a short play in verse by John Enright
[Scene: Darkened room, couple in bed, apparently asleep.]
Suzy: Was that a dream, or... Mike, are you awake?
Mike: [Not awake]
Uh, yeah, of course...
Suzy: Well, then, for heaven's sake
Just tell me - did you hear a giant crash?
It sounded like a semi going smash
Into a tree.
Mike: Uh, no. At least I don't
Think so. It probably was a nightmare. Won't
You quiet down? You know you need your rest.
[Brenda waltzes in.]
Suzy: And what's that? An imaginary guest?
[startled by Mike's presence - had only expected to find Suzy]
Oh my. Oh dear. Say - who the hell are you?.
[turning to Suzy]
I hear you need a kidney. Is it true?
Mike: Another of your charming, quirky friends?
Brenda: No. Ours is a bond that quite transcends
Mere friendship. How do you do. I'm Brenda.
Mike: When you spoke of your friends, you didn't list her.
Suzy: She's not my friend. She's just my sister.
Brenda: Anyway, I've had a fender bender
Outside with a large immovable object.
Suzy: What are you doing here?
Brenda: Don't change the subject.
My car, as I was saying -
Suzy: Your irresistible force
For once has met its match?
Brenda: Of course.
Long ago. On that unremembered morning,
When Mama brought me home from being born,
And without warning told me
[imitates Mother's voice:]
This is Suzy!
She's your Sis!
Well, babies can't be choosy.
Suzy: Speaking of mother... is that how you heard?
Brenda: It is.
Suzy: God damn it, she gave me her word.
I trusted her. Now see how she repays me.
Brenda: Honestly, Susan, sometimes you amaze me.
You spill out your guts with a secret like that
And expect her to keep it safe under her hat?
Suzy: I had to talk to someone!
Brenda: So did she.
And as it turned out, her someone was me.
Suzy: Why you?
Brenda: Why me? Because her flesh and blood
Brought forth my own.
Suzy: But don't you think she could
Find someone else?
Brenda: Find someone else whose genes
Just happen to be like yours? And by what means
Would that have happened? The test results are clear.
I'm an ideal donor for you, my dear.
Suzy: What is this? Get out. Get out of my sight.
Brenda: I offer my flesh. But you want to fight.
Mike: Darling, please wait. Did you hear what she said?
Suzy: Take a kidney from her? I'd rather be dead.
Mike: Don't say that!
Suzy: Why not? It's simply a fact.
Brenda: Oh, really? Let's see if that claim can be backed
With substance. Let's suppose I'd driven faster
Into that tree - and died in the disaster,
Bashing my brains to bits in the collision
But leaving my kidneys intact. Would your decision
Not be inclined to change in such a case?
Suzy: Of course it would. I wouldn't have to face
Your living breathing self with gratitude.
Your death would leave me far more latitude
About accepting anything of value
From your estate. There'd be no need to hail you
As one who helped me out. There'd be no sanction
Of your disgusting views. But this distinction
Is totally irrelevant. You breathe.
Your walk. You talk. You live and clearly seethe
With deep resentment of my righteous ways.
Brenda: [pulls pistol from purse]
Then let's suppose I take this gun and raise
It to my temples and squeeze off a shot
Into my head with lead that's hard and hot
Scrambling the cells to hell within my brain,
And dropping dead right here. Would you disdain
To take my kidney then?
Suzy: Please! Just go ahead!
I'll gladly take your kidney once you're dead!
Mike: [Standing in front of Brenda, with his hand out]
Give me that thing!
[She gives it to him.]
I swear, I don't know who
Is the crazier one of the two - you or you?
But one thing's a clear and objective fact:
I see you're sisters from the way you act!
Suzy: [Overlapping or in unison with Brenda]
Mike: You fight like children, full of spite,
Ready to die for the right to be right.
Would someone tell me what this fight's ABOUT?
Suzy: There's no need, Mike, to scream or shout.
Calm down, and let's discuss this rationally.
This conflict started internationally,
And it's too late for you to intervene.
Mike: Internationally? What do you mean?
Brenda: It started with some trade negotiations
Between the U.S. and some other nations.
Mike: [with sarcasm]
Oh. That makes sense.
Brenda: Well, in a way it does.
Follow it through. The heated question was:
Suzy: Should we or shouldn't we trade with countries where
Man's rights are trampled on the public square?
Mike: [Indicating first Brenda and then Suzy]
I take it you said yes and you said no.
Brenda: Well, yes. And then she told me where to go.
Suzy: If you support raw tyranny, you should
Brenda: Suzy, if you would
Just listen for a second -
Suzy: Oh, I'll listen!
Mike: Wait a minute, please. I think I'm missin'
The point of this stuff.
Brenda: [to Suzy]
Boycotts don't succeed!
Suzy: [to Brenda]
Sometimes they do.
Brenda: To make them work you need
A lot of countries joining in your effort.
And when you do succeed the ones who get hurt
Are the poor people - not the ones who lead.
