Waiting for Ever

alex oswith

Characters
Testrona
Vera
Unlucky
Pozza
Voice
Act I

An airport terminal.
Facing a building under construction. Evening.

(TESTRONA tries to pull a suitcase. The monotone drawl of an unidentified voice over a distant set of speakers surround her as she struggles, panting).

TESTRONA
(giving up again) ​Always something to be done.​ (inspecting the wheels wearily)

VERA
(advancing with short, stiff strides, pulling a large suitcase with ease)​ I’m beginning to believe that myself, all my life I’ve been trying to do put it past me and tell myself that it gets better, be reasonable, Vera, the struggle does not mark the end, there is bound to be more past the incline of this hill. ​(She tuts, eyes glazed over as she imagines the other side of an imagined hill. Then turning to Testrona)​ So there you are again.

TESTRONA
Am I?

VERA
Marvellous question. Are you? Am ​I? ​Where is this place we keep finding ourselves
in? Is there a way out of it, I wonder.

TESTRONA
(beginning to pull the suitcase again, its wheels squeak and refuse to cooperate)

VERA
Look where you’ve led me, a wild goose chase in my own mind, trust you to be the woman for the job. (She pauses, changing track) In any case, I’m glad to see you back. I thought I’d never see you again.

TESTRONA
(hunches over the suitcase for a moment’s rest)​ Me too.

VERA
In instances like these I don’t even care to ask where you’ve been. Or how you’ve left
this forsaken place we call a life.

TESTRONA
Well.

VERA
We must celebrate our togetherness! Alas, one has not left the nest and flown somewhere greater.

TESTRONA
(to herself)​ A sidewalk.

VERA
(musingly)​ But how? Get up ‘til I embrace you!

TESTRONA
(irritably, remaining hunched over)​ Not now, not now.

VERA
(coldly)​ May I inquire, does your Highness think themselves too occupied to spare a
moment of their precious time?

TESTRONA
(shifting, the wheels squeak)

VERA
Now I must know. I ought to know. Where–?

TESTRONA
(interrupting)​ A sidewalk.

VERA
A sidewalk! Where?

TESTRONA
(without gesture)​ Over there.

VERA
(admiringly)​ And they didn’t hassle you? No arrests?

TESTRONA
Hassle? Arrest? Certainly both.

VERA
And to think I thought otherwise. When I think of it . . . all these years . . . but for me . . . where would you be? (pleased with herself) You’d be nothing more than an alley rat at the present minute, no doubt about it.

TESTRONA
And what of it?

VERA
(with a sigh) It’s too much for one woman. (Cheerfully) On the other hand, what’s the good of losing heart now, that’s how I play it. We, well, I should have thought of it a million years ago, in the twenties.

TESTRONA
That’ll be about double a million.

VERA
We’re talking centuries here!

TESTRONA
Ah, stop blathering nonsense and help me with this bloody thing.

VERA
Too far for your mind to wrap around? Hand in hand on the moon, among the first. We were respectable in those days. Now it’s too late. They wouldn’t even let us up. (TESTRONA shoves the suitcase.) What are you doing?

TESTRONA
Making this suitcase move. Did this ever happen to you?

VERA
Suitcases must be moved everyday. They’ve got places to go, unlike the hands that are tasked with moving them. I’m tired telling you that. Why don’t you listen to me?

TESTRONA
(feebly)​ Help me!

VERA
Is the wheel broken?

TESTRONA
(furiously) T​he wheel broken! She wants to know if the wheel is broken!

VERA
(angrily) N​o one ever suffers but you. I don’t count. I’d like to hear what you’d say if
you had what I have.

TESTRONA
Hands that never pulled a suitcase but your own?

VERA
What is it that you say?

TESTRONA
(points) Y​ou might lock it all the same.

VERA
(stooping)​ True. ​(She changes the numbers on the lock.)​ I must be focused on the
bigger things in life. Goes to say, never neglect the smaller things.

TESTRONA
The smaller things are all I’ve got.

VERA
will reach into something . . . . ​(She meditates.)​ Who said that?

TESTRONA
Why don’t you help me?

VERA
I feel it coming all the same. ​(She sets her suitcase on its side and unlocks it, pulls it open and peers inside it, feels about inside it, rearranges some articles, a flash goes off inside, she locks it again.) H​ow shall I say? I feel relieved and at the same time . . . ​(she searches for the word)​ . . . appalled. ​(With emphasis.)​ AP-PALLED. ​(She takes off unlocks the suitcase again, peers inside it.)​ It is coming, so it shall come. ​(She rearranges items again, peers into it again, closes and locks it again.) ​Always something to be done. ​(TESTRONA with a supreme effort succeeds in pulling her suitcase forward. It falls forward and breaks open partially, nothing falls out of it, she feels inside and stares sightlessly before her)​ Well?

