there or else they would slam all the doors shut and lock us in what was basically solitude. A little longer than forever is still forever. We need to run.
DEBORA: Go back.
DEBORA: Go back.
DEBORA: Go back!
DEBORA: Go Back!!
CECILIA: Guys!!! Please. I can’t do this.
MANNY: You do what you want. I’m leaving.
DEBORA: Follow who you want. I’m going to safety. (Debora exits towards the prison and Manny exits the opposite direction all fades to just the focus being on Cecilia as she closes her eyes after they have exited the stage. She sings to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.)
CECILIA: Momma momma will you cry, when your daughter says goodbye? Put me in a wooden crate, down the river it’s not too late. Momma momma will you cry, when your daughter says goodbye? (As she finishes the song she huddles into a ball on the floor and slowly stops rocking until there is no movement anymore.)
Scene – Deep in the woods, noon the next day
(The three men dressed as prison guards and a warden enter onto the scene where they find Cecilia frozen to death. Instead now they are two nurses and a doctor. They do not look happy when they arrive.)
MICHAEL: Oh no. Cecilia.
WILLIAM: Oh sir, I am so sorry we ever let this happen.
GARY: No need to beat yourself up over this. She was bound to escape at some point. Has she been taking her medication?
WILLIAM: We checked on her every 15 minutes like we are supposed to, and we thought she was taking the pills, but she has been hiding them in her pillow for weeks. You know how she can only sleep on one pillow. We were just trying to make her more comfortable.
GARY: I understand. You have to remember, though. She checked herself in. I guess this was just her way of checking herself out. Did she have any visitors in a while?
MICHAEL: Her mother. Her father used to come more near the beginning, but never at the same time as her mother.
GARY: Well we only found one set of tracks out here. I guess everyone else wanted to stay in from the blistering cold.
WILLIAM: Should we call an ambulance?
GARY: Sure, but also get her mother on the line and pray that poor Cecilia will rest easy along with wherever her and those friends of hers went.
Timothy Henderson Jr. is working towards earning a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre. He has been writing for a while but has been telling stories since he could speak. He hopes to start conversations or lend laughs to the ones who do not smile as much as he wished they would.