Suzy: Until the people, rich and poor together,
Revolt against oppression of their rights,
It doesn't really make much difference whether
Our cash makes slight improvements to their plights.
We send a stronger message when we say:
No trade until the slavery goes away!
No goods until the rights of man hold sway!
Brenda: Evading facts of economic science,
You glory in the spirit of defiance
And spout forth speeches in your own defense,
Loaded with rhetoric, but light on sense.
Suzy: [Overlapping with last 3 verse-lines
Evading, huh? I'd say your own cognition
Is in a sorry state, and its condition
Is proof of your inadequate volition.
Mike: [Loudly interrupting]
Okay. So nuclear family fission
Explodes again before my very eyes.
And I must tell you, much to my surprise,
That I've enjoyed your fireworks display.
I even think - though this is hard to say -
That somehow both you girls enjoyed it too.
Suzy: You call me "girl?"
Mike: You're acting like one, Sue.
Suzy: You think I get enjoyment out of this?
Mike: Well, if you don't, then something's much amiss!
You both debate with marvelous facility,
And in your exercise of this ability
You both deserve to take your share of pride.
But who will you debate with once you've died?
And as for you, my charitable Brenda,
You're very sweet for offering to lend a
Spare kidney to your sister. But I ask
Is this any way to accomplish your task?
Brenda: I've offered all I can. What do you mean?
Mike: I mean the way you engineered this scene.
The car crash and gun were both fine melodrama.
They made me sit up. But emotional trauma
Is something that Suzy's had plenty of lately.
I think it might help to approach more sedately.
Brenda: I got my points across.
Mike: Yes, quite conclusively.
But did you have to do it so intrusively?
Brenda: I'm only trying to help.
Mike: Do more than try.
Do what needs doing. That's in short supply.
Instead of storming out in clouds of glory
Append a happy ending to the story.
Stretch yourself beyond this flashy role.
Gently reach and grasp your living goal.
Make up with her. I cannot tell you how
To do it, but I think you'll know. So now
I'll leave you two alone to sort it out.
My being here, I fear, leads you to shout
Each other down, as if I were a judge
Who'll settle this while neither of you budge.
Forget about proving your virtuous cases.
Reveal, instead, your secret inner faces.
Brenda: He's quite a guy.
Suzy: He is. He somehow keeps me
Honest when the force of passion sweeps me
Into a storm of clouded claims that lack
Full correspondence with the world of fact.
He does it with some tact, but he insists
I bear in mind that what exists, exists
Regardless of my wrath.
Brenda: Why do we fight?
Suzy: Because we care.
Brenda: You mean, who's wrong or right?
Suzy: No. More than that. We care about each other.
We share so much.
Brenda: We got it from our mother.
Suzy: No. More than that. From growing side by side
So close we barely knew how to divide
Brenda from Suzy.
Brenda: Remember how I used
To borrow your clothes even when you refused
To lend them to me? And how I excused
Suzy: You said my clothes were merely waiting
To be passed down to you. And liberating
Them early from my closet was no crime,
But just a way of accelerating time.
Brenda: I'm sure that must have been infuriating,
The way I treated your clothes like my own.
Suzy: And yet I found, when I was fully grown
And moved away, whenever I misplaced
An article of clothing, my thoughts raced
First to the hypothesis that you
Had sneaked it from my closet - though I knew
That was impossible - but still the notion
Of your hidden presence filled me with emotion
Brenda: Is that a tear I see?
Suzy: You understand there is no guarantee?
Brenda: Of what?
Suzy: No guarantee my body will
Accept your gift, no certainty until...
Brenda: Until we try. But all the tests looked good.
And all the doctors told me that you would
Live longer and more fully with as near
A match as we can get.
Suzy: Still I'll have merely
So-so health. And you'll be left with only
Brenda: I fear it will be lonely
Unless you promise that you'll let it visit
Quite often with its former roommate. Is it
Too much to ask?
Suzy: Brenda, I'm terrified.
Brenda: Who wouldn't be?
Suzy: I'm doing my best to hide
Brenda: Forget it. This is me. I know.
You could never hide from me.
Suzy: [Choking with emotion]
[Slowly, tentatively, Suzy reaches her hand out.
Brenda responds by taking her hand.
Brenda: Living is good, even without full health.
And every day we love is a form of wealth.
Suzy: [Swallowing hard, regaining poise.]
And when it's time to talk about great nations
Let's leave them out of our own trade relations.
After all, the reason that we fight
Is that we want each other to be right
So that we can stand together in the light!
Brenda: And when we feel like hurling accusations?
Suzy: Let's hurl away! But let us not forget
We're simply giving voice to our frustrations
And don't mean all we say - or better yet
Let's hurl something else!
Brenda: Let's hurl a hug.
For sometimes it's better to hug than to shrug!
Special thanks to Nell Robinson for her script critique and to Michael Landman for directorial assistance. Finally, thanks to Peter Saint-Andre for featuring it on his Monadnock.net site.