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  • Sara Hurand

Everything is a Beginning


They say that creative expression is a good mode of healing, getting things up and out. As you know, I'm a big believer in creative expression as one of our most powerful, most miraculous, transformative gifts. I wish everyone would try it. To some, being creatively expressive comes easier, but for the record, NOT ME! I struggle every time, but find it worth it, nevertheless. I've never written a play before, but this just came to me and kept writing itself. It must have been part dream, part fantasy, because in it I conversed with my brother. When I started writing this play, I felt shame and fear, questioning whether I am allowed to talk with Josh like this. After a few supportive friends cheered me on, I allowed myself to have fun with my brother again and ask questions and learn. Thanks, friends.


I'd like to offer my dear friends and family (my loving audience) to send me your creative expressions or even your doubts. If you have not explored writing, drawing, sculpting, photographing, gathering, sorting, sharing, manifesting, won't you consider trying? You can wake up and be the superhero of your own adventure! Swat away those feelings of apprehension or "I'm not creative", "who has time?" crutches. If you are human, if you are alive, you are creative. My offer stands, if you want a helping hand or personal cheering section, I'm your gal. Send me an email, message me, flag me down on the street- ya that's right, come to Tel Aviv! I'm here for you.


And without further ado.... my debut play is premiering right here, right now, in my imagination, and if you read on, yours too.




Everything is a Beginning

Act 1

Scene 1

Large screen up stage is dark.

Writer is sitting, typing.


SARA sits at a petite curved writing desk centered down stage facing the AUDIENCE. Typing on an invisible computer, staring at an invisible screen, which is the AUDIENCE. Construction noise coming from an open window on stage right. Wind blows a soft beige floor to ceiling curtain. Up stage, a large screen opens, mimicking the invisible computer screen SARA is working on.



SARA

There once was a Brother and sister… Wait. Uh…looking up: “how to write a play script now.” Ah, here is a link.


Jumbo screen moves from the mostly blank writing page with “There once was a Brother and sister…, then opens to the web search for how to write a play, then a particular link. JOSH walks up behind her but stands at a distance, not concerned with her computer screen. He is focused on his sister.


JOSH

Whatcha doing, SEH? (pronounced seeee)


SARA continues to work diligently at her computer and does not turn to look at JOSH while she responds,


SARA

Writing a play. (type, type, typing)


JOSH

About what?


SARA

About us.


SARA continues typing a lot, though no words continue on the screen.


SARA

It starts out with a brother and sister. I just started. Don’t have much yet, just, “There once was a Brother and sister…”


There is a mismatch between the amount of typing, the focus, and the tiny amount of content.


SARA

Kind of basic, but I like the trite-ness of it.


JOSH

How about, “Once there was a brother and Sis….


SARA cuts him off with exaggerated exasperation and sharply looks at him.


SARA

URgggghhh. Josh! I just started! I can’t edit the first words before I get somewhere with it!


SARA closes down inside, mumbles to herself.


SARA

Shouldn’t have given it away yet.


SARA returns to typing, mumbles as she tries out JOSH’s version which appears on the large screen at the back of the stage. SARA snaps,


SARA

They both work!


SARA

Once there was a Brother and sister…


SARA looks at the invisible screen now showing both options and contemplates. She pauses, and mumbles,


SARA

His is better. Why is this so hard?


The computer screen up stage closes down to black and eases into a night sky screensaver. The lighting dims simultaneously turning the stage to night time. A lamp on the desk gently illuminates to a soft glow. SARA gets up and stands by the window curtain first gently pushing it aside as though to peer out the window. She then gently tugs on it toward the ground, then a little stronger, until the tall, diaphanous curtain and desk lower into the ground to disappear, clearing the stage of everything but the dark large screen upstage. SARA excitedly runs to the center of the stage standing stage right to JOSH, and JOSH stands next to her stage left. This is the order they will stand most of the play. They face the AUDIENCE, essentially center stage. SARA leans over and semi-whispers to JOSH.


SARA

I have an idea for a new beginning.


JOSH straightens himself up facing the AUDIENCE, rubbing his hands together in eager anticipation as though he already knows what SARA means.


JOSH

OK. Let's go.


Without explaining what will happen, JOSH and SARA face the AUDIENCE and intently bow together, very proud, like it's the end of an epic show and the audience is cheering like wild. JOSH and SARA start bowing, beaming with pride. The actual AUDIENCE starts reservedly cheering but in an awkward, unsure way. The beginning feels like an end- SARA and JOSH are bowing to an imaginary adoring crowd, the actual AUDIENCE is confused and awkwardly figuring out what kind of beginning this is. SARA shouts through her laughter, and JOSH is also laughing while he speaks. They are sharing an almost uncontrollable funny moment.


SARA

This is so weird!!!


JOSH

So weird! But isn’t it great?


A video of a cheering audience appears on the screen behind them up stage as a recorded track of corresponding enthusiastic cheering turns up. After calming down from the laughter, and cheering, the video and audio cheering recede away.



