SMACK!


TORN PIECES
Maura McGrath

Editor's Note: This piece has been edited in order to better provide the reader with an understanding of the dramatic appearance of a performance. The author has granted permission for all changes.

  In the center of the stage is a living room that is worn down from many family gatherings and events. In the top left corner is a small table from a cafeteria. Mark and Hanna go to the living room.

HANNA
Holy shit . . .

MARK
What?

HANNA
She's joined a cult.

MARK:
Who?

HANNA:
Theresa. She has "become a part of a structured religious organization" which requires that she "severs all ties with her previous life." What the hell?

MARK:
She's in college.

HANNA:
Was.

MARK:
What?

HANNA:
She was in college. She says here that she dropped out.

MARK:
Oh....

There is an awkward silence which seems to last an eternity. Mark fidgets while Hanna gazes at the floor.

MARK:
I guess-

HANNA:
Damn it! How the hell could this happen?

A second light shines on a table in the upper right hand corner of the stage in which Theresa is seated alone, reading a newspaper and sipping coffee. A small, non-threatening woman named Julia approaches her. Her entire being reflects that of being sweet and innocent. She wears simple blue jeans and a gray wool sweater, her hair is pulled up in a barrette. She is in her early twenties. When Theresa responds she has the tendency to question whether a reply is really wanted and therefore often drops the ends of her sentences.

   
  JULIA:
May I sit here?

THERESA:
Go ahead.

Theresa continues reading.

JULIA:
Hi. I'm Julia.

THERESA:
Theresa.

JULIA:
Nice to meet you. Are you a student here?

THERESA:
Yes. I'm a . . .
trailing off freshman.

JULIA:
Do you like it here?

THERESA:
Yeah, I guess. It's okay.

JULIA:
Do you have a major yet?

THERESA:
No, I'm . . . open.

JULIA:
That makes sense. Most people who choose their major right away change it quite a few times before they graduate.

THERESA:
I guess that's right.

JULIA:
I'm sorry. Am I bothering you?

THERESA:
No. It's just . . .

JULIA:
I just hate to eat alone. So you know . . . since I've seen you around here a fair amount.

THERESA:
Well, um . . .

JULIA:
I can leave you alone.

THERESA:
No. Don't. It's just that . . . Not a lot of people talk to me like this. Um, are you a student?

JULIA:
Well, no. I am working with a religious organization that, well-- you should check it out. We have a small group meeting where we discuss our beliefs and such. It's Monday at five o'clock.

THERESA:
Well, um . . .

JULIA:
Oh, no pressure. If this makes you uncomfortable I totally understand. But, you know, it's a great way to meet people. Think about it. Here's the address. It's just a small, white house on the corner of Miller and Park.

THERESA
Thanks, I'll think about it.

JULIA:
Goodness, look at the time! It was nice to meet you Theresa. I hope to see you on Monday evening.

Hanna enters carrying a box of Theresa's belongings. The box contains old letters, diaries, dried flowers, a bible, three worn down stuffed animals, various articles of clothing, and other random things.

HANNA:
Were there warning signs? Do they have warning signs for this sort of thing?

Theresa stands and addresses the audience. Behind her the area is transformed into a small group atmosphere, with coffee and the chairsin a circle. The song Lose Control by James plays the refrain in the background briefly, from "Where is the love" . . . to "dreaming of." Theresa mouths the words to the song as she listens every once in awhile singing faintly. Near the end she begins to curl up into a fetal position. It is apparent in her familarity that she has played the song over and over.

MARK:
I don't know. I just don't know. The most random people follow in the worst footsteps.
Noticing the box What are you doing with that?

HANNA:
I just thought that maybe we could sort through, figure stuff out.

MARK:
She's not dead yet.

HANNA:
This is something that I need to do.
without energy Please don't.

Hanna begins going through Theresa's belongings. Reluctantly Mark helps every once in a while but avoids it most of the time. They can't find anything of significance within the box. Theresa walks toward the group timidly. She smiles anxiously not quite sure what to think.

 
  JULIA:
Theresa! I'm so glad you came! Oh, I think you'll enjoy this! Don't feel intimidated, you don't need to say a word, just listen. Eventually, when you feel comfortable we would to love to hear your ideas.
The group continues in background but as indistinguishable to the audience. The focus is on Hanna and Mark now. A few scattered fragments of Julia contributions to the group conversation drift out to the audience.  

HANNA:
Well, what are we supposed to do now? They took away my sister! I don't know where she is or what she wants.

MARK:
Could this just be a phase?

HANNA:
So what if it is just a phase? Does that mean that we should just grin and bear it?

Throughout the following fight Hanna and Mark gradually drift to the two opposite sides of the stage.

MARK:
It means there is nothing we can do right now! It means that I don't have a clue. I need time.

HANNA:
I can't handle it.

MARK:What do you want to do? The police are out of it. There is nothing illegal about deciding to sever all connections with your friends and family is there? She is in a fucking cult! What should I do, go around asking people--hey is there a support group for fucked up families with kids in cults?

HANNA:
I raised that child from the day she was born because my mother was too fucked up to handle another child. You really don't have any concept of how much she means to me.

MARK:
Goddammit Hanna! Do you realize what this does to me?

 
  THERESA:
They are going about thier lives as usual--happy Hanna and Mark.

HANNA:
Fuck off!!

MARK:
Likewise!

