An Ending by the Sea

AN ENDING BY THE SEA
BJ CRISOSTOMO

CHARACTERS
Man, a visitor to the resort
Woman, a nymphomaniac who lost her daughter to the storm
Landlady, owner of the beach resort
1 and 2, two clowns who can only talk in questions

SETTING:
The beach. Current time.

(The set is demarcated into three major areas. On up-right is a small bungalow which has its walls open so the audience could see what’s happening inside. The bungalow holds simple furniture: a bed, a cabinet, a bedside table, and a seat. It should be reminiscent of huts rented in Batanggas small time sea side resorts. The stage itself is filled with sand to indicate a beach front. On down-right, a huge dead tree lays strong and restless.)
(Sounds of waves are heard swelling and the fading to ambient noise with cricket sounds. It is night time. Stage lights open in the bungalow. Furniture is still covered with white cloth. The LANDLADY walks in; she flips on the light switch. The MAN follows. He is dressed in an all-black while the woman wears a white skirt. The MAN drops his knapsack on the floor. He examines the room with disinterest as the LANDLADY watches him.)

LANDLADY

I’m sorry we haven’t had a chance to clean the place up.

MAN
No. I came in short notice.
LANDLADY
Are you sure? I could call the maid to tidy the place a little bit. Maybe place some light over—
MAN
I can do it by myself. This is fine.
LANDLADY
But it’s so dusty. (She takes away the cloth covering the cahir. A thin layer of dust covers the lit area of the stage.)
MAN
No. This is just fine. (He sits down on the chair.) I like cleaning.
LANDLADY
(Points at the knapsack) Is that all you’re carrying?
MAN
It’s all I need.
LANDLADY
Seems small, considering you’ll stay here for a long time.
MAN
It’s small. But when you’ve carried it for a long time, it’s the heaviest thing in the world.
LANDLADY
(Retreats) I see.
MAN
Thank you. (The man closes his eyes, and tries to relax on the chair.)
LANDLADY
If you don’t mind me asking, why are you staying in at off season? Most of my costumers come when the waves are high.
MAN
(Opens his eyes slowly) I just wanted to get away. (A pause.) Escape.
LANDLADY
Well, you paid good money. You can stay as long as you like. We’re not expecting anyone for a long time.
MAN
Thank you for your hospitality.
LANDLADY
Thank you for the business.
(The MAN and the LAN LADY look at each other. A long pause)
LANDLADY
I’ll be going then. If you need anything please don’t hesitate knocking at the main house.
MAN
Yes. I will. But I probably won’t (Closes his eyes).
LANDLADY
(Expects to hear more from the MAN.) Good night! (She hurriedly exits.)
(Alone, the MAN stands and walks to the door. He locks it, and with a finality gives off a deep sigh.)
MAN
Alone. Finally. All this space. All this beach. Thank you. Escape. Thank you. (The MAN proceeds to clean the room, taking off the covers of the furniture. Pauses.)I’ve never been here, but it already feels like home.
(After the room is clean, the MAN picks up his knapsack which has been left on the floor.)
MAN
And, you. (He loses his calm) You! Finally we are alone. In this place, we are alone, and no one can stop me. No one can stop me from what we’re about to do!
(A knock is heard on the door. The MAN quickly hides the knapsack under his bed. The MAN waits for the knocking to cease. A pause. A louder banging is heard.)
WOMAN
Open up!
MAN
Who are you? It’s late. Please, leave me alone.
WOMAN
(Shouts hysterically) It’s an emergency. Someone’s drowning! I don’t know what to do! I can’t swim. Please, come and help.
MAN
Call at the main house.
WOMAN
I did. They’re all asleep. Please, sir, it’s a child! Sir, a child is drowning!
MAN
(Unsure of what to do)But—
WOMAN
Are you that inhuman! It’s a child. Every minute counts.
MAN
(Sighs in defeat) Okay.