JOSH and SARA change from their standing position to sit side by side in the center of the stage facing the AUDIENCE, with their legs hanging off the edge of the stage. The large screen becomes a dreamy night sky behind them, with stars and constellations, moving imagery, a dreamscape, like an illustration in a children's book. Astrological symbols and satellites float around. While the screen is behind them, they appear to be looking and pointing at it while they face the AUDIENCE. Lighting and music enhance the illustrated fantasy environment. They point to various imaginary things in the sky, and share the experience together, settling into a quiet, still moment together.



SARA

Do you think it's strange we are so close?


JOSH

No.


SARA

You once told me you thought our relationship could not be any closer, something about how we are with each other, but I can’t remember what you said. I wish I could remember what you said.


Long pause, imagery moves and sparkles behind them. JOSH changes the subject.


JOSH

You know I came here on a boat in the sky?


SARA smiles and looks at him casually.


SARA

You did?


JOSH

Yes! It was a boat in the sky.


SARA

A boat in the sky?


JOSH

Yes. Do you believe it?


Long pause, a dreamy pirate ship floats in the sky behind them. SARA points to a moving astrology animal. JOSH admires it.


SARA

Look at that! Do you think Ashley and the kids will be sad that you are here with me?


Silence.


SARA

I feel selfish that you are with me. Is it ok that you are with me this much?


Tall grass and reeds grow around and behind them. It's as though they are sitting outside in nature with the night sky behind them. JOSH plays with an invisible stone he picks up from the ground. He tosses it like he is skipping a stone.


JOSH

I’m with them too. I’m just here right now. I didn’t plan this way, but it’s all working out the way it is supposed to. Do you see that fish?


JOSH points to invisible water in front of them, while a giant prehistoric Tethys Sea fish floats by on the screen behind.



JOSH

How is your play coming?


SARA

I’m writing it right now.


JOSH smiles and looks at her happily.


JOSH

You are?


SARA

Yep.


SARA looks at JOSH out of the corner of her eye, embarrassed by his pride for her.


SARA

Well, I’m trying. When I write I feel you next to me. I’ve been so blocked, I really want to be painting but writing is the only thing that is coming out. Are you still writing?


Silence. JOSH ignores the question and continues to skip imaginary stones.


SARA

Maybe I shouldn’t have asked. I like that I have your writings.



SARA opens an archetypal treasure chest that floats up as though from a river. It looks like it could be from Peter Pan. Inside are worn Journals, different sizes and colors. SARA lifts some up and inspects them from the outside, placing each one back. The illustrated screen behind sparkles around where the Journals are, framing an aura around them. Without reading them as she inspects the outside of the Journals she says,


SARA

Josh, why do you write?


Silence. It’s as though JOSH is ignoring her, but not in a mean way. He just can’t respond. SARA is not frustrated, she just returns to focus on the contents of the treasure chest.


SARA

I wish I could ask you.


SARA continues to inspect the Journals, opening and reading some of them. On the screen behind, a blank journal page appears as the night sky and landscape recede. It is an animated and illustrated transition on the screen, dreamy and exaggerated. Josh's handwriting starts to appear on the blank page as though it is being written. Only a few words start. JOSH stands up to recite what the words are, but there is silence. JOSH just stands there blankly, but not frozen. After a pause that feels just a bit too long, SARA jumps up to quell the awkwardness and interrupts. As she stands next to JOSH, she begins to read timidly and questioningly, and looks sideways at JOSH often, seeking approval, but not really getting much in response.



SARA

“Why I Write”


“I write. I am a writer. I observe the world and capture my observation into writing. I write to remember. I write to reflect. I write to share ideas. I write to vent out feelings. I write to understand. I write because I am inspired. I write to realize what is happening inside. I write to express what I see on the outside.”


SARA stops, and gets more assured. She still seeks approval from JOSH.


SARA

Wait, I have an idea! We can get the AUDIENCE to participate!


Both JOSH and SARA stand up and resume the over-enthusiastic energy of the cheering opening. They rub their hands together and dance in place, getting ready for the big moment. A prompter with legible letters appears on the screen behind them, beneath the part with Josh's handwriting. SARA gestures in an exaggerated way to the AUDIENCE to read along. JOSH stands excitedly with anticipation for the group. SARA says in a cheering voice, then starts to read the words as they appear on screen leading the AUDIENCE to join along. The tone is exaggerated, fun, with bravado, as they finish reading the piece of writing.



SARA

C'mon everyone, we need you!


The AUDIENCE joins in.


SARA and the AUDIENCE

“I write to grow. I grow when I write. I write to live more meaningfully. I live more meaningfully when I write.”


The writing becomes larger and more poignant, matching his Journal entry, while the prompter runs along it making it legible to the AUDIENCE. The final words are enunciated, led by SARA.



SARA and the AUDIENCE

“30 poems!

A prolific

Representation

of a period

Of immense

Growth.

"טוב מאד.


