In the Hearts of Men – a (mini) Play

by Chara Kitsaki

CHARACTERS

DAPHNE MCADAMS – a woman in her late fifties

LAWRENCE MCADAMS – a man in his early sixties, Daphne’s husband

KAITLYN MCADAMS – a woman in her late teens, Daphne and Lawrence’s daughter

MARIE – McAdams’s maid

CHRISTOPHER – a man in his early twenties

ACT 1 SCENE 1

The play is set in the McAdams’s house in Connecticut. The home is divided into two floors. The ground floor remains in the dark while the light falls on the top. There, the only thing seen is a bedroom. The walls are blank and there is a single bed in the middle. KAITLYN is wearing a long black dress and is sitting on the edge of the bed. She is combing her long dark curls and quietly singing to herself. 

KAITLYN:     (singing) “Little sparrow, little sparrow, precious fragile little thing. Little sparrow, little sparrow, flies so high and feels no pain. All ye maidens hede my warning, never trust the hearts of men. They will crush you like a sparrow, leaving you to never mend.”

 A loud thud is heard from the ground floor and the upper room fades to dark. The ground floor lightens up. The floor is separated by a thin wall that doubles as a door. Stage left, the living room. A spacious and carefully furnished room is revealed. At the back wall hangs a single portrait of a man in his early sixties and a young KAITLYN by his side. MARIE is dusting the portrait. Stage right, the kitchen. A wooden high table is situated in the middle, facing the audience, and a double fridge at the back. DAPHNE is wearing a black dress and her hair is placed in a neat bun. She is standing with her back to the audience trying to put something inside the fridge. A second thud is heard, and MARIE puts the feather duster on the side and moves to the kitchen.  

MARIE:          Mrs. Daphne?

DAPHNE:      (to herself) I just need to put this somewhere. Why isn’t there any space left?

MARIE:          Mrs. Daphne?

DAPHNE does not seem to notice MARIE as she continues to try to put a platter in the already crammed fridge.

DAPHNE:      (to herself) I just need to make it fit. Why can’t anything fit in this damn fridge?

MARIE walks closer to DAPHNE and places a hand on her back. DAPHNE flinches and as she turns, she almost drops the platter on the floor. MARIE helps her and they place it on the table. 

MARIE:          I’m sorry Mrs. Daphne, I –

DAPHNE:      Oh, no, no. It’s fine, Marie. I didn’t hear you coming.

DAPHNE fixes her dress and fidgets with the pearls around her neck. She glances at the ten glass platters sitting in a row on the table.

MARIE:          (hesitantly) I just wanted to tell you that everyone is gone.

DAPHNE:      Oh good, good. Thank you. It was about time… I was getting tired of Paul and his jokes about life at the office.

DAPHNE moves to the table and re-arranges the platters.

 DAPHNE:      And you know what’s the funniest thing? Lawrence didn’t even like him.

Pause.

 MARIE:          Mrs. Daphne, do you want me to stay or –

DAPNHE:      Oh, right. No, I don’t think we will be needing you anymore.

DAPHNE turns and looks at MARIE with a tired smile. 

 MARIE:          Are you sure, Mrs Daphne? I could stay for a couple more hours I –

DAPHNE:      (nodding) It’s fine, Marie. I don’t think I’ll be doing much anyway. I need to fit all this food in the fridge and then I’ll just go to bed.

MARIE:          Are you sure you don’t need my help?

DAPHNE:      I need to do this alone.

Pause.

 MARIE:          Mrs. Daphne… I am really sorry for your loss.

MARIE exits the room. DAPHNE picks up another platter from the table. She turns towards the fridge and struggles to fit it inside.   

DAPHNE:      (to herself) Why isn’t there any space left? Where am I supposed to put all this food?

CHRISTOPHER enters the living room. He is wearing a dark suit and his tie is loosened around his neck. He stands and looks at the portrait. A thud is heard from the kitchen as DAPHNE struggles with the glass platters and CHRISTOPHER walks towards the adjoining room.

CHRISTOPHER enters the kitchen. DAPHNE is still turned towards the fridge.