(The MAN opens the door. At the slightest entryway, the WOMAN barges in. She is beautiful—the kind of beauty which never requires make-up—with hair hanging freely from her head. She is dressed in an all-white ensemble: a mini-skirt and a tank top.)
WOMAN
(Very calmly) Hello.
MAN
Come, the child is drowning.
WOMAN
(As if she did not hear what the man said) What a nice place you’ve got here. You must be loaded, getting the best hut and all. (She lies down on the bed.)
MAN
What about the child?
WOMAN
O him? He probably got eaten by the sharks by now?
MAN
What?
WOMAN
(Casually)The child drowned a long time ago. He’s been dead for three years now. (Corrects herself)But don’t get me wrong. This resort here is safe. It’s only had one casualty in its fifty year history.
MAN
What?
WOMAN
You like that word, don’t you?
MAN
What?
WOMAN
(Copying the man’s tone) What?
MAN
You’ve disturbed me in the middle of the night for nothing. Please, leave. Please.
WOMAN
Now, aren’t we grumpy, and to a beautiful woman with a skirt too short for her own good. (She raises the hem of the skirt to expose most of her legs.)
MAN
(Looks back) Don’t do that.
WOMAN
Do what?
MAN
Please, do not make yourself indecent.
WOMAN
A girl is on your bed in the middle of the night, and what do you say?
MAN
I’m just not that kind of man.
WOMAN
Well, what kind of woman does a man like you want? A saint?
MAN
No.
WOMAN
Are you gay?
MAN
No.
WOMAN
Then what do you want?
MAN
To be left alone.
WOMAN
So you can masturbate? O you’d like that wouldn’t you? You’re one of those fellows who can’t get it on with a breathing heaving woman.
MAN
Please, do not make me what I am not.
WOMAN
(scavenges around the cabinet) Then you wouldn’t mind me looking around for porn?
MAN
I haven’t unpacked. You will find nothing.
WOMAN
You’re a quiet one. The quiet ones are the (with great emphasis) perverts. (Looks at the man) Pervert! You probably have the good smut don’t you? Smut with dried cum on the pages.
MAN
Do not talk to me like that.
WOMAN
And why not? It’s a free country.
MAN
But we have rights.
WOMAN
Pervert! Pervert! Pervert! There! Are your precious civil rights hurt? Look at these! (flashes her bra at the MAN) Do you like ‘em, pervert?
MAN
(Looks back) Please. Stop. It.
WOMAN
Wow. You really are too good to be true. The first man who hasn’t ogled at my sisters (Plays with her breasts.)
MAN
I told you. I am not like that.
(Walks towards the man, and hugs him from behind. The MAN shudders.)
WOMAN
(Seductively) Then what are you like? Are you rough when you’re out of your shell? Will you make me scream, “God! God, fuck me harder!”
(The WOMAN reaches down to the MAN’s cock. The MAN throws her off, and she lands on the floor. A pause.)
MAN
(Awkwardly offers her a hand up) I am sorry.
WOMAN
(Slaps the hand offered by the MAN)I was just trying to make friends.
(The WOMAN notices the bag under the bed, she rushes towards it. The MAN tries to stop her but fails.)
MAN
(Walks decisively, and vindictively towards the WOMAN) Please, ma’am, give that back.
WOMAN
(Retreats with the bag behind her) Ma’am? Why so formal? Aren’t we friends? You’ve already seen my—
MAN
(Growls) Please give that back!
WOMAN
(Laughing) See, I told you, you were rough. (Jumps on the bed) Come, jump on the bed if you want to get your bag back.
MAN
(Shouts) That is important! It’s all I have left. Please! Woman! Whatever your name is—
WOMAN
It’s Delilah. Lilah, for short.
MAN
Delilah. Lilah, please, give it back to me or else—
WOMAN
Or else what? You’ll fuck me clean? You’ll smack me clean on the floor, and rip my clothes off with your bare hands? What? Fuck me!