AUDIENCE stumbles with the Hebrew. SARA reassures them and thanks them for participating. The Journal flips pages to the end in the background as she speaks.


SARA

That was Hebrew at the end. Very good, it says. Very good! Tov M’od. Thank you.


JOSH and SARA calm down, and return to the previous seated position. SARA returns to looking at the Journals in the treasure chest.


SARA

You write lists, you write hopes. You write poems, notes. I don’t think you wrote them for anyone else but yourself. Now they’re mine, well, your kids really, I’m just holding on to them, figuring out what to do with them in the meantime.


Images of Journal 1 flip quickly behind them so names and numbers are not legible.



SARA

You know, the first journal I have of yours is from 2005. You must have just been getting out of a treatment program and all the contents are notes to you from the people you went through the program with. You were 32. It looks like notes in a high school yearbook. They all left their names, addresses, contact info. I wonder if you stayed in touch with them. I wonder if they made it.


SARA looks at JOSH.


SARA

It’s amazing to me that the first journal is entirely written by other people. You don’t write in it at all. This first one is only notes to you, while the rest, for the rest of your life, are your notes to yourself. And now me, and someday your kids.



SARA

Your next journal, you write your name and address on the inside cover, and gave it a title, “Spiritual Meanderings.”


SARA smiles, and repeats the words exploring them more deeply.


SARA

I like that. “Spiritual Meanderings”.


Images of Journal 2 flip quickly behind them so writings aren’t readable.


SARA

Let’s see, we’ve got some Torah study going on here. And on June 14, 2005 you were in the St. Phillips Foothills at 8:15 in the morning…


SARA leans in to JOSH in a warm and humorous way, like it’s a secret.


SARA

You know, time and place have always been important to you. I wonder where you are. Where we are. I wonder where we will be. Where are you, Josh?


JOSH stands up again and recites loudly and clearly.



JOSH

“Never forget that life was unmanageable.


I stumbled about in a fit of paranoia.


And now as I try to convince myself that I wasn’t as bad off as I really was, I must continue to go to meetings to NEVER forget.”


SARA looks up at JOSH who is still standing. JOSH does not look at SARA, but it is clear he is talking to her, to the air in front of him, they are conversing with each other, but also to themselves. Journal rests 3/8/06. SARA points and says,


SARA

Look! Here is one of your first poems.


JOSH and SARA look lovingly ahead, then the pages continue scrolling. JOSH sits down next to SARA and they watch the invisible space in front of them, towards the audience, while the screen shows the pages behind them.



At some point the writing turns sideways and both JOSH and SARA simultaneously lean over in the direction of the slant to read it. Example pages here.




Images of Journal 2 continue scrolling to page 55 when the text straightens again. JOSH and SARA simultaneously straighten from their slanted positions. JOSH points,



JOSH

Look, another poem!


Images of Journal 2 continue scrolling to page 58 when the text slants again. JOSH and SARA simultaneously lean to read sideways until page 66 when the writing straightens again. JOSH and SARA straighten up again. JOSH continues with the Journal page behind him when it stops at page 67.


JOSH

Wait! I want to read this one.


JOSH stands up and begins to recite.


JOSH

July 7, 06, Cumberland Furnace Ten….


SARA interrupts, jokingly.


SARA

Wherever that is!


JOSH gives her a side glance, annoyed by her interruption, like lighthearted sibling bantering. and continues reciting, enunciating clearly, and dramatically, an exaggerated speech.



JOSH

“It’s amazing how far the mind can go in so many directions. I am in such a different mind space than I was one year ago.


One year ago I was brought to treatment unable to even put one foot in front of the other, my entire world was crumbling at my feet. I felt hopeless and ashamed and helpless and weak.


Today I am strong.


I am hopeful of the future, proud of what I have accomplished and focused to further heal and be of service to myself and others.


The universe is good like that. It rewards goodness with goodness and punishes from the inside out. I have to continue cleaning out my inner space to make room for the world outside that I choose to be part of.”


JOSH looks out longingly at the audience. SARA rises to stand next to JOSH.


SARA

Hey, you know how you ended your second journal?


Journal pages scroll on the screen behind them to the last page. Writing scrolls on the page as though it is being written. JOSH recites,



JOSH

“God bless this process of life- its struggles and joys are a blessing and a miracle.


As I finish one chapter of recovery I begin another-


How fitting that this moment is NOW, because ultimately now is all we really have.”


Journal ends, and a new one begins, landing on a page from July 12, 2006. As the screen shows this transition, JOSH and SARA embrace. JOSH repositions himself to continue reciting, his tone is conversational and intimate. He uses hand gestures like he is having a very personal, honest conversation. The writing on the page continues as he reads.



JOSH

“I used to be so conflicted writing in these journals because I didn’t feel like it was truly representing who I really was. I was concerned about who I really was and getting to my truth. I was the strict judge, who needed the perfect product. I needed external validation for my self worth.