 DAPHNE:      Marie, I told you I don’t need you anymore. (to herself) Why isn’t anybody listening to me in this house?

CHRISTOPHER sways uncomfortably on his feet. The sound makes the floorboards creak. DAPHNE turns around. 

DAPHNE:      Marie, I said –

At the sight of CHRISTOPHER, DAPHNE gasps and almost drops the glass platter on the floor. CHRISTOPHER catches it and hands it back to her.

DAPHNE:      (confused) You are not Marie.

CHRISTOPHER:       (mumbling) I – I am sorry. I was… I was looking for the bathroom.

DAPHNE places the platter back on the table and looks at CHRISTOPHER.

DAPHNE:      Oh, right. Marie, our maid, was just here but I’m afraid she’s gone now. As a matter of fact, I thought everyone had left.

CHRISTOPHER:       I – I was just outside…It’s a beautiful garden you have, many flowers.

DAPHNE:      Thank you, I am particularly fond of the garden myself.

DAPHNE steps closer to CHRISTOPHER and extends her hand.

DAPHNE:      You’ll excuse my manners, I’m Lawrence’s wife, Daphne.

CHRISTOPHER:       Oh, I know. It’s very nice to meet you.

DAPHNE:      And you are…?

CHRISTOPHER:       Right, I – I am Christopher.

DAPHNE:      Nice to meet you, Christopher. Were you one of his students?

CHRISTOPHER:       No. No, I wasn’t. I heard he was a great teacher, though.

DAPHNE:      One of the best actually. Told him he could quit the position at the firm and become a permanent professor. He would sure as hell had more time to spend with us. Less stress. Probably avoided the heart attack. But no –

DAPHNE moves behind the table and glances at the food platters. She shrugs her shoulders.

DAPHNE:      He wouldn’t listen.

Pause.

DAPHNE:      And now, I need to find a way to fit twenty trays of food in one fridge! I mean, I never understood why people bring so much food to funerals. It’s not like we have forgotten how to cook. 

DAPHNE picks up another platter and opens the fridge. CHRISTOPHER lets an impressed sound.

CHRISTOPHER:       That’s a lot of tuna fish. You like tuna?

DAPHNE:      Tuna? Oh, you mean all the cans in the fridge. (laughs) No, God no. I hate tuna. Lawrence loves it, though.

Pause.

DAPHNE:      Loved… Lawrence loved tuna. Not Present. Past.

DAPHNE laughs humourlessly.

DAPHNE:      I am not used to the past tense you see. Until yesterday, he was still Present.

CHRISTOPHER:       I’m sorry I didn’t mean to –

DAPHNE:      No, that’s fine. I just have to think of what I’ll do with twenty cans of tuna. Life is funny that way. You’re here one day and then you just aren’t… Want to have some tuna?

CHRISTOPHER:       Oh…Yeah, I guess. Thank you.

DAPHNE removes a can from the fridge and places it on the table. She hands CHRISTOPHER a fork.

DAPNHE:      So, were you one of his associates?

CHRISTOPHER:       Associates?

DAPHNE:      At the firm. You look too young for a partner, and definitely too smart for a mail-room boy, so, if you weren’t his student, you must have been one of his associates.

CHRISTOPHER:       I… Um, no. But I’ve been to the firm once or twice… This tuna is pretty good.

CHRISTOPHER takes another bite as DAPHNE plays with her fork.

DAPHNE:      You’re more than welcome to take all the remaining cans. Kaitlyn hates it too…

Pause.

CHRISTOPHER:       Kaitlyn… Is she your daughter? I think I saw her in the living room.

DAPHNE:      In the living room?

CHRISTOPHER:      On the portrait, I mean.

DAPHNE:       Oh, right. She’s our only child.

CHRISTOPHER:       It must be tough.

DAPHNE:      Tough?

CHRISTOPHER:       Losing your father.

DAPHNE:      Oh, yes… I guess it is. They were very close. Kaitlyn and Lawrence… I don’t think she has accepted his loss yet. You?

CHRISTOPHER:       Me?

