The In-the-Middle: a one page play by Tim West


The In-The-Middle   a one-page play

  ELLA, in her 70s, is in a wheelchair, silhouetted down-stage next to a park bench. LIGHTS FADE UP as ERNEST, the same age, enters carrying flowers. He looks about. Removing his hat, he approaches ELLA.

ERNEST: Good morning!

ELLA: Good morning to you.

ERNEST: It’s a lovely view.

ELLA: Yes, it’s my favorite.

ERNEST: Mine as well.

ELLA: I like the pond in the afternoon, when the ducks are there. But the garden is nice in the morning.

ERNEST: Is it alright if I join you?

ELLA: Oh yes. Please do.

   ERNEST dusts the park bench with his hat, then sits and places the flowers on the bench beside him.

ELLA: Those are very pretty flowers. Those are… Don’t tell me, I know… Are they… ranunculus?

ERNEST: They are. Very good!

ELLA: I remember them from my mother’s garden when I was a girl. They are a particularly pretty flower.

But she had so many! She had… gladiolas. And… and… pop-eyes? Is that the name? And roses, of course, that aphids always ate. Is that the word, “aphids”? She got so mad at those bugs! Ranunculus, is that right?

ERNEST: Yes, quite so. (beat) Would you like these for your room?

ELLA: Oh, but I think you brought these for someone else, didn’t you?

ERNEST: I brought them for my wife. But they tell me that she is not in a way to receive visitors today.

ELLA: Oh, I am sorry. How sad.

ERNEST: For me, or for her?

ELLA: For both of you.

ERNEST: Well, that depends on your point of view. If memories are what make us happy, then I’m happy.

ELLA: Memories can make you happy or sad, I suppose. It depends. I have problems with my memory.

ERNEST: It happens, sometimes, at our age.

ELLA: A lot, with me.

ERNEST: It happens.

ELLA: I can remember the far-away, when I was a girl. I can remember every flower in my mother’s garden. And I remember the now: What they had here for breakfast, the medicine that they brought me.

I particularly remember those ducks by the pond in the afternoon. I remember what’s happened recently.

But the in-the-middle, not so much. I try to remember it, but mostly, there’s only the far-away and the now.

ERNEST: That must be very difficult for you.

ELLA: It used to be difficult. If I didn’t remember something, didn’t recognize someone, I got very upset, very angry. But now, I try to remember the happy times when I was young, ranunculus in the garden and so forth, and happy times like now, like looking at the ducks in the pond in the afternoon. I try to remember that the times that I’ve forgotten were probably very happy too. And I try to enjoy what I can.

ERNEST: That’s a good way to look at it.

ELLA: I guess, if memories make us happy, that’s a good thing. But if they make us sad, we should just

live for the now, you know? And not worry about the in-the-middle.

ERNEST: You’re a very wise woman.

ELLA: Most days, I don’t even remember my own name!

ERNEST: My name is Ernest. But you needn’t remember it.

  ERNEST pats her hand, rises, dons his hat, and bows.

ERNEST: And now, if you’ll excuse me, I fear I must go. I’m not really supposed to be here. I don’t enjoy visitors privileges today, you see. I don’t want these nurses to create an upset.

ELLA: I understand. Thank you for the flowers.

ERNEST: You are truly most welcome to them.

ELLA: I hope your wife is feeling better the next time you come.

ERNEST: I hope so, too. It has been a great pleasure talking with you, Ella.

ELLA: Yes, I enjoyed talking with you… Ernest.

ERNEST: Good Morning.

ELLA: Good morning to you.

  ERNEST smiles, tips his hat, and exits at once without looking back. ELLA watches him go, then sits looking out at the garden, smiling.