I feel like I have been longing for freedom and trapped within my own feelings since adolescence and through my adulthood. I harbored such feelings of inadequacy - intellectual, sexual, physical, all my life. By finally getting clean with myself, I have provided the space and compassion to forgive myself.”


As he speaks, a jumbo pale pink couch begins to slowly rise from the center of the stage, JOSH and SARA sit on the center edge of it as it rises them up off the ground, their legs dangling over the front. An enormous chandelier that takes up most of the stage gently lowers from the ceiling and glows. JOSH looks around with surprise while he finishes reciting.


JOSH

It appears as though I am finally beginning to grow up.


The sofa is so large, the siblings appear to be extra small figures, like Lily Tomlin’s skits on the rocking chair. The chandelier takes up almost the whole stage from top to bottom, left to right. It’s dreamy and exaggerated. JOSH and SARA sit excitedly like young children, their legs dangling off the front. They do this for a while, but JOSH gets a little uncomfortable and curious. He leans over to his sister and asks almost in a whisper,



JOSH

What are we doing on this big couch?


SARA

I don’t really know. You said you felt like you were growing up, so I envisioned us as kids together, and, well, here we are.


JOSH and SARA sit for a minute, taking in the situation without judgment.


SARA

I like being small again with you.


JOSH and SARA continue to sit quietly until it gets to be awkward.


SARA

Is it wrong to be like this?


JOSH laughs gently and lovingly. SARA responds smiling, facetiously, two siblings joking together.


SARA

It is wrong! I knew it. But everything is wrong since you died! Jeez, this is the first time I’m having fun with you since you died.


JOSH laughs again, more strongly then they both have a post laugh pause. SARA continues speaking a little softer, more to herself.


SARA

I feel like we are doing this together.


Pause


SARA

I have to see it through.


SARA looks at JOSH, seeking approval. He puts his arm around her and they sit embraced for a moment, then release. SARA sighs, then continues an intimate, comfortable tone with her brother.


SARA

It feels like you and I are constantly trying to figure it out.


SARA stands up on the seat of the couch which is as big as a room and starts exploring, peeking behind an enormous pink throw pillow. She continues,


SARA

As much as we know, and experiences we have, we are perpetually in a state of inquiry. Do you feel this way? Like, more than other people?


Silence.


SARA

Maybe it’s a family trait, or a sibling trait.


SARA adjusts the enormous throw pillow at a slant, and climbs up a few feet to try sliding down. She continues speaking as she is sliding, speaking like a child engaged in her activity.


SARA

Like an endless curiosity and childlike openness. I like it, I guess. I think it’s a good quality, but it can be exhausting.


JOSH

In what way?


SARA returns to sit next to JOSH in the center of the couch cushion, feet dangling off the edge, moving them like a child.


SARA

You know, sometimes I feel like everyone else has it worked out. They just know and do things. For me, it’s like the first time every time. It’s a little exhausting to never feel like I’ve got it figured out and I’m always learning something anew. When I read your early journals, when you were in your 30s, you are searching. Searching and building. You are so good at processing emotions by now that it’s hard to believe you ever needed to learn this skill and build yourself. It’s kind of cool to read your hopeful affirmations and think, you totally did this Josh! Your hope for the future really will come to pass.


Pause.


SARA

I’m proud of you, Josh.


JOSH

Thanks, SEH. I’m proud of you.


Pause.


SARA

I had this thought the other day about being an artist.


You didn’t see yourself as an artist. You wrote to process, to demarcate, to reflect. You wrote, “I am a writer,” in your early journal, but I think it was a hope, a hope-filled affirmation. You always thought of me as the artist since I drew and made paintings and went to art school. When I read your journals I see that you were an artist all along. I’m so glad you expressed so much in various ways. There is so much here of you, and you didn’t even plan it this way. You just wrote.


JOSH

Thank you for going through my journals and poems. I hope it's not a burden.


SARA

It’s not a burden, it’s a gift, but like I said, I never feel like I fully understand what I am doing. I’m learning everything for the first time, so I am doing my best to figure it out. It’s a little confusing sometimes.


JOSH

What’s confusing about it?

SARA

It feels selfish to hold all of your stuff and work with it. Is it your stuff or my stuff? I don’t want to take it over and make it about me, but working with the material puts it in my lap, not yours.


SARA raises both hands as she says that, and drops them in her lap.


SARA

I mean, isn’t it a little obsessive to write a play like this? Is it a manifestation of my grief? I keep trying to paint but nothing comes out. I thought, maybe if I had a structure, like a play, I could design the stage set. I really want to design the stage set, and that is why I am writing this play. And the writing is the only thing that’s coming out.


JOSH

You’re doing a good job with it, Sara. Keep at it. You’ll figure it out.


SARA

Do you believe we are doing this together?


Silence.


SARA

I'm going to change the name of your book before I publish it, you know.


SARA looks up at JOSH with a shy, questioning look. She speaks a little defensively.


