from “Six Liters of Water” by Lena Judith Drake


FULL SCRIPT TO APPEAR IN THE JANUARY 2010 ISSUE!

MONA sits cross-legged in the center of the stage with a glass bowl filled with goldfish on her lap. She remembers her lifeguarding interview.

MONA

Yes, I’m older than 15. I’m 17 years old. I have a state I.D.? I can’t drive yet. I’m still working. On my hours. Oh, the written portion? Oh, definitely more than 80%. I only got one wrong, actually, it was the wording—I can swim 300 yards in one go, yeah. 100 yards of front crawl, rhythmic breathing, propellant kick stabilizing. 100 yards breaststroke, 100 yards breaststroke rhythmic breathing forward crawl combination. 20 yards, surface dive ten feet deep, retrieve a ten-pound object, and return with it to the surface, swim back 20 yards. Timed: 37 seconds. And I can do quicker. And I can do heavier.

(breaks away from the monotony, temporarily smiles)

Sarah always felt the muscles along my back and shoulders, teased me, and then she used to say—

(suddenly back to an almost catatonic state)

And I can press mouths and blow air and I can break ribs. I can do the compressions. I can swim 300 yards. 

She dips her hand into the tank, pinches her fingers around one of the goldfish. 

100 yards of front crawl, rhythmic breathing, propellant— 

She pulls the goldfish out of the water, holds it up and twists it in between her fingers, killing it. 

—kick stabilizing. 100 yards breaststroke, 100 yards breaststroke rhythmic breathing forward crawl combination. 20 yards, 10 seconds— 

She tosses the goldfish aside and grips another one. 

—surface dive ten feet deep— 

She puts it in her palm, and squeezes her hand into a fist. 

—retrieve a 163 pound body, 7 seconds, and return with it to the surface, swim back 20 yards, 20 seconds. 

Opens her hand, and tosses the dead fish away. She stands, drops the tank at her feet. It shatters.  

If you see them, if they swim on the surface, if the pool is clear and someone calls for help, if the janitor changing the water filters, kid piss and swimming shoe dirt, isn’t the one who notices— 37 seconds, and they haven’t been out for long. It’s a story to tell on your college entrance essay. It’s a triumph. It’s more than enough time. I could have still saved him.

 

 

 

[Performance rights must be secured before production. Please contact lenajudith @ gmail.com with inquiries or for more information.]

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