DAPHNE:      Are you close to your father?

Pause.

CHRISTOPHER:       Um… No… My father was never really there. He tried to keep in touch but that ship sailed now.

DAPHNE:      Did he die recently too?  

CHRISTOPHER:       Yes.

Long Pause.

DAPHNE:      I am sorry for your loss.

CHRISTOPHER:       Don’t worry, it’s –

CHRISTOPHER drops his fork on the table. He picks it up with his left hand and the ring on his finger catches DAPHNE’s eye. It’s a golden ring engraved with the letters LFM.

CHRISTOPHER hides his hand beneath the table.

DAPHNE:      That’s a nice ring you’ve got there.

CHRISTOPHER:       Oh, it’s nothing really. The tuna is really good.

DAPHNE:      Doesn’t look like nothing.

Pause.

DAPHNE:      Where did you get it?

CHRISTOPHER:       Very salty, though. I could use some –

DAPHNE:      Did your father give it to you?

CHRISTOPHER:       It was –

DAPHNE:      Christopher?

Pause. DAPHNE moves away from the table and stands by the fridge.

DAPHNE:      (calmly) How old are you?

CHRISTOPHER remains silent. He looks down to the floor. DAPHNE moves away from the fridge and starts pacing around the kitchen.

DAPHNE:      You know, we were married thirty-seven years. Lawrence and I. And that’s a long time… For even the most loving of couples.

Pause.

DAPHNE:      (scoffs) We were young and we were in love.

DAPHNE walks along the kitchen. She is facing the audience.

DAPHNE: Twenty-three years ago I had my first miscarriage. Lawrence was devastated. He wanted a child more than anything in the entire world… We almost separated that year. Told me he had an affair, you see. Said it was only a fling. Said he was not feeling like himself anymore and needed someone…

DAPHNE turns back towards CHRISTOPHER and looks him in the eye.

DAPHNE:      So… Christopher.

Pause. 

DAPHNE:      How old are you?

CHRISTOPHER:       (mumbling) I didn’t want to… I didn’t know how –

DAPHNE:      That ring. The ring on your left hand. Lawrence would never take it off. Said it was his grandfather’s from Princeton. Lawrence Frances McAdams. Only one in the entire, world, he used to say. Would not even let me touch it. Said he lost it on a fishing trip a year ago…

DAPHNE laughs humourlessly.

DAPHNE:      Lawrence fishing. I should have figured.

DAPHNE moves to the table. She picks up a glass platter and opens the fridge. She struggles to place it inside. A loud thud is heard and the glass platter shatters on the floor. Food and glass spread on the wooden surface. DAPHNE kneels under the high table and starts frantically cleaning up with her hands.  

DAPHNE:      (to herself) I just need to clean this up…. This cannot be happening… I just need to clean everything up…

DAPHNE hides her face and lets a quiet sob. CHRISTOPHER kneels next to her and tries to help. DAPHNE looks at his face, and picking the last piece of platter she throws it forcefully across the room. The glass crashes on the wall.

DAPHNE:      (placidly) I said I needed to do this alone.

CHRISTOPHER straightens up and stands by the door.

DAPHNE:      (calmly) I think it’s time for you to go.

DAPHNE stands up and fixes her dress.

CHRISTOPHER:       I –

DAPHNE:      The reading of his will is tomorrow. I guess you already know where his firm is.

DAPHNE moves behind the table and re-arranges the remaining platters.

DAPHNE:      You can come at one. No sooner than that. And you’ll need to be gone by two. That’s when Kaitlyn will arrive.

Pause.

DAPHNE:      And you are never to meet her.

Pause. CHRISTOPHER moves to the exit.  

DAPHNE:      First door on the right.

CHRISTOPHER:       I’m sorry?

DAPHNE:      The bathroom. It’s the first door on the right.

CHRISTOPHER exits the kitchen. He stands in the living room and gazes at the portrait. DAPHNE picks up another platter from the table and turns towards the fridge. She opens it and struggles to fit it in.

DAPHNE:      (to herself) I just need to put this somewhere. Why isn’t there any space left?

To black.

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