SARA

I just don’t think you can say "no" in a title. "No Control over the Script?"


Silence.


SARA

I just don't think that's what you mean. You charted a course of adventure and love through your pain. You wrote a gorgeous book! Is that control or not?


Silence.


SARA

But either way, I'm changing the title to "Into the Next," your first one. It was Claudette's idea to go back to your original title. You know, we all agreed to rewrite the name.


Pause. SARA says quietly.


SARA

I hope it's ok. Tyler said that often writers rely on their editors for help with the final title, sometimes you are so close to it you can’t understand what it really is from the outside. He will also help look for title ideas as he finishes reading your book. Did I tell you we asked Tyler to write the intro?


Your book is at a really exciting small design and print shop. We picked the size and quality of the paper. You’d really like it. Today we talked about using the images of your journal covers and some of your writing in the graphics. I want to make sure there is color. You are so filled with color. We are also looking at Nick Georgiou’s piece he made from your old books for your office for inspiration.


The chandelier recedes, the sofa lowers until JOSH and SARA are back on the ground. Jumbo Journal covers populate the screen, colors and graphics come from up stage, stage left, stage right and from above, like a 3d design process. JOSH and SARA stand down stage as the dynamic whirling of images, sounds, and lights surround them. They hold hands. The third Journal becomes central in the screen up stage and rests on page 26.



A recorded voice of JOSH reads the date and location of the Journal entry, and fades into a Journal page with writing as the recording traces the words. JOSH and SARA are experiencing the dynamic and overlapping recitation of various excerpts of the Journals. Overlapping words are indicated in blue.



JOSH RECORDED

“So many feelings swimming around my head- makes me wonder why I’m calling them feelings. Wouldn't they be thoughts? And don’t thoughts tend to obscure feelings?”


SARA looks at JOSH intently, they are still holding hands. JOSH looks around and at the AUDIENCE, but not at SARA.


JOSH RECORDED

“The reality is that there are going to be moments when things are said or done that trigger feelings which then lead to behavior. So long as I approach conflicts from a place of love then I will be able to process the uncomfortable feelings that come from all over. The disease doesn’t end, until you…”


There is a pause, then continues with the next page of his Journal.


JOSH

“Had another emotional day today-”


There is a pause, JOSH drops holding SARA’s hand and walks intently a little stage left. It seems as though JOSH is emotionally distraught and it will continue this way, but his words and demeanor become surprising and hopeful. It is a welcome, but abrupt change of tone, which, when reading a Journal, accounts for the occurrence of time between entries and different states of mind. He becomes joyful, surprised.


JOSH

“It’s really wonderful to be able to experience emotions. That is truly the essence of life for human beings and experiencing emotions is different from being ruled by emotions. The latter leads to behaviors and choices that further one’s ability to pursue their Divine potential. It’s so interesting to transition into such a philosophy because to truly believe it one must experience and feel it. The cycle is amazing since the soul is unleashed to fulfill it. I am able to begin to tap into this genuine power, but of course struggle with distractions and life challenges that at times make the emotions seem unbearable.”



SARA moves towards JOSH to try to tell him something eagerly, but JOSH does not notice.


SARA

I had this thought the other day about creativity, the creative process.


SARA continues to speak, at the same time as the recorded recitations of JOSH’s Journal entries. It appears as though both of them are having separate conversations at the same time, almost competing but unaware of each other. Pages and Journal writings from the screen behind start to move fast and grow, highlighting a variety of tones and scenes from JOSH’s voice highlighting a variety of excerpts light and challenging. Recordings of JOSH’s voice reciting them begin to overlap with each other, as the stage and sound become frenzied- a cacophony of emotions being poured into Journal pages. There is a build to a crescendo and release.



JOSH RECORDED

“7/30/06 Grand Blanc, Michigan

Had an amazing drive + catch up with Grandma Bess and Papa Art. It's amazing how my soul brightens up in their presence.”


The frenzied sounds and overlapping recordings lower as SARA speaks, so as to give her space to be heard. She is talking, conversing, but not to anyone directly. She uses strong hand gestures like she really wants to convey what she is thinking.


SARA

So I believe, with the whole, “Made in God’s image thing…”


JOSH’s recorded voice interrupts. The flow of writing and Journal recitations increases again.


JOSH RECORDED (peaceful tone)

“8/16/06 Cottonwood meeting

It has been a hectic couple of days and it feels good to sit and put everything aside and just take some time for me…”



JOSH’s recorded voice speaks in a terse tone that increases to angst at “SPECIAL FRIEND”, returns to contemplative by end,


JOSH RECORDED

“9/5 Tuesday - Post LA, pre Libby

Wrote an email today that I may come to regret but needed to come out sooner or later.


I’m having trouble with being the “SPECIAL FRIEND”. It's a very challenging and unfair place to be. I feel like I am getting only part of a person and then waiting for the part to emerge.”



Recorded voice recites part of the poem.