TESTRONA
Nothing.

VERA
Show me.

TESTRONA
There’s nothing to show.

VERA
Try and pull it again

TESTRONA
(examining her hands)​ I’ll rest for a bit.

VERA
Blaming the load for the faults of the hands. ​(She unlocks her suitcase again, peers inside it, feels about inside it, locks it again.) ​This is getting alarming. (​Silence. Vera deep in thought, Testrona massages her fingers.)​ She did it all on her own. ​(Pause.) Just like that, she was a miracle.​ (Longer pause.)​ Tessa.

TESTRONA
What?

VERA
Suppose we repented

TESTRONA
For what?

VERA
You say it like it’s a long list

TESTRONA
I don’t see a list.

VERA
Oh . . .​ (She reflects.) ​ Let’s refrain from going into the details.

TESTRONA
Our being born in this form?

VERA
(Breaks into a hearty laugh which she immediately stifles, her hand pressed to her chest, her face contorted).​ One daren’t laugh anymore.

TESTRONA
Dreadful decorum ​(her stomach growls, yet is unnoticed).

VERA
Merely smile. ​(She smiles suddenly from ear to ear, head bowing in a show of demurity, ceases just as suddenly).​ It’s not the same thing. Ah, there’s always something to be done.​ (Thoughtful pause)​ Tessa.

TESTRONA
(Disinterestedly)​ What is it?

VERA
Were you ever religious?

TESTRONA
You are under the assumption that I am not now.

VERA
Did you ever read the fashionable book?

TESTRONA
(She seems to reflect)​ I must have taken a look at it.

VERA
Do you remember a thing?

TESTRONA
I recall how life was breathed into.. You know how it goes. Romantic until I couldn’t escape. The myth of one singular “him”. Followed by the hidden sequel of his plentiful “her”s.

VERA
(Paying no attention) You don’t say.

TESTRONA
Then I thought, what’s there to do. Oh, that’s what we’ll do. Over and over, I used to
say. I’ll create. I’ll be happy.

VERA
You should have been a poet.

TESTRONA
I was. ​(gestures to her bruised hands, fingers unadorned)​ Isn’t that obvious?

A pregnant pause.

VERA
Now where was I? How are the wheels coming along?

TESTRONA
As pathetic as ever.

VERA
Ah yes, the woman of wonders. Who performed a miracle only to have the product be thought of as more valuable than herself.

TESTRONA
I feel like I hear it every time.

VERA
Shall I tell it to you?

TESTRONA
No.

VERA
It’ll be of interest to you. A woman, unattached to any soul, one day bearing the weight of–

TESTRONA
To any what?

VERA
Any soul.

TESTRONA
Why do we have a need for any of that?

VERA
To be human.

TESTRONA
I’ve lost that privilege.

VERA
Then let’s look for it.

Testrona doesn’t move.

VERA
And yet . . . ​(pause)​ . . . how is it –this is not upsetting you I hope– how is it that she is chosen? Why is it that she is granted the ability to create all on her own, needing no one else when we live on here dependent as ever on the unpleasant other?
(Pause.) ​Come on, Tessa, return the ball, can’t you, once in a way?

TESTRONA
(with exaggerated intrigue)​ I find this discussion really most extraordinarily
rewarding.

VERA
(naively) If we could have all been gifted like she had been, we could get rid of all of them without a second thought. Just imagine. We could send them off, let them loiter some other planet far, far away…

TESTRONA
Who?

VERA
What?

TESTRONA
What’s this all about? Get rid of whom?

VERA
The others.

TESTRONA
From whose perspective are we seeing them as ‘the others’?

VERA
Ours.

TESTRONA
Why?

VERA
Do you consider them the same as yourself?

TESTRONA
Are we not all kin?

VERA
Imbecile! Never!

TESTRONA
Don’t you want that to be so?

VERA
A true impossibility. There has never been a bigger waste of one’s time than working
towards what can never be.

TESTRONA
Everything is a waste of one’s time, if you put it that way.

VERA
How morbid. But so very accurate.

TESTRONA
Are we not talking right now?

VERA
Then let’s stop. (Brief pause. Testrona rises painstakingly, hands on the handle of the suitcase, gathering her energy before already giving up, kicking the suitcase forward, it moves an inch and opens up even more.)

VERA
(turns her head after tiring of watching the pitiful figure)​ I would have left.

TESTRONA
Then leave.

