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A Brief Theory of the Cosmos by Molly Hagan

A Brief Theory of the Cosmos by Molly Hagan

Drama, Vol. 4.1, March 2010

A party. Elroy speaks to the audience.

Elroy

This is a story about—
Pink-Panty Droppers.
Which is apparently a drink.
That you drink.
And about—
The distance between the stars.
Or bodies in space.
Comet or something?
Halley’s? Achilles?
Aurora Borealis? Shooting star? Meteorite?
Something too far away to touch.

Cathy enters. She moves through the unseen party-goers uneasily, as if examining each one. Elroy enters with a cup in each hand. Cathy watches him move. She approaches him.

Cathy

Hi. Cathy.

Elroy

Um. Elroy.

Elroy freezes. Cathy speaks in Elroy’s direction.

Cathy

I came here to get laid.
I’m serious.
I wore this dress: a juicy peach like the morning so when I walk back to my dorm tomorrow it won’t look so much like I spent the night somewhere.
Tonight is the night.
I will not be doomed to bear the dark mark of innocence for the
Rest of Time.
This is my freshman year—if not now,
When?
Tonight—
Because of your sweet face and thick boots.
Elroy,
Because your name sounds like it’s from another time.
Tonight, I want you—it will look like—Tossing my last clean pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear (the ones with the writing on the back) into the pile of boxer shorts and cigarette ash in the corner of your room in the fraternity house.

It will look like—
Moving your body into my body while you look at me and I look at you.

End freeze. An unseen party-goer bumps Cathy from behind. She knocks into Elroy and his Pink Panty Dropper spills all over the front of Cathy’s dress.

Elroy

I am
So. Sorry.
God.
It’s all over your dress—
Here. I am such a—
Let me get you something,
To clean it. Something—

Cathy

You know what—
Hey.
It’s fine.
No worries.
No big. Really.
Look!
It hasn’t even bled through.

Elroy

I—
Wow. I am such an idiot.

Cathy freezes. Elroy speaks in her direction.

Elroy (cont’d)

My brother says I’m ripped at the seams.
Like, I’m some kind of—
Posttraumatic basket case.
I say: I’m just nervous in general.
And—
Thirsty. (Two fists full, still thirsty though.)
And tired. Tired of wearing boots when I sleep, for one thing.
I don’t go here.
I’m not a frat boy like my brother.
But tonight I will be.
One time,
His freshman year, he told me he scaled a keg up the side of his dorm,
Through His Window on the fourth floor.
Anyways.
He scaled kegs.
I scaled the walls in basic.
Thought I’d crack my head like a watermelon.
Funny,
Katie—Cathy. Kristin. Cathy.
Was it?

End freeze. Flashing lights play across Cathy and Elroy’s faces, one at a time like the sky is blinking.

Cathy

No.
Not an idiot at all.
What is that?
Those—
Lights. What is that?

Elroy

I don’t know. I can’t see.

Cathy

Stand here.
What about now?

Lights flash with more intensity.

Elroy

Nothing.

Cathy

Weird.

The lights stop and everything is still. Long pause.

Elroy

I should find paper towels.

Cathy

Don’t—
Stay.
Don’t you want to see the lights?
I bet they’ll come again if we wait.
Wait and see the lights. Then you can get me another drink.
You know.
To make up for it.

Elroy

I can’t
I mean, bright lights hurt my eyes.
Sensitive—sensey to harsh light.

Cathy

Then I’ll close your eyes for you.
You won’t even need to set down one of your cups.
Like this.

She waves her fingertips over his eyelids without touching him.

Elroy

What if I just stayed like this?

Cathy

Then I’d describe what the sky looks like.
I’d say,
Look Elroy—
The sky!
The sky is blooming.
And you’d have to open your eyes because you’d want to see.

Elroy opens his eyes.

Cathy

I didn’t tell you to open them yet!

Elroy laughs but is quiet. Long pause.

Cathy

So.
Elroy.
(Elroy, Elroy…)
You go here?

Elroy

Yup.

Cathy

Pointing to a bunch of rowdy (unseen) boys
Those your frat brothers?

Elroy

Them?
Yeah.
Pretty crazy.

Cathy freezes. Elroy speaks in her direction.