JOSH RECORDED

“9/22/06

FAKE WATER


Two wafey blondes

Skin and pale blonde hair

Blowing in the wind

Fake water

Trickles behind me

And I sit in thought

Not deep in emotion


My heart is tired

It’s been up and down

And now it is just

Tired.

I still care and still love

But the heart is tired…”



JOSH RECORDED

“I guess it is up to each of us to do what is right and leave space and time to create moments that last lifetimes

And savor the feeling that nourishes the soul. Sometimes they hurt, but as long as they are real the soul is fed.


Two wafey blondes in the hot tub with a greasy surfer guy- probably the one with the good drugs”


Journal writings continue to pour out again on screen. SARA moves down stage to continue what she is saying.


SARA

In my experience, the creative process is full of struggle, even destruction. Maybe this is God’s experience too? What if we, I mean, humanity, this experiment on earth, is just one big creative project for God?...like, all this mayhem is part of God’s creative exploration.


JOSH interrupts, his words do not relate to hers. Frenzied cacophony returns.


JOSH RECORDED

“They clearly snuck into the place- I would have done the same when I was in college. Only one year and a half ago, I would have been asking them where the party was at. My how far I have grown in a year. I used to rationalize my youthful exuberance with the excuse that for me, college was cut short. But in reality college was cut short because of my youthful exuberance. Go figure?!!”



JOSH RECORDED (light hearted tone)

“All in all it was a great day today. Nothing too exciting. Progress at school and catching up w/television programs. Some scattered yoga. No physical exercise but some writing and meditation + prayer. Yesterday I went to the Cottonwood meeting and faced some anger that has been creeping more and more into my day to day.”



JOSH RECORDED

“Plan 1yr Plan

-Apply and get into grad school

-Create a budget for when I am a full time student.

-Road trip

-March trip to Israel or Cleveland bris”


SARA on stage right interrupts, talking emphatically, but it isn’t clear to whom since JOSH is enveloped by his own recitations.


SARA

… So maybe the dark, destructive aspects of humanity in this world are just pieces in a whole, that is moving towards some resolution- a completed work of art someday. Maybe even something…beautiful.


Crescendo ends. The overlapping sounds and writings, the inability to hear or focus stops. The sound of rain starts, visuals of rain fill the screen. Non-wet sparkling rain is on the stage, everywhere.




JOSH RECORDED

“10/29/06 Tubac Golf Resort

Thank the heavens for rain. My, how it has a cleansing effect. It first drops into the grey areas of our being. It slows down the air- cools off the ego. And then the water wastes. Sometimes it drowns us and floods the roads and amazes. Rain like that rages”.


The heavy rain experience lightens to a trickle. JOSH continues,


JOSH RECORDED

“Today’s rain came slowly. Tricking and drizzling like a subtle reminder that life isn’t meant to be sunny all of the time. Life is cyclical and there is only so much we can control.


Sound of a crash of thunder highlights the last sentence.


JOSH RECORDED

"My diseases were in force this weekend…”


The writing in the Journals become raindrops on the screen. Recordings of sentences pour out amidst the thunderstorm.


JOSH RECORDED

  • “Put it all on the table and let it ride….. (p58)

  • Unhealthy thoughts of forgiveness are if I forgive you, you win… (p58)

  • …I heard his, my, disappointment seeing the glimmer of home during family week. I saw it too - my little Josh was so surprised and during that time he told (was cracked to say) that he was proud of me and he loved me. My reaction was astonishing. So much emotion poured out of me and even some came out of him.

  • I napped today and am feeling anxious about grading build up…but I still enjoy working with students…

  • My home and my artwork are really bringing me joy. The line of credit has shifted some of the anxiety I was feeling about finances…

  • Shame was the tumor encapsulating my love core, and choking its ability to give and receive love. Once the tumor was removed and I began the painful process of remission, I have once again exposed my love core to the world….I can now sincerely say that I love myself and others.

  • Estoy observando….(spanish 11/29/06 p74)”


JOSH continues in Spanish for a few lines. SARA stops and looks at him in disbelief. They enjoy the humorous moment together. JOSH laughs, and returns to English. Words from Josh’s Journals keep raining, pouring down on the screen with the audible rainstorm, featuring the excerpts as they are heard.


JOSH RECORDED

  • “Anger is human and just a feeling, honor it, but don’t react. Pausing is an action.

  • Meditate!

  • Last night was productive as I cleaned the floors and sifted through the mail that had been piling up… (p83)”





Journal 3 slams shut with a loud thunk, stopping all the noises around. There is quiet for a moment.


SARA

Wait! Go back. Read the last page!


The Journal gently opens to the last page, and JOSH recites carefully with dignity.


JOSH

“God I am grateful for this challenging, yet enriching life before me. Give me the strength to do as much good as I can with it. December 14, 2006.”


JOSH turns and walks upstage into darkness. The audible rainstorm diminishes. SARA looks downstage, increasingly distressed. She puts her hand to her mouth to shout.


SARA

Josh!! You will only have fourteen years left!


