A Ten-Minute Play

(A contemporary kitchen in an upwardly mobile household, decorated playfully with cookie jars, puppets, and other childlike accoutrements - all carefully displayed and clearly unused - imprisoned in this nest of bridled enthusiasms. Preparing toast and coffee is a no-longer-young man [ANDREW], appropriately suited-and-tied for the pursuit of modern-day-dragons. Sitting at the kitchen table, and staring into space, is a no-longer-young-woman [SAMMY] whose otherwise business-like appearance is incongruously relieved by the delicate violets painted on her fingernails and a single lovely violet flirting mischievously beneath her long tresses at the curve of her neck just below her right ear.)

Hul-lo-oh! Good morning! Are you in there?

Sorry. (He hands her toast and pours her a cup of coffee.) Thank you. Good morning.

Did you sleep well?


I said, did you sleep all right? You seemed awfully restless.

No worse than normal. (a beat) I'm surprised you put up with me, honestly, the way I thrash about. It's uncivilized.

It's cute. Like a puppy. A big puppy.

Very funny. Do you have a busy day?

(as though envisioning his calendar as he speaks)
Meetings from 7 through 2; research till 6; another meeting at dinner. I should be home by ten, I think. Yeah, it's pretty full. How about you?

(No answer. She is staring into space again.)

Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself. Why'd you ask if you weren't going to listen? SAMMY! Where the hell are you?

(not angry; like a hurt child)
Don't yell at me.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Sam. Come here.

(He pulls out his chair, inviting her to sit on his lap, an invitation that she ignores.)

I heard everything you said. Meetings till 2, research till 6, then dinner with a client and home by ten. Maybe. If you're lucky. Unless, of course, the client is a drinker, or Lewis needs to talk afterwards, or something else comes up that you can't think of at the moment but that's equally -

Listen to the pot calling the kettle black. When was the last time you came up for air? (a beat) It's what we do, Sammy. Work. It's who we are.

I'm sorry.

(She stands up, pulls a unicorn puppet down from its hook, and starts playing with it, pawing at Andrew's leg with the puppet's hoof.)

(kissing her gently)
I've got to go.

Me too. My presentation for Nortel is at eight.

Then you've got time for one more cup of coffee. (a beat) I love you.

I know. (She waves the unicorn's paw until Andrew exits.) I love you too.

(The phone rings from somewhere off-stage. SAMMY ignores it, talking, instead, to the unicorn.)

You think I should answer that phone?

(She begins nodding the unicorn's head up and down at first, then switches the motion to side to side.)

I don't think so either. If it's Telmarc, I'll be on the phone for hours and be late for my presentation, and if it's anybody else, it can wait till ten o'clock.

(We hear an answering machine pick up the phone, and a male voice saying.)

(VO from machine)
Sam, it's Brad. I was hoping to catch you before you got the day started. The project we talked about yesterday is definitely going to break this morning and we really need you here as soon as -

(SAMMY begins humming the song from The King and I, "Shall We Dance,” in an attempt to drown out the phone message. Her humming grows louder and louder as the man's voice drones on leaving a long message. Eventually, she begins singing the words, mangling the lyrics badly and dancing around the room with the unicorn.)

possible. Bring all the early proposal
drafts with you. We need to be prepared
for any questions that may come up.
And, damn it, I left my notes in the
job jacket, so don't forget that we need
that too, or we'll be up shit creek. Ron
will be here by nine so we'll have all our
bases covered. Sorry for the long
message. You're probably half way here
already. But in case you're checking in,
at least this will save you a trip back
home to get the stuff. Thanks, Sam.
(we hear the phone call hang up)

And perchance, da da da duh!
When the last burst of heaven leaves
the sky, da da da duh!
Will we still be together
With our arms around each other
And will you be my new romance,
da da da duh!
On the clear understanding
That these kinds of things can
Shall we dance, shall we dance -
shall we

Sammy curtseys to the unicorn.)

Thank you, sir.