VERA
If we hadn’t been waiting for Ever.

TESTRONA
Who?

VERA
Or was it… No, yes, Ever. She’ll meet us here

TESTRONA
(despairingly) A​h! Here?

VERA
Where else?

TESTRONA
Are you sure?

VERA
Sure of what? I am never sure

TESTRONA
That we were to wait. To wait here, at least.

VERA
By the construction. (They look at the unbuilt structure, each gazing at a different section) Do you see any others?

TESTRONA
Only everywhere I turn. ​(Pause)​ Where are the workers?

VERA
Must be on break.

TESTRONA
It’s a skeleton, how can they leave it without walls?

VERA
It’ll just be one of those, I suppose.

TESTRONA
What?

VERA
Ghost buildings that keep growing, prematurely

TESTRONA
What if she doesn’t come?

VERA
she comes.

TESTRONA
‘Till she comes…

VERA
The first time is the hardest. It gets better.

TESTRONA
We have been here yesterday.

VERA
You are mistaken

TESTRONA
What did we do yesterday?

VERA
What did we do yesterday?

TESTRONA
Yes.

VERA
Why . . . (Frustratedly) Nothing is certain when you’re about. We shall wait till she comes.

TESTRONA
‘Til the end?

VERA
Saturday.

TESTRONA
(exhaustedly) ​Saturday? Not on Saturn today? ​(Pause) Or on Saturn yesterday?

VERA
Why you––!

TESTRONA
Why must we wait anyway?

VERA
You shall see. All comes to those who–

TESTRONA
You don’t know, do you?

VERA
No, but if we keep our patience, all comes to–

TESTRONA
What are you expecting? For the world to flip its ways so we can see better days? That everything you think you deserve will be served on a silver tray (​Her stomach rumbles once again.) ​carried in her arms?

VERA
What nonsense. ​(Pause, a secretive smile) W​e can hope, if it wouldn’t be too foolish.

TESTRONA
Just as long as she does come around.

VERA
She will, surely. She said so.

TESTRONA
If you’re sure. ​(Pause) W​hat do we do now?

VERA
Wait.

TESTRONA
While waiting.

VERA
Live, breathe, wait-

TESTRONA
(interrupting) L​et’s go.

VERA
Where do you suggest?

TESTRONA
Let’s hijack a flight.

VERA
You can’t even pull that suitcase

TESTRONA
It’s killed itself from the burden of man-kind.

VERA
How fortunate. (shaking her head, as if trying to clear it) We can’t hijack a flight. We don’t have a clue how.

TESTRONA
We will come up with something. No chance of success balances out to no chance of
failure. Just think of it now.

VERA
Let’s wait and see what she says

TESTRONA
Who?

VERA
Ever.

TESTRONA
Then let’s stop talking and wait.

VERA
What have we been doing all this time?

TESTRONA
(sits on down on her suitcase, Vera’s mouth opens to start yet Testrona falls asleep before she has the chance. Vera looks around, trying to amuse herself, growing desperate in a matter of seconds.)

VERA
Tessa… Tessa… TESSA!

TESTRONA
(returning to the banality of the world) ​Will you never let me sleep?

VERA
I was lonely.

TESTRONA
Why are you always in need of me?

VERA
I am.

TESTRONA
You should learn to be on your own.

VERA
Okay. ​(moves closer to Testrona)

TESTRONA
(quietly) G​rant me the power to deny you. How long has it been?

VERA
Since what?

TESTRONA
(about to reply)

Enter Pozza and Unlucky. Pozza pulls Lucky by her tie onto stage.

POZZA
Bow!​ (Unlucky falls into a bow as deep as the grip on her tie permits) T​hese are dames
you see here, have you forgotten everything?

TESTRONA
(ready to go to her assistance, taking a step forward)

VERA
(holding her back, incredulously) W​hat has come over you?

POZZA
Be careful! Unlucky’s a charmer. ​(Vera and Testrona turn towards Pozzo.)​ Especially
with strangers.

TESTRONA
(undertone) ​Is that her?

VERA
Who?

TESTRONA
(trying to remember the name). Er . . .

VERA
Ever?​ ​I surely hope so.

POZZA
I present myself, Ms. Pozza.

VERA
(showing no pleasure) Pleasure. (Vera and Testrona, cautiously at first, then more boldly, begin to circle about Unlucky, inspecting her up and down. Unlucky remains standing poised, chin up and wearing a charming smile, nodding to each of the women and throwing in a good hearted laugh every now and then. Rhythm of one asserting dominance.)

TESTRONA
What ails him?