SARA starts frantically running around the dark stage, shouting in different directions trying to reach JOSH, who is out of sight.


SARA

Josh!! You will only have fourteen years left! Can you hear me?!


Photos of JOSH and Ashley’s wedding warmly appear on the screen, as well as the house on Bryant. Photos of the garden, photos of JOSH at home.


SARA

You’ll marry an amazing person in 2014! And move to a ranch together that you love! It’s filled with art. You’ll plant trees and tend a garden. You’ll set up a giant rain cistern.


You will become a therapist! And work with veterans! You will love your wife so much, and you will love your life.


Photos of Noah and Eliza and family photos in happy environments appear on the screen.


SARA

Josh, you’ll have two beautiful kids! A boy and a girl! They will be 1 and 3 when you get cancer, and 3 and 5 when you die. You will love them more than a whole lifetime in just a few years. You’ll be so happy. You are such a good dad. You’re a dad, JOSH, do you believe it?


SARA, exhausted, falls to her hands on the ground and speaks in exasperation, now speaking to herself.


SARA

You’ll become a poet, and write a book. You’ll be a friend like no other. They’ll come to see you before you die, and you will say goodbye and you will tell them you love them. I will watch it all, by your side. I saw it all, Josh.






Still breathless from the frenzy and distraught, still on hand and knee, SARA continues. From the ground beneath rises a laying figure all black, without a face, with a massive chest. The figure rises to bed height. SARA rises and embraces the figure, particularly his chest.




SARA

And when you die I will hold you while you are still warm, and feel the warmth leave your arms and your legs, and your face, until only your chest is warm, where your heart is. I’ll hold you til you aren’t warm anymore.


SARA straightens up and inspects the figure, looks at it, and talks to it. She walks a bit around but still looks at it carefully. She speaks more matter-of-factly. She is speaking to the room, to the air.


SARA

The house will be peaceful when you die. It will be early morning. Ashley and the kids will be there, mom, her sisters, Ashley’s dad and siblings will come. It will be peaceful and loving. We will cry but in a loving way. You’ll die in your breezeway, your beautiful office with windows on both sides. It will be,


Pause.


SARA

…a beautiful room.


A boy of 5 runs in, stands and looks at the figure and points.


BOY

Look, one of his eyes is still open.


SARA

Ya, that happens sometimes. It’s ok.


SARA puts her arm around the BOY in comfort. BOY looks up at Aunt SARA.


BOY

Do you think Papa wants me to put his glasses on?


BOY and SARA look at the figure, thinking, then SARA responds,


SARA

Yes, I think he would think that’s really funny. I think he’d like that a lot. Do you want to put them on?


BOY eagerly crosses to stage right and picks up a pair of eyeglasses. He puts them on the FIGURE’s face, then happily runs off towards stage left. SARA sits by the bespectacled FIGURE. She puts her hand on the FIGURE’S chest, she gets agitated, she puts her ear to the figure's chest. Then shouts towards stage left.


SARA

Wait! I think his chest is moving.


SARA checks his chest again and shouts gently.


SARA

Is someone there?


Ashley’s FATHER enters stage left. In a calm voice.


ASHLEY’S FATHER

What’s happening?


SARA

I think his chest is still moving! Do you see it?


Ashley’s FATHER extends an arm for comfort.


ASHLEY’S FATHER

It’s not, it could seem that way, but it’s not. He’s gone, SARA.


SARA

OH.


Ashley’s FATHER exits stage left. SARA sits with the lying FIGURE quietly. A car, a door, then a voice is heard. SARA looks down stage to listen, as though the person has walked in the room.


VOICE

We are going to move him to the van now. Would you like his face covered with the sheet while we move him?


SARA

Huh? Oh, um, let me ask.


SARA asks, looking towards stage left.


SARA

They are going to move him to the van, do we want to cover his face while that happens?


Silence.


SARA

Um, no. No, thanks, let's leave his face uncovered.


BOY of 5 and GIRL of 3 playfully enter, acting a little shy, but comfortable. SARA asks sweetly.


SARA

Hey guys, they are going to move Papa to the van now. Do you want to come and watch with me?


The KIDS think for a minute, then in an animated and playful way they dance and say,


BOY and GIRL

No, we want to watch from the window! From Papa’s room!


SARA

Ok, great. Good idea! Why don’t you go get yourselves set up.


The KIDS run off stage left. The KIDS faces appear in a giant window on the screen, they are looking at the AUDIENCE as though that is the view through the window. The screen and stage goes dark, except for the lying FIGURE that is softly illuminated. SARA moves to stage right. From stage right, MOM, ASHLEY, BOY and GIRL start walking across the stage with SARA, past the lying FIGURE, toward stage left with coats and luggage, as though walking through the airport. MOM, ASHLEY, BOY and GIRL exit stage left, SARA stops short of exiting. A podium rises from the ground near her, SARA moves behind it to face the AUDIENCE. A CAMERAMAN carries a camera on a tripod from on stage left, setting up as though he is filming SARA. The screen plays actual footage of SARA speaking at the funeral, the lying FIGURE is in the same position of the casket at the gravesite. SARA speaks from the podium towards the AUDIENCE, but her words are directed to JOSH.