(Suddenly, the MAN jumps on the bed, and strangles the WOMAN. The WOMAN grows faint, and drops the bag. The MAN releases her, and she drops on the floor. She covers her face. In a lack of words, the MAN stares at the WOMAN. Silence.)
MAN
(Stutters) I-I. I. I apologize. I’m n-no good with w-w-women. And, I told you to give the bag back. Please.
(He reaches a hand to the WOMAN. The WOMAN retreats to the far corner of the room. She is still shielding her face, with her shaking hands.)
MAN
Lilah, please forgive me.
WOMAN
Don’t touch me!
(The MAN retreats to the opposite side of the room. He turns his back on the WOMAN. The WOMAN stands, and fixes herself a bit with a quiet dignity. She leaves without a word. The MAN follows. For the first time we see the stage illuminated in whole. The WOMAN has already exited.)
MAN
I’m sorry.
(He kicks the sand, and enters the bungalow.)
MAN
(Notices the knapsack on the bed) Maybe tomorrow. (Hides the knapsack in the cabinet)
(He flips the light switch off. The inside of the bungalow is now too dark to be seen by the audience.)
(A pair of clowns enter from down-stage left. Both of them are dressed in rags but their faces are made-up like clowns. They enter hopping. 1 notices the bungalow.)
`1
What’s that?
2
What’s what?
1
That! (Points 2’s face onto the bungalow.)
2
Who’d know? Do you know?
1
How should I know?
(1 and 2 get into a fight. The noise wakes the MAN up.)
MAN
Please, let me sleep!
(1 and 2 stop fighting, and pose in a tablaue.)
1
(Whispers to 2) Is someone in there?
2
Didn’t you hear him?
1
Is he alive?
2
A ghost?
(They run around and gasps mutedly.)
1
Wouldn’t you come to your senses, stupid?
2
Weren’t you the one who asked if he was alive?
1
Do you think that’s what I meant when I asked if you thought he was alive?
2
What did you mean?
1
Can’t you see?
2
See what?
1
Can’t you see that there are no open windows, and no open doors?
2
A room with no window or doors? A coffin?
1
Can he breathe inside there? Is he alive?
2
Is breathing all it takes to live?
(1 and 2 look at each other. They count from one to three wit their fingers. They inhale in exaggeration, and hold their breaths with their cheeks puffing out.)
2
Are we alive?
1
Is living just about breathing?
(They pause in a thinking pose with their fingers on their heads.)
2
How do you breathe?
1
(In a panic) How do you breathe?
(They run in circles. The ruckus wakes the MAN up. Topless, he opens the door.)
MAN
What’s happening here?
1 and 2
How do you breathe?
MAN
You’ve forgotten how to breathe. How silly!
1 and 2
(Almost out of breath) How do you breathe?
MAN
Exhale.
1 and 2
How?
MAN
Blow out the air.
(1 and 2 exhales in exaggeration)
1 and 2
Then?
MAN
Inhale.
1 and 2
How?
MAN
Suck the air in.
(1 and 2 inhale in exaggeration. They faint. 1 rises.)
2
Are we alive?
1
Aren’t we breathing?
MAN
Yes you are. Now, please let a man sleep.
1
Leave?
2
Why?
MAN
Because it is night. Because I am tired. Because.
1
Don’t you want to have some fun?
2
Run around the beach?
1
Swim in the cold blue sea?
2
Climb up the tree—
1 and 2
—and fall?
MAN
No. Please, everyone, just leave me alone.
1
Don’t you know who we are?
MAN
No. Who are you?
2
Who are (with emphasis) you?
MAN
What? I’m a man on the beach who wants to be left alone to himself. No strange women. No drowning children. And no old men foolish enough to forget how to breathe. I am tired, and I want to sleep. Leave!
1
How?
2
How do we leave?
MAN
Why do you two always talk in questions?
1 and 2
Isn’t simple?
1
Don’t you see we want you answer to them?