 
  THERESA:
They make me sick! Neither of them give a shit about me. The only reason they cared was to keep up appearances. Oh look, look at how sweet and caring Hanna and Mark are taking care of the poor abandoned sister. God!

HANK:
I understand Theresa. You want to be with people who care.

THERESA:
Yes.

HANK:
You want to be with people who understand you.

THERESA:
Yes.

HANNA:
Do you think she knows how much we love her and miss her?
 
  THERESA:
I bet they don't even realize that I'm gone.
MARK:
I don't know.
 
  THERESA:
I used to think about the fact that it would have been so easy for me to have a double life. No one really noticed when I was around. I could easily fade into the background and no one would attempt to pull me out. Dinner, parties, anytime . . .

HANK:
No one paid any attention to you.

THERESA:
That's right.

HANNA: realization I don't know if I will ever see her again. I will always wonder--with each ring of the phone whether or not it is her. Has she changed her mind? My God, do you think this will haunt me for the rest of my life?

MARK:
I don't know.

HANNA:
What does a cult do? Whenever I hear the word I think of . . . Oh God!

MARK:
What?

HANNA:
I think Waco, I think of Jamestown. I think of the masses of bodies, together in life and together in death. Holy shit Mark!

MARK:
I think she is smart enough to leave if . . .

HANNA:
But we don't know! It is so much easier to say than do.

 
  HANK:
What do you want to say them? What if they were in that chair?

THERESA:
You are not my parents! You don't really give a shit about me anyway!

Hanna and Mark respond to this like amemory evoked in both of thier minds.

HANNA:
She never liked it here.

MARK:
I know.

HANNA:
She said she was going to leave.

MARK:
She said a lot of things.

HANNA:
I just didn't know she meant it.

MARK:
Neither did I.

HANNA:
We should have known.

MARK:
How?

HANNA:
We just should have known.

Silence.

HANNA:
Do you think she is happy? I mean, honestly, do you think she is where she wants to be? Where she is supposed to be?

 
  THERESA:
You ended my isolation. You care about me. Thank you.

MARK:
She sent us that last letter. What do you think that means? I don't know but for some reason that seems a little out of the ordinary.

Eerily the song "She's Leaving Home" by the Beatles plays softly in the background beginning with the lyrics "Leaving a note she thought would say more." Hanna picks up the letter from an end table by the couch.

HANNA:
"Don't try to find me . . . I am where I am supposed to be . . . I just wanted to say goodbye" Holy shit!

MARK:
Maybe that means something that she took the time . . .

HANNA:
We never meant to hurt her.

She takes a photo album down from the bookshelf and begins to slowly look through it.

MARK:
I don't know if these will help us right now. I think they may just evoke pain. It's . . . counterproductive right now.

HANNA:
Dammit Mark! Can't you see this is all we have? I need it and you sure as hell are not going to take it away from me.

MARK:
What good is pain?

HANNA:
Pain . . . heals. That's what good it is.

MARK:
I don't think you know what's best for you.

HANNA:
Mark, do you not know shit about what is best for me.

Finally Mark no longer knows what to say. He goes over to the box and began putting objects back in it. He stops when Hanna speaks.

HANNA:
I still have so many questions.

MARK:
So do I.

The following speech of Hanna's allows pauses after each question in order to allow Mark to answer but he never does.

HANNA:
Is she happy? Why did she leave? Did I do something wrong? Was there anything that would have stopped this? Is she eating right? Are they kind to her? Are there drugs? Is she being brainwashed? Could she leave if she wanted to? How often does this even happen? Do we want to search her out or will that just make her more distant? We have no way of asking her.

Hanna and Mark have now given up a bit. Left with nothing to do or say they sit on the couch with Hanna's head resting on Mark's shoulder. Mark is cautiously comforting her. The spotlight shifts to the group in the back of the stage.

 
  HANK:
We are welcoming Theresa to out community today. Many of you have had a chance to talk with her these last few weeks but today she is taking the final step in becoming one with us. This is her initiation process. We have all been through it and I believe that it helps to bond us with the new members. It is painful for seconds but it creates a pleasure so great afterwards that I'm sure no one has regretted these few seconds. The marks left on our skin are permanent and forever just as the bond between us. We are forever one.
Theresa steps towards Hank with both her arms presented to him. Hank takes a lighter and lights it then ceremoniously places it on Theresa's right wrist holding it there for a couple of seconds. Theresa flinches and bites her lip by remains calm. Hank then wraps the scar in a bandage and repeats the procedure on the left wrist. During this time there is complete silence upon the stage. Then the entire group rises to embrace Theresa.

HANNA:
I would give my life for that child.

 
  HANK:
You are one with us.
HANNA:
If only I could speak with her one last time. I think I could convince her to-- to make her understand that there is strength in our love that goes beyond what they can give her. I don't care what she believes.
 
  HANK: Your biological family no longer exists. They are unimportant. It is the religious family that determines your place. Past families represent a time you must not associate with. They are within the part of your life when you were lost. Going back to that life will only be harmful to you. This is in your best interest. We only have your best interest at heart.

THERESA:
I thought they didn't care about me.

HANK:
You're right.

THERESA:
How do you know?

HANNA:
What can we do to show her we care?

MARK:
Pray.

Hanna sighs, not content with this answer. Fade to black. Theresa is standing halfway between the group and the family. The phone rings and Hanna jumps.

 

 



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