THE EQUATION by Ruth Cantrell

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1 THE EQUATION by Ruth Cantrell

2 LIST OF CHARACTERS: a wife a husband SETTING Minimal suggestions of a bathroom.

3 THE EQUATION LIGHT UP: BATHROOM. There is a counter that runs parallel to the stage s edge. The bathroom mirrors above the sinks counter are either implied or are suggested by empty picture frames. On one side of the sink s counter are an array of makeup, perfume, tissue box and a jeweled evening bag. combs hair. ENTERS wearing dress and holding a shawl. She is preoccupied. Abby, come on, we ll be late. You know Mosley wants everyone there on time. Have you seen my purse? (looks around) No. Is that the tie you re wearing? Yeah. Ok. (looks in mirror) What s wrong with it? Nothing, it s just not the one I put out for you. You called and asked me to pick your clothes for tonight and I did, but that s not what I picked. 1

4 Yeah, well, I decided to go with this one. Ok. (sees purse) Oh, there it is. looks in the mirror she adjusts her dress as she drapes the shawl over her shoulders. It has a price tag hanging off it. Is that new? It was on sale, and it s cashmere. Nothing feels like cashmere. (flings it around her shoulders) I thought we had an understanding. No more buying until things get better at work. I just wanted to look good for tonight. $125! (reads the price) Dave, I didn t pay $125. I told you it was on sale. Abby, we agreed no more spending. I thought you d appreciate that I bought it on sale. I would have appreciated you not buying it at all. 2

5 I just wanted to look my best for tonight. (adjusts his tie) Until some more work comes in, we don t need to spend any more money than we have to. (EXITS) You re mad, aren t you? (applies mascara) I told you things were tight. (O.S.) Well, this was on sale, so I can t return it. I might as well wear it now. Whatever. We need to go. (O.S.) Let me cut off this tag. Can I use your scissors? I wish you wouldn t. It dulls them. (O. S.) Never mind then. Oh, before I forget, I found something this morning. Can t this wait? We need to go. (O. S.) Was it supposed to be a surprise? (takes paper from her purse) (REENTERS wearing a jacket) What are you rambling about? So, you re wearing that jacket? 3

6 Yeah. Then why did you ask me to pick out something for tonight, and then ignore what I picked? No big deal. Let s go. Come on. hesitates. Look, if it s going to be that big of a deal for you, I can wear the jacket you picked. (turns to EXIT) No, you wear what you want. I m just sort of confused. You re confused about my jacket? No, not the jacket. I haven t got time for this Abby. I ll wear the damn jacket and then let s go! I can t be late. Here. What s this? (hands him a paper) You said we needed to budget things so I was surprised when I found this receipt for a diamond necklace. doesn t react. 4

7 (puts on perfume) I had gone by your office today at lunch because I was so touched by the idea of an unexpected gift from you. I had just wanted to come by and say hello, but you were out. When I asked your secretary Emily, isn t it? (looks at for a reaction, but gets none) Anyway, I asked her if I could leave you a message. I could smell her perfume. And I realized I d smelled it before on some of your clothes. And then, on her desk was one of those photos that has the name of the locale at the bottom of the frame. It was a photo of her in New Orleans taken outside the Café du Monde. You ve been to New Orleans recently too. You know, the trip you told me we couldn t afford to take together, and you were going only because the company was paying just for you. You brought me back a beignets mix, cause you knew I loved beignets. And I thought you were so sweet to remember to go to the Café du Monde and get that for me. Now though, I gotta tell you, I m having second thoughts, what with that photo on Emily s desk and also because I noticed Emily was wearing a solitaire diamond necklace. I wondered how she could afford that necklace on her salary? She must be better at budgeting than I am. And then, I got to thinking about stuff like, how you ve been coming home real late, and how your clothes smell ever so slightly of perfume, that s not mine, and how you started hounding me to stay on a budget. Then, I find out you purchased a solitaire diamond necklace that wasn t in our budget and wasn t for me. So things didn t seem to add up, which got me thinking if I m to stay within a budget, like you want, and since Emily seems to be a prominent figure in our lives, doesn t our budget need a line item expense called, Emily? But which category do I put her in? Leisure, Hobbies,..Pet Care? Point is, I really can t keep a budget without knowing about any and all of those Emily expenses. Or maybe, as a CPA, you can explain how omitting those entries (laughs) interesting word choice. How many entries have there been? It s important to know. Even I, a mere housewife, can see that our budget won t add up if we omit those particular entries. Well, it will add up, just not in a way that let s you and I remain.solvent. (pause) Nothing more you want to add? There s nothing to add. Isn t there s some math rule that says if you add nothing to something the sum remains the same? What s that called? 5

8 is silent. I ASKED YOU A QUESTION. It s called the additive identity. That s when you add nothing to something and it remains the same? Yes. (calmly puts on lipstick) I have proof that that isn t always true. (rolls his eyes and shakes head dismissively) It s a basic math principal, Abigail. And you know all about principles, don t you, David? Oh wait, were you meaning principals spelled p-r-i-n-c-i-p-a-l s, because I meant principles, spelled, p-r-i-nc-i-p-l-e-s? You know, the ones that focus on morals and standards, (which you seemed to have put on the back burner, by the way.) (blots her lipstick with a tissue) I would argue, that in our current equation, you are the zero, and Emily s identity is the additive which changes the whole outcome of our equation. Nothing s going to remain the same now, so that math principal fails on account of your lack of moral principles. is silent. And your silence speaks volumes. RIGHT! (pauses to gain self control) While my volume cries out to your silence. (sits on the toilet and caresses the wrap) I just love how cashmere feels around my neck..it s so comforting. Something that s been lacking in my life. I think I made a good purchase. 6

9 So did I. (stung) Adding on to just one side of the equation? It s the only one that matters. It? Her. Her? Emily. Ah, the line item expense. By your adding to just one side of the equation I ll have to decline going to this dinner tonight. That s my way of balancing out the equation you see. I m sure you can make some sort of excuse for my absence. You re gotten very good at making up excuses. EXITS as sits on the toilet slowly cocooning herself in the wrap, seeking some sort of comfort. (motions hands in circles like Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid) Wax on..emily. (motions opposite direction) Wax off, Abby. She shakes her head, as if to discard the pain. She stands, lifts her head and look directly at herself in the mirror. She has not been broken. 7

10 (motions hands in circles) Wax on, Abby. (motions opposite direction) Wax off.. Dave. LIGHTS OUT FIN 8

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