(SAMMY makes the unicorn paw the ground, pleadingly, his face raised to look at hers.)

Oh, no, I couldn't possibly. (The unicorn's pawing grows more insistent.) How did you hear about that? (She looks suspiciously at the menagerie of anthropomorphized creatures that populate this kitchen, settling her eyes at last on a pitcher in the shape of a rabbit.) I should have known I couldn't trust you. (returning her gaze to the unicorn) That was a long time ago. Do you see my nose twitching? I didn't think so. I have no intention of going back to the forest just now. I have an eight o'clock -

(The phone rings again. Again, the machine picks it up.)

(VO from machine)
Hi, Sammy. Sammy? Are you the
It's me. I thought you didn't have any
appointments until eight. Leila needs
a ride to school, and I got called in early,
so I was hoping. Darn. Guess you left early.
(a short beat) Sam? Are you there?
If you're just in the bathroom or something,
call me, okay? (we hear the call hang up)

(to the unicorn)

                    I don't have any
appointments till eight.
I don't want to have any
appointments till eight. I don't want
to have any appointments at all. Not
to pick up Leila, not to solve
Telmarc's crisis…not any, at all!

(Lights shift. SAMMY drops the puppet strings, and slowly looks around the room at its playful inhabitants in their various guises of quiescence. Her nose twitches.)

Is it safe to come out now? (As a clock chimes half past the hour, SAMMY drops her suit jacket to the floor, slips off her shoes, and loosens the clasps in her hair, allowing it to fall freely. The clock chimes eight o'clock.) Poor unicorn. You would have been smarter to have been a rabbit. There are lots of rabbits in the forest. It's not nearly so lonely being a rabbit. (Her eyes move to a tea pot shaped like an owl.) You just have to watch for the owls and such. Are you hungry? There are some lovely berries in the garden. (She opens the refrigerator and takes out a bowl of raspberries, placing them on the floor in front of the now lifeless unicorn.) There you go. Good, aren't they? (She picks at them herself, clearly savoring the joy of tasting them.) I like raspberries best.

(The phone rings; we eventually hear the machine pick up and the message interlaced with SAMMY's speech.)


Sam, this is Fred. It's a quarter past eight.
Just wondering where you are.
(we hear the call hang up)


(seeing something on the floor)

Don't hurt it! It's only a spider.
They're good for the garden, you know.

(Sam finds a paper plate, coaxes the spider onto it, opens the kitchen window, and carefully deposits the creature outside, chattering to him all the while.)

Don't be such a coward, silly. You'd think you'd never seen a rabbit before. Up you go. You'll be safe in a minute. Get back here. (She turns the dish over, then re-catches the spider from a lower distance, where he has apparently escaped via a cast web.)

SAMMY cont.
(as an aside, to the spider)
No patience, spiders. A lot smarter than flies, though. Now a wasp is really easy. They'll go right where you tell them. But a fly, you may as well talk to a worm. No brains at all! Compared to flies, spiders are brilliant. (returning her attention to the spider, as she opens the window) There, that wasn't so bad, was it? Off you go. Give my regards to the caterpillars.

(SAMMY leaves the kitchen window open, and stands, listening to the cacophony of birds chirping their good mornings. The phone rings again. We hear Andrew's voice. SAMMY continues to ignore these interruptions. She is clearly somewhere else.)

Honey, listen, I got a message from Fred
at Nortel.
Something about this morning's
presentation. I know you didn't forget. Is
something wrong? Listen, honey, I've got
to do this lunch thing, I mean, I can't miss
this appointment but I'm worried about you.
Call me so I know you're okay, okay?
Call me. I'll leave the cell on.

Be careful, now! The chickadees are
having breakfast, you know!

(to the unicorn) It's really a lovely
----------------------What shall we do?

A walk would be nice.
                    Would you like to
visit the butterflies?

(The phone rings again.)