2
Can you answer all our questions?
MAN
No. So please leave.
(1 and 2 makes silly faces pertaining to the stupidity of the MAN’s question.)
1
Didn’t we just ask you—
2
How?
1 and 2
How do we leave?
MAN
(Keeping his temper in control) Just retrace your steps, and you’re off to your merry way.
(1 and 2 shrug, and they repeat all their stage-blocks in a fast forward reverse. This should look like a video cassette in rewind. The MAN retreats back to the bungalow.)
(The WOMAN enters, she is now dressed in a black long gown, something for wakes. She holds a candle on a paper boat. She first pauses to look at the bungalow where light hits the MAN sleeping on his cot. She faces the audience then kneels. It begins to rain.)
WOMAN
(In a morose monotone, she talks to the sand, and the sea.) Please learn to forgive me, and my sins. My trespasses. Boy with no name. Boy with no future. Boy who will forever be just a day old, forever clean and featureless. You loved me, and trusted me. I knew even without words. You trusted me with your frail body, your frail smile. The sea has taken you from me, dragged you out from my bare and shaking hands.
(The LANDLADY enters with an opened umbrella, and a lamp. She wears a black a gown similar to that of the WOMAN’s but cut for a matron.)
LANDLADY
I saw you from the house Lilah. You, and your candle.
WOMAN
And, I saw you from the beach, Delilah. You, and your lamp, standing on the window as you did last night and the night before that.
LANDLADY
Didn’t I tell you never to come back here again?
WOMAN
And I always did, every night, I come here with my candle.
(A pause)
LANDLADY
Won’t you please come home?
WOMAN
Didn’t you tell me to never come back?
LANDLADY
Please Lilah, no good willcome from talking to the dead. They have no ears to hear you cry.
WOMAN
But I have tears to shed, and only the sea will take them. Please, Delilah, let me to this sandy grave.
(A pause)
LANDLADY
I pity you. I pitied you from that night when the rains came. That night when you howled, and howled so much that you rivalled the screaming sea. And yet the sea won. It took everything away.
WOMAN
(Stands)I deserve no pity! So do you.
LANDLADY
(Places the lamp on the floor.) I’ll leave this here. You’re always welcome to come back, Lilah. You are missed.
(The LANDLADY Starts to an exit. Pauses. Turns her back to the WOMAN.)
LANDLADY
(To herself) Children, when their parents die, are called orphans. But mothers when children die, are nameless. Your suffering is nameless, a wordless grief of a time I have already forgotten. Lilah, just come back when you are ready.
(The MAN grunts in his sleep. He shifts position.)
LANDLADY
Leave him.(She exits)
(The WOMAN pauses. Her hair covers her face. Her stillness is only broken by the quivering of her fists.)
WOMAN
(Suddenly, she screams at the audience.) My nameless dead, come back to me! Come home! (She drops to the ground.) I’ll be better this time. I won’t tell you to play by yourself. I’ll be here! I will play my role. I will love you. This time. I will be your… mother!
(She starts grappling the sand. Taking heaps by her hands.)
WOMAN
I left you here. I left you here for safe keeping, and now I cannot find you. I remember leaving you here. I left you in a small casket. A small box. I told you I’ll come back, didn’t I? Why did you go away, and play in a land far far away. I told you to stay still!
(She shouts in exasperation. Thunder cries with her. The MAN wakes up, and turns on the light. Light expands on the bungalow.)
WOMAN
(Stands up. Calmly) Take me too. Take me to where he is. Please I beg you. (She strips slowly) Wash me. Wash my sins, and let the water take away the past. Clean me of my blood stained skin. My reddened hands. Please. You took him. (Completely naked by this point. She loses her calm) Take me too!
(The MAN peeks from his cottage. He sees the naked WOMAN, and rushes back in to take his blanket and covers the WOMAN who is now quivering in the cold, her eyes in a trance.)
MAN
What are you doing? Do you want to kill yourself?