VERA
She seems divine

TESTRONA
Why doesn’t he quit smiling? Why does he laugh?

VERA
How do I know? ​(They close in on him.)​ Careful!

TESTRONA
(Standing close to Unlucky)​ Say something to her. (​She reaches out to touch her tie
before Vera slaps her hand away.)

VERA
Repulsive, you are. In your divinity.
(Unlucky nods goodnaturedly with an air of not comprehending what is said to her,
wanting to be part of the conversation, nevertheless)

TESTRONA
I don’t understand.

POZZA
I am ready. Is everybody listening? Is everybody ready? ​(She looks at them all in turn, jerks the tie.)​ Man! ​(Unlucky gives out another laugh.)​ I don’t like talking in a vacuum. Good. Let me see.

TESTRONA
We didn’t ask anything.

POZZA
(angrily)​ Don’t interrupt me!​ (Pause. Calmer.) I​f we all speak at once we’ll never get
anywhere.​ (Pause.) ​What was I saying? ​(Pause. Louder.) W​hat was I saying?

VERA
All we say is rubbish. Everything. There is always something more needing to be
Done.

POZZA
I’ve lost it. I’ve completely lost my line of thought.​ (smooths down Unlucky’s tie,
tutting to herself before tugging at it again) I​ ’ve lost it!

VERA
All we do here is lose.

POZZA
Are you my echo? ​(flustered, tugs at Unlucky’s lapels) ​Why am I not charmed?
(Unlucky laughs, nodding at her charismatically)

TESTRONA
Why must she always laugh?

POZZA
Ah! Why couldn’t you say so before? Unlucky doesn’t want to. There’s reasoning for
you. And why doesn’t she want to? ​(Pause.) ​Ladies, the reason is this.

VERA
(to Testrona)​ Make a note of this.

TESTRONA
(watching Unlucky, head tilted with curious pity)

POZZA
She wants to impress me, so that I’ll keep her.

TESTRONA
What?

POZZO
Perhaps I haven’t got it quite right. She wants to charm me, so that I’ll give up the
idea of parting with her. No, that’s not exactly it either.

VERA
You want to get rid of her?

POZZA
She wants to placate me, but she won’t.

VERA
You want to get rid of her?

POZZA
(​smiles as she smooths down Unlucky’s tie again then pushing her away) ​She imagines that when I see how well she delights, I’ll be tempted to keep him on in that capacity.

TESTRONA
You’ve had enough of her? ​(She reaches out and this time successfully touches the tie, Unlucky places a hand on hers and lets out a laugh once more, she instantly pulls her hand back and as if she had been burned)

POZZA
(taking no notice of anyone besides herself) T​he truth is you can’t drive such
creatures away. The best thing would be to just keep them.

TESTRONA
Like Saturn.
(Unlucky attempts to embrace Pozza)

VERA
(points)​ Look!

POZZA
(paying her advances no heed) W​hat dignity. (​Unlucky’s smile slips before she laughs
twice as hard to make up for it)

TESTRONA
What gratitude you pay her for everything she has done.
(Unlucky continues to laugh, continues to try and join Pozza in an embrace)

POZZA
(blocking her ears with her hands, trying to rid herself of the sounds surrounding her) ​I can’t bear it . . . any longer . . . the way she goes on . . . you’ve no idea . . . it’s terrible . . . she must go . . .
Silence.
(All look at Pozzo)

VERA
(to Lucky)​ How dare you! It’s abominable! Really!

POZZA
(sobbing)​ She used to be so kind . . . so helpful . . . and entertaining . . . and now . . . she’s killing me. It’s my fault . . . I was decieved . . . ​ (Unlucky attempts to stroke her hair, she move away, this repeats until they are on the edge of the stage)

TESTRONA
Does she want someone to take her place or not?

VERA
I don’t think so.

TESTRONA
What else then?

VERA
I don’t know.

POZZA
(composing herself, finally giving into Unlucky perhaps as there is no place left on the
stage)I​ must be going.

VERA
Hold on! Are you not also waiting on Ever?

POZZA
(already making her way off the stage, pulling Unlucky after her by her tie)​ Who isn’t?

Exit Pozza and Unlucky.

VERA
That passed all the time.

TESTRONA
It would have passed in any case.

VERA
Yes, but not so rapidly
(Pause.)

TESTRONA
What do we do now?

VERA
I don’t know.

TESTRONA
We can hijack a plane.

VERA
We can’t.

TESTRONA
Why not?