Elroy (cont’d)

I like to touch things before they touch me.
Does that sound right?
This jacket.
These boots.
I wear them because I know their touch.
Call me—
Sensey, I guess.
The lights make me nervous because I can’t touch the sky.
Kelly, Chrysanthemum, Karly—
CATHY.
Cathy, Cathy.
Cathy, I want you to touch me so I can remember your name.
You see how those guys pierce beer cans and spark their lighters?
How they knock each other around and spit when they smoke?
I want to tell you.
I’m not in a fraternity.
Cathy.
I don’t live here
Cathy. I guess,
I’m too tired.
Dried up—something.
I guess I’ve been bled too dry to chug like that.

End freeze.

Cathy

Yeah.
They must be thirsty.
I knew a guy once.
Drank a whole case
By Himself.
In an hour.
Impressive. He was pretty crazy.

Elroy

Yeah.
Wow—
That’s.
Huh.

Cathy

We dated.
Pretty serious.
Pretty physical.
I was a freshman.
Long time ago.
Long time ago.
He was cool, crazy.
We—dated. I said that.
He was Psi Epsilon, Delta Epsilon.
I’m crazy. Too. Up for anything. Whenever. So was—
He. Saw me as kind of a wild child. Thing. Like the song.
Sorry.
I’m—drunk. Word vomit. Sorry.

She nods at his fists.

But, you know. You.
I’m a pretty good judge of a man who can hold his alcohol.
Two hands.

Elroy

Hah.
Yeah.
Well—

Pause.

Elroy

Yeah.
This one time—
When I was a freshman,
Frosh.
Frosh—man.
I scaled a keg
Right up the side of Jeff Hall.

Cathy

Seriously?
What about the bricks?
What about the windows?
Where’d you put your feet.
I live I mean I used to live there.
That’s impossible!

Elroy

Yeah. My feet—
My feet were on the ground.
And it was
Pretty easy actually.
Surprisingly.
We used like
A pulley system.
Tied ropes or bedsheets or clothes around it.
Had a coupla’ guys
Pulling
Tug-a-war style in the room.
I was the one that stood below with some gear,
You know. To spot or whatever.
In case I fell or something. Or the keg fell. Anyway.
Almost thought it might fall and crush my head like a
Watermelon or something.
Hah.
But—yeah.
Right.
Right through the window.
It was pretty sweet.

Cathy

Wow.
That’s so
Crazy.
I want to,
Well. Maybe you could show me how.

Lights flash across their faces again. Blinking but more slowly than the last time. Silence. Cathy leans in close to Elroy. Her nose is almost touching his ear, but not quite.

Cathy

Look, Elroy.
The sky is blooming.
Are your eyes open?

Elroy

Yes.

Cathy

What do you see?

Cathy freezes. Elroy speaks at her.

Elroy

Karen.
Claire, Elaine.
Carmen,
Cascading,
Kim.
Princess Peach.
Katie, Melissa, Melissa, Kate.
Kate?
Was it?
Touch me.

Almost overlapping, Cathy speaks. Elroy freezes.

Cathy

See me.
Throw down a rope that’s all sheets and clothes tied together and
I’ll know where to put my feet.
Up to your window.
When you lift up my skirt—
You’ll see.
Lift up my dress,
(Don’t hold your palm over my eyes. This time I will see too.)
It’s the color of fruit,
There’s writing on the back.
I forget what it says, but you’ll read it to me.
You’ll say “juicy”
Or bite or sweet or spank.
I can see them—the words and the lights and the sheets and my dress ash cigarette beer bottle, you—
I’ll—untie your sheets.
I’ll make the bed.
We’ll unmake the bed.

End freeze.

Cathy

Come on, Elroy.
What do you see?

Elroy

I—
nothing.
I see nothing.

Elroy looks at the sky for a long time. He stands. Explosions. We hear cheering. Elroy exits.

Cathy

If you had looked, I think it says—
Saucy, Prick or Wet.
If I showed you, you would have understood.
The meteorites, the lights,
Comet, prickly peach,
Turns out—
Just a bunch of frat boys launching
Firecrackers like hand grenades.
I watched the lights play across your face
And when you didn’t know where to look,
I knew it was me you couldn’t see.

Elroy enters with three cups.

Cathy gets up and exits without seeing him.

Elroy lines up the three cups on the ground and runs his fingers over the rims.

Lights down on Elroy alone.

 —END—

Reversals by Jessica Maybury

A Conversation with Edward Mullany, Editor with Anderbo and Matchbook

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