Hello, I'm calling for Sammy Aloysius.
I got your name from Jeffrey Longbach.
We have a project we thought you might
be interested in. If you would call me back
please: four-four-oh-two-nine-seven-three-
oh-six-six. I'll look forward to hearing from
you. (hang up)

(still to the unicorn)
I'm sorry. I forgot. You're nocturnal.

Well, I imagine you're a bit sleepy
then. Of course, it was kind of you to
spend the morning with me, but it's
long past your bedtime.

(The clock chimes four o'clock.)

Would you like me to sing you to sleep?
(She picks the unicorn puppet up and cradles him in her arms, singing.)
Now I lay me down to sleep,
Pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Should I die before I wake,
Pray the Lord my soul to take.
(talking now, staring emptily out into space)
God bless Mommy, and take good care of her. God bless Daddy. I miss you, Daddy.

(The phone rings again now, and again, and again, and again, building a counterpoint of tension as SAMMY, oblivious to all but where she has gone, inside herself, continues to the end.)

Sam, it's Brad again. Where are you?
(hang up)

Hi, Aunti Sam. Mom's still at work
and they cancelled track practice, and I
thought maybe you could come pick me
up. If you get home soon, would you call
me on my cell? (hang up)

Honey, your cell has been off all day.
What's going on? Call me. (hang up)

Hi, Sammy. It's Terri. Damn, I was hoping
you'd be home by now. I've got a flat about
two miles south of your house on I-90.
Traffic's a mess, and I'm still waiting for
Triple A. If you pick up any time soon,
call me, okay? I could really use a ride.

Sam, we haven't heard from you all day,
and frankly, we're a bit disappointed in you.
We thought you understood how important
this project was to all of us here. It's going
on six, and I'm closing shop for the day.
We'll expect a call from you in the morning.

Honey, this is the first chance I've had to call
since lunch. It's been a zoo. Are you all right?
I'm on my way home. I'll be there by
ten-thirty. Jesus, Sam, I know things get
busy but can't you give me a call just so's
I know everything's all right?


                    Poor unicorn. At least
I used to have a mother and a father.
You've been an orphan right from
the start. Poor thing. It's all right.
I'll take care of you.

                   Rabbits make good
mothers…and good fathers too.

I can catch good things for you to
eat, and when you're tired from
running and need to sleep, I'll stay
awake so that you can dream safe.

And I'll sing to you, so you're never
And, well, you may not be so
awfully fond of berries as I am, and I
know you're bigger and probably
need more food than a rabbit, but I'll
hunt all day long, or maybe we can
hunt together, at night, for
vegetables and nuts and things.

                    What else do
unicorns eat, I wonder?

                   You wouldn't
need me to hunt for meat or anything
like that, would you?

                   Because, I don't think
I could kill a squirrel or -
a fox, or anything like that. I'm only
a rabbit, and we like softer things.

                   I mean, if I had to,
maybe I could have killed that
                   But -
I wouldn't want

to have to. I don't like to kill things.

(The lights shift again. It is absolutely quiet. SAMMY lays the unicorn on the table gently. She picks up her clothing from the floor, and calmly drapes it over the kitchen chair, positioning her shoes neatly under it. She takes the breakfast dishes to the sink, washes, dries them, and places them in the cupboard. She walks to a cookie jar in the shape of a fairytale castle, opens it, and takes out a gun. The phone rings.)

Honey, I'm at the bottom of the hill. Sam, honey, would you please pick up the phone? (a beat) Sam?

My name is Samantha. (She picks up the gun, and places the muzzle to her head. Darkness. A single shot.)


The Galilean Dilemma

The Boy
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession. (a long pause)

Fr. Vincenzo

(a long pause)

Fr. Vincenzo
Yes? What sins do you ask to be forgiven?

The Boy
I don’t know, Father. My Holy Communion is tomorrow. And I –, – I know I must confess, but—

Fr. Vincenzo

The Boy
I – I haven’t sinned, Father.

Fr. Vincenzo
All men are sinners. Even I am a sinner. The Pope himself, is a man – and therefore, a sinner.