VERA
We’re waiting for Ever.
(The Voice from the speakers clears up)

VOICE
Announcement to those that it may concern. (Both look up and around excitedly) The flight carrying Ms. Godot has arrived this evening on schedule. (The morning light seeps in gradually onto the stage)

VERA
(prying open the luggage, fumbling around before retrieving a chunky photo machine) Do you hear that? Oh, how blessed our souls are, deliver us from the confusion we live in! I see the morning sun’s rays greet us, I see the light!

TESTRONA
(to herself)​ This is surreal. Ten years, and she points it the wrong way.

Enter Ever.

EVER
(with calculated disdain) W​hat are you doing here?

TESTRONA
What does it look like?

EVER
Can’t I ever be in peace? ​(twirls luggage with ease) ​All right, make it quick. (nothing happens)

EVER
​Well?

TESTRONA
Well?

VERA
Well?

TESTRONA
Are you not satisfied?

VERA
I must be mistaken, clearly…

TESTRONA
What Vera here means is: give us something to be satisfied with.

EVER
How outrageous! But since you’ve so desperately awaited my arrival… I’ll give you a chance to save your pitiful selves. (Pauses, looks from Vera to Testrona and back again expectantly) Silence.

EVER
(outraged)​ I knew it! I’m old news- ​(waiting for an interruption) (silence)

VERA
(suddenly, falling to her knees with gusto) No! You are mistaken! We are simpletons that cannot understand, cannot comprehend where to even start!

TESTRONA
(to herself again) ​I can’t say I am disappointed, for I would have had to expect something.

EVER
(furiously, voice raising to a squeal) ​Why do I even bother changing it up for you all? (The sound of a shutter and an unflattering flash)

VERA
I’m getting the hang of it now.
(Ever turns aggressively to leave the stage)

TESTRONA
Are you leaving? And without giving us a reason to have waited?
(Ever shrieks and the lights go dim again as she leaves the stage)

VERA
Oh, what will become of us! (in a state of panic, clutching her hair in her hands, pacing and shrieking hysterically)

TESTRONA
(visibly shaken as well, yet subdued) W​hat does it matter? What does it matter?

VERA
What does it matter, she asks. What a fool! Our eternal destiny. Now what do we do?

TESTRONA
What do we do?

VERA
world’s pointless loiterers. I won’t stand for it! ​(Pause. She sobs uncontrollably)

TESTRONA
(numbly)​ Let’s find something else then.​ (Pause)

VERA
(continues to sob with no sign of stopping)

TESTRONA
Think of something. Otherwise… We will part for good.

VERA
(instantly recollecting herself) ​No, no. That won’t do. ​

TESTRONA
Well?

VERA
What was that saying?

​TESTRONA No clue.

VERA
Say it enough times and it will be true.
(Testrona opens her mouth but is interrupted, Vera spins around, back to the audience, overcome with desperation, she mimics the Voice)
Announcement to those that it may concern. The flight carrying Ms. Godot scheduled to arrive this evening has been delayed. ​(Pause) Announcement to those that it may concern. The flight carrying Ms. Godot scheduled to arrive this evening has been delayed.​ (Pause) ​Announcement to those that it may concern. The flight carrying Ms. Godot scheduled to arrive this evening has been delayed. ​(Pause)​ The flight carrying Ms. Godot scheduled to arrive this evening has been delayed. ​(Pause)
Silence.
(turns back around, looking as if just having woken up, incredulously)​ Delayed? Under what circumstances can––

TESTRONA
You can’t really belie–

VERA
Silence.

(Testrona opens her mouth but is interrupted)

VERA
(clearly forced enthusiasm as she holds Testrona’s face in her hands) ​Oh, what do you
say to that? Arriving tomorrow?

TESTRONA
(defeated) All we have to do is wait here as we have been doing.

VERA
Are you mad? All will be well tomorrow.

TESTRONA
Remind me to look up how to get us on a plane. All we need is a weapon and some
scary ideas, right? (​Pants as she pulls the suitcase upright.)

VERA
Perhaps. But who knows. Always something to be done.

TESTRONA
Shall we get these to the loading area?

VERA
(They do not move).
Of course, let’s go.
Act II

Same time.
Same people.
Same place.
The skeleton building has grown some walls.

(Testrona is struggling with the suitcase, it is where she had left it. The monotone drawl of an unidentified voice over a distant set of speakers surround her as she struggles, panting)

TESTRONA
(giving up) ​Always something to be done. ​(looks up at the long way there is to go)

VERA
(advancing, pulling a large suitcase with little effort) I​’m beginning to believe that
myself.

TESTRONA
Let’s go.

VERA
We can’t.

TESTRONA
Why?

VERA
We’re waiting for some other Ever.

Curtain.

 

Artwork by Alex Oswith

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