(Not noticing the man, she sings a simple lullaby)
WOMAN
The child and the sea. They were brothers playing gleefully.                      The child and the waters. They play as if nothing matters.                             Running, jumping, water splashing… a muted call of a child drowning.
(Finally she notices the MAN. Her eyes still dilating) Hello, lover boy. Thank you. You’re saving me again. It looks like we’ve been doing this forever.
(She kisses the MAN. Caught off guard, the MAN receives the kiss in surprise.)
MAN
No!
(She stands. The WOMAN exits, humming the lullaby she just sang.)
MAN
(Stunned, he stares at the woman as she walks off to the darkness. Finally) Hey! Don’t you want to dry up first!
WOMAN
(From the wings) Don’t worry about me.
(1’s and 2’s heads emerge from the trunk of the tree. They’ve been watching the entire scene.)
1
You don’t think we didn’t see that, naughty boy?
2
How did it feel to hold her again?
1
How did it feel to touch a naked woman—
1 and 2
You naughty boy?
(1 and 2 laugh, and assume different sexual positions referred by their following lines.)
1
Did you want to push your swelling cock against her battered flesh?
2
Or slap her with your dick until the welts grow a bright red?
1
Maybe anal?
2
Or perhaps a just blowjob?(1 and 2 fall laughing.)
MAN
Nothing like that happened. I just helped her. She looked so frail— as if the rain could have swept her away.
1 and 2
Wasn’t that what you said last time?
MAN
This is my first night here. There never has been a last time.
1
You don’t remember, do you?
2
Do you want us to make you remember?
MAN
What? (Shakes his head) No.
1
Are you sure?
MAN
Yes.
2
You think we care?
(2 runs to the man and restrains his hands by the armpits. 2 picks him up, and positions him towards 1 who boxes him on the stomach. Lightning strikes. The MAN spits out blood.)
MAN
Don’t touch me! What have I ever done to you?
(1 and 2 pause in disgust. The MAN drops on the sand.)
1
You still don’t remember?
MAN
Remember what?
2
Do you remember this? (Kicks him on the groin. Lightning.)
1
Or this? (Jumps on him with his elbow. Lightning.)
MAN
Stop!
1
Did you hear that?
2
What?
1 and 2
No.
MAN
(In dire pain, the MAN lies on the ground, squirming) That wasn’t a question! That wasn’t a question. You know what’s going on don’t you. You’re just playing fools.
1
That wasn’t a question?
2
Does it really matter anymore?
(1 and 2 laugh manaically. They proceed on throwing sand on the MAN’s face. The WOMAN, all cleaned up and now dressed in a coloured summer dress with a picnic basket, enters.)
WOMAN
Stop it. That’s too much.
1
But didn’t you tell us to—
WOMAN
That’s too much. Don’t kill him. Yet.
2
Can’t we just—
WOMAN
No. Leave us.
(1 and 2 leave with their backs bent.)
MAN
(Scrambles to his knees) What is this all about? Who are you? Who were they? (Pauses. Retreats in realization) Will you kill me? I did nothing. Please!
WOMAN
Don’t move so much. No. I’m not going to kill you.
MAN
But how can I trust you? You just told them that— Please I’m innocent.
WOMAN
No. You’re not. We’re all not. Innocent.
MAN
What?
WOMAN
Nothing. You will remember everything when you will. Everything’s eventual.
MAN
Please explain it to me. All of it. I deserve to understand! This place. Them. That dream with you, and the landlady. You, screaming naked at the sea.
WOMAN
Soon. Now, please, let me tend your wounds.
(The WOMAN approaches the MAN who apprehensively accepts the WOMAN’s help. She takes off a bandage roll, and starts bandaging the MAN’s wounds.)
WOMAN
(While bandaging) You know, I once did this to a man very like you. Here on this very spot. But that’s all gone now. We had sandwiches here, and we would watch the sea curl at midnight. We would make beautiful love, rolling on the sand. Funny. It was so itchy, the sand went in the minute crevices of our bodies yet we didn’t mind. Nothing matters when you’re in love.