The Boy
Father, I would not lie. It would be wrong to lie. I have not sinned.

Fr. Vincenzo
Tell me, son – what is a sin?

The Boy
To sin is to offend God. To grievously sin is to know God, yet turn away from His Will.

Fr. Vincenzo
And is it not His will that you confess?

The Boy
Yes, Father. (a beat) If I had sinned, He would want me to confess. But He would not want me to lie.

Fr. Vincenzo
Do you know your Commandments? Let us say them together, and see whether or not you are without sin.

The Boy & Fr. Vincenzo
I am the Lord thy God, Thou shalt not have false gods before me.

Fr. Vincenzo
Have you ever looked to a power higher than the power of the Lord?

The Boy
No, Father.

Fr. Vincenzo
Have you never given to another that honor and glory that is due your God alone?

The Boy
(a pause) I love my Mother and Father. But they would never ask me to put themselves higher than God. They love God, and have taught me to love Him with all my heart and all my soul.

Fr. Vincenzo
Let us go on to the second commandment. Thou shalt…

The Boy & Fr. Vincenzo
not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

Fr. Vincenzo
Well? Have you ever in anger or defiance spoken the Lord’s name?

The Boy
(appalled at the thought) No, Father. I would never do that.

Fr. Vincenzo
Very well, and the third commandment?

The Boy & Fr. Vincenzo
Remember thou keep holy the Lord’s Day.

Fr. Vincenzo
Have you never missed a Sunday Mass?

The Boy
No, Father. Not even when I was sick. My Mother said that if I had a fever, then God would forgive my absence – and if I did not, I must go – and I did.

Fr. Vincenzo
And have you never dishonored the Sabbath by doing little chores or perhaps your homework on the Lord’s Day?

The Boy
In the second grade, we don’t have homework. And our chores are always done before we go to sleep on Saturday, so that we can go to Mass and then spend Sunday together. Even Daddy never uses his office on a Sunday. Mother won’t let him.

Fr. Vincenzo
I see. Not a floor swept, not a door painted – not one single chore?

The Boy
I walk the dog. Is that a sin?

Fr. Vincenzo
No, my son. A dog must be walked. Even on Sunday. (confused) Now, where were we?

The Boy
The fourth commandment. Honor thy Father and thy Mother.

Fr. Vincenzo
Ah, yes. Surely you have, at times, been disrespectful? Raised your voice in anger, perhaps?


Fr. Vincenzo
Done something you were expressly forbidden to do?

The Boy
(excited, relieved to have found his sin at last)
Yes! I did! Once Daddy told me not to tell Mommy that he had broken her favorite lamp – but she asked me, and I did tell her. Was that a sin, Father? Should I have lied?

Fr. Vincenzo
Have you forgotten the eighth commandment? Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The Boy
Then, it was not a sin?

Fr. Vincenzo
It was not a sin.

The Boy
I’m sorry, Father.

Fr. Vincenzo
I can see you are. Shall we continue?

The Boy
Yes, Father.

The Boy & Fr. Vincenzo
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal.

Fr. Vincenzo
Now, there we have some possibilities. A cookie stolen from the jar when your Mother was not looking? Or perhaps a toy, wrestled away from your brother?

The Boy
I haven’t got a brother.

Fr. Vincenzo
A friend, then?

The Boy
I’m trying to remember, Father – no.

Fr. Vincenzo
Well, we have already determined that you do not lie and there is no possibility whatsoever of you coveting another’s wife – so where does that leave us?

The Boy
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

Fr. Vincenzo
Yes. And have you?

The Boy
(hesitantly) Are sins, goods, Father?

Fr. Vincenzo

The Boy
Sins, Father. Would it be a sin to covet another’s sins?

Fr. Vincenzo
Well, yes, I suppose it would.

The Boy
(a beat) Bless me Father, for I have sinned -


Copyright © 2002-2004 by Nia


Nia is a talented business writer who indulgences her creativity during her free time by writing plays, poetry, and other short pieces, both fiction and nonfiction.

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