Excerpt: "Longing for Nostalgia"

Longing for Nostalgia

By Marilyn Anne Campbell


A large rectangular wooden box sits center stage
with two plain chairs, one on either side. Upstage a
few cardboard boxes have been stacked - the kind
you would use to pack childhood keepsakes in your
parents' basement. They are variously labeled
"Brian", "Tasha" and "Corey".

Standing downstage, TASHA and BRIAN don't
acknowledge the presence of each other or of
COREY, who is seated on the box behind them.

TASHA: (to audience) If someone was ever like, 'what was your defining moment', you know, or 'what shaped you for the rest of your life?', I've always known what my answer would be.

BRIAN: (to audience)My sister gets melodramatic.

TASHA: (to audience) Or at least I used to know. Until now.

BRIAN: (to audience) I can’t remember if she was that way as a child or if it was a case of, once she had the material she decided to run with it. Chicken or the egg, I guess.

TASHA: (to audience) It used to be everything revolved around that one day…

BRIAN: (to audience) Either way it’s always been about that one day…

and BRIAN: (to audience) That day in ‘86.

TASHA: (to audience) I don’t wanna dwell. It’s hard to talk about something so, so traumatizing. So scarring. It's just easier not to say anything, you know?

BRIAN: (to audience) Tasha likes to pull it out for sympathy whenever she can.

TASHA: (to audience) We were just kids, my brothers and me! (fighting tears) I’m sorry. I promised myself I wouldn’t…

BRIAN: (to audience) But I guess she won’t need ’86 anymore.

TASHA: (to audience) And now this…

BRIAN: (to audience) Not with this.

TASHA: (to audience) I was at work when I found out. Mr. Bower actually had me come me into his office. That never happens. I didn’t even know where his office was.

BRIAN drifts to the side and COREY realizes this is waiting on him. He jumps up and becomes Mr. Bower.

COREY: Oh, uh, Tasha? Yes, you must be. Of course you are. Please, sit down.

TASHA: What’s this all about?

COREY: This? Nothing. Of course something. I think we should wait though. For your family.

TASHA: My family's coming?

COREY: Oh, uh, not your whole family, I don't think. But someone. Certainly someone, to… um, but we should, we should wait, maybe. Oh, I know! How are you liking the new coffee service? Swanky, eh?

TASHA: What's wrong with my family?

COREY: Whu-, um, oh… Oh, I’ve said too much.

TASHA: Just tell me if it's my mother or my father.

COREY: Too, too much…

TASHA: (to audience) Mr. Bower's usually a really decisive kind of guy, but now I know he’s afraid of emotional situations. That, or he’s just afraid of me. (to Bower) Is it my mother or my father - and are they sick or dead?

COREY, as Bower, stares in shock. BRIAN steps forward again.

BRIAN: (to audience) Melissa tried to break it to me as gently as she could, given the circumstances. She and I are- well we're friends, so that made it even harder. Or easier, maybe, I’m not sure. She always answers the phone in our office - not because she’s a receptionist, she’s not, she’s a fully trained meteorologist, a really, really fantastic meteorologist - it's just… she’s the least awkward when it comes to talking to people. I freeze up and Imran stutters and, well, by default Mel answers the phones. Which also means Mel defaults to situations like this. I feel bad about that. At first I felt worse for her having to be the one to tell me than I did about… I mean, until it sunk in of course.

BRIAN sits at his "desk" and COREY turns to him, now as Mel.

COREY: (wiping tears) Brian? I’m sorry to disturb you...

BRIAN: Just let me finish this one thing…

COREY sniffles loudly.

BRIAN: Hey, Mel, whoa, are you okay?

COREY: Yes, oh Brian yes, I’m fine, I just…

BRIAN: Do you need to sit down?

BRIAN starts to stand.

COREY: Oh no, god no, you sit. Please, please stay sitting.

TASHA: (to audience) Mr. Bower was trapped. Like a cornered animal.

COREY turns back to TASHA.

COREY: Oh, this is, no, I said much, much too much.

BRIAN: (to audience) Poor Mel, putting on her brave face.

COREY: (as Mel) It’s just, I hate to be the one to have to tell you…

TASHA: (to audience) But I cornered him for real…

TASHA grabs COREY by the arm roughly.

BRIAN: (to audience) But I gave her some time…

BRIAN comes in on COREY’s other side, slowly.

TASHA: (to audience) “Who is it, tell me who?” I forced it out of him.

BRIAN: (to audience) …coaxed it out of her…

When BRIAN lightly touches COREY’s other arm, COREY ducks out from between them. They just turn to the audience.

BRIAN: (to audience) ‘It’s your brother‘, she said.

TASHA: (to audience) ‘Your brother Corey,’ he said.

COREY: What? Me? Says who?

Ignored, COREY checks for his own pulse then dashes offstage.

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