MAN
Were you in love with him?
WOMAN
Yes. In a word, yes. I loved him. I love him still.
MAN
Where is he now?
WOMAN
He left. With a bag on his shoulders. He left me alone. Just stood up from the bed while I was asleep. I woke up, and the warmth of his body was still fresh on the covers.
MAN
Are you mad at him?
WOMAN
No. I love him in the kind of love which will always wait. I love him enough to stay very very still, waiting for him to pose. Make the picture perfect. And then click. We’re happy forever as caught smiles on a photograph. (Finishing the last of the bandages) There.(Stands up. Looks at the distance) We had a child.
MAN
I’m very sorry for your loss, what happened to you. To him. To your kid. But please, I think I deserve to know. I need to understand.
WOMAN
Yes you do. That’s why you’re here. (Points at the cottage) That room has been reserved for you, waiting for you. We have all been waiting for you.
MAN
But I just happened on this resort. I was driving around, and then I chose this one out of a whim. You couldn’t have been waiting for me. That’s just crazy.
WOMAN
No. There’s a reason for everything. Why you chose this one. This beach. This night.
MAN
I’m going.
WOMAN
You can’t leave.
MAN
What?
WOMAN
Try it.
(The MAN Stands up, and walks to an exit. He is pushed back by an unforeseen force.)
MAN
I can’t.
WOMAN
You’ve never left. You came here to escape from everything. To forget about everything. Your life. The woman you loved. The child you killed. The men who got in your way. But you come to remember. You’re here to remember.
MAN
What? No! I am leaving.
(The MAN tries to exit once more but is thrown by a stronger force.)
WOMAN
You are here to live the past which haunts you. The past that lays heavy on your shoulders. You can never ever forget.
MAN
Please, I am confused. I am tired. I’ve been travelling you see, and I haven’t had the chance to sleep.
WOMAN
You’ve been awake ever since you left. Ever since you left me.
MAN
(Defensive) No! That’s impossible. I’ve never met you before tonight.
WOMAN
It’s all in memory. (She extends her hand to catch rain drops.) And as the rainfalls so does memory. Those tiny drops which come first: a figure, an event. Then the rain swells, and the unforgiving thunder rings on our ears, and we remember with cruel suddenness. A name! A knife! Blood! Fresh sperm squirted in a welcoming womb! That first cry of life. Muffled! (She starts to cry but remains still, letting the tars mingle with the rain. She calms)And before you know it, the rain has made a sea stretching from corner to corner of the mind’s eye. And. You. Are. Drowning.
MAN
I don’t know what you are talking about.
WOMAN
Open your bag.
MAN
What bag?
WOMAN
The bag in the cabinet.
MAN
No. Not yet.
WOMAN
If you want to remember, then you must open your bag.
(They look at each other for a long time. The MAN suddenly rushes to the bungalow, gets the bag from the cabinet and returns to the WOMAN.)
MAN
This one?
WOMAN
Yes.
MAN
But. No. This. This. This. Is.
WOMAN
Open it.
(The MAN slowly opens the bag. Inside is a black box, the size of a shoe box. He holds it out to the audience.
(The LANDLADY enters, dressed exactly the same as the WOMAN.)
MAN
(To the LANDLADY) Delilah.
LANDLADY
Hello. It’s good that you’ve finally remembered.
(1 and 2 enter.)
1
How are you?
2
Are you enjoying your stay?
MAN
You two. I killed you, didn’t I?
1 and 2
Yes.
MAN
(To the WOMAN) And you, you were the woman I loved. The woman who bore my child. De—
WOMAN
Lilah.
1, 2, WOMAN, and LANDLADY
Open it.
MAN
Yes. I guess it is time. To remember.
(Rain starts to swell. The MAN starts to open the box. Lights fade out.)

END.

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