SARA

We flew to Michigan and your funeral was May 10. I spoke at your funeral. Each thing that happened, one to the next, appeared like a gate in my mind, and I just had to walk through each gate. I liked my speech. I knew you would want it to be excellent. I thought maybe I would have a hard time doing it, but instead I felt a wave of calm.


ASHLEY, BOY and GIRL appear from stage right, in coats and scarves along with MOM and DAD, and ELIE. They gather on stage left as the audience to the funeral. ASHLEY is embracing both children who are fidgety.


SARA

I looked at your simple, pine casket. Eliza calls it a box. She says,


GIRL looks up at ASHLEY when she asks,


GIRL

Papa isn’t coming with us because he’s still in the box in Michigan, right, Mama?


SARA

Isn’t that funny? She’s so cute. As I was speaking at your funeral, I felt like I separated from what I was doing, like an out of body experience kind of. I felt like you were telling me you were OK. It was reassuring. I thought maybe I should tell the people at the funeral what was happening but then I thought that might be weird. I wasn’t sure how to communicate on this level. Was it real? I knew it was real, but I couldn’t tell others in that moment, and maybe it wasn’t real to them. It was a message to me…


SARA looks down, sad.


SARA

…from you.


The lying FIGURE slowly lowers back into the ground, as though being buried at the funeral. The CAMERAMAN exits stage left and the podium lowers into the ground. SARA remains standing where the podium was, and ASHLEY, BOY, GIRL, MOM, DAD, ELIE remain standing, everyone stands still in their place. Basic household furnishings rise from the ground, a table, chair, small kitchen island with a pot on it for cooking, along with some plates like a buffet, and a coat tree with hooks.


Lights go on and ASHLEY, BOY, GIRL, MOM, DAD, ELIE simultaneously move with ease like they are home. They take off their coats and hats and hang them on the hooks. BOY and GIRL run around briefly, then sit on the ground to play with invisible toys. ASHLEY, MOM, and DAD sit at the table, ELIE stands at the buffet island, cooking. More PEOPLE, AUNTS and UNCLES, start arriving. MOM, DAD, ASHLEY greet and talk with them scattered about the stage. A couple PEOPLE talk with ELIE while he is cooking. Two PEOPLE start to make plates and look like they are talking and eating. Some sit at the table to eat. SARA stands still in place, looking at the AUDIENCE. There is a buzz from a cell phone and SARA puts a smartphone to her ear, a 14 YEAR OLD BOY’S voice is heard on the phone. SARA is facing slightly stage left as she takes the call.


SARA

Hi Sweetie.


EITAN’S VOICE (14 YEAR OLD BOY)

Hi Mommy, I just called to tell you we watched the funeral. You did really great, um, I mean it’s not really something that is great, but you know what I mean.


SARA

That means a lot, Eitan. I’m really glad you watched it.


EITAN

Ya, we watched it at the dining table. Seth and Penina are here. I’ve got to go, we are going to dinner.


SARA

Great. Thank you so much for calling, Love.


A lighthearted notification ring is heard. SARA looks at her screen and swipes and holds it in front of her face, it is a video call. A video call with JONAH (13 YEAR OLD) on a patio at night with a starry sky behind him appears large on the screen. SARA holds the phone like she is watching a video, still angled slightly toward stage left.


SARA

Hi Cutie. Where are you?


JONAH

At dinner, I stepped on to the patio. I don’t feel well, Mommy.


SARA

Oh, did you eat something that doesn’t feel right? Did you take allergy medicine?


JONAH

Ya, but I still don’t feel right.


A rocket siren is heard in the background of JONAH’S video. There is a pause.


SARA

Wow, Jonah, that’s your siren.


JONAH

Ya, I hear it. I’m going to go to a shelter. I’ll call you back.


Video and sounds from the video click off. SARA lowers the phone and stands in place. The lighthearted notification rings again and SARA raises the phone to look and swipes, JONAH appears on the screen, this time in a small room with rose colored cabinets.


SARA

Hey, are you at home now?


JONAH

Ya, we went to the bomb shelter at our cousins house, then when it was clear we ran home. I’m in our shelter now.


SARA

Good. How do you feel, you don’t look so good.


JONAH

I still don’t feel well.


SARA

I think you should epipen yourself.


JONAH

Urghh… I know. I don’t want to.


ELIE who has been cooking and chatting has now noticed SARA on the phone and watches her intently, other people continue as usual.


SARA

Let’s do it together… I’ll count with you.


A WOMAN is near SARA and SARA notices her and reaches for her, pulling her next to her so she can be seen on JONAH’s video call.


SARA

Your Great Aunt Martha is here with us. She’s a doctor. We’ll do it together. Let’s count…